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)!

African Cup of Nations 2013

The Africa Cup of Nations/ La Coupe d'Afrique des Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations/ La Coupe d’Afrique des Nations

Tomorrow, Saturday will mark the beginning of the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations.  I have to admit that just like last year, my two favorites are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.  The Chipolopolo showed a very poor display of their skills this year, and the champions never advanced to the quarter-finals, the first time in 20 years that a champion (since Algeria) doesn’t make it through the first stage.

The game to watch (i.e. the clash of titans) in the quarter-finals, will be Cote d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria. Personally, after Nigeria so-so display, I rest fully on the elephants to send the Super Eagles packing.

The other game will be Mali vs. South Africa.  The Bafana Bafana of South Africa have not been a strong team since 1996, and so my hope is the greatest for them.  However, they have the home court advantage as the cup is taking place in South Africa. Mali, with Seydou Keita, looks a lot stronger.

CAN 2013
CAN 2013

Burkina Faso vs. Togo is a so-so game… Anybody’s guess on who will be the winner is good; I give the slight upper edge to Togo.

Lastly, Ghana vs. Cape-Verde will be a nice game to watch. First because this is Cape Verde’s first ever participation at the African Cup of Nations, and also because they have truly earned their place at the CAN, and have so far pleased by their work.  The Blue Sharks also happens to have a singing coach who brings joy to the players. This said, I believe Ghana to be the favorite and the strongest side, and I think Asamoah Gyan‘s teammates will be eager to clear last year’s defeat and finally lift the trophy.

I can’t wait to watch a Côte d’Ivoire vs. Ghana final… Elephants vs. Black Stars …the ‘great generation’ as Drogba‘s teammates are known, vs. Ghana’s greats…that promises (if it happens) to be a hot game!  I can already see fire on the mountain.

2012: The Joys of Africa – Who/What did we celebrate?

The Africa Cup of Nations/ La Coupe d'Afrique des Nations
The African Cup of Nations/ La Coupe d’Afrique des Nations

2012 was also a year of joy in Africa. Africa celebrated quite a few people and events:

1. The African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its 100 years of existence (January 2012).

2. Zambia won the African Cup of Nations 2012 by defeating the great selection of Côte d’Ivoire in the finals (February 2012).

3. Senegal went through a peaceful, democratic transition, with the election of Macky Sall (March 2012).

4. Africa got its 2nd female president: Mrs Joyce Banda of Malawi (April 2012).

5. President Laurent Gbagbo‘s hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was scheduled for June 18, 2012, but was postponed to August 13, 2012, and now has been postponed indefinitely.  Apparently the ICC cannot find proofs of all their allegations against Laurent Gbagbo, and thus prefer stalling.

The VMK (Source: VMK)
The VMK (Source: VMK)

6. Oussama Mellouli, of Tunisia, won Gold in the 10 km marathon open water, to become the first swimmer to ever win olympic medals in both the pool and open water (August 2012).

7. David Rudisha of Kenya, became the first man to break a record at the London Olympics, in the 800m (August 2012).

8. Alaeeldin Abouelkassem of Egypt won silver in fencing, becoming Africa’s first medal in fencing (August 2012).

9. Rwandan writer, Scholastique Mukasonga, won the prestigious French Prix Renaudot for her book “Notre Dame du Nil” (November 2012).

10. Verone Mankou, a Congolese inventor, presented the first tablet and smartphone entirely engineered in Africa (December 2012);

Zambia wins the African Cup of Nations

Zambia's national team celebrate their win of the African Cup of Nations (Source: AFP)
Zambia’s national team celebrate their win of the African Cup of Nations (Source: Issouf Sanogo/AFP)

Wow, I started watching the finals yesterday rooting for Zambia to win against Côte d’Ivoire… I had watched them throughout the cup, and the last one as well, and knew that they were a young strong team to reckon with.  Throughout the game, I prayed that the memory of those Zambian players who died in a plane crash in 1993 in Gabon be honored.  At the time when the crash occurred, the Zambian team was on its way to Senegal from Libreville (Gabon) to play a world-cup qualifier.  We, Africans, were all stunned, and cried as an entire country had lost their heroes.  One of the only survivors was Kalusha Bwalya who would have been on the plane during the crash, but had found his own way to Senegal (he was playing for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and had to make separate arrangements to meet the team in Dakar).  We watched and cried with Kalusha who had lost all his teammates.

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

Imagine rebuilding an entire mature team who had just crashed? It will take a lot of years to foster the same talent and train them.  The country had just lost a generation of extremely talented football players.  Kalusha went on to become coach of Zambia (at the 2006 CAN), and is currently the president of the football association of his country. It is extremely symbolic that Zambia won last night in Libreville (Gabon) against Côte d’Ivoire (who played outstandingly well), only a few hundred metres inland from the crash site.  The Chipolopolo (the Copper Bullets) dedicated their victory to the ones who lost their lives in the 1993 tragedy.