Op-Ed: At 56, yet we’ve failed to rule ourselves

 Op-Ed: At 56, yet we’ve failed to rule ourselves

By John Kane
In his book “Zambia the first 50 years”, Andrew Sardains says it was too early for Zambia to get independence from its colonial masters.

I rarely find time to read books and the only time I do, is when Iam travelling and being driven.

I didn’t agree with the statement that Andrew made in his book until it was justified later in subsequent chapters. During the colonial rule, the natives were denied to occupy senior positions in various organizations. They were however restricted to clerks!

However after Zambia got it’s independence, the natives who had little or no education where elevated to CEOs, and managing directors of various institutions across Zambia. He further on highlights how nepotism creeped in where the natives ( Zambians) started employing their own uneducated bululus and the rest is history. Such organizations could not run like a business and eventually all these business houses were run down.

In the first chapter or second he spent time describing the few years of Kaunda’s rule. I couldn’t stomach to learn that even at post independence the current issue of tribalism was extremely prominent. The Kapwepwe’s demanded to be appointed vice president literally on account of tribe. He demanded to be vice president to represent the Bembas!
The Tongas of those days equally demanded representation as they felt marginalized.

I remember I abandoned the book out of anger because I saw that Zambia has not moved an inch in addressing this issue of tribalism. The narrative of 1964 is the same narrative of 2020, 56 years after independence and it gives someone a glimpse of Zambians future which I must say with a heavy heart that It’s not bright!

I have been meditating upon these issues lately and looking at Africa as a whole. From East to West and North to South of Africa, the story of Zambia is not any different from other African countries.

At the epicenter of all this madness is CLASSIFICATION!

Zambian has 72 tribes, DRC 200 and Nigeria 300! Etc

The model that can propel Zambia and the rest of Africa to greatness is to abolish the recognition of ethnicity.
Our forefathers especially post independence should have moved in that direction. Africa must one official language, SWAHILI for instance!

Is it really necessary to have some details on your NRC such as chief, village etc. These look innocent but have a subtle influence on classifying you to belong to a certain group. Your NRC must show that you are a Zambian, CHAPWA!

On the issue of uneducated Zambians taking CEO positions post independence, our leaders then like Kaunda should have allowed probably up-to 30 years to work with the colonial masters in various businesses houses alongside the natives. There is a statement in Andrew’s book that says Zambia did not exist before colonization. We therefore should have waited to get maximum transfer of skills from people that brought us together!

On the issue of politics, African countries must have two political parties, right and left like it is Western countries.

Today marks 56 years after Zambia got it’s independence, and I must say we have failed to rule ourselves, sadly!

The Independent Observer


John Sakala is a Journalist yearning for independent journalism


  • Shouldn’t there be a small bio identifying the author of the opinion and what qualifies him or her to comment?

  • As a social and political commentator l totally agree with your sentiments. While the problems facing Zambia are continental, the problem with Zambia is that even the national administrative structures enforce tribalism and oppression and suppression of other tribes in Northern Province the Bemba, Southern Province the Tonga, Western Province the Lozi’s or Barotse and the story goes on in other provinces. And yet there are other tribes in these provinces which even the Government seems to be blind to. In North Western Province one continues to try and dominate and tribal clashes are frequent. The provincial administrative structures in Zambia designed by the British need to be dismantled and modern structures based on economic foundation and not tribal created. Unless this is done a potentially prosperous country Zambia will be the same even at 100 years of independence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.