The Metropolis


Mfuwe International Airport. When your aeroplane rolls up to the terminal, the guy in the tower gives you hand signals to show where to park. Thumbs up means you are on the button.
Mfuwe International Airport. When your aeroplane rolls up to the terminal, the guy in the tower gives you hand signals to show where to park. Thumbs up means you are on the button.

Mfuwe is a straggling town, a series of villages really, strung out along the road between South Luangwa National Park and the International Airport. The commercial centre is called Cropping. It takes its name from the elephant culling activities which went on there over 50 years ago. It has the only filling station in the area. The South Luangwa Conservation Society is based there.

God Gives Hair Salon
God Gives Hair Salon

I don't know why it is called a silent bar. It still plays loud music.
I don’t know why it is called a silent bar. It still plays loud music.

There are a wide variety of shops selling everything tinned food, simple medicines, clothes, beverages, hardware, ironmongery and the paraphernalia of mobile phone accessories. Scattered among the shops are bars and restaurants. I have counted five barber shops. There are roadside stalls selling second hand clothes and shoes, fruit and vegetables. There are several “off licence” stalls offering booze and fags. There is also an open air bicycle repair shop with an attached car wash (bucket and sponge job).

Peter sells secondhand (should that be secondfoot?) shoes and does repairs.
Peter sells secondhand (should that be secondfoot?) shoes and does repairs.

IMG_1593

Uncle Petty’s shop used to have a cat sleeping on the counter, but now it has all mod cons. You can pay your electricity meter bill here over the internet.

I like the nice touch of the health message on the umbrella warning of the dangers of smoking, while you can buy a bottle rot gut spirits for about a pound.
I like the nice touch of the health message on the umbrella warning of the dangers of smoking, while you can buy a bottle rot gut spirits for about a pound.

To the east of Cropping and across the bridge over the Matizye River is SLAMU, South Luangwa Area Management Unit. This is the administration centre, with the police post, most of the churches and Kakumbi rural health centre.

Financial advice? Warning, you may not get your money back if there are adverse market conditions
Financial advice? Warning, you may not get your money back if there are adverse market conditions

The shortcut from the tarmac to the health centre is a bit of a rat-run. Literally. The track is deeply grooved with tyre tracks made in the mud during the rainy season. The women sweep rubbish, fallen leaves and litter into the crevasses and occasionally set them on fire. This makes for an interesting journey to work. All the kids in compounds either side of the track shout out, “Dak-Ta” when I drive slowly past.

The way the clothes are displayed reminds me of Primark late on a Saturday afternoon. This is where the stuff goes when Age UK can't shift it.
The way the clothes are displayed reminds me of Primark late on a Saturday afternoon. This is where the stuff goes when Age UK can’t shift it.

At the turn off to the health centre, there is a food stall, selling “fahreetas” (= fritters) from a plastic bin, with fruit and vegetables on a stall. Usually the shopkeeper sits back in the shade in a locally-made chair, with the seat and back made from strands of rope. Yesterday, the chair must have been in for repair at the local Wesley Barrell upholstery store, because she was sitting in a wheelbarrow instead. Needs must, I suppose. This morning her hair was being styled using a preparation called “Superblack”. I asked for any remnants so I could reverse my grey hair.

Superblack
Superblack

Las Vegas Bar
Las Vegas Bar

Around the back of the Las Vegas Bar, not more than a hundred metres from the health centre, a famous witchdoctor used to do a roaring trade in potions. His speciality was sex therapy, especially fertility. One childless couple went to see him several times without a successful outcome. One day, he arrived at their house when the husband was at work. He told the wife that the husband had asked him to do some special treatment. The guide who told me this story quaintly said, “After he had done A, B, C, D, the wife became suspicious and phoned her husband.” (Don’t you love that expression: “ABCD”?) The witchdoctor was arrested (not sure of the charge) and sentenced to five years imprisonment. The wife did not get pregnant as a result of the “therapy”, but the guide said the witchdoctor might have received a more lenient punishment if his treatment had been successful.

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

6 comments

  1. PK Investment looks like a safer and possibly more trustworthy outfit than our banks over here!

    1. I like telling stories, so writing them down in a blog comes naturally. The layout is one from the freebies WordPress offer. I haven’t got the spare time to modify it. Thank you for your kind remarks.

  2. Thanks for the article. I stayed in Cropping (Condotti residences) for 2 weeks in 2011 helping a Canadian friend with a project at one of the local churches. I could not understand how Cropping fitted into the Mfuwe scenario but your article filled in the blanks eloquently. Incidentally, I was born in Nkana in 1942 and left in 69. Finally ended up in Canada in 1977. My 2011 trip was the first time back in 42 years and my first time in the South Luangua area.

      1. Dr Alfred, good luck with the flights, I look forward to to reading any new blog updates. You have chosen a very nice part of the world to spend your time and among such wonderful people. I am quite envious.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s