Saturday, April 20, 2024

A foreigner’s guide to dating a Zambian man


By Sampa Kabwela

Welcome to Zambia! In addition to the anti-malaria tablets, mosquito repellent, sunscreen lotion, A-Z vitamins, maps, a copy of Lonely Planet, GPRS, energy bars – which we all have here – I thought I should share with you insider information into our men, the Zambian man. Oh! before I forget, this guide is written with the ‘Western’ woman in mind.

While in Zambia, should you find love or plan to marry a Zambian man, here are a few things you need to know in advance. By all means, this is just a guide; there are variations to the Zambian man and your experiences on the ground might as well be the opposite, but typically this is what you must expect.

First things first, our men don’t ‘split the bill!’ The Western idea of splitting bills is not Zambian. When a Zambian man invites you for dinner, he will not add the caveat ‘it’s on me’ because, by default, it’s on him. Our men are raised to settle dinner bills! If you meet a Zambian man who stares at the bill, disappears to the bathroom or expects you to pay half (without you offering or insisting) he is either a freeloader or has picked up the habit from the diaspora. It is not that we Zambian women can’t settle the bill, far from it, it is just what it is, men pay bills here. Ditch the equality argument. Here, men pay bills in the same way that you don’t open car doors for your men. Frankly, it can be shocking for us Zambian women who find ourselves on a date with your men to be expected to half pay for dinner, we don’t do that here, but we have now assimilated.

The display of affection in public, which comes naturally with your men; kissing, touchy-touchy doesn’t come naturally with our men. You will not be kissed in public or looked into the eyes every so minute and be re-told how much you are loved. It is not that our men are not romantic, or unloving, far from it, it’s just what it is over here. Affection is expressed in privacy and in most cases behind a locked bedroom door, not even the living-room is private enough. Some men, fresh from the diaspora kiss in public; looking all laboured, stiff and contrived as if under duress. Here, us women know what we know, our men love us and they do so relentlessly and hard.

If your idea of a man is one who can cook, run his own bath and clears the table after eating; you have arrived in a wrong country in search of a wrong man. Without exception, a Zambian man does not do dishes! He doesn’t cook either unless of course, he stays alone. This birthright cuts across class, religion, ideology and ironically even the most liberal and learned of them all. Even those who wear the Western diaspora badge of honour may adopt a questionable or even convincing accent, acquire the taste for salmon and even enjoy Mozart, but dishes they do not do!

Our men are Kings! Ruling over small kingdoms, some with as few as a single subject and living in palaces as little as one room, but mighty kings nonetheless. As a wife, this is how your palace life might look like – In the morning you will prepare or run a bath for the king, and you will also un-run it. It is his irrevocable right to have clean ironed clothes at all times as it is your irrevocable duty to ensure that all his clothes are clean and ironed at all times.

The right of your Zambian man to eat is solely your duty. He is incapable of fixing himself any meal even if its just pouring cereal, sugar and milk in a bowl. The kitchen is one area of the house he has little knowledge of; it’s a foreign land, a minefield.

Forget the culture so ordinary and common where you are coming from where the kitchen is the centre of the house, a place in which your lives are lived and shared, trading the goings of the day; where even if a man can’t cook, he helps with peeling onion, cutting tomatoes, keeps you company or minds the babies.

I will be pleasantly surprised if you will find yourself among our men one who can spend more than two minutes in the kitchen at any given time. You will be a special woman if the Zambian breed of a man you will find is one who can make a meal even once a year or one who can find sugar from the kitchen without turning the entire kitchen upside down.

If our everyday experiences are anything to go by, you will cook all the meals, juggle the children, run around and do all other things. For his part, he will await his meal while face-booking, texting, watching tv, anything, but the kitchen. After eating, do not expect the simple but loaded gesture of appreciation expressed by taking one’s plate to the sink. He can’t because by doing so, risks becoming less of a man stripped of respect and masculinity.

Pregnancy; our men don’t hang around in labour wards witnessing the messy and bloody business of birth. At most, he will be outside the labour ward. It will be pretty much a normal day for him, if he is the English premier league type, he will be watching his match until he gets the phone call from the hospital. The new baby will pretty much be your business too.

I can hear you dismissing this guide arguing that the man I describe is ancient, extinct, traditional and chauvinistic. The man I describe is young, Western-educated, liberal and exposed. When it comes to power structures and male privileges in a home, our men are notoriously traditional.

