Zambia has over 73 different tribes, with
a population of just over nine million people most of whom live in
and around the urban centres.
I was only a little girl, only 18 months
old, when my parents went out to Africa ... back in
1956. My father
was tired of the life in England and the Government politics and
company was looking for people to go out to Africa or America
to build towns, houses, roads etc. My father, being an engineer, was given
the choice to accept the job in either country - he chose Africa!
The job was in ...
central Africa (now called Zambia)
My dad went out alone, leaving me and my mum in England until the
men had built houses for the women and families to live in.
He was stationed on the Copper Belt near the Congo border and it
was his job to maintain the vehicles for the construction company.
Copper had been found in abundance in the area and the mine
eventually became one of the biggest open-cast mines in the
Roads in Zambia
first went out to Northern Rhodesia the roads were virtually non
existent ... some were mere tracks through the bush. Petrol
stations were few and far between ... you learnt to take with you
on journeys extra fuel, spare tyres, numerous spare parts including
a shovel ... for digging yourself out of a swampy pothole! All main
roads were gravel which in the rainy season used to get very muddy
North Road was the dream of Cecil Rhodes to have a highway running
from one end of the country to the other ... Cape Town to
have the book Trans African Highway which describes the routes
between the two cities! It is interesting in that it quotes "turn
left at the big tree and then drive 100 miles to the rocky outcrop
where you then turn right" ...
first appeared in the form of two narrow strips. Then the small
middle section between the strips was later tarred. The road was
gradually built up by adding strips on either side
6 months later my mum and
me came out to Northern Rhodesia. The journey took 3 days by air as
there were no direct flights. My mum described the journey as
terrifying as she had never been in a plane before and the trip
from Lusaka, the capital of Northern Rhodesia, to Ndola
aerodrome was in a small charter plane that shook and rattled!
My dad collected her and me from the aerodrome and drove along the
narrow strip road some hundred miles away. In the above picture of
the Bancroft Mine sign and the Congo border sign you can see that
the road, although sand, was quite good as it was constructed with
the mine machinery, but in the picture below you can see what a
"bush road" was like.
The road to Kafue
My mother had thought she had landed in hell! It was hot!
Temperatures in the summer months reached well over 100 degrees
Fareinheit. October was called "suicide month" as men often
actually committed suicide with the heat!
She was fearful of the natives, never having seen so many
black-skinned people before.
She was fearful of the wild animals that she could hear calling in
the night. There were all kinds of animals and creatures she had
never seen - snakes were always a danger. She cried when she saw
first house! ... No electricity. No running water as such. No
toilet. Water was collected in 44 gallon drums and fed by gravity
into the house (which you can see in the photo). Water was heated
over an open fire. And the toilet? It was outside ... a hole in the
ground covered with a makeshift seat made out of
As the towns grew, life improved for the ex-patriates there -
schools and hospitals were built, shops, cinemas sprang up.
Progress and technology came ... running water, toilets, swimming
pools, new cars ...etc.
My father bought a boat and we spent many a weekend boating down
the local rivers which incidentally were teaming with wildlife -
fish, crocodiles, hippos ... Yes we saw many a mean tooth glinting
in the clear waters!
recoiled in horror when the natives told us what to do in case of
an attack by one of these fearsome creatures.
And there were tales of how some people had been trapped in a tree
for 24 hours when their boat had been charged and smashed by an
No one dare go swimming in these rivers! Well apart from some
drunken German teenagers one day ... barely 100 yards downstream
from where we had seen about 20 crocodiles! My mother panicked when
the lads wanted to come on board our boat for a ride ... they were
hanging on to the sides and the boat was rocking violently!
recall an incident that was reported in the local newspaper, and is
mentioned in the book
Among Animals of
Africa by Bernhard
September 1962 some children belonging to a settler named William
Cox, three boys ranging in age from 8 - 12, were bathing in the
Kafue River at Chingola. John Maxwell, a British policeman who was
also bathing in the river, caught sight of a 16-foot crocodile
swimming towards the children.
immediately dived in and hoisted the boys on to a rock, but was
seized by the leg and dragged under. Being a resourceful and
athletic man, he compelled the crocodile to release him by gouging
out its eyes.
