Zambia @47 years, politically free but…poor

Zambia has celebrated its 47 independence anniversary. The days of Zambians buying through pigeon holes which irritated the first republican president Kenneth Kaunda forcing him to become a vegetarian are history. As the anti-colonialism song in chi-Bemba “Ubulofwa bwa kale” cheerfully stating “Amayendele Muno Zambia, meaning free movement in Zambia.

We are saying that Zambia has had 4 decades of independence free from the oppressive yoke of foreign domination. The Black Maria fault-finding, stick-wielding policemen who sent terror in the hearts of Zambians are a thing of the past. Zambia has witnessed five presidents and three political parties hold the reins of power. Like many African countries, Zambia is free socially and politically. However, much needs to be done in the economical sphere which has seen other former colonial states still languishing in poverty not solely resultant of corruption and mismanagement but largely to do with lack of the expertise that disappeared with the exit of the colonial masters. Many African countries can be rightly called surrogate races which shouldn’t have been administratively weaned prematurely from their colonial masters who created them in the first place.

Maybe the independence Zambia could have borne full economic benefits if the colonial masters were allowed to participate in the development of the country. This is true for most sub-Saharan African countries that got independence in the 60’s. Controversial as it is, many countries were ill-prepared for self-governance. This is not to say colonialism was a good thing. Colonialism like slavery was an evil imperialistic practice that needed replacing with self-governance. On the other hand, self governance by inexperienced leadership was not a solution in itself.

The cruel truth is that many third World countries would be far worse-off were it not for colonization. The development we strive to achieve unfortunately is euro-centric and we have to master the skills and techniques employed by our former colonial masters if our endeavors are to bear the intended results. Coming back to Zambia which had only 101 graduates at independence, removing former colonial masters from governance was catastrophic. Zambia’s founding father, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, confessed in an interview with the former Times of Zambia political editor Samuel Ngoma that the nationalists at Independence were ill-equipped to rule the country.
The creation of a Rainbow nation encompassing all races for a better South African has already borne fruits in economic and political circles.
For countries like Zambia whose well-meaning nationalists came up with emotional and ill-conceived political and economic policies like nationalization that saw an exodus of whites to countries like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Britain, the consequences have been severe.
Needless to say if the victorious UNIP had tolerated the white-dominated United Federal Party (UFP) to participate in development of the country, maybe Zambia would have been a better place economically than it is now.

On a happier note, politically we are free “Amayendele Muno” Zambia (free movement) but economically, we should have spent more time with our colonial masters. /End…

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2 responses to “Zambia @47 years, politically free but…poor”

  1. London Zambian says:

    The only reason why the Zambian economy seemed “better” before Independence was that the Africans were excluded from participation, both systematically and institutionally, by not giving Africans an education. At Independence resources were spent providing free education to Africans. That costs money. The “whites” left on their own because they could not stand African rule. The United Federal Party of John Roberts did not want Independence for Africans as they wanted the Federation to continue. All Zambia’s resources during the Federation was used to build Salisbury (Harare) and subsidsing Nyasaland (Malawi). Zambia got nothing from the Federation. Salisbury got everything (e.g. beautiful university campus, great buildings, roads, railways, jobs, etc). The only “mistake” made by the founding fathers in Zambia was to subsidise “consumption and not production” and non-profitable parastatals. Other than that, the founding fathers performed very well in providing free education, health care, building infrastructure, etc. These same “whites” you wanted to continue ruling Zambia, could not stand Africans and would never have provided any free education to Africans – as most of them were not educated but lived like kings and queens on the backs of Africans.

  2. Fwaka says:

    ‘but economically, we should have spent more time with our colonial masters’ Spine chilling statement, i must say. Dorothy is obviously too young to appreciate the pains that people who went through colonialism suffered. Not all of them because surprisingly even the current head of state thinks we ‘DRIFTED’ from the west by seeking independence…his own words while he put himself in the humble position of kneeling (and kissing the hand) before the archbishop of cantebury.

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