2020 – Recap part 1: The Gassing

2020, what can I say, there sure hasn’t been a shortage of ideas for blog posts in the first 6 month of the year, yet I haven’t posted anything since February! I guess I’ve suffered blog fatigue or something, feeling overwhelmed with everything happening around me. I’ve decided to catch up on all the major things I’d wanted to blog about but that ended up just a thought in my head. This will not fit in one post, so bare with me as I try to recap this crazy year.

Recap part I: The Gassing

In Zambia I’ve always felt safe, running on bush path on the farm, walking in the markets, travelling in rural areas. Never have I looked over my shoulder, or been afraid to drive on my own. The mantra people always tell visitors is that “Zambia is a peaceful country” and I’ve never felt inclined to disagree, until the beginning of this year. Something strange was happening, first a few incidents, then more widely reported and eventually in all areas of Zambia. People were being “gassed” in their own homes while asleep. The stories varied, nothing was stolen, some claimed blood was drawn from the victims, the panic spread fast. But what was actually happening? I received a number of videos on Whatsapp showing anything from ordinary mosquito spray cans to fumigation used for maize as suspicious items found outside people’s homes in the morning, but it was all items that can be found anywhere. Then, the mobs started to take it in their own hands as people felt the police did nothing. This is when things got scary. Buses travelling on the main road out of the capitol got caught up in a blockade where people came on to the bus looking for suspicious objects. One day in Chisamba there was a blockade down the road from where I was, we all listened to a voice message from a very distressed person that had just come out of there. He had been pulled out of his car, held to the ground with a machete over his face, while his car was thoroughly searched. When they didn’t find anything deemed suspicious he was free to go, nothing was stolen. Unfortunately not everybody was as lucky when getting in the hands of the mobs. A well-known business man from Kabwe was brutally killed, his two passengers were badly beaten and one of them later succumbed to his injuries. Their crime was to travel down a rural road and ending up accused of being “gassers”. Many more died in the hands of violent mobs across the country. All the while there was very little clarity of the actual gassing cases. Did anyone die from the gas? Did anyone even get gassed? Politicians were playing their usual blame games and pointing fingers at opposition parties. The military was sent out to enforce a curfew and we made sure not to be on the roads after dark. Then, things just got quiet, like it never happened. We were left with questions and no answers. In mid-March Zambia had its first confirmed case of Covid-19 and just like that we moved on.

Mysterious gas attack kills 18 in Zambia - Voice of Nigeria

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/zambia-deploys-troops-quell-gas-attacks-criminal-gangs-200214135907635.html


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