Zambia: A Nation Is Born!

Henry Kyambalesa
Henry Kyambalesa

By Henry Kyambalesa

In this article, I wish to share my understanding of the story relating to the origins of our beloved country. The history of our country can be traced from at least 3 million years ago as having been part of the northern African Rift Valley. Archaeologists have found stone implements, similar to those found in modern Kenya, along the Zambezi River.

A number of early Stone Age sites have been unearthed in many parts of our beloved country, the most significant being at the Kalambo Falls in the Northern and the Victoria Falls in the Southern portions of the country. At Kalambo Falls, archaeologists have found evidence that our ancestors began using fire over 60,000 years ago.

At Victoria Falls, on the other hand, they have found a housing complex showing that the people who lived there had developed important architectural, organisational, human relations, and survival skills.

1. The 12th Century: Much of the readily available information about Zambia’s past, though, starts from the 12th Century when the Shona people arrived in the area from the south and established the Mwene Mutapa Empire, which included today’s southern Zambia.

2. The 16th Century: During the 16th Century, the region witnessed the arrival of people from the Luba and Lunda empires of the former Zaire to set up small kingdoms. They were joined later during the 19th Century by the Ngoni people from the south. During the latter part of the 19th Century, the country’s 73 tribal groups had already established themselves in the areas they currently occupy.

3. The Late 1800s: British imperialist, John Cecil Rhodes, obtained a concession for mineral rights from local chiefs in 1899, and eventually took control over the territory and administered it through his British South Africa Company (BSAC) as North-Eastern Rhodesia (with Fort Jameson – now Chipata – as its capital) and North-Western Rhodesia (with Kalomo as its capital).

In 1911, the territory became Northern Rhodesia with Livingstone as its capital. In 1924, the BSAC ceased to be the political power and the territory became a British Protectorate. In 1935, the seat of government was eventually moved from Livingstone to Lusaka.

4. August 1953: The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created in August 1953, consisting of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). In opposition to the Federation, the late Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and his followers (including Kenneth David Kaunda) formed the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress (ANC), which was later banned (in 1959) and its leaders imprisoned by British authorities.

5. The Year 1960: Kenneth David Kaunda, upon his release from prison, founded the United National Independence Party (UNIP) to campaign for independence and the dissolution of the Federation dominated by white-ruled Southern Rhodesia. On December 31, 1963, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was finally and permanently dissolved.

6. October 24, 1964: Northern Rhodesia gained independence on October 24, 1964, with Kenneth David Kaunda of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) as the first President of Zambia.

7. Origin of the Name “Zambia”: According to the Zambia Daily Mail (1999), the name “Zambia” was coined in October 1958 during the launching of the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) at Broken Hill (now Kabwe) by some of the former leaders of the liberation movement to replace the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress (ANC).

Initially, the name “Zambezia African National Congress” was proposed, but someone (believed to be the late Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe) suggested that the “Zambezia” part of the nascent political party’s name should be shortened to “Zambia.”

Our country, therefore, derives its name from the “Zambezi River.” But then, what is the origin of the name “Zambezi”?

As early as the 16th Century, maps drawn by Arabs in search of trade in goods and slaves began to show a river named “Zembere.” In the 17th Century, the De Lisle maps similarly depicted the name of the river as “Zambeze,” “Empondo” or “Cuama.” Later, cartographers sometimes used the name “Zambeze,” sometimes “Cuoama” (or “Cuama”) or both. But from the time of De Lisle (1675-1725), “Zambeze” became established on the maps.

Portuguese historian De Barros, whose writings were published between 1552 and 1613, mentioned “Zambeze” as one of the great rivers in the territory. Reference to the meaning of the name can be traced to the writings of Joao dos Santos, a Dominican Father, who wrote in 1609 that the local people called the river “Zambesi” – implying a river surrounded by riches and abounding in animals and provisions.

According to David Livingstone, in his Missionary Travels first published in 1858, the people living around today’s Western Province of Zambia referred to the river as “Liambai” or “Leeambye”—which meant “the large river.” He also noted that the names “Luambeji,” “Ambezi,” “Ojimbezi,” and “Zambesi” were applied to the river depending on the languages or dialects spoken by natives.

The name “Zambezia” was sometimes used to describe parts of today’s Zambezi valley by E. P. Mathers in his book entitled Zambezia published around 1900.

He also used the same name to describe the whole of Matabeleland and Mashonaland. And R. C. F. Maughan, in a book published in 1910 with a similar title to that of E. P. Mathers’ book, presented a map with the name “Zambesia,” which covered a large portion of today’s lower Zambezi in Mozambique.


  1. I know I am far from the most handsome man on earth but uyu mubeee aaah kwati ichibanda cha black.

    • Chipolopolo has no goalkeeper at moment. Why don’t this Kyambalesa apply for that vacant goalkeeper position?

    • Beauty, according to Kaizar, must be conceived of in terms of his twisted, jumbled and infantile mind. Any way, I do not see anything relating to beauty in this article. It is, therefore, foolish to discuss what is and what is not beautiful or handsome.

  2. Henry’s account is a fair summary. Shishuwa Shishuwa no doubt may fill in the details. Many Zambians 0-50 years are only authorities on Manchester United. Henry is now expanding their knowledge base.

  3. 60,000 years is a lie, blue, black and white lie. First man was Adam and his lineage is 3,518 years old. Torah, Bible and Quran confirms this. All 3 books cannotbe wrong Rest all is blasphemy

    • Yaba. How do you explain dinosaur bones then? Chinese Empire is 4000 years old, how can life have started 3000 years ago?

