Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


(Northern Rhodesia)

Capital : Lusaka

Size: 291 000 sq m Popn: 8638 000

Central, Southern, Western (Barotseland), Northern, North-Western, Luapula


The Bantu herdsmen came in waves from the C9th to the C19th, dominating the original Stone Age inhabitants and establishing states. The Portuguese first arrived in the late C18th and the British explorer Livingstone in 1851. Copper deposits attracted Europeans and the area became a British Protectorate as Northern Rhodesia. The former kingdom of Barotseland, now Western Province, joined it under British protection at the request of its ruler in 1890. From 1953, the country was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which also included what are now Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Whites had high living standards but African workers were badly off. They managed to gain large wage increases after forming a Mineworker's Union in 1949 and striking in 1952 and organised politically under Harry Nkumbula, campaigning against the CAF. A split came when Nkumbula prepared to co-operate in the 1958 elections and young radicals under Kenneth Kaunda founded the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Civil disobedience led to the dissolution of the Federation in 1963 and UNIP won pre-independence elections in 1964, the year that the country became independent within the Commonwealth as the Republic of Zambia.

Traditional rulers of Barotseland did not want the new government, followers of the Lumpa Church rebelled, Kaunda declared a one-party state and in 1971 Simon Kapepwe left UNIP to form his own party which gained support as the economy declined after the border with white-ruled Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was closed in 1973. In 1976, Kaunda declared his support for the Patriotic Front which was campaigning for black rule in Southern Rhodesia

UNIP was given power to formulate policy by 1975. There was a coup attempt in 1980 and riots and strikes throughout the 80s but Kaunda was re-elected in 1983 and 1988. Support given to Nkomo and ZAPU in Rhodesia annoyed South Africa but Zambia has been influential internationally and a leading Commonwealth member although a decline in copper prices damaged the economy. In 1990, after pressure from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, Kaunda announced a multi-party system to be introduced in October 1991. The MMD won a substantial victory in the elections and Frederick Chiluba became the new president in November 1991.

There are 73 ethnic groups of which the Bemba (one third of the population) is the largest, followed by the Nyanga, Tonga and Lozi. English is the official language amongst the tribal ones and religion is divided between Christianity, Islam and traditional beliefs.

Zambian Names




Bwalya Chileshe Chiluba Chilufya Chungu Kaite
Kapepwe Kasote Kaunda Kayesa Lenshina Like
Luipa Mali Matete Namuswa Nanyiza Ngoma
Ngumbi Nkumbula Silwimba Wangala    

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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