Who/what did we say goodbye to in Africa in 2014?

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso

I have to do a recap of the year 2014. You already know that the number one person we said goodbye to was the dictator and murderer Blaise Compaoré, who was booted out of office the tail between his legs.

1. Blaise Compaoré, booted out of office in 2014. Thomas Sankara‘s murderer taught that he will be eternal in power, and on October 30th 2014, the people of Burkina Faso said ENOUGH!

2. Michael Sata, the President of Zambia, passed on in office on October 28, 2014. He was replaced by Guy Scott, the first white president (albeit interim president) of Zambia since independence.

President Joyce Banda
President Joyce Banda

3. Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, who lost the elections this year. She became president of Malawi after Bingu wa Mutharika passed away in 2012. She is succeeded in office by Peter Mutharika. She had been Africa’s second female Head of State.

4. Nadine Gordimer, South Africa’s first Nobel prize of literature, passed away at the age of 90, on 13 July 2014. She was called the one of the great “guerilla of imagination” by poet Seamus Heaney.

Lapiro de Mbanga
Lapiro de Mbanga

5. Lapiro de Mbanga, the voice of the voiceless, the great Cameroonian musician, and activist, left us this year, in March. Lapiro sang for the people, talked about the youth’s shattered dreams, the division, the tribalism, the corruption, the decadence, and the ills of the country. So long Ndinga Man!

6. Abel Eyinga and Charles Ateba Eyene, both of Cameroon, passed away. These were strong outspoken voices of Cameroon, and will forever be remembered.

7. King Kester Emeneya, the king of la Rumba, passed away on 13 February 2014. I had just recently gotten reacquainted with his music, and danced to Nzinzi again. So long King.

8. Mama Gbagbo, the mother of Laurent Gbagbo, passed away this year. Gbagbo who is currently detained by the CPI at the Hague was refused the opportunity to bury his mother. She was over 90 years old.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

9. The world said goodbye to Maya Angelou in May of this year. Dr. Maya Angelou was one of the world’s best poets. My two favorite poems by Dr. Angelou are ‘Phenomenal Woman‘ and ‘Still I Rise.’ Her African roots are very deep as she was a journalist in Egypt and Ghana. Her life was an embodiment of Truth, and passion.

10. More than 160 immigrants were feared dead after a boat carrying about 200 African immigrants sank off the coast of Libya. How many Lampedusa shipwrecks are we going to have until the world realizes that feeding and destabilizing countries does not help global equilibrium?

Why the name: Lusaka?

Map of Zambia
Map of Zambia

Today, I will be talking about Lusaka, the capital of Zambia and its largest city.  The actual location of the city of Lusaka corresponds to that of a village which was named after its chief Lusaaka, and which was located at Manda Hill, near the current site of the Zambian National Assembly building.  In the Nyanja language, Manda means graveyard.

Zambian flag
Zambian flag

The area was expanded by British settlers in 1905 with the building a the railway. Due to its central location and its position on the railway at the crossroads between the Great North Road and Great East Road, Lusaka is chosen to replace Livingstone as the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia being today’s Zimbabwe) in 1935.  With the fusion of the Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) with Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi) in 1953, Lusaka became the center of independentist movements amongst the educated elite, which eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Zambia.  In 1964, Lusaka became the capital of the newly independent country Zambia, with the country’s first president being Kenneth Kaunda.

Lusaka is not only the capital of the country, but also the capital of the province of Lusaka, which is the smallest and the second most populated of the nine provinces of Zambia.

Lusaka
Lusaka

Today, Lusaka is one of the fastest-developing cities in Southern Africa.  It is the centre of both commerce and government in Zambia and connects to the country’s four main highways heading north, south, east and west, including the famous Cairo Road which is a section of the Great North Road and was so named because it is a link in Cecil Rhodes‘ then dream of a Cape to Cairo Road through British colonies in Africa.  The city is also located at an altitude of 1300 m above sea level.  English is the official language of the city, but Nyanja, and Bemba are commonly used as well.

In recent years, Lusaka has become a popular urban settlement for Zambians and tourists alike.  Check out the map of city of Lusaka, or the newspaper Lusaka Times to get more news about this great city whose name hails from that of a local king.  Enjoy the video below about the city of Lusaka.

Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia

Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda

Affectionately known as KK, Kenneth Kaunda was the first president of Zambia.

Kenneth Kaunda with Nelson Mandela
Kenneth Kaunda with Nelson Mandela

While president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda nationalized the copper mines, and also worked towards freeing all the Black people of Southern Africa from white supremacy. He supported freedom fighters in the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, in Southern Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe), Namibia, and South Africa. He even met with Pieter Botha and B.J. Vorster to solve the issue of apartheid in South Africa, but got no results. Being so close to all these countries and seeing what his fellow brothers were going through made him want to fight. He played a crucial part in the liberation of all of southern Africa from white supremacy. Zambia paid a price for its backing of those countries by being bombed by the Apartheid government.

KK on a Zambian currency note
KK on a Zambian currency note

One thing I remember clearly is the day KK went on national television to sensibilize the Zambian people about the danger of AIDS. He had just lost his son to AIDS, and he was on tears, and urged the people of Zambia to take precautions. I was impressed! How many presidents do you see doing that? or at least how many African presidents do that?

Please enjoy this interview given by Kenneth Kaunda to CNN African voices. One other special plus… Kenneth Kaunda is a great singer!

Don’t forget to watch Part 2 and 3 of the interview.