    • 1. Just to agree with what # Chiza Chirwa has pointed out. Human life, could not have started 3158 years ago. That’s a lie. If you just follow the lineage of *Job & *Moses it goes back to 21,000 years ago and they came before Jesus and Mohamed. All these religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have their ancestry from Abraham. The 7 wonders of the world ( 7 Temples Of India ) were built 15,000 years ago. The Pyramids were built for more than 5000 years. The Sanskrit, Emerald Tablet books go back 5000 years old.

    • 2. Mind you, in the year 325 AD, The Nicaea Council convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine removed the 23 books from the Bible. In 1945, The Lost Gospel of Thomas was found in Egypt in its original writing. While the Bible is a *Spiritual, &Intellectual & *Wisdom Book, a lot of history and facts were removed.

    • @Chiza and ind observer
      I’m struggling to find your reference for life being 3000 years old. Is it in this article?

    • According to the Bible, the Earth before the birth of Jesus Christ is 4,000 years old. There are 2,000 years from the death of Jesus. In total the Earth is about 6,000 years old. Man has been around between 4000 and 5000 years. The Bible is not a history hand book, but a word of God.

      Other theories state that “people looking like us” appeared on the Earth 300,000 years ago. Modern Man “with distinct behavioural traits” is theoretically said to have staged Earth about 50,000 to 65,000 years ago.

      Henry Kyambalesa, an expert in his field, is a historian; he is not a Bible scholar, a prophet or an evangelist.

    • That’s mythology from the Middle East. The Tora the Bible and the Koran have some commonalities because all three religions emerged in the same neighbourhood.

  4. Please leave us alone with Proconsul sh!t. All these are based on theories that can not be proven. This is like trying to explain HH’s graphs. The professors we have in African can not write anything but just quote what was written by Muzungus. White people only wrote what was convenient to them.

    • @kci its not only white scholars being used for sources. read Sheikh Anta Diop He was a Senegalese black historian. Among his theses is his proving that black people constructed the pyramids.

    • @Kaizar, it is your hero and master Fred M’membe who has an inferiority complex — the name of his political party (there is no other politician in Zambia’s history who has ever founded an ideologically inclined political party), the pictures of Marx, Castro and other failed socialists / communists that he displays in his office, and the socialist / communist green hats and other Cold-War era regalia that he sometimes wears. He worships such socialists / communists.

  5. I don’t like dwelling in the past especially one which is based on assumptions. Can you guys invent something today instead of talking about a civilization which may not even have existed.

    • I will say I suspect Kaizar is gay. He seems obsessed with fellow men’s looks. Why does he look for beauty in fellow men? As a man I may see another man but his good or bad looks dont appeal. I reserve that appreciation for the opposite sex. Now that Kaizar has provoked my curiosity, this Kyambalesa guy looks better than Kaizar to me.

    • @grant I don’t hate him. I can never hate a fellow African. I am just pointing out the obvious. Do you not agree that mubeee uyo?

      @museveni I am not looking for beauty in him. I am pointing out that mubeee. You must be a silly upnd cadre. Only gays are insecure about such things. I am confident in my straightness that i can openly tell you when someone is ugly.

    • Kaizar is one hell of a bully and the Solwezi man Kyambalesa happens to be one his favourite targets for whatever reason(s).

    • Difference between bullying and honesty. I am an honest and frank man. For example even that other useless author called field ruwe is another ugly one. For field it is worse because he is ugly even inside.

    • @Museveni: Yes, you have to be a homosexual to decide whether a man or woman of your gender is ugly or handsome. Kaizar has shown through his comments that he is actually a homosexual.

  6. To believe that life started 4000yrs downwards is the naivety and misinformation by secular mainstream education, as its not gospel yet it is tailored to show particular people’s as authorities of intelligence.,yet they are just currently holder of the mantle of power.
    Be mindful that the scribes have corrupted even Scriptures to suit an agenda but thankfully God put the word in our hearts after seeing this lest…

    • Out of curiosity. What you are referring to as mainstream secular education includes history right? Should we discard mainstream education and only use the Bible as the only authentic source of information? Jesus rose up to heaven, he didn’t obey the laws of gravity. Should we then discard the theory of gravity? Modern medicine is secular education, should we not have surgeons because God is the one who heals?

    • Nowhere does our secular education say life started 4000 years ago. In fact it postulates humans to be about 200,000 years old. But before that life as we know it was here as far back as 230 million years ago because dinosaurs of that age have been unearthed.

  7. Kyambalesa needs to learn how to write. Whats the meaning of ” The history of our country can be traced from at least 3 million years ago as having been part of the northern African Rift Valley.” No meaning there. elaborate

  8. Indeed communication, especially mass communication is a calling requiring expertise of its own. So it’s better to master it before embarking on any explanation targeting the masses. Just ask Obama

  9. This is why Africa and Zambia in particular will never develop. What is the purpose of this story? Everyone in the world is discussing AI, we are discussing the name Zambia and Federation nonsense. Why are we so backwards? We all our history. Leave where it belongs, History. Start looking forward. Think 10, 20, 30 years ahead. Not 60 years backwards. Please people try critical thinking. Try futuristic thinking. Try, please try.

    • Lungu ni Pompwe … that is being myopic because each and every society is dealing with a myriad of issues and matters. AI is currently not one of such issues and matters for countries like Zambia. And understanding our history and origins is certainly no small matter!

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