NWP: “Cinderella to Princess – a story that never was” (Patrick Sapallo, 6th June 2016)
A very sad note: Patrick Sapallo planned and worked on this webpage that he planned to call Cinderella to Princess for several years. Tragically he was unable to complete it as he passed from this life on 15th May 2018 following unsuccessful surgery. My own finalizing of the page is of necessity and utilizes several of Patrick’s emails to me in June 2016. Its completion is also meant as a memorial to his dedication and love of the NWP. My writing describes our long-term friendship and his website involvement. All of us: family, friends and researchers are the poorer for his passing. These 50 years cover 1968-2018.
Patrick became co-author of this website during the four years following its creation in 2014. He pictured great positive economic changes during several decades since he had traveled throughout NWP as a much younger man. With copper mines opening in many places, he knew that the NWP with its increasing mining developments had finally moved from being Zambia’s poorest province to one of its richest. In other words, he envisioned it now being Zambia’s “Princess” and no longer its “Cinderella” — as writers have always called it.
Then in early June 2016, his extensive planning for a trip throughout the province came to be. While he hoped to spend about a month travelling throughout the province starting in Zambezi District and then moving east and north, he spent only a little over a week. He decided not to drive his car and thus took a bus from Lusaka, briefly stopping in Solwezi and then on to Zambezi.
Disillusioned. Unfortunately, on 6th June 2016, his first day in Zambezi (formerly Balovale) completely disillusioned Patrick from what he had envisioned. [My first day in Zambezi] “caused me to rethink the title of our [title] page; I feel it would do justice to the page to title it: Cinderella to Princess – A story that never was! Zambezi [town], as a whole, is a derelict and dilapidated place, reminiscent of an abandoned war zone! The famous Solwezi tar road merely dissects the Boma in two and escapes, on its way to Chavuma; leaving all the roads in the Boma almost five centimetres deep in loose sand! I took a thirty minutes walk from the Lodge I am staying in, on the banks of Zambezi River, to the “commercial” area that we used to know. I tell you, I was so tired that I had to pay ZMK15 to hire a taxi to take me back to the lodge. (Mind you, I am a very strong walker – but this time, I failed to walk back to the lodge, three kilometres away!) During this walk, I went to see one of those red brick houses I lived in with my aunt. The house is a sad picture to look at! I shed a few tears. I’ll send you the full story and decide whether to include it on the “Cinderella” page.
His short trip south to Chitokoloki (40 km.) had exciting and positive elements but ended up being disastrous. In his email of 7th June 2016, he noted: “[I reached] Chiti this morning and the trip made my day. The reception from Mr. George Hannah and staff was unbelievably warm and almost surreal! I went to the new leper colony being run by Chiti Mission (the old one at Nyamonga is under government care now), toured the entire hospital, including the new eye and dental departments, equipped with new modern equipment. The visit to Chiti almost obliterated the disappointment of Zambezi Boma. By the way, did you know that Chiti Hospital receives patients from Angola and DRC who come for surgery? This is what I learned today.” [Added note by David Wilkin: CMML still operates the Chit’ medical facility.]
But very negative events quickly overtook his positive impressions. First, Patrick had to pay the mini-bus driver for four seats as he would not operate the vehicle until it was full! Otherwise they would have had to sleep in the vehicle until the next day! Second, after the positive hospital tour and his return to Zambezi [town], he found that his hotel room was robbed while he was taking a bath[!], possibly by the mini-bus driver. He finally recovered his two phones, ID card, empty wallet (less ZMK 1600), but not his video camera which had all his videos of Chit’. Third, worse followed. When he reached Solwezi [town] the next day he realized he was quite ill.
He described everything in an email on 12th June 2016. “Sorry to inform you all that I have suspended my NWP trip temporarily due to a serious chest infection I contracted, possibly, during the trip to Chitokoloki. On the way to Chiti I rode on a mini bus full of sick people, travelling to Chiti mission hospital for treatment. A number of them were coughing terribly. We could not open the windows because of dust, so you know the consequences. The trip to Chiti was on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I felt some irritation in my chest and developed a fever. By Wednesday I had developed a bad, dry cough and flu. Thursday, both the cough and flu worsened. This was the day I was leaving Zambezi for Solwezi, and I did. In the evening my illness got worse and I was taken to Solwezi hospital by my nephew. At the hospital the doctor said the infection was bad and I needed strong antibiotics which the hospital [in Solwezi] did not have. He referred me to Ndola. I thought this was just as good as getting back to Lusaka, get treatment and then recommence the trip. . . . I hope to return to NWP in the course of next week or later and continue with my trip, depending on what the physician will say.” Unfortunately his recovery took some weeks and he was not able to return and continue his explorations during the rest of the NWP in 2016.
