watson in Sambia
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Overcrowded dormitories

You think five people sharing a bed space is a nightmare? Think again

Sharing a bed space with four other students can be seen by many as a nightmare. Actually, sharing a bed space with four other students is not as bad as many people may portray it to be, in fact it is an interesting and life changing experience. I would call it a blessing. It's an unforgettable experience that can teach you what life is all about.

Chishimba Kasanga, Sambia / Lusaka Star

Having to share a room is nothing strange at the University of Zambia (UNZA), Zambia’s highest institution of learning. The institution currently has 3775 available bed spaces against about 20, 000 enrolled students. Lack of accommodation in many high learning institutions in Zambia is a common phenomenon, one that has gone unchecked by different sitting governments for many years. 

UNZA 2014

Author Chishimba Kasanga is a third year student at University of Zambia. This article was written for Swiss newssite watson.ch. It was published in german slightly modified.  Bild: watson

3775 beds paces against about 20,000 students would tempt the question, «where do the rest of the unaccommodated students sleep or stay?» Many unaccommodated students have resorted to «squatting» (sharing a bed space) with accommodated students. 

UNZA 2014

One of the student houses on the campus. Bild: watson

I am a third year Mass Communication student at the University of Zambia, sharing a bed space with four other students. I consider this situation as a blessing in my life, describing it as an opportunity that has given me ‹sisters from other mothers›.

We are five in my room, yes five and it is not a bad thing as other people may think of it to be. The four ladies and I are like sisters; I would say we live like one big family. 

The main purpose of university education is to attain academic excellence. However, university education offers more than just academic life, it also offers students the opportunity to socialise and interact, life lessons that can never be taught in a classroom setting. 

Sharing knowledge on different topics in different fields

With a total of five ladies in the room, there is a lot of knowledge and information sharing on life lessons ranging from cooking recipes, skin care, and hair maintenance. 

In a room full of girls like mine, I never worry about going to the salon to do my hair. I have my roommate Beauty –‹the Beautician›, she is responsible for our everyday look from nails, hair and clothes. Her ‹fashionistic› touch is enough to turn us into princesses. 

UNZA 2014

Sheila, Chishimba, Kenny, Makonde und Beauty: Five young women, one room.. Bild: watson

Such a room with five beautiful girls can never have a wardrobe ‹malfunction›. Wardrobe malfunction is a thing we rarely experience. Whatever the occasion, we know one of the girls has the right outfit for it. 

Being many in a room is advantage in terms of academics as assignments are proof read four times before being submitting to lectures. How can such a situation be a curse or problem? In fact, apart from assignments, we also share knowledge on different topics in different fields as each of us is pursuing a different career, different field. 

UNZA 2014

Wardrobe malfunction is almost impossible. Bild: watson

«Where will the rest stay?»

My roommate and friend, Ngawa Makonde says, «staying in a crowded room is nothing strange because in most Zambian homes, families live with many other relatives, it is who we are as Africans; we take care of each other.»

Miss Ngawa, who is also a third year student adds, «we should always bear in mind that Zambia is a third world country, if we want to emulate our friends in the west and stay two people per room, where will the rest stay?» 

UNZA 2014

Five women, two beds. Bild: watson

«What sets us apart from everyone else is that we share the spirit of ‹Ubuntu› (togetherness) to the rest of the world. Five per room is unhygienic but to us it is a unifying factor, a form of togetherness,» she explains. 

A blessing in disguise

«They give me relationship advice and understand my relationship situations better because we are of the same age. We are one family even if we come from different homes and backgrounds. When we are at school, we are more than just friends, we are sisters,» she adds. 

UNZA 2014

These four matresses are taken by eight students.  Bild: watson

Overcrowding in most universities and schools is seen as a curse, a problem that needs to be eradicated. Having five people staying on one bed space is unhygienic, and uncalled for in many sectors of society. But what can one do if such a problem hits them? You can only embrace it and make the best out of it. 

Overcrowding is a problem, but for me and the girls it is a blessing in disguise. 



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Hartes Studentenleben

watson in Sambia: Kein Platz, kein Schlaf, kein Essen, keine Stühle, kein Internet – es fehlt an allem, nur an einem nicht

Das Studentenleben in Sambia wartet mit ganz anderen Herausforderungen auf, als dasjenige in der Schweiz. 

«Wenn du glaubst Bildung sei teuer, dann probier aus, was Unwissenheit kostet.» («If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.») Das Zitat stammt vom ehemaligen Harvard-Präsidenten Derek Bok. Den Studenten an der Universität von Sambia werden die Kosten von Bildung täglich vor Augen geführt. Dabei investieren sie einen Grossteil ihrer Energie dafür, überhaupt am Uni-Betrieb teilzunehmen.

Es fehlt sicher immer irgendetwas. Dies können für uns selbstverständliche Dinge sein wie Stühle. …

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