In Memoriam

Doris Langu, Zambia

In 1993, the 10 Zambian Servas hosts had dwindled to one: me. I advertised in the two national newspapers and 10 people answered. One was Doris Longu., in her late thirties and unmarried - a very rare thing in Zambia. She was nurse at a Clinic run by Zambia Sugar Estates 5 km from Mazabuka, to serve Kaleya Smallholders Company. Kaleya is 200 km from Lusaka and 300 from Livingstone, places almost all Travellers visit. Doris was very keen to meet and welcome foreigners.

She sent me a colour photo and asked me to send one of me to her. From then on for 6 years Doris wrote to me two or three times a year, long chatty letters. In the last year or two they began, "Dearest Denys". She recruited another nurse, Annie Kunda, a lady in the Spares Dept.and finally the company manager as hosts. Four Hosts in one small place!

When my wife and I had to visit Lusaka for a Church Synod, We spent a night with Doris. She gave up her own double bed for us, and gave us a full tour of Kaleya Smallholdings, with its school and clinic, its company built housing, its sugar fields and its extensive irrigation system. One day she turned up at our house in Livingstone without notice, just to greet us.

A British student stayed with us as a Servas Traveller, and deliberately got off the bus at Kaleya on his way to Lusaka to visit the Kaleya Hosts. He wrote to me later. Doris and Annie took two days off work, booked a taxi and gave him a full tour. He was astonished at this overwhelming welcome.

In 1999, Zambia Sugar did some downsizing and made 3 of our 4 Hosts redundant. Doris went to live with an uncle in Mufulira, where she got a job in a clinic. She wrote to ask for a new Hosts application form. The next I heard was a letter from Annie Kunda in Kaleya to say that after a 3 week illness, Doris had died. At present I have no further details.

This is only the second death of a Host known to me in the 18 years I've been a host in Zambia. And Doris was special. She was somehow "pushy", often writing to ask why I hadn't written to her lately, and when was the next Hosts Meeting to be. Servas was important to her. And as her National Secretary, I am writing this to say Doris was important to Servas. I won't use the traditional phrase, "May she rest in Peace." Wherever Doris is now, she won't be resting. She'll be pestering Peter to call the next meeting, and making sure she's invited - which I'm sure she will be.

Denys Whitehead