And so to Zambia.
Zambia's a medium-big, landlocked country in South Central Africa. It's in a truly dreadful neighborhood; it shares borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, and Zimbabwe. Remarkably, Zambia has had a more-or-less peaceful history since independence, with just a couple of local rebellions and one failed coup attempt in 1997.
To get here I flew via Johannesburg, which is twelve hours from Frankfurt. (Night flight, so I didn't see a thing; dozed fitfully and read.) Jo'Burg airport is delightful -- clean and lovely. The tiles on the floor are in a brown and white "African" pattern which is really nice. Images of Nelson Mandela are everywhere. There are a couple of good bookstores, which I may hit on the way out.
Then to Lusaka, capital of Zambia. Lusaka is about 15 degrees south and about 1200 meters up, which means it has a hot tropical climate notably moderated by altitude. Both days so far have been hot, getting up to around 37 (high 90s) but then dropping down to 20 or less (mid 60s) at night. I like this.
Cecil Rhodes, that awesome lunatic, intended for "Northern Rhodesia" to be a white man's country. And, you know? It perhaps could have been. It was thinly populated. The natives were divided into small tribes, militarily much less threatening than the large Mashona And outside of the low, sweltering Zambezi Valley, most of it was free of the fevers that killed whites wholesale. In an alternate universe where the British Empire lasted another 50 years, Zambia might have seen a million white settlers. But in our world, there were never enough whites interested in settling a distant frontier when there was still plenty of land in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe). So while there were (and still are) white Zambians, they were never more than three percent of the population, and are probably well under one percent today.
Zambia is not a crowded country. It's about the size of Texas, but there are only 13 million Zambians. And Lusaka is an inland city that's not on a lake or river -- it just grew up around the intersection of the country's two biggest roads. So Lusaka sprawls. There are only a few tall buildings in the downtown; otherwise, the city is just growing outward onto the veldt.
I got a nice walk in today -- 4 or 5 km. (I'd been planning to walk about twice that far, but the midday sun changed my mind.) Walked up to the new shopping mall on the Great Eastern Road, then came back through a pleasant neighborhood of tree-lined streets,that had obviously been a residential suburb back in colonial times. The streets are mostly in pretty good condition, which is encouraging. I stopped for lunch, and to cool off, at an Indian restaurant -- Zambia's Indian population is small compared to Kenya's or Tanzania's, but as usual in Africa it occupies several key economic niches, with the pleasant spinoff of good Indian food.
Tomorrow: talking to bankers.