Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI



On September 3, 2013, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , , With Comments Off on Lusaka

Hello. This morning I left my key in my room, so had to ask for another one. Then went to wait outside for my pick up, only to discover that there was a stiff breeze and it was 60 degrees! This is unusually cold for them this time of year. I complained that I thought I was back in Wisconsin (not sharing the fact that we’ve had such terribly hot and humid days recently).

I think that John and Vivian were so concerned about picking me up on time (for today, 7:15) that they got here early and parked in the parking lot. The reason I know this is that I could watch the entrance and saw their car come from the lot.

The first thing I wanted to know was whether or not Vivian had found candy for the glass jar. Yes, she had- candy that looked exactly like regular M & M’s. She told me that there were 1008 in the jar! I learned later that she had her two daughters count them. And I had thought counting 568 peanut M&M’s was tedious!!

When we got to the training site, instead of saws whining, we heard a rooster crowing!

While setting up the room, I spoke at length with Vivian. She had been exhausted the day before- and she explained why. Apparently, one of her nieces is getting married. So more than 20 women from her family congregated at Vivian’s home to cook their traditional family foods over open fires for over 12 hours straight. All of this food was then delivered to the potential groom’s family for their celebration. Vivian’s family was not involved at all in the party. They will have their own in a few weeks’ time- and Vivian said that they were going to have that one catered!

I asked her what people do for recreation. The answer is- nothing. Most have to work at least two jobs. She and John have a farm where they raise chickens, in addition to both of their jobs. She has four employees to handle the farm activities during the week, then goes to the farm on the weekends to work with the chickens.

As for teenagers, she bemoans the fact that they spend all of their free time on Facebook or watching movies on their computers. She said that they were becoming very lazy.

This was the second day of training: Strengthening Business Management Skills. I decided that I would start the class as soon as I had five people in the room. By 8:15, I had my quorum and began. More came in before 9 and a few came after 10. I’m going to continue with that policy.


At noon, a few participants left. Devout Catholics, they were going to attend the funeral of the Zambian Cardinal.

The issue of funerals came up again when John took me to a travel agent to
finalize arrangements for my travel to Livingston to see Victoria Falls over the weekend. Despite the fact that: (1) I am an international client; (2) we have communicated a number of times over the past two weeks; (3) I was paying a lot of money for the travel package; (4) she knew I would be coming between 1 and 1:30 p.m.; and (5) John had confirmed with her on the phone that morning that we were coming- she wasn’t there when we got there. Not only that, she had left no instructions, no paperwork, and no information with anyone else in the office. She, too, had simply left to go to the funeral.

I wasn’t happy and John said that this lack of commitment to a job or to customers was very prevalent in Zambia, to his chagrin.

He also spoke about the fact that people in Zambia consider even extended family members as dear as their parents and siblings. So when someone in the extended family dies, everyone comes- and there might be over 2000 people in a funeral procession. He said that people leave work to go to a funeral and walk to the gravesite in the heat, are gone 5-6 hours, and then return to work too exhausted to do anything but go home. As a result, an entire workday is lost.

The day went quickly and the evaluations were again very positive. Each day, more people are coming. Tomorrow, we may have 25 or more for the Budget Management session. So the word is spreading and owners and managers are sending more of their staff.

Vivian told me that most of the business owners are family- either brothers, husband and wife, or mother and son. She pointed out the relationships among the participants.

I’m tired, so I’m not going to be very chatty this evening. I do want to tell you something a woman said yesterday. When I asked where the female participants were, since they had not returned to class after a break, I was informed that they were “washing their feet.” I thought that this was some ritual, until they explained that it was a euphemism for going to the rest room.

On that note, have a lovely day.



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