This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Saturday, August 10, 2013


There are three other couples on a mission in Lusaka, but they are not associated with the Mission Home as we are.  We happen to live the farthest from the Mission Home so we get to enjoy a street named "Alick Nhkata".  Along this road is the edge of an area or village called Kalingalinga.  Every day we watch the bustling morning activities of everyone coming to the main paved road to get to employment in blue Combies or to go to work in their small businesses stretched along this sluggish traffic artery.

Today, I want to show you an industry that I have been fascinated with since we arrived.
There are piles of rocks and people sit and pound them with a 5 lb. sledge hammer all day long.

These piles arrive in big trucks but only a fourth are dump trucks and the others are unloaded by hand.
People are always moving piles of material by hand.  Notice the large sand piles in back.  They do not get that big with a dump truck but by tossing it up with a shovel.

Piles like the ones above are the most common and sell for 100 K or about 18 US dollars.
The truck below is not a dump truck but is pretty low to the ground for loading and unloading.

The bags are open topped and the results of sorting the rocks by size.
I wouldn't really call it gravel as they are all very sharp edged.

This pile of rocks below has been there since we moved here.  Not a fast mover.  I finally found some similar rocks in nicer neighborhoods for landscaping.  They are placed nicely to edge property lines from the street in piles so the Combie drivers don't make another driving lane on their property.
I suspect they are much more expensive.

Here you can see that there are plenty of trucks around but the rock pounding still goes on.

Is it a job for the mindless, or for the solitary thinkers?

I was surprised in a Sunday School class when the teacher talked about changes in the last twenty years in Lusaka.  She used as an example the rock pounders who have invaded the city from the bush areas.  I suppose it is the same everywhere.  
Newcomers, trying to better their lives and willing to work at anything, are resented.  

Here are people willing to work hard to feed their families, hoping their children will never have to pick up a hammer and sort rocks into different sizes.

Work in Zambia is usually paid by the piece and not by the hour.  There must be a different scale for smaller stones and more consistent sizing.

Alick Nhkata Road is not unique at all.  The number of rock pounders I saw on the road to the crocodile preserve was amazing.  A good mile on both sides of the road with piles of stone and folks sitting on the ground moving rocks from one side to the other by size.  No safety glasses in sight.

I've swung a sledge a few times and broken out concrete or a stubborn rock.  
So I know how satisfying pounding a rock can be.

I am certain they wonder about me, and envy my new truck and clean shirt. 
Often on the way to my desk in my tie and new vehicle, I envy them being able to pound rocks.