Success story of Servas Zambia

It all started in 1976 when Ronald Watts together with his doctor wife visited a relative of theirs in Oxford, England who was a Servas host. In 1977, the Watts came back to Lusaka and found that there was a small Servas branch in Zambia. The main contact at that time was Mrs Prisca Molotsi. In 1980, I met the Watts family in Livingstone and it so happened that in July 1986, they called at Livingstone and asked me and my wife as to whether we were willing to become Servas hosts as they were leaving the country. We agreed. We came to understand that Mrs Ruth Thiessen was the National Secretary of Servas Zambia and there were 10 hosts on the list. The July 1989 Host List gave Bernadette Mlenga as National Secretary and Mrs Malotsi as her assistant. I wrote several times to Bernadette and got no reply at all. When I did not hear from Bernadette, I then wrote Matlosi and got no reply as well.


In July 1991, there were only three active hosts left out of ten. About the same time I had a phone call from Philip Waterfield, a host in Ndola and told me that he too had written to Bernadette and failed to get any response from her. In March 1992, I received a letter from Antonie Fried and asked me as to what happened to Bernadette. I was given to understand that Bernadette apart from sending the Host List in July 1989, had failed to respond to request for Host List in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Antoine also wrote to Molotsi and got no reply from her as well. In June 1993, I received a letter from Franz Auerbach of Johanesburg who has represented South frica at the Servas International Conference in 1992. He wanted to get information about us as well as other Servas African Branches for the Servas International Newsletter. I told him what I knew.


Mariangela Brunello asked me if we were still active and willing to continue as hosts. She had sent me the Zambian Host List dated March 1993 with three hosts only. From the list I noticed that Philip Waterfield has a different Box Number and a different Phone Number from what I had. I telephone his office and I came to learn that Mr Waterfield had already died two years ago which meant that there were only two hosts. I wrote to the other remaining two hosts but never got any reply. Hence it turned out that in November 1993 there was only one active host in Zambia. I tried Mr Philip Waterfield’s widow so that I could get more information about Servas. I never got any reply from her. How could I run an organisation about which I knew little and had no documents

Whatsoever. Therefore, in January 1994 I wrote to Mariangela and asked for help. I waited for quite some time and when I received no reply from her I then wrote to Franz Auerbach . It was only in April 1994 that I received a reply from Mariangela. She sent me some forms for Host and Traveller Registration and the International Handbook. Franz too replied to my letter in May and gave me similar information. In April itself, I had my first letter from the International Secretary, Mrs Vibeke Matorp. I wrote to HIM and the reply I got in May said. ‘I am a WOMAN.’ She sent me a brochure about Servas and I made a Zambian version of the same.

Meanwhile, I advertised in the local newspapers and got several replies. By June 1993, the adverts had produced 3 hosts. In the meantime Mr Ronald Watts, the founder had returned to Katete and hence came back on the list again. I wrote to many friends around Zambia and one did respond positively. The hosts started increasing and had risen from 1 to 5 hosts. By July 1994, the Host List numbered 14 already. By the end of 1995 we were 16 on the host

Denis Whitehead