065_G18_InFocus_Zambia

Global_18

In Focus Zambia ‘slang’, which contains words from several language roots, is the most common form of communication between different ethnic groups. Zambia is one of the continent’s most urbanised countries. Recent estimates suggest that half the inhabitants now live in urban areas. The urban drift began with the arrival of British settlers looking for farming land as well as minerals. Zambia’s economic and political destiny was set when an American scout, Frederick Russel Burnham, employed by a British exploration company, stumbled across locals wearing beautifully worked copper bracelets and other adornments. He discovered that the locals had worked on the ore for centuries and had used it as a major trading item. “The natives inhabiting this part of the country are skilled workmen and have traded their handiwork with all comers, even as far afi eld as the Portuguese of the West Coast and the Arabs of the East. These natives, being miners and workers of copper and iron, and being permanently located in the ground, would give the very element needed in developing these fi elds,” he wrote in 1895. The British built a railway and roads, and set up towns to mine the copper on an industrial scale and transport it to seaports. From that point to this day, Zambia’s economic fortunes rose and fell with the ebb e ceremonies last two days and involve long recounting of heroic tales. O erings are made to the gods as well as the chief and fl ow of the demand for copper. The impact on the cultural composition of the country was profound. The ethnic groups that had lived independently merged and mingled in the towns and cities, and new hybrid cultural forms emerged. Bars, shabeens and night clubs mushroomed and still form an integral part of the social life of Zambia. Congolese rumba and reggae are popular, although local bands also have strong followings. In the 1970s, bands such as WITCH and Mosi O Tunya and musicians like Rikki Ililonga, Chrissy Zebby and the Ngozi Family produced a distinct Zambian genre called Zam-Rock. Despite the allure of the cities, many of Zambia’s traditional customs have survived. The country’s fi rst president, Kenneth Kaunda, had a passion for traditional music and regularly welcomed state visitors with stomping dance and song performances. He often joined in, displaying a surprising nimbleness of foot and a powerful singing voice. Traditional customs and practices permeate many areas of Zambian society. The lobela, crudely described as ‘bride price’, is still commonplace. The groom pays the parents of the bride in cash and kind to show global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 65 


Global_18
To see the actual publication please follow the link above