My first stop in Zambia was the the town of Livingstone. I stayed in a great hostel and was welcomed by the receptionist who told me that she had been to East Lansing before. She dated a guy who went to Michigan State and she asked "If I had ever been to a place called, Crunchy's?" I chuckled and told her I had stopped by there once or twice during my years in East Lansing.
The Victoria Falls are a few mile walk from the edge of town. I spent a few hours exploring the national park and the Falls. I have had the opportunity to see Niagara Falls and Iguazu Falls and I have to say that when I first cast my eyes on Victoria Falls, I let out a small gasp. The beauty and the power of the Falls are amazing. I cannot tell you how sad I am that I have lost the pictures of this part of the trip. You would have been amazed at the colors and rainbows that seemed to be coming from every direction. As you walk through the viewing area, you fell the power of falls as you get drenched.
The locals call the Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders). From what I understand, the views of the Falls from Zimbabwe are just as good. I did not go to the Zimbabwe side because the visa fees where not in the budget. I guess I will have to come back to see them from the Zimbabwe side some day in the future.
I was given this book to read by a fellow traveler, Ingeborg Mate. Ingeborg and I met at the hostel in Livingstone and traveled together to Lusaka. She was visiting her family there and I was making my way across the country so I could catch the train to Tanzania. While on the long bus ride, she gave me the book and I practically finished it by the time we arrived in Lusaka. It was an intriguing read and though I don't know if I agree with all of Moyo's assumptions, she has a compelling case to make against the way the West has traditionally given aid to African countries. She calls for the end of traditional aid within the next five years and a renewed focus on developing long term trade partnership, direct microfinacing to entrepreneurs, and issuance of bonds in foreign markets.
Moyo, a Zambian economist, has been called the Anti-Bono. Not only is she critical of the concept of traditional aid, she feels that having a white musician leading the call for more aid, as Bono has been doing, is not productive. She jokes that it would be like the United States allowing a British pop star lecture it on how to solve the housing crisis. An interesting point and I am sure statements like that will continue to get her media attention to help sell her book.
For those that are concerned about the future of Africa and those that are concerned about the deficiencies in the international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, I would recommend adding this to your reading list.
"In this provocative and compelling book, Dambisa Moyo argues that the most important challenge we face today is to destroy the myth that Aid actually works. In the modern globalized economy, simply handing out more money, however well intentioned, will not help the poorest nations achieve sustainable long-term growth.
Dead Aid analyses the history of economic development over the last fifty years and shows how Aid crowds out financial and social capital and directly causes corruption; the countries that have ‘caught up’ did so despite rather than because of Aid. There is, however, an alternative. Extreme poverty is not inevitable. Dambisa Moyo also shows how, with improved access to capital and markets and with the right policies, even the poorest nations could be allowed to prosper.
If we really do want to help, we have to do more than just appease our consciences, hoping for the best, expecting the worst. We need first to understand the problem." (From Moyo's Publisher's website)
While I was in Livingstone, we attended a showing of the movie of Slumdog Millionaire. A local family had refurbished the city's original movie theater that had been closed for years.They had done a wonderful job of bringing back the feel of the original building. They have a little work to do on the sound system but other than that it was great to see this cultural gem brought back to people of this small town. Later that night in LA, California, the movie Slumdog Millionaire swept the Academy Awards!