Today’s show features music from Zambia, news from Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya, and some info on some great African NGOs/development projects.You can listen at www.wiux.org/stream
_ - Zambian Music from _
A bicycle shop in Tokyo’s Harajuku district has started selling bikes with bamboo frames made in Zambia, hoping riders hop on
F.I.G bike’s Harajuku branch earlier this month began selling the unique Zambikes, produced by social venture firm Zambikes established by Americans and local people in Lusaka in 2006, according to Takaya Fukuda, sales department manager at the bicycle shop
The venture firm was set up to create jobs for citizens of Zambia, whose unemployment rate reportedly ranges from around 50 to 80 percent.
Thanks to its success, the company has created more than 100 jobs and in the past five years has turned out more than 10,000 bicycles as well as more than 1,000 emergency bicycles used for transporting patients to doctors.
To make its success sustainable, the venture firm began exporting the bamboo-framed bikes to other countries last year, and Tokyo-based importer Alliance Factory began taking orders last month, becoming Zambikes’ sales agent in Japan.
Guy Scott stood the other day in the middle of the Zambian National Assembly, where a stuffed lion and a stuffed leopard lounged on the floor, and trumpeted, “This country is the envy of Africa!”
His Parliament colleagues clapped and hooted, congratulating themselves for pulling off a rarity on the continent — Zambia’s recent peaceful transfer of power, in which the incumbent president spent millions of dollars on re-election, lost and then graciously acknowledged defeat. In a way, Mr. Scott was an apt person to make this point and spotlight Zambia’s unusual degree of stability and harmony.
Mr. Scott is Zambia’s vice president and he is white. He now calls himself “the highest pure honky” official anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa and he seems to be right. While black-white relations tend to be touchy in some of the other countries — in Zimbabwe, whites have been pushed off farms, and in South Africa black leaders are fighting for their right to sing “Shoot the Boer,” which literally means white settlers — Mr. Scott ascended to Zambia’s second most powerful position without a ripple.
“We don’t just like Guy Scott,” said Paul Bunda, a student-cum-taxi-driver in Lusaka, the capital, with a huge smile on his face. “We love him.”
Unlike so much of the continent, Zambia has been spared chronic famines, civil wars and poisonous ethnic or racial politics. It is highly uncommon for an incumbent African president to lose a hotly contested election and then simply retire quietly by the pool. But that is exactly what Rupiah Banda just did.
“We have an expression in the village,” said Mr. Banda, who had been president since 2008, as his children splashed around him. “When the dance is over, you stop dancing.”
This relatively large, peanut-shaped country is exceptional in another way as well. The new government openly chafes at the idea of being beholden to the Chinese, who are inking enormous mineral deals across the continent and spending billions to ingratiate themselves with Africa’s rulers. In Kenya, the Chinese are working closely with the national spy agency. China has shipped arms to Zimbabwe, even as it was torturing opponents. And in South Africa, the Chinese are so influential that they just pressured the government to deny a visa to the Dalai Lama, who stood shoulder to shoulder for years with anti-apartheid activists.
But while many African leaders say they welcome China, preferring its business-first approach to what they often call the West’s preachiness, Zambia’s new president, Michael Sata, campaigned explicitly to protect workers from exploitation by China. Still, he has been careful not to threaten to kick out the Chinese, who run copper mines, coal mines, chicken farms and banks here.
So, what is the recipe for Zambia’s remarkable degree of stability? How has this country quietly achieved what has been so elusive across much of Africa?
For starters, Zambians point to their history.
Ignatius Bwalya, a historian at the University of Zambia, describes the country as a patchwork of immigrant groups that fled wars elsewhere in Africa, like Congo, Angola and South Africa, several hundred years ago, contributing to a collective aversion to conflict. Zambian culture is also bestowed with a reconciliation mechanism called “tribal cousins” in which certain ethnic groups are allowed to playfully insult others, providing a useful vent for ethnic rivalries. “We are docile,” Mr. Bwalya said.
As for race relations, many Zambians say it is a nonissue. Under the British Empire, what is now Zambia was a protectorate, not a full-fledged colony, meaning it was spared the legions of white settlers who swarmed Kenya, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. Today, analysts estimate that fewer than 50,000 whites live in this country of 14 million people.
“The bitterness just isn’t there,” said Given Lubinda, a lawmaker who is mixed race himself.
It is also a big country, larger than Texas, teeming with fertile land, surging rivers and copper. Last year, Zambia produced more than a billion pounds of copper, bringing in billions of dollars.
Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, leaned toward socialism and ran the copper mines into the ground. But he is credited with devising policies that stitched together Zambia’s 70-some tribes and set it on a solid foundation.
In 1991, when Mr. Kaunda was pressed to hold multiparty elections, he ran and lost. After 27 years in office, he handed over power. The governing party in Kenya did not let go until 11 years later, and elections were marred by government-sponsored killings. Tanzania and Botswana, which are often put in the same league as Zambia for stability, have yet to have a full transfer of power, with the same political groups governing since independence.
Mr. Kaunda’s successors were notoriously corrupt, pocketing the copper profits and introducing a potentially explosive have-nots and have-lots divide. Today, the legacy is clear. Some Lusaka avenues are lined with stunning homes and beautiful jacaranda trees, their petals falling and sticking to the smooth tarmac like drops of bright blue paint.
But not far away in the “compounds” — the townships, the slums — there are no jacaranda trees, or any trees at all. Instead there are miles of dirt, garbage and cinderblock houses.
This inequality spurred Mr. Sata, a former trade unionist and government minister. He championed the urban poor, promising to share Zambia’s riches. Mr. Banda fought back, spending a record amount on his re-election campaign and doling out an avalanche of chitenge cloth, bicycles and other goodies across the country.
As the votes came in, Zambia’s cherished stability started to wobble like a coin. A delay in results ignited a few riots, and a few buildings were burned.
“It was damn close to exploding,” Mr. Scott said.
But at midnight on Sept. 23, Mr. Banda tearfully acknowledged defeat.
“This was a very, very good election,” said the American ambassador, Mark C. Storella. “What happened here is going to empower others.”
Tranquillity seems to have returned. Mr. Scott glides around in a slick convoy, the lone white face behind the shiny glass. Mr. Sata wants to create jobs and review copper revenues, making some businessmen nervous.
The other day, Cyril Jutronich, a burly South African copper trader, stood in the State House lobby, a huge gift-wrapped box in his arms.
“We don’t know exactly what this election is going to mean for business,” he whispered, explaining that the gift, a statue, was from his prominent mining company for the new president. “But it’s fantastic for the region.”
Mr. Sata is not naïve. He knows that Zambia’s economy and his own political longevity are hitched to copper. He strutted into the room in a double-breasted suit and cast a glance at the dozen or so people who had been waiting hours.
“You,” he said, pointing at Mr. Jutronich’s barrel chest. “Come with me.”
The two disappeared down a hallway, Mr. Sata’s legs churning, Mr. Jutronich lugging his bow-festooned box.
By: Jeffrey Gettleman