Tag Archives: Nyoka Guest House


Our last day in Kalabo

Well I am getting close to the end of our visit in Kalabo.

I got up early on Tuesday morning and made scrambled eggs with cheese and let Carl have a bit of a sleep in. You have to remember that we have not had coffee for 3 days now.

The sun coming up beside our chalet.

The sun coming up beside our chalet.


Scrambled egg making with just me and the wandering chickens

Then we all sat in front of our chalet and I explained what all of the medical supplies were for. Advil night time, advil cold & sinus, regular advil, etc.

Mualuka then said that Dominic wanted us to come to there chalet as he had something to say and here is what he said.

What more can I say?

I was trying very hard not to get emotional on this trip.

I felt good because I had accomplished what we had set out to do. I do wish though that we had talked more. It was a busy trip as we spent most of our time cooking but well worth it.

We watched them pack all of their suit cases in Fredrick’s car to take them to Mualuka’s canoe. They had a 10 hour paddle up river to get home.

We left ourselves and started on our way back to Lusaka.

I have to tell you about our trip back, but not tonight.

I will write soon.

Hope you all have a Happy New Year!



Gideon- Liuwa Plains Poacher turned Conservation Officer

Here is another small world story!

When I went to meet Njamba the first time in August 2011 I was told by World vision that I would get a tour of what World Vision has built and done in the community and that afternoon go visit my sponsored child for about three hours.

Well! I thought to myself( or maybe even said it out loud), that there was no way I was traveling all that way to meet with him for just three hours. I asked if there was something we could all do locally and I would cover the cost. I wanted to take the family to Livingstone to see the Victoria Falls, One of the seven wonders of the world but that was too costly and it was at least a 10 hour drive on a sand road.

So my wonderful David, Sponsorship Facilitator for World Vision, after speaking with Dominic, suggested we go to the remote Liuwa Plains National Park. I thought it was a great idea. Njamba, his mom, twin sister, Mualuka, David, Max, Jami and I all piled into the World Vision 4 x 4 vehicle and off we went.

It cost 40,000KW (about 8USD) to take the vehicle across the Zambezi River and then a 12KM drive to the park boundary. The cost to get into the park was 200,000KW ( 40USD) for Jami & I and 20,000KW ( about 4USD) for residents of Zambia. Well worth the cost!

You have to have a guide who carries a big gun just in case he has to scare an animal who gets too close. That rarely happens though as you have to be really quiet when you spot some animals so you don’t scare them away. This is a really remote park and one of the few ” Real Africa” experiences left . We didn’t even see another vehicle during our travels in the park.

We were fortunate to have Gideon as our guide. You can read more and see the video in the blog from last year at medwoman.wordpress.com/Liuwa Plains National Park.

Gideon was amazing on our tour and answered all of our questions about all of the animals especially the Wildebeast Migration from Angola. Gideon told us that he had been there the day before and the Wildebeast had not yet started arriving. Well, I am blessed, because the day we were there, there were thousands. Quite a site to see.

I had hoped to see Gideon again on this trip and here is a prime example of “think and that is the way you shall go” because as we were walking down the street there was Gideon walking with his mother. I called out his name in the street and it was precious to see the look on his face. He remembered me as being the woman that was with “Jami”. He found her very attractive and asked how she was doing.

Unfortunately he had just left his fathers funeral and so I invited him to come back for dinner at Nyoka Guest House later.

Gideon showed up and we showed him all of the pictures from that trip. He asked if he could have the one of Jami and Dominic said it was OK as I had given all of the pictures, at least 200 of them to the family.

As I was cooking dinner, Carl showed Gideon the videos I had done in last years blog and Gideon told him how he became a conservation office. Apparently Gideon used to go hunting with his father. They were poachers. If you could see Western Province you would understand why. Not that I am condoning it by any means but the people have to survive. The closest grocery store” Shoprite” is 75KM away in Mongu. They have small shops in Kalabo with limited inventory.

