Monday, June 24, 2024

Tribalism & Regionalism; How governments have ignored or tackled it….


Excerpts from my book:

Most of us have often echoed the “One Zambia, One Nation” mantra, with much aplomb, in meetings, at political rallies or during school assemblies, well at least this was a must immediately after our country gained Independence from British colonial rule, without bothering to interrogate what prompted our fore fathers, first Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his colleagues, to craft such a progressive and unifying slogan.

Our country boasts of a total of 73 tribal or ethnic groupings each with a diverse cultural and traditional orientation. This would obviously present immediate challenges to the new government after independence. The ethnic tentions which had been building up for months prior to independence would fast rear up its ugly head thus threatening to tear apart the new nation. This would boil to a climax as the heroes of the liberation struggle, the United Nation Independence Party (UNIP) gathered in Chilenje, Lusaka for its national council early February, 1968.

The atmosphere was quite tense and highly charged as delegates sat according to their ethnic and regional orientation. During the next few days of the conference, delegates quarreled and traded insults openly. A stunned Kaunda sat on the podium and watched quietly as these unfortunate events unfolded, dramatically. When it was finally his turn to speak, Kaunda could not hide his utter disgust and consternation at the shameful tribalism he had just witnessed!

“I am left with no choice, but to resign immediately!” he announced and stormed out of the gathering.

The conference delegates were shocked! According to former freedom fighter, Sikota Wina, in his book, “A Night without a President,” it had to take a combined effort of top military commanders, top religious leaders and closest family friends to prevail upon Kaunda to rescind his decision.
In the days that lay ahead, Kaunda faced a Herculean task of fostering national unity to appease expectant citizens eager to see the benefits of freedom. This prompted Kaunda and his colleagues to craft the “One Zambia; One Nation” motto as a way of fostering national unity and setting up the stage of a more prosperous nation.

Prince Bill M. Kaping’a
Political/Social Analyst


  1. KK did not have a problem unifying the country because he did not belong to any of the Zambian tribes. In fact this was a blessing in disguise because tribalism could have consumed Zambia. Tribe on the application forms should be replaced with place of birth because a person belonging to any of the 73 tribes has a right to choose where they want to settle in Zambia as a Zambian. If a child of Ngoni parents for example is born and raised in any of our provinces, that child has every right to belong to the community of their place of birth. KK is a classic example. Our provinces epitomise our rich cultural heritage but any child born in Zambia today reserves the right to be defined by places of their affiliation. There is only one tribe in Zambia and that’s the Zambian tribe.

    • FutureZed and the author Bill Kaping’a, neither of you sounds sufficiently informed on this topic. It’s more complex than you have put it. Perhaps it’s due to lack of space to explain it properly. If that’s the case, I would understand and withdraw my comment. You need to spend long hours and days in a good library to read about this topic.

    • @Gunner in Zambia, you are free to educate all of us if you think you are in a position of being sufficiently informed on this topic otherwise try using the online gateway to real information rather than your outdated way of finding books on tribes written by people who may have caused the divisions in the first place. We are all Zambians first and foremost and the last thing we want is to use tribe as a tool that dictates our destiny. Our constitution should outlaw tribalism fullstop but certain people would oppose this because of political milage gained from it.

  2. We are not going to be fooled again. We removed a good man, Kaunda, and replaced him with tribalists who fired all the Tonga, Lozi, Luvale etc from the army and civil service. They hired only their own tribesmen in government and redirected all the government money to projects in their 3 provinces, which they then increased to 4. We saw how they deliberately sabotaged agriculture in Southern Province, and happily allowed 2 million cows in the province to die of preventable diseases. Even now, they openly oppose the Tonga president on a tribal basis. Today they want to throw wool over our eyes with nonsense articles as this while they use tribalism to get ahead and put others down. The solution is to federate Zambia and for each province to keep 60% of the revenue it generates

  3. The level of tribalism under upnd is not surprising because we in pf warned you about hh and his tribal followers. How do you vote in a party that proudly said only a t0nga can rule them? Zambians deserve everything they are experiencing. Go to zesco and all you will see is t0nga names

    Today I continue mourning my brother kunda chani. I am very heart broken. This is a warning to upnd thugs. Leave me alone today unless you want to be cursed

  4. Tribalism is a very thorny issue and our author has fanned the flames lately with lopsided debates on such matters. I don’t see his book selling at all. With such past untamed wild biases we have witnessed from him, he is unlike Wins, a failed project. Cadrism has consumed the objectivity of most of his work.

  5. The way UPND has treated other tribes on the basis of appointments with 2 years of being in power, has triggered the ugly face of regionalism and tribalism. 2026 if not handled properly, will see people voting on tribal and regional perspective owing to the way they have been marginalized as regards to employment prospects.You cannot have all directors and foreign jobs from only one region. The other regions their only appointment is the police and prison. This is a recipe for tit for tat.

  6. A Choma born artiste, has given us a vivid insight into what tribalists think.
    When they are in political power, like now, they don’t need to change names to appear Northerners. What will happen to same Southerners when they lose power? Will they bring back their middle names like Mutale, Kangwa, Chipulu, Munkonge, etc., as middle names just to show tribe duality? What a baggage of names to carry just to show relevance? This tribalism rot starts from head to tail of society. Please, remember: Life is an echo; it always boomerangs.

  7. Since UPND inception, south, northwest and west have always been voting for their own kinsmen at president, MP or council level. No sooner had other regions changed voting pattern than tables were seen to turned. These groups of people are what Sisure Sisure calls heroes. Because their rare input effected change. It is proof that no single group of Zambia’s ethnicity is superior or inferior to another. Interdependently, even in diversity, Zambia is One People; One Leader; One Nation; One Tribe.

    • The correct question to ask is why are the provinces mentioned so far behind when it comes to development? All our provinces should have equal basic infrastructure. University of Zambia for example should have a campus in all provinces specialising in different fields. All provinces should have a major hospital, a modern airport and same standard motorways to link to other provinces and schools and collages. Then we can think about our politicians campaigning on substance rather than inciting tribal remarks when politicians have nothing to offer the people.

    • ..”why are the provinces mentioned so far behind when it comes to development?”


    • FutureZed, Some areas were punished for tolerating other political parties. Which is why I am a strong supporter of devolution of power, for the 156 contituencies to run the economic development show.

    • Nepotism in places of work, hospitals, government etc is what is bringing us back to this subject. we have lived in peace and tolerant to each other and that’s been the secret of our peace. To end this once and for all, our government should legislate against it with clear and strong punishment for offenders. Stamp it out or it will come back to hunt us all. All it does is give ammunition to those who make it their agenda to divide us.

  8. This problem has been compounded by lack of objectivity when it comes to dealing with such issues. It was ok when it was being practiced by PF, wrong when it is perpetuated by UPND. A win for PF in Malole where UPND got almost zero during by-elections in 2020 was described as stronghold for PF, whereas a win by UPND in Dundumwezi was described as tribalism. Double standards are fueling this unfortunate situation

  9. Hate Speech…a PS thinks because the caller is speaking in Icibemba, he’s a PF member. So his answer is MWALINYA AMAFI ELO MULEFWAYA IF WE TU PIPE? And the Upnd ZP does not act like the way the other tribes are harassed when do it to the special tribe.

    • That Kapiri Mposhi official also caused an arrest by the police on that caller. Whether that is regionalism at worst or just blunt casual insults at best is for another discussion forum.

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