Zambia is a landlocked country situated in southern part of Africa. A total of eight countries are its neighbors; including Angola to the west, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to the south, Malawi to the east, Tanzania to the north-east, and the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) to the north. It has Lusaka situated in the south-central part, as its capital city.
The natives of this country populate it densely around Lusaka in the south and the copper-belt in the northwest. Like many small countries throughout the world, many people in other parts of the world know very little about Zambia. This paper seeks to expose the major characteristics of Zambia so that those interested will have a basic knowledge of the country.
Currently, Zambia is governed based on the constitution that was passed in 1990, by President Kenneth Kaunda terminating the UNIP’s power monopoly, and which was amended in 1996. Subsequently, 150 directly elected members, a maximum of 8 presidentially nominees and a speaker, constitute the National assembly (U.S. department of state, Para. 13).
Nine provinces governed by an appointed deputy minister, constitute the republic of Zambia. The judiciary comprises of the Supreme Court as the high court and the court of appeal. High court, magistrate’s courts, and the local courts are below it in power.
According to United Nations Statistics Division, approximately 68 percent of Zambians live below the identified national poverty line, with urban rates of 53% and rural poverty rates of about 78% (Para. 3). Zambia ranks 117th out of 128 countries on the 2007 Global Competitiveness Index, which takes into account factors that influence economic growth (The World Bank group in Zambia 3).
Currently, the per capita annual income is at $395. Zambia’s economic regulations and bureaucracy are extensive, and corruption is rampant. The Zambian economy is dependent on copper mining sector, and any discrepancy in the world copper market has serious effects on its economy.
The education sector in Zambia, like many third world countries, is not fully developed. In 2003, the literacy rates stood at approximately 80.6% based on the U.S. Department of State (par. 7).
Education is offered in two phases, viz. basic education for 1 to 9 years old and upper secondary for 10 to 12. Most children drop out after exceeding age 7 when they start payment of fees because tuition covers only up to year 7.
Education opportunities past secondary school level are limited. Zambia has several universities, the competition for admission in these universities is stiff, and they admit students based on ability and deservingness. Fees payment rendered tertiary education unattainable given that many people are poor living below the poverty line despite the fact that government offers boosts through bursaries.
Bantu forms the great part of Zambian culture, which carries some foreign (especially European) elements. Due to influence from west, some natives have opted to live in towns with the wake of urbanization. Nevertheless, indigenous culture has persisted through prominent cultural events and artifacts.
Zambia celebrates its traditional culture through greatly conspicuous colorful annual Zambian traditional ceremonies. Different ceremonies are tied to specific regions of Zambia, such as Kuomboka and Kathanga in the western province. Zambian culture is also portrayed through popular traditional artifacts in copper crafts, wire craft, ivory carvings, wooden carvings, mats, fabrics, stools, basketry.
Vigorous dancing and singing accompanied by drum and percussion accompaniments characterized Zambian music. Maize is the staple food for Zambians. Maize is usually grounded into a mealie meal and used to prepare thick porridge known as NShima. Nshima may then be eaten with sour milk, fish, beans, or vegetables depending on the region. The natives may also prepare Nshima from cassava.
Before 300 AD, the Khoisan was the only Zambian natives inhabiting the land but they were soon to be replaced and/or adopted by more civilized groups. With the Bantu expansion of the 12th Century, the wave extended to Zambia and it brought masses of other Bantus into the region.
Tonga people were the first to settle in Zambia allegedly from the east near the Indian Ocean. The Nkoya ethnic group was the second to arrive preliminary to the expansion from the Luba-Lunda kingdom in the southern DRC and northern Angola. The Nsokolo community settled in the Mbala District of northern Province (Holmes 19). The Ngoni and Sotho immigration surge finalized the immigration spate.
The contemporary ethnic groups established their settlement by the close of 19th century. Even though Francisco de Lacerda was the pioneer European to land in Zambia in the 18th century, David Livingstone made great impact in Zambian culture by introducing Christendom, refinement and mercantilism in a bid to root out slavery.
The influx by European brought some wave of rebellion among the natives. For instance, the Angoni under Tsinco resisted the invasion but were defeated. Eventually the European explorers obtained mineral rights from the native leaders and in the early 20th century the British colonized Zambia during the scramble and partition of Africa. In 24 October 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the republic of Zambia.
The climate of Zambia is generally tropical; with exceptions in the highlands, that confers subtropical weather. Generally, Zambia boasts a humid subtropical climate having two prominent seasons, viz. summer and winter in October to November and November to April respectively.
Zambia is a country of rich cultural and climatic diversity. This condition helps attract foreign exchange and through copper export and tourism. The Zambian government should make drastic measures to exploit this diversity.
Holmes, Timothy. Cultures of the World: Zambia. New York: Times Books International, 1998.
The world bank group in zambia. Accelerating and Sharing Growth through Improved Competitiveness, 2007. 1-32.
United Nations Statistics Division. Millenium development goals indicators, June 2010. Web. 08 June 2011
U.S. department of state. “Background note: Zambia.” Bureau of public affairs, 2011. Web. 08 June 2011