Zambian villagers get their first glimpse of TV

By Obert Simwanza
In the sandy streets of Namushekende village in remote western Zambia, hundreds of people gathered yesterday around a giant projection screen to see television for the first time.

The three-metre screen, powered by a generator and receiving broadcasts by satellite, flickered on with commercials before the Ghana-U. S. match in South Africa.

In a village with neat brick homes but no electricity, few have ever seen a television, much less a major sporting event. Here, like across much of Africa, the only contact with the outside world is through radios, when there are batteries.

“It’s good that this TV has been brought here so many of the rural communities can watch the World Cup,” said 17-year-old Gambudzia Mutale, watching the screen light up as the sun slid to the horizon.

“Many people have not had an opportunity to watch such a thing,” the teenager said in neat English.

Just one Ghanian flag waved in the village, and one person who found a vuvuzela was blowing the trumpet that has come to symbolize South Africa’s World Cup.

Such items are luxuries in remote regions like Zambia’s Mongu district, but the crowd was united behind Ghana, the only African team to clear the group stages.

“I am supporting Ghana because it’s the only African team and I am an African,” said 17-year-old Mildred Thebusho, in a white T-shirt far too large for her.

When Ghana scored each of its goals in its 2-1 win, the crowd erupted in cheers, with ululating fans and people shouting: “America has been finished by the Africans.”

It was a heady moment in this remote village where most people survive by growing cassava and fishing in the mighty Zambezi River.

The television was brought by the UN Children’s Fund, part of a campaign to train young people to report on issues that affect the community, like AIDS and education. The children will be asked to report on their experiences, stories that will be shared online with the rest of the world.

But for now, the crowd enjoyed the soft glow of the screen on a cool evening, cheering for Ghana on the field.

“This is incredible,” said Alex Masinda, 12. “It’s a good form of entertainment.”


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