Mugurameno, ZM

In 2001, I led a group of educators down the Zambezi River in Africa to view the solar eclipse on the summer solstice. My group met up with the Zambezi Wilderness Safari Company in Kariba, Zimbabwe. At least that was the plan.

A public domain map of the Zambezi River that we explored in 2001

However, our starting point at the Kariba Breeze Hotel in Zimbabwe had to be changed to the Lake Safari Lodge in Zambia, due to the political unrest occurring in 2001 Zimbabwe. This caused the company to change our main local-guide to Zambian and required most of our Safari on the Zambezi River to focus on the Zambia side of the border. (A few exceptions occurred near the Mana National Park area).

A google map of our safari section of the Zambezi River in 2001

Our local guide was named Evan. He resided out of a small village next to the Zambezi River named Mugurameno. Pictured above, our safari expedition started in Chirundu, Zambia. We canoed down the Zambezi River for 4 days/5 nights to the Zambezi National Park headquarters. On the morning of the 3rd day, I convinced Evan to stop by is home village to meet his family in Mugurameno, Zambia. This webpage is our record of this experience. [It made a very interesting cultural exchange between two groups]. {This experience was actually against the rules of the Safari Company, but I was very persuasive and sort-of insisted. I guess it is rare for a foreigner, of a safari expedition, to show this much interest on they’re location and surroundings}.

Evan’s house at Mugurameno with his family on June 20, 2001.

Apparently, Evan and his spouse had 3 children, (2 girls and an infant). When we arrived, his spouse and mother were busy making flour for bread. It was interesting to see that his spouse was pounding away on the wheat to make flour, (video above). Another thing to notice, all the chickens are up on stilts to prevent hyenas from taking them and their eggs at night.

Evan, (my Zambezi River guide), with his spouse and 3 kids. (The infant is strapped to his oldest daughters back).

I noticed that his oldest daughter (about 6 years old) was carrying the family infant, tied to her back like a sling. The whole time we were there, the infant did not cry once. I asked Evan about this and he remarked, “Unattended and crying infants get taken regularly by carnivores, it is dangerous”. This community had no electricity or plumbing.

Making bread in Mugurameno, Zambia Africa in 2001

The family at Mugurameno made bread by using a winnowing basket to separate the chaff from the wild wheat & grain. {Winnowing can also be used to remove pests from stored grain}. In the video above, the winnowing is followed by threshing in grain preparation. In its simplest form, it involved throwing the mixture into the air with a shaped basket, so that the wind blows away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fall back down for recovery. Then they used a “metate” to grind the wild cereal or grains, such as wheat or millet into flour.  {Metates are typically made of a large stone with a smooth depression or bowl worn into the upper surface. Materials are ground on the “metate” using a smooth hand-held stone known as a  “mano”}. This action consists of a horizontal grinding motion that differs from the vertical crushing motion used in a mortar and pestle. However, in this case, they used both the “mortar and pestle” and the “metate” to pulverize the grain. Then the part we didn’t see in the video was kneading the flour with a liquid, (water), and perhaps adding yeast to make the dough rise and lighten when being baked.

My father, Patrick Lindsay (1924-2012), standing next to an African grain-“Mortar & Pestle” used for grinding grain into flour for the purpose of making bread.

The video below shows my father talking to the Grandmother about his kids. I am assuming that if the woman are required to make bread everyday like this, there isn’t much time for socializing. They all looked very busy, and we were an annoying distraction for the day. Note that the plastic buckets that are seen around are for water that is packed from the river or well daily.

My father, Patrick Lindsay, talking to the Grandma in Mugurameno, Africa in 2001.
My father next to Evan’s spouse and his two little girls.

Many of the houses were made of clay bricks that were thrown together from the surrounding grass and clay-soil. Most had thatched roofs. The video below shows some of the home-made bricks as we were walking through the town.

Some of the home-made building materials found on the ground.

Imagine being raised as a child in this primitive society. Pictured below, is one of the nicer homes. I was blown away about raising three children in a small homes like these. I never really walked into one of these structures. I can imagine that they were cool from the heat of the summer sun.

One of the nicer thatched roof homes of Mugurameno, Africa. {I love the nice touch of the fenced yard for growing things}. {Also, many painted there houses, like this one}

As a group of educators from the west, we decided to walk through Mugurameno to the school. The Mugurameno village was located right next to the River Zambezi and close to the Lower Zambezi National Park. The people in Mugurameno used the river for many things: washing, fishing and watering crops. However, their primary drinking water came from a well in the center of town at a pumping station. {You will see the pump in the video below} One of the main crops is grain & maize, which are used for making nshima (a sort of porridge) and bread. As seen above, the people often build their own homes out of bricks made from local clay soil and grass.

Our walk through the Muguameno Village in Zambia, Africa 2001 towards the school.

It should be noted again; there were no electricity or plumbing found within the village! We did find a small one-room store with some modern supplies brought-in from the river-canoes. I wasn’t sure what the populaton of Mugurameno village was, but I would classify it as one of the most remote villages in Africa. While life of the people were very busy-surviving day-to-day, the children of Mugurameno seemed to find time to go to school and play. We even found a dirt Soccer field with goal posts along the way to the school.

My father and Evan walking back towards me as we turn to head for the school.

The school at Mugurameno village taught 600 students from the ages of 7-17. As of 2001, there were only three teachers. Their major problem was the large turnover of teachers and the extreme lack of supplies. There were no textbooks or writing utensils. We brought a few boxes of teaching supplies, but it was a drop-in-a-bucket towards the real problem. For educators from the west, we were heart-wrenched to theses problems. {See video below}

The school at Mugurameno, (obviously built by foreigners many years ago).

Many of the older students had learned English at the school. This enabled us to communicate with them. As educators, we asked many questions. [In the next two years, I collected about 60,000 old unused-textbooks from the school-teachers at Davis School District in Utah, USA. I then gave the supplies to a friend-pilot of mine that owned an old WWII bomber-airplane. From the latitude and longitude that I collected from a GPS unit, he flew the teaching supplies to these coordinates and dropped them out of his plane. The wooden crates were designed to break on impact. In 2005, I received a thank you letter from President of Zambia].

My father and I getting ready to load-up and continue our trip down the Zambezi River in 2001. {We viewed the Solar Eclipse on the 4th day of our trip}.

The video below shows us leaving Mugurameno village. Notice the man high on the bank collecting water for the village. He is elevated to prevent the attack of crocodiles. Evan informed me that the village loses several kids/adults a year due to crocodile attacks.

Our goodbye with the Mugurameno village in Zambia Africa 2001.
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