In an email on 30th June 2016 addressed to Dick Jaeger and copied to Margaret O’Callaghan and me, Patrick reflected on his NWP journey earlier. Since none of us now reside in Zambia, he also reflected on development and political issues throughout Zambia. His thoughts were sad.
“Development in the NWP, and Zambia in general: I can assure you that in the past five years (for the rest of the country, except for Muchinga Province where the late president Sata came from – Chinsali) has been lopsided. Today every Zambian knows that the NWP is the new Copperbelt, but there is nothing, in form of development, that the entire NWP can boast about. Solwezi to Chavuma, the only visible development is the tar road (built by late president Mwanawasa – may his soul rest in peace) that connects Solwezi to Chavuma. There are no tarred township roads in all the districts in the province — not even the provincial capital, Solwezi. To drive from Chingola to Solwezi now takes 8 to 9 hours on a rough gravel road. In the past five years, the ruling party has been promising (at elections time) the people of NWP that this road would be tarred. Nothing has taken place; as I am writing this email, there are a few graders and trucks pretending to do some work on this road. It is likely to stop immediately after elections if the ruling party wins.”
“In Zambezi, the former Queen Elizabeth Hospital (the pride of my childhood) is now like an abandoned ghost building. Patients with even simple coughs are referred to Chitokoloki Mission Hospital for treatment – it is now a referral hospital! Patients in the government hospital sleep on the floor — compared with the well maintained Chitokoloki hospital ward. The situation at Zambezi hospital is typical of all the government hospitals and other institutions in the province – completely ignored, if not abandoned.”
[In an added paragraph to Dick] he noted: “I hope to give you a true picture of Kasempa and the entire province after my trip later. Your picture of Kasempa, according to people who have visited the district, will be completely shattered. Brenda Tambatamba is standing as a parliamentary candidate for the UPND in Kasempa, if you had her email, you could find out her personal view of the district.”
I am not sure if Dick has revisited Kasempa since then. Also Patrick would never get to Kasempa due to ill health. When he was finally able to return to the NWP in June 2017, he terminated his journey immediately as he got an urgent message that his wife, Anne, had been bitten by a venomous snake at their farm near Lusaka; she fully recovered. Patrick’s own health issues then prevented any further visits to the NWP.
2014-2015 pictures of Patrick and his family and also our other close Zambian NWP friends. (These supplement those at the top of the initial webpage.)
A 50 year reflections about Patrick and David: early 1968-May 2018:
Patrick and David first met in early 1968 when Patrick started secondary school at Balovale (later Zambezi) Secondary School when it first opened. David was the first headmaster at 29 years old. Patrick quickly made a name for himself as a superior student. He had one of the highest entry exam scores (both English and math) and continued to be an outstanding scholar. He was also very handsome, charming and, most important, to his fellow students, one of the finest football players in the school — nicknamed “Zoom” after South Africa’s best professional player.
After I left the NWP to resume life in America, we lost close touch for several decades; even later, when I returned to Zambia and the NWP to work for UNZA, we did not keep close touch. Still, mutual friends (such as James Kanga) keep us in contact. In 1983, after I graduated with my Ph.D., and dreamed of updating the dissertation as a book, Patrick reviewed the draft. He had serious issues with my background chapter describing mukanda as a traditional education. (I eventually rewrote this chapter in 2014 when I created my e-book.) Again, we lost contact as my writing about the NWP continued to be interrupted due to my wife Zindi’s bad health and death and also my need to focus on acquiring different skills to earn a living in NYC. Fortunately, mutual friends again kept us in contact.
In 1992 we met again face-to-face when three ladies from The Riverside Church and I visited Zambia. When the four of us arrived in Lusaka, our hosts were the Kanga and Sapallo families. The day after we arrived, Patrick took us to visit the development project that he was deeply involved in: Patrick’s project. We were quite impressed. After this trip, however, we again lost close contact but kept in touch by email, letter and phone as we both continued gaining computer skills.
