My childhood years in Zambia

cartoon girl in jean jacket in purple dress holding red book and white cup on purple bean bag. white background behind her with green under her. white letters on green box reads Miss Mahee's personal posts. blue background at edges.
My personal work

Hello friends, this post will be dedicated to my childhood years growing up in Zambia. I know I’ve mentioned these years quite a few times in my personal posts before, but in this one I will describe them in a bit more detail for those who need a bit more. Are you ready?

five-grid box with images. top right image of small girl in red dress seated on white stone looking at trees ahead. bottom right image of three kids on small table smiling. bottom left image of man with baby and small girl in blue dress. left middle image of family outside. top left image of small girl and mom laughing.
Early years in Zambia with the family…

Well, if we start from the beginning, it all began when my parents travelled to Zambia in 1978 to start a new job in the Copperbelt province. It turns out the whole province was home to several large copper mines and the company that ran them needed expat professionals which is where my father and his group of friends came in. My earliest memories are a bit vague and hazy so I had to ask my parents for most of these details. I started kindergarten there at the tender age of four in the house of some lady which was a bit traumatic for me and a bit of that fear accompanied me through to school. However, as I grew up, the lessons learned and activities I took part in made the whole schooling experience a bit easier. I went to that school for seven-ish years.I ended up taking the sixth grade in Sri Lanka and returning to Zambia for the seventh as the civil unrest in Sri Lanka was taking a turn for the worst that year! (That experience is a whole other thing!!) After that I was sent to boarding school in the UK as the town we lived in didn’t have a secondary school. (You can read this experience in more details on the post ‘My tween years in boarding school’ )

When it came to school you could say I enjoyed the studying part more than the sports side. You could possibly call me a nerd and get away with it. Believe me, I’ve heard them all!! This doesn’t mean I didn’t do any sports. We did have physical education or P.E. as they called it there. I remember taking part in the long jump for a sports event and playing a baseball-type game which we called ‘rounders’. The teachers encouraged everyone from the lower classes to participate in plays as well. I was once part of the beanstalk when our 2nd grade did Jack and the beanstalk for their annual play and was a dancer or part of the choir in other years. That’s me in the picture below posing in my ‘beanstalk’ costume with my friend and my dad caught me dancing too. You can tell from the class picture that there were a diverse group of kids in that class. I think that was my fifth grade class!!

five-grid box. bottom right large box of girl in red jumper and cream dress with red school bag and yellow bottle smiling. bottom left kids dancing. left middle image of kids dancing with arms up. top left image of class photo with kids lined up outside. top right image of two girls smiling dressed in tank tops and leafy skirt.
My school years…

There was never a day when I didn’t have things to do. I’d have afternoon activities such as gymnastics, piano lessons, Girl Guides –  which I think had a different name there – and even French lessons. And on the weekend I distinctly remember attending a tennis school run by a Sri Lankan lady. Of course Sunday school followed where we learned Buddhism and Sinhalese!! If you thought I didn’t have any spare time you’d be wrong. When I wasn’t doing any of these my family would find me either playing outside on my bicycle, climbing the frangipani tree outside or if it was raining, curled up with a good book!! Mind you, the whole book-reading in a corner, only started for leisure in my teen years. I had too many activities and homework to complete in the early years with an active social life thanks to my parents as their group of friends grew!!  

And so, their social calendar grew to accommodate many birthday parties and religious functions. According to my parents we’d have a few a month, not too many. Other times we’d just visit friends on the weekends or band together and go on trips over school holidays to the national game parks in Zambia. This was quite a feat especially after my siblings were born!!

five-grid box. top right image of girl holding binoculars looking through them. large image across middle of girl and mother seated at brown upright piano with TV beside them. bottom right image of four sweet girls smiling with white tops and colourful skirts sitting in front of painted tree. bottom left two girls beside lake. top left image of small girl beside table with flowers on it and flag on wall. table has cloth over it and plates and flowers on it.
Growing up in Zambia…

For me, this life seems simpler than what I have now. It’s most probably because we didn’t have the digital influences from social media and such. I remember waiting patiently for the cartoons to start at 5:00 pm on weekdays and I had to show my mother my finished homework before I even sat down to watch any!! This was the 1980’s folks, and life was quite good for us expats there in Zambia as the economy was fairly stable. I suppose in a way I didn’t have too many bad memories as a result of this. Many people who have lived in African countries talk about the poverty, discrimination and violence they’ve witnessed there or even experienced. I can’t say we didn’t know anything about these as our community did experience burglaries and accidents. Some even fatal ones which I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It’s the culmination of these years and the ones afterwards that helped shape my youth and help develop my character into who I am today. If anyone asks me I’d say that I’m grateful for my parents’ decisions and have no regrets as they gave me an amazing childhood filled with a whole lifetime of experiences in those twelve years and some!!

So there you have my story from my younger years.

I hope you enjoy the posts for the rest of the month.

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

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