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Sandy Clark traces her love affair with Zambia

Title: My Love Affair with Zambia
Author: Sandy Clark
Publisher: Sandy Louise Clark
Pages: 167
AFTER a few drinks at a house on Omelo Mumba Road in Lusaka’s Rhodespark, they decided to venture into a beer hall, heading for Kafue Road, somewhere near Chilanga, where they made the local cement and had a number of well-frequented sporting clubs.
There, they found a large, isolated and low profile building, with whitewashed brick walls sitting under a flat roof, well set back along a dirt road that opened onto a wide dusty drive. Outside, there were people milling around. The band could also be heard playing the distinctive Zambian beat and rhythm.
So, in, they went, for the fun of their lives.
“The band was up on the stage on the left. The room was jam-packed, with hundreds of people dancing, drinking and pulsating to the sounds. Definitely, a liberated crowd, probably more men than women, and more than a handful of drunks yelling out crazy stuff,” she writes.
“I remember lots of people staring at us. We danced too with hips moving all around us to the hot beat. Everyone was looking at us, probably wondering who on earth we all were and why we were there. Most people were young, just like us in their twenties.
“The sound of the music, the laughter and the talking was deafening, so we went to the bar to try the Chibuku. I can’t remember what it tasted like, or how much I had, but at least I tried it. No one was mean to us or threatened us. It was an initiation for both of us.
“We were outside our comfort zone in an unfamiliar context. But it was a brand new and fantastic experience and a lesson to us. Once again, the people of Zambia had accepted us, members of a minority in their world.”
That is Sandy Clark, an Australian, writing about her Chibuku adventure with her husband Richard, Marilyn and Millie CoCoo, a sister-in-law of Sikota Wina in her personal memoir My Love affair with Zambia. This was in the early 70s when Sandy had arrived from Australia as a newly-wed 22-year-old.
Sandy married in Adelaide, Australia, at the age of 22, and three months later, she was in Zambia with her husband where she would work and live for a few years. She left behind in Australia a modelling agency which she had purchased.
In Zambia, she worked for Industrial Advertising and Promotions (IAP), which was owned by first Minister of Finance in independent Zambia, Arthur Wina.
Sandy and the Winas share a deep connection. She has dedicated her book to Inonge Wina, the Vice President and Arthur’s widow.
The first chapter of Sandy’s book is titled ‘The Love Affair that almost Happened’; and you do not want to guess who it involves – Sikota Wina, Arthur’s younger brother and former cabinet minister.
You want to hear what she has to say about Sikota in her own words!
“When I met a very handsome and powerful black Zambian politician, and past freedom fighter by the name of Sikota Wina when I arrived in Zambia in 1970, I liked what I saw. He was a tough character who fought for the right for Zambia to manage its own affairs,” she says.
“By this time in the country’s history, lethargy had ended, paternalism had its day and Sikota was right upfront, leading with those fighting against foreign domination of the country he was born in.
“I recognised quickly there was electricity that was happening between us. I was a newly-wed facing a few re-adjustment marriage problems in a new country far from home. Sikota was challenging and tough. He was ruggedly handsome with an amazing set of white glistening teeth and a great smile and his dark brown shining eyes were piercing.
“So piercing that I can remember it wasn’t easy for me to look at him in the eye for long. Perhaps that is what he found comely about me? …I met him through his brother, Arthur Wina, who was my boss at the time.”
But do not get excited, the love affair with Sikota, who often went to her office with his attractive Afro-American wife Glenda Puteho McCoo Wina, never got to happen.
When Sandy first came to Zambia, one of her mother-in-law’s friends told her that: “You should never be seen at meals or coffee with black people. Don’t mix with them publicly or socially. Watch out on the roads because they drive without licences and you need to be very careful when driving. Watch your money and possessions because you will get them stolen.”
And the worst, which broke her up was: “When out driving, if you knock an African over on the road, don’t stop; just keep driving, because they will all come over as a group and stone you.”
But Sandy did the exact opposite, and that is how she found herself working for Arthur, who had set up a private business after losing the 1968 elections. While working for Arthur, she was also able to train Zambia’s first models, host a show on Television Zambia, write a column in the Zambia Daily Mail and train the first hostesses for Zambia Airways.
She was also able to meet Errol Hickey, arguably one of Zambia’s best photographers, take her first safari in the Luangwa Valley, go for honeymoon in Victoria Falls and visit some of her favourite hotels and restaurants in the 70s.
Zambia’s first models included Monde Lishomwa, Clare Mutepuka, Joy Makulu, Meya Lishomwa, Paxina Kalulu, Judith Kapijimpanga, Elizabeth Fundafunda and Victoria Mapoma while Sandy’s favourite restaurants included Wookpecker Inn in Woodlands, Makumbi Room Restaurant at Hotel Inter-Continental and Ridgeway Hotel (now Ridgeway Southern Sun).
For purposes of the book, Sandy, who has launched a charity, Dignity Zambia, to raise funds for disadvantaged women and children, had to spend two months at the Ridgeway Southern Sun Lusaka and re-traced most people and places she came into contact with during her time in Zambia over four decades ago.
That is why the book is a good read – she gives the best of both words – the 70s and the now.
You may want to add the book to your collection.- KK

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