The BBC’s Jo Fidgen explores one of the roughest parts of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. A local boy serves as a guide through Chibolya, a massive slum often nicknamed “Baghdad” for the widespread violence there. Her guide is a 13-year-old named Joseph Banda.
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MARCO WERMAN: If leaders of the G-20 need a reminder of what’s at stake in the global economic crisis, they might visit the slums of capitals like Lusaka, in Zambia. One of the roughest parts of Lusaka is called Chibolya. Locals have nicknamed the ghetto ‘Baghdad,” because of the widespread violence there. Chibolya is home to an estimated 30,000 people. One of them is 13-year-old Joseph Banda. He took the BBC’s Jo Fidgen on a tour.
JOSEPH BANDA: I’m not a shy guy. I like speaking to everybody.
JO FIDGEN: How would you describe Chibolya?
FIDGEN: I would describe it as the ghetto. ‘Cause here, people take advantage of us, they’re telling you, ‘You live in this stinking “conbon….” We just let them talk all they want. We survive. We live here.
BANDA: What’s the best thing about life here?
FIDGEN: Things are cheap!
BANDA: What is there in Chibolya for children to do?
FIDGEN: Playing football, and some that are just picking up things. Picking up bottles to go and sell, dirty bottles. Some of them are doing it for their families; some of them are just doing it for themselves.
[SOUND OF MUSIC AND A CROWD]
FIDGEN: It’s quite early in the day, but there seem to be a few drunk men around, huh?
BANDA: Oh, booze, and alcohol. Hm! People, they drink much alcohol ‘cause it’s cheap. That’s one thing I hate about this place.
FIDGEN: What effect does that have on Chibolya that there’s so much cheap beer around?
BANDA: They beat their wives, they sell TVs, they sell their house properties, just to earn money to drink that alcohol. People get killed. They drink too much and they just go any place, lie down there, they die. Like that. Many people have died in Chibolya. This area has injured a lot of people. Take “dagga.”
FIDGEN: “Dagga” is marijuana.
FIDGEN: Do you see people openly smoking, or openly dealing?
BANDA: They deal openly. This is the school, Twalya community school; this is the school I was in since Grade 4.
FIDGEN: So when you were in the school, how many children were there in your class?
BANDA: 86. Yes, 86, but we were growing more and more to a hundred and something.
[SOUND OF CROWD, ANIMALS, SLAUGHTERHOUSE GOINGS ON DESCRIBED BELOW]
BANDA: We are going inside the gate, here. I can see goats that are alive, some goats that are slaughtered. The goats are talking. Have mercy on us.
FIDGEN: Is goat the main meat eaten here?
BANDA: Yes. It’s good meat. Nice meat.
FIDGEN: Tell me about this patch of land the slaughterhouse is on.
BANDA: There’s blood flowing into the pits, stuff there, that’s manure.
FIDGEN: What are these shacks, just there, with wooden frames covered in plastic saying, “No Credit 500?” What are they?
BANDA: They’re toilets. We pay 500 to get inside there.
FIDGEN: Do people have toilets in their homes?
BANDA: No. I haven’t seen any houses with a toilet inside. All the toilets are outside.
FIDGEN: Is there any kind of sewage system here?
BANDA: We need that here. See, this can be a cause of a lot of diseases. I close my nose when passing through here, ‘cause it stinks a lot!
FIDGEN: So where are we walking now?
[MORE CROWD NOISE, MUSIC]
BANDA: Here, we’re walking to the Twalya Football Pitch.
BOY’S VOICES: 20 Points! Oh! [CHILDREN’S LAUGHTER]
FIDGEN: What’s the ball made of?
BANDA: Plastic bags.
FIDGEN: I suppose that doesn’t hurt as much as a normal ball when you’re playing with bare feet, anyway?
BANDA: No. It’s soft! I used to play football before, but now, I’ve stopped, ‘cause I need to study.
FIDGEN: What are you studying for?
BANDA: I’m studying for a pilot. I want to be a pilot when I grow up, so that I can go to many countries. Yes. And meet many people, maybe. Who knows, maybe taking the president to countries? It happens.
FIDGEN: You’d rather be a pilot than the president himself?
BANDA: Ah, the president. No. If I’d be president, I’d make the people sad ‘cause I’d want to have all the money to myself and don’t want to give it to the people, so I’d rather be a pilot than to be a president.
FIDGEN: Do you think all presidents are like that?
BANDA: No. Like, Obama, he’s not like that. ‘Cause Obama is a good president. The whole world loves him. ‘Cause they know he is a good president. I wish he would be the president of the whole world!
MARCO WERMAN: That was 13-year-old Joseph Banda, a resident of Chibolya, a slum in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. He was interviewed by the BBC’s Jo Fidgen.
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