Features

Kalingalinga: The place of enterprise

ABEL Mulutula still runs a barbershop in Kalingalinga that was originally started by his uncles in 1991. Right, John Mwalishinka has operated a carpentry business off Alick Nkhata road for nearly 10 years.

NKOLE NKOLE, Lusaka
KALINGALINGA is one of Lusaka’s largest townships, which was legalised on April 1, 1986 under the 1972 Government Policy towards upgrading of squatter settlements.
After legalisation, the Lusaka City Council (LCC) tried to establish a systematic grid layout of houses and roads in most parts of the area.
The area is most famous for its enterprise. If you need a sturdy table, bookshelf, chest of drawers or shoe rack, Kalingalinga is where you will find all these.
Not only is the area the centre of various forms of woodwork, but metalwork as well. Here, you will find braai stands and braziers being sold by the dozen as well as metal gates, metal bars and door frames.
All these items are made in Kalingalinga.
Dominic Mwangelwa has been a welder for 10 years who before moving his business to Kalingalinga, operated from Fidelity Stores in Mtendere.
Dominic works with two of his colleagues and together, they daily etch out a living by selling their products off Alick Nkhata Road.
“So far so good,” he states, regarding the progress of his business, “but we need money for materials and that is the challenge. This is a labour-intensive job and we make any metal work but what we are specialised in is gates and metal tank stands.”
As for John Mwalishinka, who operates as a carpenter in Kalingalinga, business booms on some days and is slower on others.
Mwalishinka’s carpentry workshop is also located off Alick Nkhata Road from where he works everyday apart from Sunday.
He and his colleagues are specialised in the making of beds, wardrobes, bookshelves and even wooden kitchen units.
He began the business in 2009 in Kalingalinga but spent his earlier years living on a farm in Chongwe until 2002.
Like John, Abel Mulutula lived in Chongwe before relocating to Kalingalinga nearly 30 years ago. He began a barbershop business in 1991 with a couple of his uncles, who have since left the business.
The shop was originally called “Hollywood Barbershop” and was in a different location within Kalingalinga but its name has since changed to The Barbershop.
Back in the day, the shop attracted a lot of clients as it was one of the earliest barbershops to be set up in the township but as the area developed and the population increased, the business began to attract competitors.
“Kalingalinga was like a dark city in the past,” Abel says. “Not like how it is now. Now we have shopping malls and there is electricity.”
According to a 2007 profile of unplanned settlements in Lusaka prepared by Mulimba Yasini for the Lusaka City Council Research Unit, Kalingalinga is situated east of Lusaka city along Alick Nkhata Road and is surrounded by the following areas: The University of Zambia (UNZA), Great East Road Campus to the north; The City Airport to the south, across Alick Nkhata Road; Helen Kaunda to the east and Mass Media Complex to the west.
“‘Kalingalinga’ is a Nyanja word for a person who moves from place to place, denoting its previous role as a transit area. During the post-independence period, the area was characterised by political clashes between the United National Independence Party (UNIP) and the Africa National Congress (ANC),” Yasini explains.
Supporters of UNIP together with their ward chairman, a Mr Chapetwa were forced to leave Kalingalinga and established a new settlement in the east which they called Mtendere (peace). Kalingalinga was treated as an illegal settlement, and there were sporadic attempts by the council to demolish it.
The settlement was to be demolished to pave way for the extension of UNZA which forcing some residents to abandon the area and settle in Mtendere and other settlements, Yasini notes.
It originated on the land of two abandoned farms belonging to a Mr Duddia and a Mr Mendo, who lived in the area in the 1950s.
“The settlement was located on private land and a small rent payment was collected by the landlord every month. The quality of most of the houses and the physical environment was poor in comparison to the overriding Garden City image of Lusaka. The community lived in shacks built from mud bricks and cast-off metal roofing sheets for the traditional thatch was no longer available in the urban environment,” explains Yasini.
Occasionally, walls collapsed during the rainy season or were purposely pulled down and rebuilt according to the changing needs of the residents. Pot holes and mud characterised the paths because of the poor drainage.
There were about 40 shallow wells tapping the ground water which was dangerously polluted because of the pit latrines used by the families in the settlement.
Health facilities were not available, and the situation in the settlement was notoriously bad. There was no school apart from a pre-school installed by residents in an old and dangerous farmhouse and only a few children could attend school in one of the neigbouring townships.
As there was neither a police station nor security lighting, the residents were constant prey to burglaries and robberies.
The settlement had a few small producers such as tinsmiths, tailors, basket makers and carpenters.
They had a shortage of tools and raw materials and lacked a regular market outlet, since the purchasing power of their neighbours was low and areas with higher demand were not readily accessible.
Angelina Hagwanama has been resident in Kalingalinga since 2008 and runs a laundry service in the township.
