Zambag, n.

Zambag, zam-bag. n. 1. A large, zippered version of a reusable grocery bag made from durable woven plastic. 2. The personal transportation accessory of choice for rural Zambians and cash-strapped Peace Corps volunteers, who have been known to stuff these things with everything from pasta to books to pineapples to live chickens.

For the aesthetic pleasure of the discerning traveler, Zambags are adorned with vivid color prints of everything from large African mammals to the cosmopolitan skyline of Dubai to Miley Cyrus.

Zambian Colloquial Dictionary (ZCD), 2015.


Zambags strapped to the backs of bicycles are a common sight -- this was my load for a 150-mile bike ride last June


Zampop, n.

Zampop, zam-pahp. n. The most popular genre of music in Zambia, narrowly beating out Celine Dion, Dolly Parton, and church hymns. Zampop consists primarily of autotuned melodies sung by male recording artists laid over synthetic hip-hop/R&B beats, resulting in tracks which sound so much like Akon that Akon himself wouldn’t be able to be certain that they weren’t his own. Related etymology: K-pop, J-pop. Similar musical sounds: Jason Derulo, older Usher. Percentage of time blasted through tinny speakers on long bus rides: all of it.

Zambian Colloquial Dictionary (ZCD), 2014.

Dancing at a wedding to...Zampop

Dancing at a traditional Zambian wedding to…Akon

Zambike, n.

Nshinda, Luapula, January 2014

A typical bicycle in rural Zambia, carrying bananas from the farm back to the village

Zambike, zam-byk. n. 1. A Zambian bicycle manufacturer. 2. The informal regional name for all bicycles in Zambia capable of transporting huge baskets of produce, balancing precarious stacks of reed mats, and bending but not breaking under the weight of multiple 25-kilogram bags of charcoal. Used to ferry chickens, goats, and people — two on one bike is the default, three is not uncommon. Often missing (or featuring crude jury-rigged approximations of) pedals, seats, spokes, handlebars, tires, and/or hubs. These things defy the laws of gravity, decay, and a dude named Murphy, because if there were ever a case when something could go wrong, every Zambike would be a big rusty heap of things going wrong. And yet, incomprehensibly, they somehow always manage to still keep rolling.

Zambian Colloquial Dictionary (ZCD), 2014.


This curious kitten split as soon as she realized that her playground was a moving hazard

Zamtime, n.


Charging my phone as I wait for a fish farmer

Zamtime, zam-tym. n. A national clock that is set to run no faster than one hour behind for any and all functions that involve a muzungu highly conditioned for punctuality impatiently tapping his foot and checking the time on his phone. If a meeting is scheduled for 2pm, it will start at 3pm. Or 4pm. Or not until the following day. If you arrange to meet someone at 8am, you do not begin to wonder where the person is unless he has still not arrived by 9:30am.

Time doesn’t run here, it saunters and stops to chat with everybody it meets along the way to the meeting 7 kilometers away for which it is already an hour and fifteen minutes late.

Zambian Colloquial Dictionary (ZCD), 2014