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Early Zambian History – How It Developed

Early Zambian history opens up in the eighteenth century with the arrival of many tribes that inhabit today’s Zambia, among them are the Lundas, the Bembas,the Lozis and the Bisas.


The tribal settlements today are a result of tribal migrations of that time. You find the Lozis in the west, the Ngonis in the east, the Bembas in the north, the Luba Lunda in the North West and a lot of smaller tribes all over the country.

This was the scenario until the white men started arriving. Later, the country witnessed the arrival of traders and settlers. Among the notable ones was Cecil Rhodes, whose name was later adopted as the name of the country i.e. Rhodesia.

Rhodes’ wanderings took him to the Barotse land, where he signed a treaty with Lewanika in 1889, that gave him some mineral rights concession from the lozi king.

This is the period when the Scottish explorer David Livingstone first saw the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfalls on the Mighty Zambezi River , which he later renamed Victoria Falls after queen Victoria of Britain. Even the town of Livingstone was named after him.

The missionaries such as the Protestants, the Catholics white fathers and others set up missionaries. This development saw a shift in the pattern of settlements by the locals. With the development of BOMAs or the British Overseas management Areas, people started living in these little towns because they became centers of commerce and trade. For the British, these were areas for easy governance.

The territory was divided into two protectorates, Northwestern and Northeastern Rhodesia from 1900 until 1911 when they were merged as Northern Rhodesia.

Discoveries of copper deposits in the 1920,s lead to a further fragmentation of family and tribal ties as men started leaving for the life of the newly founded mining towns.

In order to tighten their grip on the local people the British decided to annex the country as a protectorate in 1924 and it stayed like this for 40 years.

The Iron Age remains of a farming community and cemetery was found in 1960. During civil engineering works, near the confluence of the Zambezi and Lusitu rivers close to Siavonga town, a site called Ing-ombe Ilede was accidentally uncovered. Ing-ombe Ilede means "where the cow sleeps”.

This discovery provides a window into Zambia’s past and how the early Zambian history developed.



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