Zambia: Down Memory lane with Austin Kaluba

This week, I will look at some myths that gripped the Zambia in the 70’s.

I will also continue rekindling people’s memories with a few social elements from the same period and before.




1. That a former waitress called Rosemary was sighted at her former working place-a pub called Evening Bar in Matero. The pub was owned by Sugar Daka. This story should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt as the sources are dubious. The story spread in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt in the early 70’s leading to motorists fearing giving lifts to lone women at night. It was also believed that if Rosemary gave you a kiss, you could lose all your teeth.

2. In colonial Zambia and several years after independence, there was a rumour that at Arthur Davison Hospital- Yengwe in Ndola there was a secret room where people were caught by Bamunyamas-vampiremen, fattened and blood drained from them. The Bamunyamas or Ba Kabulangeti was also called Ba Kamupila –wand named so because people believed Bamunyamas used to mark their victims with a wand. People also suspected Sotho men who covered themselves with blankets as vampiremen thus the name Kabulangeti. The late folk singer Alick Nkhata even sang a song refuting the Bamunyama rumours. During the colonial period any black man who had some ties with Whites was deemed to be a Munyama or Kapulikoni , the latter was named after the Capricorn African Society a pro-Federation organisation that had both white and black members.

3. There was a myth of Kafwanayo-I will die with the ball, a goal keeper who was believed to have died after a visiting soccer team from Congo DR then called Zaire used magic on him. It was believed the goal keeper first saw a lion running towards him and when he run away, he allowed a goal. Next, he saw a knife directed at him and when he tried to catch it believing it was a ball, he was stabbed in the chest and died.

4. We called the African-American boxer Sonny Liston Use your left or usual left. We believed during one fight with Muhammad Ali then known as Cassius Clay, Use your left had his strong left hand tied but when he was losing to his opponent his wife called out to him to use his left hand. He broke the chain and unleashed a powerful left hook but missed his opponent who ducked just in time. He hit a bar instead forcing it to bend.

5. There were rumours that the dissident Adamson Musanda Mushala could secretly sneak into State House using magic and dine with Kaunda unnoticed. The dissident would leave a note for the President stating that he had dined with him.

6. We believed Chewas ate rice with foreskins from circumcised boys removes during initiation ceremonies. We also believed Chewas to be wizards.


7. It was widely believed that Betty Kaunda, the wife of the first republican president suffered a stroke when she opened a room in State House which had been under lock and key for many years. It was said she saw all her husband’s political opponents who had died.

8. The first republican Kenneth Kaunda monitored the private lives of top UNIP members. One leader Cosmas Chibanda was at one time demoted for drinking a lot. Kaunda complained that the leader ‘had taken too much to the bottle.’ Another leader Otema Musukwa was reprimanded for being a loner.

9. Some of the catch phrases in Kaunda’s speeches were Man East, Man North, Man South, Man West.,Three enemies of mankind : Poverty, hunger and disease.

10. During the struggle for independence, Kaunda and UNIP members had promised Zambians that they would be eating an egg every day when the country got independent. However, this was not to be. Zambians were also warned that anyone seen wearing a patched trousers at independence would be whipped.


10. A man who left a jacket hanging on a chair during working hours was nicknamed Mr Kupe after a popular song of the time. Mr Kupe was a hit from East Africa about a man who left work leaving only his jacket behind his seat.

11. A Lusaka dealer Clement Ntema who was caught at Heathrow airport in London with dagga later boasted to be the first black Zambian to be in a British prison.

12. A street pole dancer Nkopyo popularly known as Bakamutanda Ba Sebuloni entertained crowds in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt. The man could climb a pole singing a vulgar song Tonya amabele Ba Kumutanda ,tonya amabele Ba Sebuloni while blowing a whistle. Kamutanda only performed if people dropped enough coins in a cup.

13. It was widely believed that mandrax was an aphrodisiac

14. Notorious criminals in Zambia included Roy Mudenda, Uncle Barry, Morgan Mwansa and Never Spoiler Kapenda.

15. The words froms popular children song One ngiya ngeni ngeni was a corruption of One gear engine engine.



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10 responses to “Zambia: Down Memory lane with Austin Kaluba”

  1. Your item no.6. It read chawas and not CHEWAs. Chawas are commonly known as YAO from Malawi.CHEWA are nyanja speaking found in Zambia,Malawi and Mozambique.So Mr Kaluba take this as the correct version of your story. CHAWA and CHEWA are two different people. Chewas do not circumcise their male children.Chewas are not muslims who eat a lot rice with goat meat during SADAKA ya CHAWA.

  2. Tom George says:

    Austin you forgot stories of popular stories bbala ng’ombe, Tazan the city guy, the luvale mukanda stories,… Oh my God the good old days

  3. Maggie Evans says:

    I worked at the Arthur Davison in the early 70s and these stories are interesting to me. However I am returning to Zambia in less than one month and want to go back to see the hospital where I worked for a year. Can anyone give me a contact telephone number or name? I wrote a letter some time ago but have had no response. Hopefully!

  4. sampa Kapalakasha says:

    No. 6 the name is actually Otema Musuka

  5. sampa Kapalakasha says:

    Oh my God I remember the haunting Rosemary stories. Man they freaked me out as kid i never even wanted to say the name

  6. Favour says:

    Ba Austin Kaluba can you give me more data Clement Ntema and what was happening that time, I used to know the man.

  7. Nono says:

    This is not a site for showing immaturity.

    • MB says:

      Nono, that was harsh! Oooppps!!! Anyway, it’s all good Austin Kaluba and uncle Ronnie! It seems you both were there with Timmy Mvula!

  8. Uncle Ronnie says:

    @ Nono your name frustrates me more!!!

  9. MB says:

    As for Mark, we used to call it “pampuleni”! We would put soil in one hand and the combatants would splash out the soil for a real duel. The Romantic depiction of medieval duels was based on either a pretext of defence of honour, usually accompanied by a trusted representative (who might themselves fight, often in contravention of the duelling conventions), or as a matter of challenge of the champion which developed out of the desire of one party (the challenger) to redress a perceived insult to his sovereign’s honour. The goal of the honourable duel was often not so much to kill the opponent as to gain “satisfaction”, that is, to restore one’s honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it.

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