I Skyped with a Zambian university student. Felix Mbewe, age 24. He said most of the university students are from urban areas, because in the rural areas where about 44% of people live, children usually don’t progress past primary school. He’s lived in both rural and urban areas, explaining,
I have lived in two different rural areas, and came back to the city. My dad was a street food vendor before his death, but due to challenges in the city we moved to rural areas to depend on farming, and it never worked out as the rural areas are infested with mosquitoes and hence, lots of malaria. So when we came back to the city dad and mum continued to vend until when dad died. Mum has continued to hustle, and that’s how we survive, so we are hoping when I finish next year I will get a job and help out my family and take my siblings to school also.
One reason children don’t go past primary school is that secondary school costs around $100 a three-month term, plus books and uniform. He and his girlfriend started the Love for Humanity Foundation to encourage children to continue with their education (see their Facebook page). Felix said their lives in villages revolve around home, farming and caring for animals, learning about traditions and culture. They’re not as exposed to media, and don’t know about problems like global warming and apparently not safe sex as Mbewe said most of the HIV+ people are rural young people, ages 15 to 25. I asked if dating is forbidden, how is HIV transmitted? He said, “People still sleep around despite culturally its wrong to do so before marriage. And besides, due to the fact that here we cannot freely talk about sex, dating, marriage, taboos, etc with parents, we have more AIDS cases than western countries.”Most of the people are Christians, Catholics or Seventh Day Adventists. Some will follow tradition and have an arranged marriage and some will pick a spouse for themselves. Traditionally you were supposed to marry in your tribe, but now young people in urban areas are likely to choose for themselves. His parents were nontraditional, a love marriage from different tribes that produced seven children.