Meanwhile, a young African woman named
Malomi had come running in response to his cries. Although unable
to swim she plunged into the water, helped Maxwell on to her back,
and carried the gravely injured man to safety on all
Maxwell had his left leg amputated, was flown to England and
invested with the George Medal.
Green remembers that John Maxwell had been assigned to farm
patrol - a job he seemed to relish and of course he made many
farmer friends between Chingola and Solwezi.
before, Maxwell had mentioned that he was going to the river with
the Cox children and Green remembers reminding him of the
crocs that were plentiful in those days. John Green had a plot
on the river at that time and had been in the country a lot longer
than John Maxwell so he felt justified in warning him. However
Maxwell shrugged off the warnings and the next day off he
Green cannot vouch for the next part of the story he thinks that
Maxwell was hauling his body out of the water when the croc siezed
him by his right leg and dragged him back into the river. But
Maxwell, always a fighter, gave it a mighty punch on the snout
and suprisingly it let go of him. By this time however Maxwell was
in the centre of the river and turned to clamber on to a large
rock. Just as he was attempting to climb out of the water the croc
came at him again.
time it got a good grip on Maxwell's other leg and it took him down
to the bottom of the river, holding him down there hoping to drown
him. Maxwell later told Green it could have only been a minute
down there but it seemed like a life time.
again the croc underestimated Maxwell and he felt along its jaws
and teeth with one hand either side of its jaws until he came to
its eyes and then gouged them both out with his thumbs. That did
the trick and the croc immediatley let go of his leg. However,
the damage was terrible to see and this leg was nearly severed.
Maxwell pulled himself out of the water and laid on the rock in the
middle of the river.
commotion had attracted the attention of the African lady, who on
seeing Maxwell's plight, waded out to him. She some how got him to
the bank and into his land rover where he fitted himself up with two tourniquet's
one on each leg. He then got a young woman who could not drive
to steer the vehicle whilst he changed gears.
managed to make it back to the main road to Chingola where he
flagged down a motorist. He only just made it into hospital
before he died from loss of blood - a very courageous
Green went to see him the next day and was amazed at the
change in him. John Maxwell's hair had turned white over night and
the shock and pain in his eyes was terrible to see. They had
amputated one leg straight away and were considering taking off the
was eventually sent to the Uk where he spent months in a
Liverpool hospital recuperating. There he met a nurse who was
looking after him and eventually married her. In fact, the nurse
... Janet, had read about his bravery in the papers and decided
that she just had to meet him.
returned to the force and carried on his duties with great gusto
never letting his leg bother him. When he later retired he
went into the private detective game and in 1976 he was still
living in Ndola.
Samsara remembers that when he was aged 5 he played with John
Maxwell's children when they were living in Ndola and that they had
a dog called Loopy and a white VW Beetle.
Maxwell is now living here in the Uk and I believe that he is
crocodile, I recall was eventually shot and when they split its
belly out tumbled an assortment of human remains, some still
Wildlife Conservation Poaching
The natives often used to take baby animals from the wild and sell
them to the Europeans.
My father felt sorry for the tiny little fledglings, some without
even feathers, that the natives brought and he tried to act as
their "mother" by feeding them with an eyedropper ... but his
efforts were usually in vain as they were just too young to
have been taken from the nest.
The longest "survivor" was a Golden Oriel ... He came
everywhere with us and really thought my mum and dad were his
parents! He used to hop around the house chirping and
singing and it was if he was asking what everyone was doing
... he was very inquisitive. Unfortunately, it was through his
inquisitiveness that he met with his accident. He was
inspecting the undersole of my dad's shoe but my dad didn't
see him there and ...... I cried my heart out when the little thing
We had a couple of Bush Babies (Nagapies) as "pets", again that the
natives had brought to us when they were babies, and when they
were old enough my dad used to let them back into the
Other interesting wildlife were the huge Emperor
Moths whose wingspan could reach to 190cm!
