HISTORY OF ZAMBIA
The first inhabitants of Zambia were Bushmen. They were Stone Age hunters and gatherers.
Later, a new wave of Bantu speaking people arrived from the north. They were mostly farmers growing sorghum and beans. The also farmed with cows and goats.
In the 11th century a more advance Iron Age culture developed. The farming villages were self-sufficient and long distance trade was flourishing.
In 1500 the Portuguese were sailing around the coast of Africa. They brought new foods from America. They also brought the slave trade, though it already existed on a small scale in Africa. They would use criminals and prisoners of war in the slave trade to sell to the Portuguese. The people of Zambia though had no direct contact with the Europeans until the 19th century.
In the 19th century, Shaka, the Zulu ruler, began to conquer neighboring tribes. He displaced whole tribes across southern and central Africa, as far north as Zambia. In the 1820’s, they crossed the Zambezi River and marched to the area north of Victoria Falls. They founded the Kololo kingdom.
Yet another group called the Ngoni, left Shaka’s domain in the 1820’s. They also crossed the Zambezi and went as far as Lake Tanganyika. They later settled in east Zambia. The Ngoni lived partly by raiding other tribes or trader’s caravans.
The first European to visit the area was David Livingstone. He traveled there in 1851. He visited the Kololo kingdom and saw the nobles wearing British cloth that had been sold to Africans by the Portugese in Angola. He was also the first European to see the Victoria Falls.
Livingstone wished to convert the Africans and also wanted to end the slave trade there. He knew the Africans wanted European goods and would sell slaves to get them. He hoped he could replace the slave trade with legitimate commerce. The Africans grew cotton, and there was a great demand for it in Europe. There was also a European market for ivory. It was used to make keyboards and snooker balls.
His idea failed because the goods would have to be taken to Mozambique for export, and unfortunately a gorge in Mozambique made the river unnavigable and it was too difficult to transport goods on foot.
After Livingstone, Zambia was left to go its own way for 35 years. It came under British rule from 1889 to 1901 due to the efforts of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902). Once the British started mining in African territory they gradually took it over.
Lewanika, king of the Lozi in west Zambia sought British protection from rival tribes that were vying for his throne. He thought having a British representative at his court would strengthen his position. He also hoped the British would set up schools and educate his people. The king allowed them to mine his kingdom and allowed British nationals in his territory, in return for £2000 a year and protection from rival tribes.
The British also made deals with other tribes and by 1898, took native lands and cattle and forced the men to become wage laborers. However Rhodes and his men did not find great mineral wealth in Zambia. They found some copper oxide and zinc near the surface, but nothing like the amount of valuable minerals they hoped to find.
Only a small number of Europeans actually came to live in the new colony. There were only about 3,000 in 1914. Most of them lived in a strip of land beside the railway. They lived on farms worked by African laborers. However, many Indians came to work as traders and craftsmen in the colony. They were seen as ‘middlemen’ between the Europeans and the Africans.
The town of Livingstone was founded in 1905 when a railway bridge was built across the Zambezi. Residents of a settlement called Old Drift then moved to the site. At first Zambia was divided into two parts, Northwest Rhodesia and Northeast Rhodesia. After 1907 Livingstone was the capital of Northwest Rhodesia. In 1911 they were united to form one colony and Livingstone became the capital. Lusaka was founded in 1905 to serve a lead mine. It became the capital in 1935.
The fate of Zambia changed dramatically in the late 1920’s when rich underground deposits of copper and cobalt were discovered. By 1939 Zambia was the world’s main source of copper and was potentially a rich country. By 1930 there were 30,000 African miners and about 4,000 white miners who did the skilled jobs in Zambia.
The number of white people in Zambia rose sharply after copper was discovered. By 1939 there were 13,000 of them. Many of them came from South Africa.
By 1936 it was estimated that about 60% of able bodied men in Zambia were working away from home. About 60,000 were employed in Zambia as miners.
The large numbers of men working in mines had an important social effect. It tended to weaken tribal bonds. Miners tended to see themselves as miners first, rather than belonging to this or that tribe. Although there were no unions at the time, they began to organize and went on strike spontaneously in 1935. There were riots and the army was called in to suppress them. In 1940 the white miners also went on strike for better working conditions.
By 1948 the African miners founded a proper trade union, as did the African railwaymen in 1949. The African trade unions were a major threat to British rule.
In 1949 the first real independence movement was begun when the African National Congress (ANC) was formed from the welfare associations first begun in the 1930’s.