The Author is an artist, mother and works for an international development organisation. She can be reached on lyrical.zambia AT gmail DOT com


  1. Very nice write up. I have seen such kind-of nice write ups in a Lusaka newspaper called The Spark. It’s very interesting

    • I made my Latino read this, she is a slow English leader, so I was reading aloud. She find it hilarious… But she says I am in middle. I find it offensive. My conclusion to her is that this is exactly why I stopped dating Zambian or African women they watch too much Nigerian/Ghanian Movies. Exaggerated love.
      Kissing in public is only thing I agree… I don’t allow a woman touch me, I get an erection EASILY!
      Ati: we eat cereal with milk in morning, where, under PF, if you get toba umutwe or porridge you must be rich.
      Labor ward?? A man going in labor ward you get beaten up by those nurse matrons or even village women (midwifes) who help at birth, baloma.
      But uyu gelo Sampa Kabwela nashupa. She needs help from Minister of Religious Affairs and Guidance.

    • Ba Sampa, I disagree with you on some of the things you have talked about here. Yes, I may not have been witnessing the births of my kids, but I do a lot of house chores, and nowadays most men are very involved, helping their partners at home. Things have changed, and what you are talking about is the Zambian man of the 1980’s and 90’s. I do more cooking than my wife does, I love doing dishes, I fix my own bath(and a lot of times we bath together), I do laundry and iron everyone’s clothes. It also depends on situations, schedules…

      You should have conducted some little survey before writing this. Fyalichinja ifintu madam.

    • My fiancé is white. It’s the best thing I had ever had.

      There is a few of us dating whites and other Zambians are just jealous.

      Nick is Scottish and since we have been together for almost 10 years he tells me he loves me and I believe him.




    • @Observer 1:1 kikikiki! Most young Zambian women are very shy and can’t sit through dinner with a “ stranger”. Also it’s how we vet our potential lovers and our girlfriends act as chaperones so we don’t go third base on first date!

    • One thing the authors of these sort of articles forget to mention is how our African/Zambian traditions, over millennia, have shaped the Zambian man of today. Take for instance the cooking @Sampa is griping about, show me a Zambian woman/mother who invests as much time and effort teaching a male child (son) how to cook or take care of the affairs in the kitchen. Traditionally, it is actually considered rude or unacceptable for a man/male to be in the kitchen while a women/mother is busy cooking. If you are a father/husband, you risk being labeled GREEDY or CONTROLLING (ati bakaso.) So to expect a Zambian man to all over a sudden pick up cooking skills in their marrying years is rediculous.

      If we expect anything different, then let Zambian women/mother invest equal amount of time and…

    • Continue….

      effort teaching their sons how to cook and clean the same way they spend time teaching their daughters.

      When it comes to “birthing rooms,” it is again traditions and widely accepted Zambian taboos that keeps Zambian men out. In fact, it is mostly women who are fervent enforcers of such traditions…..insit otherwise and ALONGOZI will have choice words for you. Even Liberal, educated, and exposed Zambian men come up against such rigidly set traditions and beliefs when they come back home. So who is to blame?!

      So spare us this blame game when you Zanbian women are unwilling to take responsibility for the part you have played in the human socialization of a Zanbian male child. Who subsequently grow up to be the Zanbian man/husband you now want to verify as out dated,…

    • Continue….

      unfeeling, and with a “kingly” entitled mindset. But why should we blame Zambian men for internalizing “traditions” forced upon them from an early age?

  2. I am not surprised the author is a woman not a man …guide to a ‘Western’ woman, the busungu who can afford come to Zambia you think have time for that and even those that were born there live in their own communities in Zambia I was on google the other day looking at photos of Mkushi farmers and I stumbled upon a white Zambian couple’s gallery wedding photos in Mkushi, these are probably born in Zambia and grew up in Zambia but when you look at their wedding photos not a single black person invited there…I mean not even the buyers of their farm produce or the bank manager or the former Tutor no black person UK you get the odd black person invited.. I said to myself my god what year is this ..then we have Africans trying so hard to socialize with these people.

