Home Articles Tales of Zambia Article 3: Mining Towns and Mission Stations
Article 3: Mining Towns and Mission Stations
Written by David Alwyn Lougher   
Saturday, 17 September 2011 07:50
Brief extracts from the letters of J & M Lougher,1946 – 1952, looking at different aspects of life in the towns and mission stations.

People and places

'In this great belt of country Copperbelt] there are five large towns – great hives of industry. The copper mines are the main attraction and draw thousands of natives and Europeans from all over the continent. Here we mix with approximately thirty different tribes, with their various languages and dialects. The Bemba people are so strongly represented, and the Cibemba language so widely spoken, that it has become the official and commercial ‘lingua franca’ of the Copperbelt.'

(Luanshya 29/10/1949)

'It [Luanshya] is twenty-three miles from Ndola; the European population is approximately 3,000 and the native 30,000. The varied employments comprise teachers, builders, mechanics, traders, craftsmen, miners and the medical people.'

(Luanshya 29/10/1949)

'This [Luanshya] is the main distribution centre for the Copper Belt which comprises four fairly large mining towns. New industries are continually being set up and it is fast growing into a tremendous centre with thousands of Africans. We are within fairly easy reach of this important centre …. Within a short cycling distance from us are fifty to sixty native farms'

(Ndola 07/06/1951)

'We are in a very strategic centre [Kalundu Mission] for reaching the villages and camps along four important roads leading to three Government centres- Luwingu, Fort Rosebery, Kawambwa - and to a very thickly-populated area on the Luapula river …. Young men pass frequently along this road on foot or on cycles to fish in the Luapula. The fish is dried and the traders travel hundreds of miles to the ‘bush’ villages to sell it;'

(Kalundu Mission 11/12/1948)

'We find ourselves at last at Lwela , 45 miles in the “bush” from Fort Rosebery. Our mail-man has to walk or cycle these many miles for our letters. This vast territory extends for about a hundred miles along the banks of the Luapula river, which is the upper reaches of the Congo.'

(Lwela Mission 18/10/1946)

Dispensaries and diseases

'Some are sick and needing bodily care, suffering from tropical ulcers, yaws, malaria, burns and various other ailments which are prevalent in this country. We have a dispensary, together with a large ward.'

(Lwela Mission 16/10/1946)

'A remedy is expected for every ailment and the more severe the treatment, the more assured they are of being healed! Young children take intra-muscular injections for yaws and other tropical diseases more calmly than some white children would take mild drinking medicine … . There is much illness at this time of the year [March] ,very many with chest troubles, especially the little children and babies in arms.'

(Lwela Mission 20/03/1947)

Transport and travel

'On the carrier of my own cycle I carried a change of clothing owing to the close proximity of the rains, also mosquito boots, and believe me they were much needed on this trek owing to us being so near to the swamps. There were also a few other articles in the ex R.A.F. kit bag.'

(Lwela Mission 05/02/1947)

'We traversed the vast territory of approximately 2,000 miles, by foot, lorry, boat and bicycle. Parts of the country were infested by wild and ferocious animals.'

(Ndola 01/03/1952)

'The journey to Mupeta’s country will live long in my memory. The first thirty miles were made in a native bus. There were supposed to be native porters waiting for me at the bus stop, but they had decided not to come.'

(Luanshya 13/04/1949)

'It was a picturesque sight - the girls walking ahead in single file, balancing their few precious belongings on their head.'

(Ndola 01/03/1951)

'Some times we go in our vanette for miles into the surrounding district [around Luanshya], where there are timber and brick camps. Other days to the mine compound with its thirty thousand people.'

(Luanshya 25/08/1949)

Schools and scholars

'Others have come for the sake of learning. There are approximately 31 boarders on the Compound [ Lwela Mission ] …. There has been a great shortage of "bunga" (native flour) this year so we were forced, very reluctantly, to turn many pupils away as we could not possibly feed them … Three lads, ranging from 10-11 years of age, go home every week-end - 15 miles away – to receive from their mothers enough "bunga" for the week'

(Lwela Mission 16/10/1946)

'Then there are the 27 blind boys and girls who have come to be loved and cared for, and at the same time learn Braille … .their supplies, mostly provided by the Government and consisting of blankets, buckets, white enamel basins, corned beef, soap,salt and dip for their jiggered feet.'

(Lwela Mission 16/10/1946)

'Every Saturday the dormitories [Blind School] are cleaned out. During the week white ants have usually busied themselves. The walls and floors have to be re-plastered with mud. There is no furniture to turn out nor carpets to brush …. The big lads do the plastering while the little ones mix the mud, and it is surprising how quickly the job gets done'

(Lwela Mission 20/03/1947)

'Here [Copperbelt] hospitals, clinics and schools, are supported and controlled by the Mine Companies and the Rhodesian Government'