Insects have been
widely used across Southern Africa and form an important part of
many people's diets. Among these a caterpillar (the Emperor Moth)
that feeds on the mopane tree, known as the mopane worm, is
considered a delicacy by rural and, increasingly, urban populations
in southern Africa and beyond.
Programme of the UK Department for International Development
Putu (a stiff maize
meal porrige) and Kapenta was a favourite meal of the servants in
Chingola and is a national dish of Zambia.
As children we often went to their quarters to eat this dish with
them ... although I never ate the little fish!
miodon) first came to the towns and cities of Zambia from Lake
Tanganyika, although as early as 1860, the explorer Richard Burton
had described the use of circular nets lowered from a canoe to
catch fish attracted by the light of an mbaula (wood-fired
250,000 sardine fry were released into Lake Kariba from Lake
Tanganyika. This involved 26 airlifts. In August and September
1968, a second series of flights took place and over 120,000
sardines were released.
Read more about these
little fish ...
The Lowdown -
Zambia's Online Magazine
Chameleons, Dung Beetles, and the colorful Agama lizards.
Chameleon (left) ... Agama Lizard (right)
Large 2.5cm black ants, called
Over the years we had several pet animals. We had a Jack Russell
dog called Sally.
I also had a white rat called Snowy, which had been sold to me by
one of the native children for a tickey (3 pence). Snowy and I were
inseperable ... he used to like sitting on my shoulder behind my
hair, and when you put him on the floor he used to sniff around
until he found me and then run up my arm to his favourite
We also had a "pet" pig ...
Percy the Pig was in fact Christmas Dinner. He was supposed to have
been delivered on Christmas Eve ready slaughtered and prepared.
However there was a mis-communication with the butcher and "Percy"
the Pig was delivered two weeks before Christmas and very much
alive. He immediately became my pet pig ... and I loved him!
Two days before Christmas my mum told me that Percy had to go on
holiday ... back to the farm when he had come from. I was happy for
Percy, he would have a lovely time with all the other pigs!
The next day another pig arrived ... dead. Mum tried fervently to
convince me that this was NOT Percy ... but I knew that it was! I
was heart broken! That Christmas I refused to eat any
As the wildlife was so much in abundance, many men turned to
fishing and hunting for sport. My father, although he owned a
shotgun, never went hunting. He wasn't much of a fisherman either,
but tried his hand. We went on several camping trips into the
"bush" as we called it, in pursuit of river fish. My father's love
was for the camping and the travel, and of course the boating.
Rodwin Dam was a small man-made lake where we used to go camping
quite a lot. There were modern facilities there ... a small shop, a
café restaurant, a small wildlife centre. It was safe to swim in
and we all used to have a wonderful time on the rope swings and
rafts, having barbeques etc.
Mufulira Dam was also a man-made dam but much larger than Rodwin.
Many people went here with speed-boats and yachts. I remember my
dad drooling over a blue and white boat, with white padded leather
upholstery, and equipped with two 500cc inboard Mercury engines!
Ours by this time had a 350cc outboard West Bend engine,
but was still our original boat.
Mufulira was where I learnt how to catch my first fish. I am
petrified of fish! And my friend Robin Haynes had to bait the line
for me with the worms and then had to remove the tiny little
flapping creature from the hook! ... much to his
Instead of hunting and fishing, my dad's real love was for speed!
As much as he loved the boat, it wasn't enough.
Some of his friends also had this passion and had imported a couple
of scrambler bikes which they used on their farm. They built a
small track and would often have mini-races on weekends. Talk began
about ...Wouldn't it be nice if we had a real track?!?
So that's what they did ... built a race-track ... for cars! I
remember all our weekends down at the track ... constructing it.
