Katarina Leravica, whose parents hail from Yugoslavia but was born and raised in Zambia told Funke Olaode what makes the country tick
How do you feel being born and raised in Zambia?
It was a fascinating experience being born and raised in the Southern part of Africa. My father is from Yugoslavia but came here in the 60s right after independence. He was working with an engineering company. He was invited from Yugoslavia to help build Zambia in post independent era. He and his team did a lot of constructions such as roads and bridges in the Southern part of Zambia. My father was part of that transport division of that engineering company. It was an opportunity to start his own transport business and he is still here 50 years after. Myself and my siblings were born and raised here in Zambia. We even schooled here. Although, I was opportune to school overseas.
What makes Zambia tick?
When you are talking about Zambia, you can’t separate the country from the people because if you look around there are infrastructure, social amenities, buildings and so on. There are opportunities but it is people that make the difference. Kind, helpful, generous, efficient and this keeps people interested in living, coming to Zambia and investing in Zambia.
How come you don’t have Zambian accent?
Again, myself and my siblings were lucky in the sense that English Language was given priority while we were growing up. We went to private school, international school with about 52 nationals. We didn’t have formal way to learn local languages. We had a bilingual home where we spoke English and Caretian and we didn’t have the opportunity to speak the local dialects. It is one of my regrets now that I am taking classes where I learn how to speak the languages.
How would you describe your experience being born and living in Zambia?
I think when you grow in an environment and it is the only world you know, it is just your life and you don’t question it. I feel very fortunately that I have always had mixed and multi-cultural group of friends in my life. My parents are fantastic people and so we always had friends: indigenous black Zambians, Europeans they always come to our house. I grew up without seeing racial difference. In my graduating class at International school we had people from 52 nationalities so I have friends from all over the world. So I love the city, being surrounded by different culture and people.
So I feel very blessed to be born and raised in a country like Zambia that welcomes diversity, races and different culture. I have never had any form of discrimination here.
Would you like to marry a Zambian?
For me, I don’t think about what kind of a man or race. If a wonderful man comes my way I will settle down with him irrespective of where he comes from.