Cairo Road during rush hour.
The street empties as people head back into the neighbourhoods of Lusaka and beyond. This is one of the capital’s busiest and oldest streets. It also happens to be my favourite street in Zambia.
If one really wants to start to understand the real city life of Zambians, I recommend Cairo Road. There is always a story unfolding as one passes through the street.
My advice: take your time walking around; from the hawkers on the street to the traffic, you feel right at home if hustle and bustle gets your blood going.
I remember walking on this street as an 11-year-old on the way to the passport office. It still stands in the same place on a little alleyway connecting into Cairo Road.
Not much changes here. It’s refreshing to see things still in existence in a city that has new buildings popping up to accommodate the consumerist culture. Cairo Road is one of those places that seems to preserve every feeling that people tie to it.The Passport office, the Central Bank, the oldest ShopRite shop in the country—hey all still stand on the Great Cairo Road.
Auralgraph: Cairo Road, Lusaka, 2023. © Fiske Serah Nyirongo.
The Notorious Katondo Street
When my health education ended abruptly due to financial constraints I came here to rid myself of its reminders. Katondo Street is notorious to most people: you can go to this street with a bag filled with gadgets and walk away with thousands of Kwachas. The notoriety comes from the street’s quick-buck trading method. Katondo can sometimes be a haven for thieves who resell their spoils here.
But speaking from experience, Katondo Street can be a saving grace for people looking to make quick sales to survive an emergency. Traders are now being smart about selling secondhand goods. The last time I sold some old phones here, I was told to leave a print-out of my national registration card and contact details.
Katondo is filled with sharply dressed businessmen from as far as Tanzania and the DRC. My father says the street has undergone a change in demographics recently because it was a usual trading area for East Africans and Zambians.
Auralgraph: Katondo Street, Lusaka, 2023. © Fiske Serah Nyirongo.
Are You City Market Tough?
The City Market is the hardest place to navigate to date for me.
I rarely find the need to come here unless I have no choice. The sound—hooting from bus drivers, passengers rushing into and out of parked or slowly moving buses and the constant chatter—is almost painful if one has gotten used to quiet. I am often shocked when I am here after a while away.
City Market is the only place to find affordable public transportation that reaches the outskirts of Lusaka.
Auralgraph: City Market, Lusaka, 2023. © Fiske Serah Nyirongo.
Until Next Time baLusaka
I get onto my bus which will take me to my stop 40 kilometres east of the city. Chongwe is my home and the place that’s given me mental space to develop my creativity.
I breathe in and out as the Lusaka-ness rolls off my shoulders.
Maybe cities work when you live on their edges.
Auralgraph: City Market Near Chongwe Bus Stop, Lusaka, 2023. © Fiske Serah Nyirongo.
Fiske Nyirongo is a writer and journalist based in Chongwe, an hour’s drive away from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. Her work has been published in publications from around the world. Some of them include Lolwe, Nashville Scene, Healthline, Black Ballad, and The Wilson Quarterly. She was shortlisted for the 2019 and 2023 Kalemba Short Story Prize. She is also a published children’s book author.