Travelling Zambia — tribal accommodation

Sara Drawwater
28 February 2011
Slowly we leave the hustle and bustle behind and enter the quiet suburbs of Kabulonga. All the road names are called after various deer species. On Reedbuck Road we approach some gates flanked with…

My travelling Zambia seriesThis is the **fourth **article in a series about my 2010 experiences travelling in Zambia. If you haven’t had a chance to read earlier articles here’s the beginning.

Slowly we leave the hustle and bustle behind and enter the quiet suburbs of Kabulonga. All the road names are called after various deer species. On Reedbuck Road we approach some gates flanked with enormous masks through which is a rather modern looking angular building. This is Eight Reedbuck Hotel. Nothing could prepare us for what lay behind these almost bland walls!

The Eight Reedbuck unique selling pointWhen we are taken to our rooms, the concept of Eight Reedbuck hits home. We knew that each of the rooms would reflect Zambian tribes. But, after the straight lines of the outside building, the impact of the tribal rooms are totally unexpected. The tribes represented here are Ngoni, Bemba, Lamba, Luvale, Batotwe, Lozi, Mutundu, Lunda, Mambwe, Bisa and Kaonde. During our stay we meet Clive, the owner of Eight Reedbuck who said he chose the main tribes of Zambia to reflect key aspects of Zambian culture. Clive has most certainly been successful at bringing so many of Zambia’s 72 tribes to life.

The style here is lots of chunky wood and heavy furniture. You experience large indoor showers with an outdoor feel due to their glass roofs. Each room is filled with tribal colours, trinkets and the specific tribal story. Interestingly, this variety of Zambian culture and style is mixed in with other African themes and touches of Moroccan and Venetian influences — and it works. The garden is relatively small for the usual rolling grounds of Zambian properties. Not short of ideas though, Clive has enlarged this city garden with the clever use of mirrors.

It’s all about serviceFirst impressions here are about top notch service and fantastic attention to detail. It’s all in the detail right down to the cushion detailing, cow bells on the wall in the Batotwe room which illustrate the passion this tribe has for their cattle and the tribal book in each room so I can read about each tribe.

On arrival, a man rushes out to help with our luggage. This is Hector, and he ushers us through to the lounge with its oversized leather sofas, rustic bulging book shelf and cow hide on the floor. Hector take orders for a complimentary round of drinks which arrive with a plate full of delicious home made biscuits — someone must have told them the way to my heart! Through the glass doors we glimpse an outside lounge area with equally impressive furniture, a lush garden and a swimming pool.

I am happy. This is a great start to impress my English visitors. Being half Zambian and half English, I have lived longer in Zambia than I have in England and I feel more Zambian than English. Zambia is home for me and there is something deep inside me that wants people to be impressed by my home. We see too much of the classic African imagery of kids with malnutrition, bellies bulging and flies in their eyes. I want people to learn that that is not all Africa is about.

So, what’s with the walls in Zambia?One of the things people will quickly notice on arrival to Zambia is the walls that surround people’s property. Those who can afford it top their walls with electric fences. Glass bottle shards or barbed wire are embedded into concrete for those that can’t. Some would read this as a signal that danger lurks — but does it? By far one of the most interesting things to do in Zambia is to talk to local Zambians. According to Clive, walls are a relatively new thing, developing over the last 40 years or so. Historically, Zambian properties used to have a very small or low brick fence which served as markers for the start and end of people’s property. Trouble came with Zimbabwean rebels who were training in Zambia. When it all ended the rebels sold off all their weapons which filtered into the communities. Typically, as crime went up so did the walls. And now it is just the way things are. People put a wall up to mark their property and it has become a status symbol. But now there is not much trouble at all, according to Clive. “Here, if you respect the people around you, you are respected back”, he says.

Later, we asked Clive what we should do while in Livingstone. “Royal Livingstone high tea,” he said, grinning. More on that later…

*My travelling Zambia series**This is the **fourth** article in a series about my 2010 experiences travelling in Zambia.*

1: Travelling Zambia — the beginning2: Travelling Zambia — Heathrow to Lusaka3: Travelling Zambia — our Lusaka arrival4: Travelling Zambia — tribal accommodation5: Travelling Zambia — the zen like Prana in Livingstone6: Travelling Zambia — the human mind at night in Africa**

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