Article 3: 10/4/15

Megan Hensley

Mom, Zenia, and I preparing a Zambian dish: Ifisashi! 😀



We have had so many exciting events happen since my last article it’s hard for me to decide which events to write about. I’d like to say first of all that God has greatly blessed us these past few weeks. He has provided excellent new friendships for us all and I have learned a lot throughout this time. I’ve learned to be more resourceful with the things I have and to be much more appreciative of the things God has provided for me. Most importantly my relationships with God and my family have grown immensely. They are always beside me to lean on in the hard times and share in the good times.

One of the highlights of my last few weeks would definitely be the chance to attend a traditional Zambian church service for the first time. We attended church where our good friend Aaron Chama is pastor. We were the only “musungus” (or “white people”) attending, but the warm welcome we received made us feel very at home. During the time of singing, Pastor Aaron requested our family come to the front of the room and introduce ourselves. After we did so everyone began singing and came to shake our hands.

One girl shook my hand like all the others, but then grabbed me by both hands and started dancing with me. She had me swaying back and forth to the music and twirling her under my arm. She then led me to the middle of the room to dance there. It quite took me by surprise.

Another story I thought might interest readers is regarding the food here. Our dear friend Zenia, who also helps keep house, offered to help us shop for and cook a traditional Zambian meal.

We left for one of the main markets here in Ndola, called Masala, early one Friday morning. Masala covers at least a mile or two of land, and my parents thought that might even be an understatement. It was quite large. It definitely was not fancy. The path where we walked was uneven, solid dirt and covered in large potholes and litter. They sold a variety of different items at their make-shift stands: fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, traditional clothing, shoes… to name a few. It was a lot to take in. Everyone selling the items was very friendly. They greeted us in their language (Bemba) with broad smiles and hearty handshakes.


Zenia accompanied us (rather, she led us) on this endeavor of tackling an African market. We had decided on three different Zambian dishes for our supper: Nshima, ifisashi and kapenta.

Nshima is the staple food here which they eat on a daily basis. It consists entirely of boiled white cornmeal, cooked until it is a consistency comparable to thick mashed potatoes. They then scoop it out of the pot in lumps to eat. Next, they take a bite-sized portion of their lump, roll it in their hand, and dip it in the other dishes on their plate.

The second dish is ifisashi. This can be made various ways, and is a very common side dish to have with nshima. Its ingredients are tomatoes, onions, ground peanuts, and either spinach, kale, pumpkin leaves or other greens boiled together (I’ve eaten it with kale in the past, but this time we used pumpkin leaves). When it is done, it looks quite a bit like spinach and artichoke dip. It is incredibly delicious; one of our favorites.

Kapenta is a kind of fish similar to a minnow. We buy them dried at the market (with their eyeballs and everything). To cook them, we fry them on the stove with some spices and then eat them with our nshima. The eyeballs remain on the fish.

While at the market, we shopped for the ingredients to make the aforesaid foods. The experience was quite enjoyable until the drunken men showed up.

Thankfully, the Zambians are extremely protective people. They don’t tolerate anyone being bothered or bullied. Therefore, when the drunken men wouldn’t cease begging from us and getting in our faces, a handful of men quickly noticed and called them off.

Upon arriving home from Masala, Zenia quickly put Mom and I to work tearing pumpkin leaves and dicing vegetables for supper.

After much observation and participation in preparing the meal, I don’t think I could recreate it without some help, but I felt like I did learn a lot about the Zambian way of cooking and enjoyed a fun afternoon in the kitchen with my mom and Zenia.

The meal turned out very tasty. I admit the kapenta was not my favorite dish (it was a little too fishy for my taste) but it wasn’t bad. Overall, the meal was a hit.

We continue to build our relationships with the neighbor kids that come to play. I believe we can refer to them all by name now and have studied enough Bemba to communicate during a friendly game of “futball.” We’ve also enjoyed all the things they’ve had to say about us.

One of them told me this week that my skin was “as soft as a tomato,” and they can’t believe my hair is natural and not a wig. They had to play with it and touch it themselves before I think they were convinced.

As for Wiphan, we have visited a few times as a family and my dad on a couple of other occasions. We have enjoyed it each time we have visited, having the opportunity to meet and greet the children and staff. I anticipate writing more about Wiphan in my next article.

To conclude, I just want to say what an exciting opportunity it is for me to write my story and share it with you. I hope these stories are an encouragement for all of you.


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