They brought in the Mine's earth and bush clearing machinery, the
Town Council's graders and road-rollers, scrounged every garage and
petrol station for used oil to compact the soil ... and built
My dad and his friends were in their element! My dad built his own
race car, a Triumph Special. Ken Hill bought his in South Africa
and shipped it back. And so my dad became a race car driver. He won
nearly every race. The community became impressed and interested
... soon they were holding regular competition races with drivers
from other parts of Northern Rhodesia, from Southern
Rhodesia, and from South Africa.
One day while we were at the track in the days that it was still
being built, a troop of monkeys decended from the trees. The
natives whom we had brought along to help out became excited!
"Bwana," said one of them to Ken Hill, "lend me your gun." Ken
always brought his gun along just in case we needed protection
from the odd lion or elephant. Ken gave the guy his gun, and
the two natives set about firing at the monkeys. They must have
shot about a dozen.
Their wives who had also come along for the day collected up the
dead critters and set out skinning them, tossing their heads and
bodies into a large cooking pot. My mum and Ken's wife, were
horrified ... "Surely they are not going to eat them"? asked my
mum. "Yup" said Ken. I went to have a look ... I still remember the
little heads floating in a pool of blood and water!
My dad became chairman of the Nchanga Motor Sports Club. They
tarmacked the track, and upped the stakes by awarding prize money
and trophies. One of the trophies, the Vic Paulsen Trophy he won in
both years' events. Had he won it the third time in succession he
would have been able to have kept the cup. But sadly he lost
control of his car and crashed, and the trophy was awarded to
someone else. After that he gave up the racing ... probably at the
insistence of my mother!
little "native house" we lived in an apartment block in Bancroft
for about 2 years and then my father got a job with the Town
Council in Chingola. It is Chingola where I grew up and went to
I started at the Convent School which I hated because the nuns were
heavy handed with the cane and I remember my first day vividly
I was hit over the knuckles with the cane because I couldn't write
my name! Even at the tender age of 4 I thought to myself that I was
at school to learn and the nuns were there to teach me, and that it
was terribly unfair of them to chastise me for not being able to
write! I hated the Convent and cried and protested every day
when the bus came to the house to fetch me.
Eventually I was moved to Chingola Kindergarten, the Government
School, and later attended Chingola Primary School. Both of which I
I remember playing in the park with friends. Going on adventures on
bicycles with the boys into the "bush" to play by the stream or by
the railway line. A favourite game was to sit under the low railway
bridge until a train came by and being both terrified and excited
as the huge engine and carriages came thundering over the
I remember going with friends to the swimming pool, an Olympic
sized one, with high diving boards and a paddling pool for the
little kids. We used to take sandwiches and spend the day
I did ballet, climbed trees, played with the neighbours dogs ...
child things. Toys were hard to come by and expensive so my father
made me things. He made me a dolls bed, he made me a scooter, he
made me a see-saw, he made me a wendy-house.
My father loved making things. He made some motor-bikes called
Corgis which could be folded down and transported in the back of a
small van or car.
In Chingola we first lived in a road called The Close, and then in
a road called Kabundi Road.
Whichever house we lived in my father used to build things and make
gardens. He was also renowned for his metal work and would always
make wrought-iron fences, gates, signs ... even tables and chairs!
He made the lamp at Kabundi Road.
One of his "trade-marks" was paving and patios. It didn't
matter that we never actually owned any of the houses, we only
rented them ... my dad had to build his patios.
The patio was hung with coloured lights and there was a barbeque.
We had many outdoor parties, and we kids thought it was all so
magical with all the lights. The hot weather made outdoor living
almost a necessity.
It used to rain every day ... regularly at 4.30p.m. for about half
an hour and then once again the sun came out. When it rained it was
a tropical downpour ... thunder, lightning ... like all of god's
wrath! Roads flooded at the storm-water drains couldn't cope with
the volume of water flowing down them. The "street pools" were
wonderful for us kids ... we used to splash about in them. I was
often brought home by neighbours thoroughly soaked ... much to the
dismay of my mother!
Thoughout all our time in Africa my parents never, like
other expatriates, employed servants. My father didn't believe in
Both he and my mother had grown up in service in their youth and
knew that it was a demeaning, often thankless job, that was not
He didn't think that the natives should be employed in this way
especially when they had their own families to look after.
