Nkana Swimming Baths

Donna, my fellow hockey playing chum from the old days, in Kitwe/Nkana, Zambia (the place from which I thankfully escaped), got me connected to the Kitwe Past/Present Facebook page where there’s all these photos posted from those days. The town is now just called Kitwe, not sure why. Used to be the name given to the commerce side of the place. Nkana was the mining part where I lived. In my day it was owned by Anglo/American when the copper mines were pumping and there was money to be made, and housing, schooling and hospitalization were free.

So, despite myself, I’m checking out these photos. And feeling very sad at how Nkana has changed. I left after independence but since then copper prices plunged, all the skilled workers left, and now Zambia is one of the poorest in the world.

This is a photo of the Swimming Baths, where I swam on the Copperbelt swim team and where I met that champion diver from the Zimbabwean team–what was his name? Damn, he was good looking. Six months later, we had a very exciting, hormone-filled grope on the platform at Bulawayo train station where I had briefly escaped my parents and little brother on our thousand mile journey down to Durban, South Africa to holiday on its white sands. I was fifteen.

This was also where I jumped from the top diving board without holding my nose like the ninnies did. This is also where I stuffed toilet paper in the cups of my two piece “cozzie” (bathing suit), where all us girls undressed together in one big cement-floored change room, me pressed against the wall to hide my “bumps.”  This is where I met the guy who was determined to stop me from getting married. Unfortunately, he didn’t succeed. And two years later, this is where I took my baby son to play in that turquoise blue fountain to play.

Below is a photo of me in the Swimming Baths heyday (and mine!). And sans stuffing in my bra.