Thanks to African Parks  they have hired the poachers to protect the animals and catch the poachers. Gideon is a perfect candidate. He already knows the park, where the animals can be found and how the poachers work. He is hoping to go to formalize his education and go to University and learn as much as he can about the animals he protects. It is very difficult for him to save money as he doesn’t take out tourists every day. Carl gave him $50USD towards his education. Carl said to me” You sponsor Njamba and I sponsor Gideon”. It is very easy to get attached and let these people into your heart.

While we were all sitting in front of the restaurant Nyoka guest house is building, Gideon told us about Herbert Brauer who originally came to Liuwa to film hyenas. When Gideon mentioned the name Brauer, I recognized it and exclaimed ” I know him” He is the one that filmed Lady Liuwa”! Mualuka laughed and I explained that I knew of him, I didn’t know him personally. Gideon told us that Herbert wanted him to get as close to the hyenas as he possibly could He was crouched down about 2 feet away from a hyena and it was captured on film. Hyena’s have the strongest jaw in the wild kingdom and they eat all of the animal. including the bones. They call Hyenas stool, African chalk as the calcium makes it white.

While I was cooking dinner in my make shift out door kitchen, ( it was pitch black out so thank goodness Carl lent me his head lamp) Gideon sat with me and told me all about his life in Kalabo and we talked about ” Lady Liuwa”. If you haven’t seen the video it is so worth the watch. “The Last Lioness” on U Tube.  I told him I was going to email Herbert Brauer to see if I could get a copy of ” Bonecrusher Queens” the video about hyenas for him.

When I got home I emailed the university in Johannesburg where he works and this is the response I got.

Morro Joanna,

good to hear you’ve been to Liuwa and clearly enjoyed it from what I gather.  Liuwa is an interesting place, very demanding, always do I walk away with more than I came but one has to be open and aware of her teachings.

Do you live in California?  A friend of mine from California comes visiting in November, I’ll ask him to take a copy of Bronecrusher Queens along and send it to you from San Jose.

All the best,


I forwarded this email to the Liuwa headquarters, as Gideon doesn’t have a computer, so he would know I had been in touch with Herbert.

I have not received the copy yet but my fingers are crossed.

I will let you know when I get it!

God Bless You Max

We arrived at Nyoka Guest House and got settled in. The three boys shared a chalet, Mualuka, Frederick and Dominic shared another one & Carl & I a third and this is what they looked like. There is a picture of us last year on our last day together. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Carl & I unloaded all of the groceries onto the spare single bed in our room and the little fridge. I had a small table in our room that was my work station. I brought plastic plates donated by my sister Karen and plastic cutlery that was left at our cottage when we bought it. See the big jug of oil ( not gasoline) on the floor, that is like gold to them, very useful and hard to get in the villages. Carl was filling our stainless steel water holders with bottled water and Tang that I had brought from home.

We had purchased five hand made baskets in Lusaka at the Kabwata Cultural Village. There is not a lot of fruit in Western Province, it is all grown in South Africa so I made up a basket with apples and oranges for each room just in case they got hungry. They grow bananas but apples & oranges would be a treat.

We had gone to Kabwata Cultural Village to meet Max’s wife Fair. She is a nurse at the clinic there and I wanted to meet her. About a week before Max passed away ( complications from diabetes) I had spent $105.00 and purchased business cards, fridge magnets,2 hats, 2 T-shirts and 2 large sign magnets for the side of his buses online from Vista Print. I had chosen one of Vista prints logo’s and Wakmaf Bus Services Came to life. The name comes from Max & Fair’s initials.Max was laid off from World Vision in September 2011 after he & David had taken Jami & I to meet Njamba last August. Max was a go getter and managed to raise the money to buy two buses. An 8 & 30 seater to try and earn a living.

I was taking the advertising materials to surprise him but he didn’t get to see the surprise.

Max & Fair have five children so I hope they are able to use what we brought and continue the business. I only met Fair briefly and we hugged and cried but I now know what she looks like and I can see her and Max together in my mind. Max was an amazing man and will be dearly missed. I can still hear you saying “shuwa” Max. Thats what it sounds like when Zambian’s say “sure”.