If they came to him asking for work, he would try and find them a
position in a firm where they could (theoretically) earn better
money and learn a trade. And he always treated the natives fairly,
never insisting that they call him "bwana" or bow and scrape to him
... "a man has to have his dignity".
He employed a man in a servant capacity only once - when the man
had begged and pleaded with him for work and none was
My father gave the native man the job of helping my mother around
the house and some gardening work in the interim while he could
help him to find better work. But the man didn't stay long ... he
stole my dad's watch, some clothes, food and disappeared before my
dad could fire him!
We did a lot of travelling ... my father was an adventurer! We went
to places in the north ... Samfiya Beach at Lake Banguela, Itimpi,
the Kafue River. The quickest route to these places was through the
We also went south ... to Victoria Falls. To Kariba Dam ... the
largest made-man dam in the world.
Kariba Dam 1960
means "narrow gorge".
It was built to harness the river for a hydro-electric plant.
There were 6 turbo generators in use and provision was made
for the installation of a second set.
The dam wall is a double curvature concrete arch with a crest
length of 618m and a height of 128m. A 12m road runs along the top
and the 6 flood gates each measure 9.1m by 9.4m.
The dam created a lake 274km long by 32km wide. In this photo the
dam is not yet full.
The ball on the right is one of the huge iron balls that were
chained together and used to clear the bushveld for the
construction of the lake.
Tiger Fish and Bream and plentiful in the lake and cruising on the
lake is like sailing on an inland sea. There is now accommodation
at Kariba including hotels, motels, and boatels.
More about Kariba
The building of the dam, although beneficial for the country as a
source of hydro-electricity, and a vast expanse of readily
available water, meant that the local tribespeople living in the
gorge and near to the river would be displaced. They were fearful
of displeasing the river god not to mention losing their tribal
lands. Eventually they did leave and were relocated on higher
ground and many have benefitted from the fishing and other income
that the dam has produced.
However the building of the dam was beseiged by problems. A few
lost their lives in various accidents and irregular flooding
several times washed away the dam wall ... claimed by the
tribesfolk to be the wrath of the rivergod!
No-one though accounted for the wildlife ... when the waters began
to rise the animals naturally sought higher ground ... only to be
trapped on small islands which were becoming more and more
Read about Operation
Noah and how the animals were saved
Courtesy of : Zambian Tourist Board
We went to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) ... to Zimbabwe Ruins, the
Matopas Hills where Cecil Rhodes is buried, to Salisbury (Harare),
Bulawayo, Sinoia Caves, the Mazoe Valley, Wanki Game Reserve,
Pungwe Gorge, the Bridal Veil Falls ...
My uncle Geoff Bannister, my mother's brother, lived in Salisbury.
So we went to visit him and his family. He married at local native
girl called Anna and they had 12 children. Some of his decendants
still live in Harare, but some of them have now moved away to
foreign countries ... America, Britain, and Germany.
My father was fascinated with the history of Northern and Southern
Rhodesia. He marvelled at how Livingstone, Stanley, Rhodes explored
these great countries. He was in awe of the great Chiefs of the
past ... Mzilikazi, Lobengula. And he was intrigued by the
Portuguese sailors and of the places that they first visited ...
Nova Sofala, Beira ...
We used to stop over at
the Victoria Falls Hotel or sometimes at a place with the romantic
name of Tongabezi where we used to have meals right by the Zambezi
Livingstone on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls
there was an African tourist village where you could see some
wonderful African masks. The masks were used by the natives in
their tribal dances.
The native name
for Victoria Falls is Mosi o Tunya which means "the smoke that
thunders". But is also known as Lwambayi (great river) and Manza
Thunqayo (water that rises like smoke). Victoria Falls are
one-and-a-half times as wide and twice as high as Niagara Falls in
Rhodesia became independent in 1964.
