Did You Know Zambia Gained Independence on This Day?

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This Day In History: October 24th

The landlocked nation of Zambia is located in South-central Africa and is home to a population of more than 18 million people. Northern Rhodesia, which later became known as Zambia, achieved independence on October 24, 1964, after more than 50 years of European settlement and control.

Its neighboring countries consist of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The country is rich in resources such as copper, cobalt, silver, gold, coal and a variety of others. 

The region was initially occupied by different native ethnic groups and small-scale chieftainships that eventually made way for the development of kingdoms. Zambia began interacting with trading routes due to the Portuguese who already developed connections with Mozambique. By the 1760s, the Portuguese were engaging in the trade of ivory and copper from Zambians in exchange for cotton cloth.

Trade continued over the years, but the latter half of the 19th century was a period of raids and invasions. Zambia first began to appear on Britain’s radar after missionary explorer David Livingstone, came in contact with the region during his three expeditions. In 1889, the British government granted a charter to Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company (BSAC), and it allowed the company to have authority over African territories. 

With the onset of World War I in 1914, the territory found itself falling victim to the burden of war. Issues with the food supply and labor needs proved to be more than the British wanted to handle and in 1924 the responsibilities associated with the area were transferred to the Colonial Office in London.

Following World War II, there began to be a rise in workers’ unions and the unions paved the way for the creation of the Northern Rhodesia Congress in 1948. There was soon a push for Northern Rhodesia to become an independent African state. Former teacher and activist, Kenneth Kaunda led the charge for independence with the creation of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) in 1959.

Independence was gained on October 4, 1964, and the nation was renamed Zambia with Kaunda serving as the first President. He led the country for nearly three decades but ushered in an authoritarian form of government under his leadership. The one-party system ended with Kaunda’s loss to Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) in 1991.

Term limits were established for the new nation and elections occur every five years. Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development was elected in August of 2021 to serve as President of Zambia. 

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