God Bless You Max for even on your death bed you fulfilled your promise and got me to Kalabo by putting me in touch with Frederick. Thank You. Thank you Thank you!

Max Katyamba ( 195?-2012)

May you rest in Peace like your Country!

Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People

After the gift giving we all retired to our perspective rooms for the night.

Carl & I went to bed and were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of rushing water. There was a shower room across the hall from our room and it was running full blast. Carl got up and turned it off only to find an outside tap was gushing water as well. There are many issues in Kalabo with getting replacement parts for everything including plumbing and the outside tap had string tied on it to keep it from dripping. Basically the threads were stripped. Carl asked me if I had any string and the only thing I could come up with was dental floss. So Carl went back outside and tied up the tap so it would not gush water.

The Community Guest House

We got up in the morning and the guest house cooked everyone eggs and buns for breakfast. Frederick and I went to Nyoka Guest House to see if we could get rooms for our remaining 3 days and we went back to the community guest house for me to cook lunch and for everyone to pack.

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I cooked hamburgers with fried onions, cheese and BBQ sauce for everyone in an outside kitchen area, while Carl taught the boys how to play scrabble. I think it was their first time having a hamburger.

Then I planted lemon seeds and hope that they will get enough water to grow.

We then packed all of our luggage into the Honda and headed over to Nyoka Guest House. We had to walk as there wasn’t enough room for us in the car.

We passed a shop where they made boats. The black & white striped boat used for the famous Kuomboka ceremony was made here. Here is an article from the Norway-Zambia Friendship Association newsletter.

The most famous and spectacular of Zambias many traditional ceremonies is the Kuomboka which is celebrated each year in March or April . Kuomboka marks the occation when the King of the Lozi people, the Litunga of Barotseland, moves his court from the dry season residence at Lealui on the Zambezi floodplain onto higher ground at Limulunga.

The Zambezi floodplain in Barotseland, Zambias Western province, is extremely fertile. Black soil, replenished by the river each year, allows for rich grazing and agriculture. Surronded by the sands of Kalahari, it is no wonder that the Lozi tribe, having migrated from the north-east around the turn of the eigtheenth century, decided to settle, and managed to build a well organized society that stretched well beyond their core areas. But the rich land comes at a price. Toward the end of the rainy season, the plain is transformed into a lake. The water level can rise as high as 40 feet above normal, and even though they built their houses and laid their gardens and fields as high in the terrain as possible, the mounds on which the houses stood became tiny islands, and it got so cramped for space, that it is said that folk and cattle were drowned and even the snakes climbed into the bushes to escape the angry white ants. They simply had to get out of the water.

And Kuomboka translates to just that: Getting out of the water. According to oral tradition, it was a legendary King by the name of Mboo, who in the early 18th century decided that something needed to be done. He started experimenting with the art of building boats, or barges, which unlike the traditional dug-out canoes were large enough to carry people and property in larger numbers.

The boats were decorated to resemble the altars used to worship the God Nyambe, and their construction was meticulously regulated and monitored. When the boats were finished, tested and approved, the King set a date for the migration, and one day before the event, the drums would sound over the land to alert the people that it was time to get moving.

The largest of the boats is the royal barge, the Nalikwanda. It is decorated with an enormous elephant statue, the symbol of Lozi royal might. The King sits under a canopy, accompanied by his closest attendants, the royal drummers and 100 paddlers. It is considered a great honour to be picked as a paddler on the royal barge. Two canoes, painted white are sent ahead to check the water depth and behind comes smaller barges carrying the Queen and the Prime Minister.

The migration takes more than six hours, and the ceremony gathers thousands of spectators and dignitaries each year. Under this years ceremony, President Rupiah Banda was there with several cabinet ministers to congratulate the Litunga, King Lubosi.

Kuomboka should definitely be on everyone’s list of things to see before one dies.

Crossing the Zambezi River

We finally made it to the pontoon crossing and I had two curious fellows present themselves to me who were trying to better their english. We managed to communicate very well considering.