After I created this website in March 2014, I invited old Zambian friends to get involved. Most did not due to advanced age, lack of computer skills, etc.. Patrick did! He initially helped by reading and advising me as I wrote each website draft. Later, he decided to more actively participate. This resulted in the website taking a big jump forward. He contacted ZNBC and got them to interview him as part of publicity for the website. This resulted in the first video in Luvale with Ms. Mbingila Chikumbi. In short, he became co-author. Then, Patrick decided that we needed to add a new webpage, “Cinderella to Princess” to show the NWP’s changing status from Zambia’s poorest province to one of the richest thanks to expanded copper mining. This resulted in his June 2016 journey to Zambezi — described above.
Non-development in much of the NWP. As noted above, what Patrick saw disheartened him. Hence, “Cinderella to Princess — a story that never was.” While most certainly there were (and are) “nodes” of intense development near the mining sites in the NWP, not as much has changed in past few decades as he had hoped. In his opinion, the transformation from a “Princess” to “Cinderella” has not occurred. David Wilkin
On 17th August 2018, I emailed two of Patrick’s sons and also two active and serious NWP researchers, who Patrick had assisted. I said that my above draft of this webpage was available for everyone to see and use. Three replied almost immediately and extracts of their replies follow. (Others are invited also to reply and any more appropriate comments will be added as well.)
17th August 2018: In an immediate reply, Patrick Sapallo [Jr.], said: “Many thanks . . . . Reading [this webpage] just brought back fresh memories of dad. Interesting message on the website about his NWP trips. Reading it felt like he was the one telling it in person. Thanks so much for keeping his memory alive. And that picture of him in 1973! First time am seeing it. I have downloaded it and will use it as my WhatsApp display picture. Am sure people will be asking when I used to dress like that seeing the resemblance between him and I. Anyway thanks for the kind words.”
17th & 19th August 2018: Margaret O’Callaghan currently lives in Canberra, Australia. In the last decade, she has spent much time travelling through and doing research on the NWP. She has sent me a few of her gorgeous photographs of the NWP; hopefully we’ll see all of them soon in her forthcoming book that may be entitled: “Copperfields: The Story of the First Decade of a Mining Book in the NWP of Zambia.” Although she and I never met face-to-face, and I believe that she and Patrick met only once or twice, they frequently exchanged drafts. In her first reply on the 17th, she expressed agreement with my completing this webpage. She added that when thinking of their frequent email exchanges: “. . . I have cried when I came across them [Patrick’s emails] when looking for something else — it is so hard to imagine such a vibrant fellow isn’t still there communicating so ably. It is such an enormous loss.” She concluded that “. . . you can certainly say my ‘Copperfields’ will pick up his Cinderella story and spell it out in detail. . . .”
19th August: Dick Jaeger currently lives in the Netherlands and South Africa but has spent many decades (much of his academic life) travelling in and doing research on the NWP, especially Kasempa District. See his webpage on Kasempa; a link to it will later be added here. Over the past few years, he and Patrick had agreed to disagree about economic development in the NWP; Dick felt Patrick’s assessment was too gloomy. Such scholarly disagreements are valuable to the academic community! Jaeger wrote: “[Patrick’s] visit to Zambezi and what he saw there was a disappointment. He had in mind his happy years in the past. About his view on the whole of NWP, [it may have been] too sombre and gloomy. At Solwezi and Kasempa (and Mwinilunga) a lot has changed, for the better and the worst. In those regions . . . more economic activities and more employment took place. [For example] many well built (kimberley) brick houses are visible along the main roads, many with solar panels on the roof. Maybe because of his illness, he was already in a sad mood or he expected too much.The mining boom brought a lot of change (and also upheaval) in those regions. For many years agricultural output from Kasempa and parts of Solwezi was good and it was called the “cornbelt” of the province. It is sad he was not able to accomplish his trip and investigations.”
In the year following, I was reminded (by Margaret O’Callaghan and others) that Charlie Rea passed from this world in a plane crash. Charles was a third generation Zambian; an engineer and pilot and keen contributor to the Mwinilunga community. On 10th October 2015, Charles had sent me two links to websites for the Mwinilunga District. (By late 2021, neither seems active, but I am leaving them here.) I am also told that another lifelong expatriate, John Hudson, passed. He had a great interest in Kasempa District. I did not know him.
The audio interview below (in Luvale) was created in 2015. This interview is between Patrick and a member of the ZNBC staff. Luvale speakers will find it interesting; others less so. For non-Zambian users, Patrick wanted everyone to know that “Chiyoyelo” (audio interview) was the name of the Luvale program. He felt an appropriate title would be: “Kushimutwila vya Website” or “Mujimbu wa Website.”