Zambia History and Politics

Settlement of Zambia

Already about 300,000 years ago people settled in what is now Zambia. These mostly lived near rivers or lakes and already used axes as tools. 50,000 years ago, the residents ventured into the heights of the country.

When the late Stone Age set in, they began hunting with bows and arrows and making tools out of bones. These were the indigenous people of Zambia. They were the San, Bushmen. As in the other regions of southern Africa, the Bantu tribes immigrated to the region from the 14th century.

Bantu immigrate

In contrast to the hunters and gatherers who had previously lived in the area of ​​Zambia, the Bantu peoples practiced agriculture and ranching. They lived in simple huts and were already making clay vessels.

The largest immigration took place between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. The peoples who settled the country included the Tonga, later the Barotse, who founded the Lozi Empire, and even later, not until the 19th century, the Bemba. They mainly settled on the central plateau, which stretches from the current capital Lusaka to Lake Tanganyika. The Bemba are the largest group in Zambia today.


The term Bantu is a collective term for more than 400 different ethnic groups in south and central Africa. What they all have in common is the language stem. Their languages ​​are summarized as the Bantu languages. These can then be counted among the Niger-Congo languages. Many different languages ​​have evolved in Africa and most of them are still in use. As a result of the colonization, English and French in particular later spread.

Beginning of slavery

The Europeans had meanwhile discovered the African continent and above all its mineral resources and riches. The first came to the Zambezi region as early as 1514. The slave trade came up through the Arabs, who also discovered this region. People started trading with Arabia and India too. But the Portuguese also used people as slaves and exploited them for their work in the fields and in the mines.

The British are coming

In the middle of the 19th century, the British came on the scene in the person of the researcher David Livingstone. He was also a missionary and wanted to bring the local people closer to the Christian faith. For a long time he lived among the African peoples of this region. But in addition to the mission, it was also important to him to convince people of the improvement in agricultural work.

He wanted to expand the trade in grain and cotton and make the slave trade superfluous. In his attempt to examine the suitability of the Zambezi for a trip by ship, he discovered the Victoria Falls quite incidentally. However, the Zambezi could not be navigated continuously by ship, that turned out to be at the same time.

David Livingstone

The Africa explorer and missionary David Livingstone was originally from Scotland. In 1851 he made a trip to what is now Zambia. He was the first to reach the beginning of the Zambezi River there. He also discovered the Victoria Falls, which also belong to the Zambezi River. They are the widest waterfall in the world. Today they are part of the world natural heritage.

Northern Rhodesia and its copper

As in Zimbabwe, the history of Zambia is closely linked to the person of Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the British South African Company (BSAC), a British trading company. He managed to convince the British government that land had been awarded to his organization. The actual owners – the inhabitants of African countries – had little say in this. Although contracts were signed with them, attempts were usually made to deceive them in order to gain advantages from the contracts. For more articles on Zambia and Africa, please visit aristmarketing.

In 1890 what is now Zambia became a part of Rhodesia, which was named after Rhodes. In the meantime the rich copper deposits had also been discovered. In 1923 Zambia became Northern Rhodesia under the British Protectorate and received its independence from the South. During this time, copper production continued to increase, an important metal that was mainly discovered in the area of ​​the Copperbelt – the copper belt. While the British were exploiting the mines, the black workers had to toil there for little money. That couldn’t go well in the long run.

Miners strike

In the long term, the locals did not accept the fact that their country was being exploited by the British. So it came to an argument. In 1930 miners went on strike. Ten years and 16 years later there was another strike. The workers stopped working.

Rhodesia becomes part of the Central African Federation

As in many other African countries, the British felt themselves to be rulers over black Africans and acted accordingly. Only the Second World War brought an end to colonialism. After that, the regions in Africa were also reorganized. But Zambia initially became part of the Central African Federation from 1953 to 1964. This also included Southern Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, and Nyassaland, today’s state of Malawi. The population did not agree with this situation, so that there were repeated violent uprisings and further strikes.


In 1964 Zambia became independent from Great Britain, but was still a member of the Commonwealth. Kenneth Kaunda became the country’s first president. His party was the United National Independence Party (UNIP). During this time the country lived mainly from the rich copper deposits. This worked as long as the copper price was high. However, few alternatives have been developed in other industries, such as agriculture.

Disaster struck in the 1970s when copper prices fell and the country’s main source of income fell. The president declared Zambia a one-party state in 1973, after which other parties had been banned. The president nipped in the bud the unrest that arose over this policy. From then on, the country went down economically and politically at the same time. In 1984 the first case of AIDS emerged in Zambia.


It was not until 1990 that, following pressure from within, but also from outside, there was again a democratic election in which several parties competed against each other. The constitution was amended and in 1991 Frederick Chiluba became the new president. His party is called the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

The next president was Levy Mwanawasa and he ruled from 2002 to 2008. Since January 2015 Edgar Lungu is the sixth president of Zambia. For the first time, his representative is a woman, Inonge Wina is the Vice President of Zambia.

Zambia History

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