Zwangendaba’s Burial Site

Me at the burial site.

Reading this week:

  • The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming
  • Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming (pretty racist)
  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan

So today (as I write this) I went to go see Zwangendaba’s Burial Site. Zwangendaba was a Zulu warrior king who was displaced from South Africa, along with his clan, as King Chaka consolidated power in the Zulu Kingdom. Zwangendaba and his people spent the next 30 years trekking north, eventually reaching modern-day Tanzania where Zwangendaba was hit by a poisoned arrow and died. He was buried where he fell and like 180 years later I went off to visit him.

The hitching point, where I spent a long time standing in the sun.

I set off from site, got to town, had some breakfast, and then biked down to the Nakonde Road, getting there at about 1000. I was hoping to catch a hitch pretty quickly and these dreams were slowly dashed. I stood there for hours. At one point a family posted themselves about 50m up the road from me, flagging down potential hitches before I could. I found this a little unfair, but eventually they got into a semi which I couldn’t do because I was bringing my bike along. At about noon I calculated when I would have to quit, based on seeing the gravesite and biking to Nakonde before sunset, and concluded I would have to give up at 1300. But then, at 1252, a bus arrived and I was off.

As Zambia goes, this is relatively well-marked.

This is Zambia, and directions are difficult, but the two Zambian heritage books I have both mentioned the site being about a kilometer south of the turn for Nachipeta School, so I told the conductor I wanted to be dropped at Nachipeta School (The coordinates are not listed on the internet, so for the internet’s sake, the Zwangendaba Burial Site Coordinates are: -9.316637, 32.485966). This they were kind enough to do, and so I found myself at the side of the road with nowhere to go. The turnoff for the school goes north, and to the south there was nothing but gorgeous landscape. Sliiiiightly distraught, I started biking towards Nakonde, and managed to spot a small corrugated metal sign spray-painted green and labelled “Zwangendaba 1.2km.” Neat! I followed the road it pointed down, and when the road diverged several times without follow-up signs I always took the widest of the paths and found myself at the CAR PARK.

Success! I found the site! It’s not much to look at. It’s pretty much in this dude’s front yard, and is very well kept, and has a nice sign, and is really just a pile of rocks. So neat. I looked around. A crowd a kids gathered. I had the dude take a picture of me. I said thanks and head out.

At least the views on the way to Nakonde were nice.

Here I began my 30km trek to Nakonde. This is the reason I brought the bike; I didn’t trust my luck hitching (I mean last time took 3 hours), and plus I wanted some freedom of movement in Nakonde. So I threw on my headphones and started biking, figuring it would be about 2 hours of biking until Nakonde. This didn’t take into account the important fact that it is apparently like, all uphill to Nakonde. You go from being in the wide valley between the Mbala Escarpment and the Muchinga Escarpment and start climbing up the Muchinga side and it sucks, lemme tell ya. I was low on water and hungry and running out of daylight. I took care of the first two by ducking into a tuck shop (I got Fanta and cookies, which didn’t really solve the problem and only postponed it) but I had to just keep moving for the last one.

I finally got to Nakonde right as it was getting dark. Nakonde is like, trucker central, and a large chunk of it is truck parking, which doesn’t help the weary traveller on a bike. I passed one or two seedy looking lodges but kept going. This was getting dangerous because of the trucks, and with the falling light I almost ate major shit in a huge pothole but caught myself in time. Panicking, my lodge standards were lowering, and now I was heading uphill again into town so it was going to take forever, and I was contemplating camping somewhere (I had a tent with me for the next adventure I’ll write about) and like, ahhhhh, when I spotted a lodge. What lodge was it? It was the Zwengendaba Fresh View Lodge. I figured it was fate and pulled in. At check-in I told the receptionist that I had in fact just come from the Zwengendaba Burial Site. He said, “Oh, they didn’t have rooms there?”