Every time I said some thing the boys would repeat it. I would ask ” What is your name?” and they would repeat it. Finally after doing this many times, by pointing to myself and saying”Joe” they realized and pointed to themselves and said their names. We had many laughs and great fun. It was starting to get dark and we still had a long way to go.

I am not sure if I mentioned the fact that I was planning to cook dinner for every one that evening on two globe like aluminum BBQ’s I had brought from Canada. It looked like I would be cooking in the dark.

We crossed the Zambezi and passed through another sandy, grassy area and it was a little nerve wracking, especially for Frederick as he was driving. We could barely see where we were going and what path to take. Well we took a wrong one and got stuck.This is a picture of the underside of the car resting on sand. I don’t have any other pictures of this situation as we were all digging out. It was getting darker and darker and we were in the middle of nowhere. I had visions of us spending the night in the car with the doors locked and windows up to keep the bugs out. There aren’t really that many insects this time of year but still a few. Luckily it cools down in the evenings and we had all of our luggage with us.

Here we were on this one lane sand (beach like) road with tall grasses all around us, in the dark and I saw two lights bouncing in and out towards us from quite a distance away. Part of me wanted to scream for help to attract their attention and part  hoped they would go down another path as there was no way they would get by our vehicle. The lights disappeared so I thought we had lost them then out of nowhere I see is this huge truck coming down our path about 30 ft. away. It stopped and three men got out and started talking to Frederick. The driver and owner of the truck said to me” you are carrying too much luggage!”. I agreed.He seemed very nice so I was a little more at ease.

Luckily Frederick new him. Frederick new everyone! In Zambia there are still Cheifs and Heads of the community.Frederick is a Head and very well respected so I was so pleased that Max had put us in contact with him. I knew we would be safe.

We all used feet and hands and muscle to flatten the sand so it could be driven over and finally after about half an hour and a couple of pushes by all the men the car was free.

I gave the driver 70,000kw (14USD) and told him to share it with his men as that was all I could fine in my bag in the dark. He said” you don’t have to pay for our help” and I said” But I want to, Thank you very much”. That is how it works over there on that long stretch of sand road, everyone helps everyone else.

We finally made it to Kalabo at around 8:30pm. That was 141/2 hrs after we left Lusaka.

Along the way we got a call from Mualuka saying that because we had not arrived at our guest house  the woman running it gave our rooms away. I took a deep breath and asked” Where will we stay then?” and Frederick said they were all at the guest house that World Vision had built which the community was running now. I felt relieved that we had a place to stay and was looking forward to getting anywhere.

Apparently they had all eaten in a restaurant next to the guest house. I wondered who had paid for it as I knew they didn’t have any money. I expected to pay when I got there. This was an expense I hadn’t counted on.

We pulled up to the gate of the guest house and I jumped out of the car to open it.

It was pitch black out as we pulled up to the building. There are no street lights in Kalabo , just beautiful stars.

The family was not there yet so I waited with a longing in my stomach and the blood pumping fast to my heart. Almost 1 year ago, less 3 days, I had met Njamba  for the first time with his mother and twin sister. He would now be 17 years old.

We parked in front of this long hallway with rooms on either side and the car lights shone into the guest house. It certainly wasn’t the ritz, but we would make the best of it. I was hoping we could move to Nyoka Guest House for the remaining 3 days as I had stayed there last year and it was quite nice and I was comfortable there.

I turned around and looked into the black night and saw 5 shadows behind me. One of them yelled, Joanna and Mualuka rushed at me with a big hug! I said Hello! It is so good to see you, even though I could barely see him. I then looked to my left and tried to see who else was there. I said” Njamba?” and he bounced out of the line and came and gave me a big hug and that familiar deep laugh of his. His laugh was familiar as I had watched the video we had taken last year so many times.

I was then introduced to Dominic, his father, Kufuku, his older brother and Mutiowa, his younger brother even though I could barely see their faces. Carl was introduced and shook all of their hands.

I said lets move inside so I can see you all, so we did!