Le Bleu, Blanc et Rouge
Story by Bennett Hughes
I woke up at 6am to catch a ride to the markets in order to buy foods/supplies for the feeding program at Kakabalika house, (a home for former street boys in Lusaka Zambia.) This is the “real Africa” where time has no firm standard, so I actually left around 8am which was nice as it gave me some quality time to read my bible.
I took some friends and cameras along for the ride to document what this process looks and sounds like, and we’ll hopefully get that footage up for readers to check out. I kind of expected the “in town with camera’s experience” to be a bit delicate, but didn’t realize the scope of said delicacy.
We made the mistake of walking into the first shop, John Wayne style with cameras rolling and ready to do some fast shooting and grocery buying. A gentleman by the name of Earnest curtly informed us to shut it down, and that we would not be allowed to buy groceries, but our lovely hosts (locals who run the feeding program) could. From then on we were sure to respectfully ask proper permission and although we were turned down on a number of occasions we were allowed to shoot in a number of different locations.
To backtrack just a bit, you need a picture of a Lusaka grocery store. Imagine yourself stepping into a room about 15’ high by 20’ long by 15’ wide. Concrete floors. Four support beams that are about 2 feet wide with yellow wallpapered advertising hold the structure up. Now this is what makes it really unique, you actually stand in the middle of this room and are separated from the groceries by a cage that divides the room on all three sides (4th side is the entrance and is open). Only a few folks are permitted inside this cage area at a time, and you by no means are permitted to touch the groceries. Customers place there order with one of the 6 gentleman tending the inside of the cage, and the order is gathered then documented on a sales ticket. Once finished you pay the man and step outside of the cage. At this point another gentlemen joins you outside of the cage and looks over the items as they are packed into boxes. Once complete, you take the sales ticket and carry your things out. Time, like the space on this blog, get’s eaten up by this process. So patience isn’t so much an option, it’s a must.
As fate would have it myself and friend RC were playing the part of wallflowers while the ordering part was taking place. We were invited in to help order some of the groceries. Which, was actually quite fun, barring me running into folks with my backpack (yes I’m the tourist with the bright red backpack loaded with hand-sanitizer and my internet tools.)
So we walked some more and visited some more shops. Noticing more and more that as we went on, even with our cameras away, folks for the large part generally did not appreciate our presence. I’m cool with that and expect that over the years westerners have made a long lasting impression. Interestingly, one shop initially shut us down presuming that we were making a documentary for profit, once informed that we were not and actually apart of a feeding program they opened their doors right up, and even gave us two souvenir mugs to boot!
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful folk that we met along the way – I’m just trying to paint the whole picture of May the 7th, 2011. My day was filled with highlights, the boys at Kakabalika are wonderful and it’s hard, considering their former circumstances not to just brag on them paragraph after paragraph. Kind, strong, disciplined, funny, smart and athletic. A pleasure to be around.
I find that usually the most awesome event’s take you by complete surprise. Today’s moment has to be scouting a Montreal Canadiens jersey from a crowded street, for you New Yorkers think the 1 train during rush hour and for you Canadiens think boxing day line ups at the pub. Can you believe it!! I ran up to him and with my huge smile and boat loads of enthusiasm, I wouldn’t have heard “no” if he said it! My buddy Ryan was quick with his camera, and there we have it folks. I want to say that perhaps it’s the only pic going around these days with a Canadian and Zambian sporting their bleu, blanche et rouge!
Ces’t la bue!