Although copper was Zambia’s main export, by the 1950’s there was also a large gemstone industry. Meanwhile the white population continued to grow rapidly and reached 50,000 by 1955. By then they formed 3% of the population. Many new immigrants came from Britain.
Zambia became independent on October 24, 1964 with Kaunda as president. The new country faced many problems. There were only about 100 native Zambians with university degrees and a lack of qualified people to run the country. Zambia lacked infrastructure and schools. Also, 90% of Zambia’s foreign earnings were from copper. So Kaunda drew up a development plan for 1965-69. The number of primary schools doubled between 1964 and 1972. The number of secondary schools rose from 14,000 to 61,000 during the same time period.
At first industry grew rapidly. But the economy did well in the 1960’s and 1970’s mostly because of the high price of copper. After 1974 the price of copper dropped, with disastrous results for Zambia. The country was forced to borrow money and Zambia got more and more in debt.
Living standards fell for most people during the 1980’s and 1990’s and by 1999 inflation was in triple digits.
As the economy deteriorated, Kaunda faced increasing opposition for his one party system and in October 1991 called a multi-party election. The MMD won 125 out of 150 seats. Frederick Chiluba won 81% of the vote and became president. The new government abandoned to failed ‘humanism’ policy. They phased out food subsidies and allowed prices to be set by the market. It also privatized state owned industries. Privatization began in 1994 and in 2000, 70% of the largest mining company was sold. Meanwhile inflation fell from triple digits in 1990 to 25% in 1999.
However during the 1990’s Zambia was struck by floods and later by droughts. As a result economic growth fluctuated. Zambia also faced the problem of the AIDS epidemic. By 2000 it was estimated that 10% of the population had either AIDS or the HIV virus.
In 2006 the G8 group of rich nations agreed to cancel Zambia’s national debt. Since then Zambia’s economy has grown rapidly. Copper mining remains the most important industry in Zambia, but there is also some mining of other metals such as silver, zinc, cobalt and lead.
Zambia also has huge potential for tourism with its national parks and the Victoria Falls. Zambia is still a poor country but it is developing rapidly. There is every reason to be optimistic about the future of Zambia.
Today the population of Zambia is 14.2 million.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF ZAMBIA:
1. VICTORIA FALLS
Victoria Falls means “the smoke that thunders”. The falls is positioned almost exactly half way along the mighty Zambezi River and have a 2700km journey from its source to the sea.
The river plunges into a 100m vertical chasm spanning the full one and a half kilometre width of the river and creates the biggest curtain of falling water in the word. Victoria Falls is also one of the 7 wonders of the world.
2. VICTORIA FALLS BRIDGE
Victoria Falls Bridge was built across the Zambezi River just below the Victoria Falls. The bridge basically links Zimbabwe and Zambia and has border posts on both ends.
3. RAILWAY MUSEUM
The Railway Museum is a museum in Livingstone, Zambia, dedicated to preserving Zambia’s railway heritage.
4. LUSAKA NATIONAL MUSEUM
The Lusaka National Museum is a museum located in Lusaka, Zambia, covering the history and culture of the nation.
5. LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM
The Livingstone Museum, formerly David Livingstone Memorial Museum and Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, is the largest and the oldest museum in Zambia, located in Livingstone near Victoria Falls. The museum has exhibits of artifacts related to local history and prehistory, including photographs, musical instruments, and possessions of David Livingstone, the explorer and missionary.
6. COPPERBELT MUSEUM
The Copperbelt Museum is a living museum located in Ndola, Zambia.
7. KALIMBA REPTILE PARK
Kalimba Reptile Park is located in Lusaka. It offers plenty colorful creatures in a garden setting.
8. MUNDA WANGA ENVIRONMENTAL PARK
This park rehabilitates all sorts of animals for re-entry into the wild. The park has lots of cheetahs, lions, banded mongoose, wild dogs, jackals, warthogs and baboons. This is the first and only exposure to wildlife for people that live in Lusaka. It also contains breathtaking botanical gardens with lots of plant species.
9. MARAMBA CULTURAL MUSEUM
The Maramba Cultural Museum is a museum in Livingstone, Zambia, dedicated to the preservation of traditional Zambian culture and art.
10. CHOMA MUSEUM AND CRAFTS PROJECTS
The Choma Museum and Crafts Project is a museum in Choma, Zambia dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Tonga tribe. It houses and sells traditional crafts and artifacts.
11. LILAYI GAME RANCH
Lilayi is a holiday resort located in Lusaka Zambia. It is the perfect get away destination for people that are looking to relax and get away from home.