Days after Zambia celebrated 50 years of independence on Oct. 25, the Southern African nation made history. Following the death of President Michael Sata, Vice Presdient Guy Scott became the first white democratic leader in mainland Africa. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Zambian independence and history.
Sources: BBC News, Zambia Tourism, CNN, Christian Science Monitor
In 1888, Cecil Rhodes obtained a mineral rights concession from local chiefs in what is now Zambia and so began nearly a century of colonization.
The U.K. took over the territory of Northern Rhodesia, as Zambia was known prior to 1953, in 1923 and officially made it a British protectorate in 1924.
Eleven years before independence, the Brits decided to consolidate what is now Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia into one protectorate in 1953. Doing so caused even more turmoil and the winds of change began blowing strongly.
When Zambia was declared independent in 1964 it followed in the footsteps of eight other African nations originally under British colonial rule. The end of U.K. control over African countries began in 1960 when Prime Minister Harold MacMillan gave a famous speech saying, “there is a wind of change blowing through Africa.”
Zambia celebrated it’s first Independence Day with the lighting of a huge copper torch on a hill overlooking the capital city of Lusaka. The new president, Kenneth Kaunda, was given the “Instruments of Independence” by the Queen’s representative, the Princess Royal, who read a personal message from the Queen that welcomed Zambia to the Commonwealth.
The official changeover took place at midnight Oct. 23, 1964, when thousands of people shouted “kwatcha” (meaning the dawn) as the Zambian Republic’s red, black, green and orange flag replaced the British Union Jack for the first time.
President Kenneth Kuanda, who was the only candidate on the ballot in the first election, began to partially nationalize the mining industry, backbone of the country’s international economy. Eight years after coming to power, Kuanda outlawed all opposition parties and kept the ban in place until 1990.
Increasing political unrest forced Kuanda to lift the ban on political parties in 1990. He lost the 1991 election to Frederick Chiluba and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), which stayed in power until 2002.
Chiluba was succeeded by Levy Mwanawasa who stayed in power until his death in June 2011. Michael Sata’s opposition party won the election that followed. Sata died Oct. 28. Zambia’s constitution mandates that elections for a new president take place 90 days after a sitting president’s death.
When Michael Sata died on Oct. 28, 2014, the presidency was transferred to Guy Scott, his vice president, for 90 days. Scott made history as the first white man to rule an African country since apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994.