The charcoal carrier

Charcoal_carrier_on_bicycle_ZambiaIt’s springtime in Zambia and the weather’s getting hotter. So when I can, I get up early to enjoy the cool mornings. As a bonus, the light is perfect for photography until about 8 o’clock.

Last week I went out looking for charcoal carriers to photograph. For me, the sight of a charcoal carrier on the road from Lusaka airport has a personal meaning. It reminds me that I’ve landed back in Zambia.

Historically charcoal has been the main fuel for cooking and staying warm here. But Zambia is blessed with abundant running water. Hydroelectric power stations on the Kafue and Zambezi rivers produce more than 90% of its electricity.

With falling demand in towns and cities, the future looked bleak for charcoal sellers – until the widespread power cuts in 2015. Suddenly business was brisk again and the price of charcoal went up.

Helped by better rainfalls, we’re no longer plagued by daily power cuts (politely known as ‘load shedding’) but Zambians have a renewed respect for their charcoal carriers. From daybreak onwards, they head towards town with their loads. Most of the charcoal is taken in lorries, but it’s the men on their bikes who’ve captured my imagination.

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4 Responses to “The charcoal carrier”
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