The Diary of a Humble Economist is a column dedicated to the sharing of the life, trials, tribulations, thoughts and opinions of a humble economist as seen through the lenses of Politics, Economics and Entertainment (PEE).
Whenever I can, I will cover stories of my real life daily experiences from my Komboni childhood in Libuyu in Livingstone, to the streets of Lusaka, London, Oxford, Sheffield, Lancaster, Manchester, New Dehli, Harare and of course, my ancestral home, Dundumwezi in Kalamo where I will have to retire to when I meet my ancestors on the other side, if my attempt at the presidency fails in 2031, in which case I would have failed to secure a burial place at the prestigious embassy park!
I will also share my thoughts on the economy, politics and social life in Zambia. These thoughts are usually influenced by my weekly interactions at the neighborhood beer hall where men gather, in a support group fashion to discuss things that matter the most in life: Women, beer and money – in order of importance.
Talking of bear talk, I can assure you that ma story yamu moba are usually a true, accurate and concise reflection of what is happening in our wider society. If there is one place where people can freely express themselves without the constraints of the work environment policies or the nagging wife’s censorship, it is the beer hall. In fact, the beer hall is perhaps the best place for innovative ideas. It is said that actually, the idea to colonise Africa started in a bar somewhere in Europe.
So where do we start? Not sure but maybe a little background maybe in order. So on Monday July 23rd was my birthday. I turned 33 years old. I had been excitedly looking forward to celebrating it with my dear beloved woman of 3 weeks, only to be told off a day before my birthday that.
“Moono, you need to grow up! You cannot be drinking Chibuku all day a day before you birthday, and on a working day,” she rattled.
My lady wasn’t amused that I was taking beer where I sometimes have to use toothpicks after each sip to clear off the residuals. Judge me not, I do get to the top end of alcohol consumption when times are good. But there is a period of the month we call ‘injury time’, like a week before pay day when our last month’s salaries have been exhausted, our savings accounts overdrawn and those that owe us money can’t even like our Facebook statuses for fear of being noticed.
I reminded my lady that I was going to grow up later that night, like literally, but that didn’t go well with her at all and our relationship didn’t last much longer after our altercation. I was dumbed.
I had plans. I mean, with near zero degrees temperatures, I had hoped that my 33rd birthday would be the most lit, you know, low temperatures, with Chester’s ‘Banjo’ playing in the background, we could have cuddled all day all night, with our phones off – who knows what our ancestors might have allowed? Alas, all that was shattered!
Now remember I promised to share life experiences, and I hope you too can learn a thing or two.
Truth be told, I have had had really terrible birthday experiences, and this breakup was nowhere near the birthday that taught me an economic lesson once. I hope you won’t judge me, especially that we are a Christian Nation and we don’t like people like Zodwa Wabantu.
So sometime in July 2010, then a student in the UK, I had two of my Zambian friends living in London invite me over for a birthday bash. If there is something we Zambians are good at, it is sharing beer, especially cheap beer. I had just gotten paid my monthly stipend (At YUNZA we used to call this BC, not Before Christ but Bursaries Committee). I had not yet paid my rent nor gotten supplies for my month but hey, it was my birthday, so I was up for celebration.
I headed out and caught up with my Zed connects. Zed connects in London are those Zambians who have overstayed; they want to come back home but can’t afford an air ticket, and most of them are illegals whose Visas have long expired so they can’t get serious jobs neither. The naughty ones go ahead to marry some unsuspecting old muzungus for the sake of getting official stay in the foreign country.
Anyways, back to my birthday woes. So my Zed Connects picked me up and said for my 25th birthday, they were taking me to enjoy ‘London night life’. And so the night started: We moved from pub to pub – pub crawling the call it. Then at midnight, my Zed Connects decided to up the tempo – they said we were going to the strip clubs!
I had never been to a strip club before. You see, growing up in Zambia, such things only existed in the movies. Being a strong Christian, I reluctantly accepted the invitation, with the aim that I would rebuke my Zed Connects with my Christians values, sooner or later. I didn’t happen!
Instead, their influence took the upswing. I loved it. We went to a Strip Club run by some Russian mob. The club was called Secrets 3 in Holborn. The motto for the club was: Where Dreams Become Reality. I am not sure what kind of dreams these are, but the he rules of the club were quite clear: No Touching. No asking of contact numbers for the dancers/strippers. No Kissing. So the experience was quite something I had never seen before.
For £25, you could have a beautiful stripper come dance for you (By the way, in unrebased kwacha, that was about K325, 000). The whole club was filled with beautiful women, something like King Solomon’s harem. I then understood where King Solomon got his wisdom from – beautiful women! Many beautiful women make you wise, and yes, for a moment I was wise. So wise was I that my wisdom turned into heavy generosity. Of course K325, 000 wasn’t a small fee for a two minute dance, but hey, who cares, if King Solomon did it, why couldn’t I also did it? And so dance after dance I ordered for myself and my two Zed Connects who were overjoyed by my generosity, saying, in between drinks: “Ema men aba. Elo boi waliba humble zoona. God bless you my brother, God bless you!”
By 4am, we had had enough, it was time to go. I felt great! It was a great night, so great it was that I was already planning on returning soon. Everything was perfect until it was time for me to get back to my School, Oxford. I was still high by 8am when I made my way to the bus stop and produced my ATM Card to pay.
It was declined!
I quickly rushed to the nearest ATM to check my balance. All my money was gone. I printed out my bank statement and as you would suspect: Over £850 was spent in one night at one place on two things: Wine and Women dancers! Again, at that time that was about K11.1 million.
I was stuck, and my two Zed Connects could not help me, I mean, I was the baller here, the big buyer. There I was, broke! I made a frantic call back to Zambia to a friend teaching in a rural part of the country for a ‘soft loan’ via Xapit to allow me to survive for a few weeks before my next monthly allowance was due. Since that birthday ‘funeral’ in London, I kept a low profile on my birthdays, and of course, I avoided my Zed Connects.
Now that I am back in a country with high morals, such that we even have a Cabinet Minister to inspect our sins, I don’t go to clubs, apart from the neighborhood watering hole where I still enjoy nkani zamu moba.
Have a lovely week folks, remember to spend wisely on your birthday.
With love from Dundumwezi.