Introducing Tom’s Talk from the Kafue National Park

Sara Drawwater
14 March 2011
Hello, old ‘friends of Kaingu’, Tom’s Talk is back 

Tom’s Talk is a new feature to the Best of Zambia. It is my personal insight into the goings on at Kaingu Safari Lodge and Kafue National Park. Tom’s Talk previously went out to ‘friends of Kaingu’ — people who know of us or have had the chance to visit us. When Sara from the Best of Zambia came to stay at Kaingu we got talking about sharing Tom’s Talk with more people through the Best of Zambia website. So here is the first, an introduction to the people at Kaingu. I hope I will be forgiven for making this just a “people” orientated Talk.

Hello, old ‘friends of Kaingu’, Tom’s Talk is back — like the legendary Rip van Winkel who went walkabout and into a deep sleep for 100 years, Tom has now awoken and will hopefully stay awake? For old friends who know Kaingu from way back when and new friends joining this journey, let us bring you up to date on who is who in the zoo. That is not trying to be onomatopoeic of the “Hoo Hoo Hoo” call of the African Wilddog that we have fortunately been seeing of late, near to and en-route to Kaingu Lodge.

Tom and Viv (above) head up the Management team at the lodge itself. Living in Belgium we have Heiner Maag who has been handling all the bookings and enquiries and Andre Plaisier who looked after marketing, promotions and contact with guests. Last season we had the assistance of Egbert (alias “Chanda”) De Kwaasteniet as our in-house Lodge manager. Egbert was in fact with us in 2008 when he was doing his internship for a University in Holland in Tourism Management. Egbert loves Africa, Zambia and Kaingu so it was not difficult to persuade him to come and help us out with managing the Lodge for the 2010 season. If our plans materialise he will be back during 2011 to manage the Lodge and further develop the ‘Kaingu Killers’ football team to take on Germany in the next World Cup.

Now to the “real” people who count. Elizabeth heads up the kitchen and after reading countless recipe books and using us as guinea pigs whenever she gets the chance, she can guarantee you some really 1st class cuisine. She is ably assisted by young Elvis Wina, a graduate from a hotel training school. Elvis has a long way to go to catch up to Lizzie but he is getting there fast. We also have cheerful, smiling Esnart who has a serious load with making sure all the chalets and Main Boma are always spick and span, helping in the kitchen, waitressing and doing laundry.

Victor, our front desk man and barman, is there to welcome you, look after all your refreshment needs and helps Esnart in the main Boma. Victor is also a very capable thatcher and general handyman so he is multi-tasking “El Supremo”. Willard, aptly named — the “battery man” — is electrical systems, the water works and repairs and maintenance. Felix (absent from the photo shoot) is our our trusted carpenter the “fix — it” man. He is involved in all kinds of developmental projects and is a very knowledgeable assistant guide and tracker when called upon to help out.

Lewis is both new and old. He was one of the very first group that helped us when we started Kaingu in 2001. He was in fact instrumental in cutting open our main access track through virgin bush to allow us 12 month access. This is a rare phenomenon for a lodge here in Zambia. Lewis is born and bred in the bush and he has as his mentor, his father-in-law, the legendary Mr Brightson Shambweka that we will tell you more about later. Lewis always wanted to guide but as a young man had other things on his mind. He is now following his chosen career.

This is a very small team to run a 12 bed-lodge so when we get bigger bookings we call upon some of our earlier stalwarts to help out on a temporary basis. We call on Barbara, Rodah and Mary who assist with housekeeping, laundry and kitchen duties. Unfortunately Barbara and Mary missed the photo shoot too.

Maurice has come along in leaps and bounds as the resident Kaingu guide. He is constantly studying his guiding books and field guides so that he does not get caught out by the “specialists” that often visit Kaingu! On the guiding side, from time to time, we call on Brightson who is in a sense, my “Kapaso” meaning retainer and confidante. As his main task Bright is the curator and guide of the historical “Tunshiyanshiya” Iron Smelter site which is a Community Tourism Project the lodge helped get off the ground (a subject for another Tom’s Talk).

Most of our present staff are in some way or another, related to each other, some directly and others distantly — this is not “nepotism” in a negative way, it is how Africa operates — and it works. From an old historical document we came across we discovered that the Chief Kaingu of many years back, had 28 wives so it is no wonder that everyone is related to each other!!

We are a happy team, not afraid to criticise each other where it is necessary and maintain a hierarchy that is typical of African culture. For former guests this Tom’s Talk edition gives you an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and meet the new team. For those who will one day be new guests, it will make you feel part of our family from the minute you arrive as you will know who everybody is and what they do.

The next Talks will be about the lodge, the wildlife we have been seeing, the experiences we have had, the plans in the pipeline and all the wonderful exciting developments that are taking place in and around the Kafue National Park and Kaingu Safari Lodge. Ciao for now.

— Tom

Find out more about Kaingu Safari Lodge and Kafue National Park

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