Its Monday 9th September 2013 and a catch up from Kawaza.

Well this week it dawned on me that it has simply been ages since we have heard anything about Kawaza Village. So given that we had Cheryl and Manny Mvula here with us – Cheryl is our Responsible Tourism Consultant – and they have been working closely with the Kawaza Village community over the last few weeks for us, I thought what a fantastic opportunity to find out what was going on over there. So this week I hope that you are all sitting comfortably, have your chitenge’s around your waists and are ready to dance, with no further ado over to Cheryl:

“After spending an incredible few days in the bush having some amazing elephant sightings at water holes around Nkwali  (60 elephants at one sitting drinking and taking mud baths!), we headed past rural settlements and maize fields towards Tena Tena and Nsefu. This time not to view wildlife, but to pay a visit to one of RPS’s local community partners, Kawaza Village Tourism Project. And what an experience we had!

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Kawaza Village is one of the most sustainable and longest running community cultural enterprises that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years in my role as a community development specialist. Set up in partnership with RPS back in 1996, this community-owned tourism project has gone from strength to strength since its inception 17 years ago. No doubt some of you reading this ‘It’s Monday’ update will have already visited Kawaza Village, but for those of you who haven’t you are surely missing out on a truly wonderful experience.

We joined RPS guests Fred and Wilma (aka ‘the Flintstones’!) on a village tour led by the very charismatic, and exceedingly tall, Costertino Maunga who has been with Kawaza from day one, and is one of the village’s main hosts. His passion and enthusiasm for what he does is infectious, and before long we were all ensconced into a local village shop quizzing the owner on what her best sellers were. It probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to learn, given the impeccably dressed schoolchildren we had met on the way that Kiwi boot polish and laundry washing paste were top of her list!

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A discussion with village elders waiting to be served then ensued about how a bird like the Kiwi, which they said was about the size of a village chicken, could lay an egg the size of an ostrich egg. Painful or what!!

Next we were shown around a local house that was being ably constructed using hand-made bricks and mud by Dina. A widowed mother of five, she has made her living by brewing kachasu, a local – very strong – spirit which certainly put hairs on Fred Flintstone’s chest and made innovative use of an old Landcruiser tyre!

From there we met a crowd of women who had walked over 2 km to draw water from a local well. They were all chattering excitedly and dressed in colourful chitenge’s, keen to have us relieve them of one of their daily chores by showing us how to work the windress, chain and bucket to draw icy, cool water for them.

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After a delicious traditional lunch of nshima (stiff maize porridge), village chicken and chiwawa (pumpkin leaves boiled with peanut sauce) served under the shade of a mango tree we were treated to a display of local singing and dancing by the village’s cultural dance troupe, accompanied by a mottled assortment of tiny wannabe dancers from the local school. The drumming attracted people from far and wide and before long we threw caution to the wind and were dancing with them with gay abandon. I only pray that the Flintstones do not load this onto YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

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For those guests that want to get under the skin of this rural community, Kawaza Village has 6 traditional huts set aside especially for accommodating visitors from the lodges who wish to stay for a night or more in the community. I have stayed at Kawaza Village many times and cannot recommend this experience highly enough – it is truly life transforming to participate in daily village life, exchange culture with the locals and to learn about Kunda ways of living and traditions.

RPS, as part of its commitment to seeing the local community benefit from tourism in its areas of operation, have for many years acted as Kawaza Village’s marketing and booking agent, enabling this remote, rural Zambian community to host international visitors for both day and overnight visits. Kawaza Village now provides an alternative livelihood for 24 village members, supports the development of the local Kawaza Village School, and provides for the needy and vulnerable in the community – orphans, the elderly and disabled. What better way for a safari operator to engage with their local community – providing a hand up out of poverty, rather than the more common, although disempowering, handout approach adopted by many. This trading model reflects RPS’s responsible approach to its neighbours and has been recognized widely in the global Responsible Tourism Awards they have won over the years. So next time you are on safari in the Luangwa Valley, why not leave the wildlife in peace for a day or two, and pay a visit to this remarkable community project. It may just be the highlight of your visit!”

Thanks Cheryl – what a great experience. The news from the animal kingdom is going to have to wait a week because they wouldn’t want to compete with this.

Have a great week and have fun!

Cheers

emily1

 

 

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