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Zambia - Colonial History

The modern history of Zambia can be traced back from the fifteenth century when Europeans arrived to trade in spices, slaves, and spread Christianity. By the year 1800, the British settlers arrived in Zambia. In 1857, David Livingstone, a Scottish doctor and ordained pastor, arrived in Zambia and became the first European to see the Mosi-OTunya Falls which was later re-named by the British as Victoria Falls. European settlement around the falls began in 1900.

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes claimed the area of Zambia for the British Empire. By 1905, a railway line was built to ease the costs of trade. The European colonial settlers opted to settle in Zambia mainly because of the rich resources that they found there, such as minerals and timber. The British began mining activities in 1920. They also introduced English as Zambia’s official language. On 24 October 1964, Zambia gained independence from the British rule.

Zambia's geographical position kept it largely free of foreign influences until the 19th century. The Lunda and Bemba kingdoms, in what is now northern Zambia, were the largest pre-colonial polities, joined from 1838 by the Lozi, whose kingdom still survives today (as Barotseland). As elsewhere in southern Africa, there was also an influx of Ngoni settlers at about the same time.

Except for an occasional Portuguese explorer, the area lay untouched by Europeans for centuries. After the mid-19th century, it was penetrated by Western explorers, missionaries, and traders. David Livingstone, in 1855, was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River. He named the falls after Queen Victoria, and the Zambian town near the falls is named after him.

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained a mineral rights concession from local chiefs. In the same year, Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively) were proclaimed a British sphere of influence.

Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company signed a series of treaties with local leaders, leading to the establishment of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. Copper mining, which began in the early 20th century, led to an influx of Europeans, although white settlement never reached the levels it did in Southern Rhodesia.

Southern Rhodesia was annexed formally and granted self-government in 1923, and the administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British colonial office in 1924 as a protectorate.

In 1953, both Rhodesias were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In 1953 the two Rhodesias were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the short-lived Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, vociferously opposed by black nationalist leaders who saw it as a vehicle for white domination.

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Page last modified: 10-02-2017 19:43:21 ZULU