    • kekekekeke but man you are racist. I find it so difficult to see who is white or black. Like it took me so many years to realize Guy Scot is white, until Sata died. Guy Scot couldn’t be Zambian President because he is white. Not even those White farmers born in Mkushi, none of them can be President of Zambia, so why invite black Zambians to their wedding?

    • It is because of people like Nostradamus that black people have been held back. Thank goodness for the awakening Africa is undergoing. You as Africans do not see color, but most of them on the western front do. Africans need to work a little harder to cleanse this nonsense from their minds.

    • Nzelu – That’s our downfall as a people…imagine a Pakistan moslem promoting interrace dating especially involving their women. Black people think talking about nation building, consciousness and unity is promoting racism and they wonder why they are divided, sleeping…thats why you get foools like a Kwanye West talking nonsense about slavery do you think if his wife was black she would let him utter rubbish.
      You have one self proclaimed dull UPND cadre here on LT who thinks being married to his Swiss wife is an honour…really sad.

    • Jay jay we usually do not see eye to eye on things, here we are on the same space ship, Star Blazers leading Africa ahead. We need to work for self, then help our brothers and sisters that have a veil on their faces.

    • Jay Jay, there is another Mushota on LT? This time a male version. Let me guess, he was putting down African women to raise the profile of his marriage and spouse? Is it ndobo? We have not heard from him in a while.

    • Mushota is multi-user admin account for LT to prop up the comments thread…depending on which side of the bed the LT admin on duty wakes up dedicates the blogger’s moods.

  3. Corruption scandals: Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Corruption scandals: Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans

    I say BS… what a stnpid article. I wonder how many men you have interacted with or been married to to make you such an expert in making such genral outrageous accusations. You could have just said “my husband is like this…”. I lived in Zambia and even in the 90’s I saw married men who cooked, ironed and showed affection to their wives and girlfriends in public – both in the City and in the countryside, aka the village. 2018 I can only assume things would have improved for the better.

    Please don’t make sweeping generalizations, Zambia has a population of more than 15 million people and you haven’t met them all… you are the kind who subscribe to the racial stereotypes like ‘sll black people are dnmb and have low IQ. I say BS!!

    • @Corruption Scandals, please settle down and chill – “By all means, this is just a guide; there are variations to the Zambian man and your experiences on the ground might as well be the opposite” – this is a social commentary, not a thesis.

  4. Is she married or not?I wash dishes ,I cook and one time I witnessed the birth of my son.We live in a dynamic world and can adopt good traits.There is no harm.

  5. As a Zambian man married to a foreign woman, I disagree with Sampa on a few points:

    1. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen not because I’m obliged to but because I want to.
    2. Why can’t I run my own bath, press my own clothes, fix my favourite meal and clean up my dishes ansd still not be a King in my Kingdom?
    3. She’s dead right on the touchy-touchy part though! I still can’t display my intimate affection for my Queen in public even after so many years of hearing her complain about this African “tradition”. A hug or a gentle kiss is fine but for more, I prefer the room designated for such.

    • Really laughable you are now a man not long ago you stated you were a woman. Anyway am not surprised as you are very gullible and docile …a foreign woman (German) would easily mound you accordingly.

    • Jay Jay & Eye-of-Horus what your problem is??? You seem to be caught up in your own world of confusion. When have I ever stated to be a woman? Or maybe you’re so in love with my posts that you secretly wish I was a woman? You little pervs.. I’ll whip your behinds and chuck you out on your ears. Mwacilamo. Go see a therapist or smth.

    • Mumbi Mukasa – I tell you as it is, I don’t soothe with lies that you look beautiful when you have applied white baby powder on your face or cheat to you that White Jesus is coming so be born again and all that drivel hence I come across to you as foul mouthed. I dont come here to make penpals (like BR Mumba Junior who is an agent) I just to voice my opinion.
      Nine Chale you are not going to $pank no one here just man up …remember that example I always give of a drunk hubby who comes home and batters his wife senseless and when people try to report him to the police she says he does it because he loves her…why do you think I used that example several times in the past.

    • Nine Chale, it’s clear that you do numbers 1 and 2 precisely because you are married to white woman. Your fundamental values have been diluted by that relationship.

      I am not condemning your practices but pointing out that the article is a fairly correct depiction of what we Zambian men are in this department.

      When one is brought about working interview the garden or cutting trees for firewood in childhood while mothers and sisters handle the kitchen, laundry and house cleaning, how am I expected to suddently become domesticated in areas I never saw any grown men participate in and I was chased from threre as a kid?

