For this week’s flag of the week, we’re taking you to the heart of Africa: Zambia. This landlocked nation is bordered by eight countries, of which include the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Malawi to the east, Zimbabwe to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, which is home to almost 3 million inhabitants. As of 2020, approximately 17.4 million people live in Zambia.
The Khosian people were the original inhabitants of Zambia. Other tribes followed suit, arriving in Zambia in several migratory waves. As such, Zambia has become a melting pot of over 70 ethnically diverse peoples. In fact, Zambia has over 70 languages, of which Bembra and Nyanja are the most widely spoken and understood. Before the arrival of Europeans, Zambia was composed of free states that were economically linked through trading. These states exported products like ivory and copper to the outside world in exchange for textiles, salt, and hardware.
The dazzling diversity of wildlife and stunning natural landscapes makes Zambia a beacon for adventurers. Indeed, Zambia was named after the Zambezi river that flows between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Of course, Zambia’s most famous landmark is not the Zambezi river itself, but rather, Victoria Falls at the river’s end. As the world’s largest waterfall and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls has been described as a scene so lovely, it “must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” These words were spoken in 1855 by David Livingstone, the first European to see the falls. The original name for the falls was Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to “The Smoke Which Thunders.” Livingstone renamed the falls in honor of Queen Victoria, but it’s the original name that captures the magnificence of this natural wonder.
Zambia’s ties to England didn’t end there. Beyond renaming the falls, David Livingstone had another vision for Zambia: to implement the “3 C’s,” which were Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization. Zambia, which was then known as Northern Rhodesia, became a British colony from 1924 until 1953. The country gained independence in 1964 and henceforth became known as the Democratic Republic of Zambia.
The question of establishing a national identity arose after Zambia gained independence, so the government funded institutions to promote Zambian culture through private museums and cultural villages. Colorful festivals celebrate the various ethnic groups, too. Some of these festivals are small gatherings, while others attract tens of thousands of people. Regardless of the size, expect lots of singing, music, and dancing.
Zambia has a vibrant food scene. Traditional dishes feature ingredients like maize, okra, cassava, and different types of vegetables. Nshima is a popular dish that consists of a maize-meal porridge, and Ifisashi is a groundnut stew mixed with vegetables or meat.
Traditional Zambian music features lots of drumming, as well as special thumb pianos and marimbas. Today, Zambian music is a modern blend of traditional, African, western, and contemporary sounds. Popular Zambian artists include Daev and Mampi. Their musical identities reflect the fusion of Zambian music, while their music videos showcase distinct elements of Zambian life, such as food and fashion. Music is a great way to connect to new cultures, so check out some of these beats!