For seven years she worked in Kabulonga, where she learnt how to use a washing machine, and when she was no longer employed, she decided to open up a laundry business.
“At the beginning my business was good but now it isn’t,” she shares. “It seems it’s just time. Okay, people had money but nowadays they say they don’t have money. Some of my clients were coming from as far as Ibex Hill and Ng’ombe.”
Behind Kalingalinga market, Tisilile Phiri walks around shoeless with cracked feet that have become accustomed to the hard earth.
Despite her advanced age, which shows through her wrinkled skin, she still carries water drawn from a community water source on her head.
Her late husband was a cook and worked in Kabulonga area at some point before they finally settled in Kalingalinga.
Because of her age, her memory is weak but her faculties are intact.
She says the lifestyles of people in the township have changed over the years and a lot of young people spend their time in bars and dismiss the advice of older people like her.
Her National Registration Card has no day or month to show her precise date of birth, only the year 1943.
Kalingalinga Ward 31 councillor, Kasongo Chomba says the township has a huge challenge with poor drainage and sanitation, which is the case with most unplanned settlements in Lusaka.
By 2030, Kalingalinga is projected to be a central business district as so many roads in the area are now business centres.
Because the area is a collection point for water from areas such as Mtendere, this leads to flooding during the rainy season in particular.
The high population growth in the area has also brought on the challenge of uncollected waste. Being an unplanned settlement makes it difficult to engage private companies to help with waste collection.
“It comes back to the attitude of the people who don’t want to pay for garbage collection services. That is why during the rainy season most drains are blocked,” explains Mr Chomba.
The growth and development in Kalingalinga has also given rise to the emergence of nightclubs and lodges.
Mr Chomba says the township’s women are complaining that their partners are not sleeping at home because they are accessing services by sex workers who are coming from areas as far as Matero.
“Parents are complaining as well,” he says. “Although the development in the area has helped the youth find employment and changed the face of the township, young men are also seeking the services of sex workers.”
More positively, he says there are now many tarred roads which were done under phase one of the L400 project, but most of those roads do not have good drainages.
Over the years Kalingalinga has developed but the only government school in the area is Kalingalinga Basic School to cater for a population that has tripled in recent years.
Mr Chomba appreciates that there are private schools trying to supplement government efforts in the area but says more free education needs to be made available.
The high population in the area has also caused security challenges as Kalinglinga has only one police post although a new police post is under construction.
“We are trying by all means to make sure our people are safe and to have a better environment,” he says.
Lapani Joseph Banda has lived in Kalingalinga for much of his life, which spans eight decades. He once operated a hammer mill in the township which was also a popular landmark.
People in the area referred to it as ‘Banda Chigayo’ and years after the mill was shut down, he is still called by the same nickname.
Now in his eighties with more grandchildren than he can count, he says the youth of Kalingalinga have lost moral direction.
Kalingalinga ward 31 councillor, Kasongo Chomba, says the township has a huge challenge with poor drainage and sanitation which is the case with most unplanned settlements in Lusaka.
By 2030, Kalingalinga is projected to be a central business district as so many roads in the area are now business centres.
Because the area is a collection point for water from areas such as Mtendere, this leads to flooding during the rainy season in particular.
The high population growth in the area has also brought on the challenge of uncollected waste. Being an unplanned settlement makes it difficult to engage private companies to help with waste collection.
“It comes back to the attitude of the people who don’t want to pay for garbage collection services. That is why during the rainy season most drains are blocked,” explains Mr Chomba.
The growth and development in Kalingalinga has also given rise to the emergence of nightclubs and lodges.
Mr Chomba says the township’s women are complaining that their partners are not sleeping at home because they are accessing services by sex workers who are coming from areas as far as Matero.
“Parents are complaining as well,” he says. “Although the development in the area has helped the youth find employment and changed the face of the township, young men are also seeking the services of sex workers.”
More positively, he says there are now many tarred roads which were done under phase one of the L400 project but most of those roads do not have good drainages.
Over the years Kalingalinga has developed but the only government school in the area is Kalingalinga basic school to cater for a population that has tripled in recent years.
Mr Chomba appreciates that there are private schools trying to supplement government efforts in the area but says more free education needs to be made available.
The high population in the area has also caused security challenges.

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