      I work in healthcare, I am a man and to this day, I am barely allowed to enter the labour ward even if what I need to do my work is in there, they would rather…

  6. She is absolutely right.
    Guys, don’t start defending yourselves.

    I have been around long enough in both Zed and the West.

  7. ” Our men .” Someone tell this lady we do not belong to her or any other woman.We belong to Jesus, the majority of us, then very little belong to satan kikikiki. SOme are in between still searching, AKA Jay Jay.

    • What makes you thinking you have found it …you read one plagiarized novel and not once but a dozen of times called The Bible you think you know it all. There are Astrophysicists who have PHDs written books but they are still learning…your ancestors left you clues of your greatness in pyramids but you embrace someone’s doctrine to put you down.

    • “When your God and your savior looks like your master and enslaver, you become the principal agent in your destruction” – Master Teacher Dr. Yosef

  8. This is an interesting read. However, I don’t understand the ones disagreeing with the writer, she already said the situation may be different for a selected few Zambian men already, in this write up she is referring to the bigger percent of our men. Move on Jeez. Bushe lyonse kutalika, wish I had the palm on my face emojie right now…

  9. Am a Zambian Man the only thing I don’t do is cook the main meal,reason am a bad cook besides that l pretty much do anything in the house,times have moved on.

  10. Am so blessed that my man is born and bred Zambian but stayed in the diaspora. What ever you have written can be true for other Zambian men but for me he does what a white man would do. Even changing nappies, being in the labour ward, cooking washing and preparing meals, cleaning the house. We kiss and hug in public so in short he is a white inside and black outside if you may call that.

    • Whats so special in defining that Man of yours with a White Man as benchmark?

      That’s a mind of a slave. You can’t see and believe in yourself….

      What a flop….!!

  11. Oh dear, this is one of those articles that beg to be relevant in a society where people marry who they want and do as they please. Marry the man you want and let the rest of the women decide what works for them. I married an African woman – not Zambian – and could easily say she’s better than MOST local women but what would be the point when the way local women behave isn’t seeing them go unmarried? It’s a non-issue. Deal with it, adjust and drink lots of water!

    • @Township Tycoon- what exactly is an African woman? There are 53 countries the last time I checked. Sometimes, tondolo musuma.

  12. I have one problem with this @Mushota with Profile picture putting on a hut. This lady is a Pretender and she wants us to think she’s in Cloud Nine with her life and yet, she’s nothing. Sit down, Gal….!!!

    No Nation can develop with people of minds like yours

  13. Iwe Mushota… How on earth can you date your so called fiancee for 10 years??You even brag that he says that he love you and you even believe him?? You will cry one day

  14. A foreigners guide to dating a Zambian woman

    Welcome to Zambia my brother, a land full of opportunity and full of single women praying hard to find their Mr. Right. Here they fill up the churches every Sunday praying relentlessly for God to bless them with a husband like he’s a material object. For most women in this country finding a good man is like finding a good career opportunity. This guide is written with the Western man in mind.

    Before I forget. If you are white, my man you’re in luck. Our women would literally die to date you. They are obsessed with skin color and most of them actually bleach their skin to appear lighter than they actually are. Being a white man in Zambia is like winning a lottery when it comes to relationships. You could be a toilet cleaner in the UK, but…

  15. Ba Sampa I think you have either just been divorced or dumped. Do not de-market a Zambian man. All the things you have claimed are false. I have been cooking, washing, cleaning up in the kitchen and always compliment my wife… I even change baby clothes. All these I learnt from my 1935 born father ( a Bemba from Luwingu for your info) who was not only a football fan but a player as well as I am.

    I noticed somebody said do your research before posting your prejudices and stereotypes. Pray for a good man and you will find a gem…oh and learn to fast as you pray. God is a generous giver. Stop going to night clubs for men…actually the best ones are found in very humble places. I have been to mist southern African, East African and west African countries and for me Zambian men is tops…

  16. Sampa, please get some exposure if you can. There is trash even amongst your revered white men out there. Actually the ‘ small God’s you see in white skins in Zambia are rejected traxh in their home countries…wake up Zambian women!!!! I got white friends who say they cannot marry Zambian girls (they generalise of course) because of your gold digging tendencies….

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