The latest tourist video (see below) of Zambia extols the virtues of this country, that is shaped like a butterfly or a heart that’s about to be broken. I understand the essence of the voiceover, given in its American drawl that is as dissimilar as you can get from the cadence of a Zambian accent. The writer was trying to capture the essence of the feeling you get when you stand in an open grassland, surrounded by kilometres of dry, brown grass rustling in a breeze. When you see acacia trees dotting the endless plains and the enormous blue sky that stretches on and on and on. You feel something pull at the bottom of your heart, you feel something throb in your blood.
But, lets put this aside for a moment. How many Zambians can afford to experience this? Most of our people are living below the poverty line- as much as I loathe the expression, it’s a reality. There’s a line between what this video describes as “ discerning adventure tourists” and the Zambians that work in the industry to serve them. Our domestic tourist market is non-existent aside from the wealthy upper echelons that make their riches from back- handed exploitation and perpetual corruption. Popular politicians have become pinnacles of hope for the Zambians that have no other prospects of improvements. It’s a vicious cycle- the country grows disillusioned with one leader and votes another into office with bated breath hoping for change. But the bare minimum has changed since we became a post-colonial state.
Lets call a spade a spade. This video shows the natural riches that Zambia is fortunate enough to have. It is also unusually peaceful and for that we should be profoundly grateful. Despite this, how much are these things worth when many are too tightly shackled to know what lies beyond the horizon, beyond those flaming sunsets? We gained rule over ourselves in 1964, a year before Singapore, and with a wild abundance of natural resources in comparison. Complacency, some might say, has dulled the fervour of development. This video glosses over this fact. As much as foreign tourists fall into “ a love affair” with Zambia, we need our own people to put a ring on it before we can honestly hold our heads high with pride. When the tourism authorities make videos in future, we should take a moment to check that. Is the video narrated by a Zambian? Does it target Zambian tourists who have the desire and the ability to visit the beautiful open plains? When the answer is yes, I will be proud.
Guest Post By: Inez D