Why the Name: Zambia?

Zambian flag
Zambian flag

Have you ever wondered about the name of the country Zambia? Think about it: ZAMBIA… so much power in the name. It is the second to last country in the alphabetical list of countries, before Zimbabwe. Just like Zimbabwe which was Southern Rhodesia, Zambia was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia; both countries shared the Rhodesia name.  Why bother changing names you might ask?

Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia

Well, Rhodesia was named after the infamous British Cecil Rhodes who committed atrocities in Southern Africa, while establishing British rule over the different countries. It only made sense that, when Zambia got its independence from the British on 24 October 1964, that the African rulers would want a name that represented them and their values, and not some man who killed them; moreover, being called ‘Northern something’ is like not having a real identity. Thus, in 1964, the country’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda changed the name from Northern Rhodesia to Zambia. ZAMBIA‘s name comes from the Zambezi River, where Zambezi means “grand river“, as it is the 4th largest river in Africa after the Nile, Congo, and Niger rivers.

Skull of the homo Rhodesiensis or Kabwe skull found in Zambia

The capital of the country of Zambia is Lusaka. Zambia is rich in prehistoric vestiges including the skull of the homo rhodesiensis also known as the Broken Hill Man which is dated 100,000 to 300,000 years and found in a zinc mine in the city of Kabwe in 1921. The first inhabitants of the area, in more modern times, were the San and Batwa people until around AD 300. Later on, it has been the site of early Bantu settlements. These early Bantu settlers participated in trade at the site of Ingombe Ilede (which translates to sleeping cow in the Tonga language because the fallen baobab tree resembles a cow) in Southern Zambia. Ingombe Ilede was one of the most important trading posts for rulers of Great Zimbabwe. Zambia has been at the crossroads of populations in Southern Africa, seeing the rise of several large kingdoms over the centuries.

Zambia's national team, the Chipolopolo
Zambia’s national team, the Chipolopolo

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa, with a tropical climate, consisting mostly of high plateaus with some hills and mountains, dissected by the great Zambezi river. Copper represents almost 70% of the country’s exports. It is the home of the Chipolopolos, rightfully named the copper bullets once led by the great Kalusha Bwalya. If you visit Zambia, do not forget to bask in the welcome of its inhabitants, try and find your way near the Zambezi River, visit the capital Lusaka, learn a few words in one of the local languages, and at least one find out why the country is so well-known for its copper. Enjoy the 10 best places to visit in Zambia (There are much more, of course)!