John McCullagh February 8, 2006
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I first met her in her secluded village on the western banks of the Zambezi River some five hundred kilometers west of the Victoria Falls.

This Zambian girl of the Lotse tribe was uncannily quiet but was blessed with a sublime natural beauty.  When her sensuously-contoured lips parted to expose two neat rows of radiant ivory teeth, a smile would dance across her countenance, accentuating its midnight hue radiance. Her eyes were perfectly formed almonds encircling shimmering dark marble orbs set in a sea of waxing moonlight.  When she walked, her flowing gypsy skirts swayed gently as if kissed by the vortex of a whispering African wind.

Rachel was distinctive from the other girls that I had met there – she was the granddaughter of a village chief and although poor in material possessions, she was rich in aspirations.  She revealed to me that her grandfather had promised her a few cattle and that if she could save enough from the little money she earned serving beer in a shabeen, it might be possible to start a small enterprise of her own.  Within the space of a few days I learned a lot about this charmingly graceful young lady.

Rachel had another very striking attribute – her ability to understand some complicated theories clearly well beyond her rudimentary educational level.  You could introduce her to academic themes ranging from the origins of the universe to theories of evolution and she could always respond with deep meaningful questions that often astounded me.

The education system and life’s disposition were her impediments – not Rachel.

After our first meeting I returned to the city of Lusaka leaving her far behind – immersed in dreams and striving against the odds – hoping for a time when she could be freed from the burdensome shackles of dependence.

This girl was a restless spirit in a land where traditional time had stood still and her gender deferred to an ancestral patriarchic culture.


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