At the time there was a lot of trouble going on in the Belgian
Congo with the civil unrest. Dusk to dawn curfews began to be
imposed on the people living on the Copperbelt and there were many
reports of white abductions, murders, rapes, and burglaries. Many
expatriates began to leave.
Some went to Southern Rhodesia, others went to South Africa, and
three families went to Swaziland ... the Carrs, the Golesworthys,
The Great North
building of the Great North Road is attributed to Sir Stewart
Gore-Browne, the only survivor of the pioneers who hacked out
sections of the original road. The most positive monuments to Sir
Stewart's enthusiasm and skill were in his bridges -- all of which
still survive and some of which are still in use.
Read more about the
building of The Great North Road
The true motor
pioneer, however, was a German -- Oberlieutenant Paul Graetz, a
member of his country's regime in East Africa. Successive British
historians and diarists seem to have overlooked his achievement of
driving a car right across Africa between 1907-09. But author
Lawrence G. Green dug out the facts. "Graetz started from
Dar-es-Salaam in August, 1907," he writes. "He seems to have had
unlimited money at his disposal. This supports a theory many people
formed at the time that his adventure down the Great North Road
into British territory was really a military intelligence
Read more about
Courtesy of the
website: The Great North Road
North Road Website
Old Photos of
Kitwe, Ndola, Lusaka
Northern Rhodesia :
Video of the total solar
June 21 2001
Zambia's Online Magazine
We already know that
Zambia was made famous by the explorer Dr. David Livingstone. You
can read more about him in my Voyages
of Intrepidation page in the Gallery.
But early stone age
sites have been unearthed in many parts of Zambia, the most
significant being at the Kalambo Falls in the North and at Victoria
Falls in the south. At the former there is evidence that primitive
humans began using fire systematically some 60 000 years ago. At
the latter, a complex has been fully exposed showing the
development of skills from the most distant past (this
‘dig’ is enclosed at the Field Museum at the Victoria
The skull of Broken
Hill Man, dated to 70 000 years ago, gives an indication of what
humans of that period looked like.
more about these early
finds and how Europeans played a part in the making of its history
THE HISTORY OF ZAMBIA
Zambia has been a
mining country for more than 1,000 years, and an exporter of
refined copper to Asia, the Middle East and Europe for at least 400
History of Copper Mining and Smelting with
images of copper ore
Started in the early 1950s, ZCCM's Nchanga open cast division is
located at Chingola, in the Copper Belt region and its main pit has
developed into one of the largest open cast copper mines in Africa
with a rim reported to be 10 km in circumference.
Originally mining copper ore, the Nchanga mine now extracts both
copper and cobalt and has an estimated 15 years of life
It currently operates a fleet of 72 Wabco and Unit Rig dump trucks.
The duty cycle for equipment operating at Nchanga is extreme, with
gradients of 8%-11% in the main pit and no trolley-assist
Dump trucks take up to 40 minutes to make the journey from the
bottom of the pit to the top when fully loaded.
Zambia fights to save copper mines -
Monday, 1 April, 2002, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
The government of Zambia is making a last-ditch attempt to save its
new mining project, Konkola Deep, the country's best untapped
copper ore body.
Modern Zambia was built on copper. The mines, previously owned by a
company that later became Anglo American, were nationalised at
independence by the president, Kenneth Kaunda.
Early European prospectors were shocked at
the extent of tribal diggings found on the Copperbelt and the
Katanga pedicle. Even before the Lunda and Mwata Kazembe Empires of
last century, copper was in circulation in the form of ingots or
crosses. Used as currency in central African trade it was somewhat
eclipsed in value with the increase in slave trade. In keeping with
the attitudes of the time, many prospectors refused to believe that
the local tribespeople were in fact responsible for the
The early European discoveries by
prospectors like William Collier (reputed to have made his
discovery on the site where he had shot a roan antelope) in 1902,
had to await economic viability before any serious mining attempts
were undertaken. It was only in the 1920’s that a technical
breakthrough was achieved that made the mining of the then Northern
Rhodesia’s ‘red gold’ highly profitable. And the
fortunes of the country were irrevocably changed.
The claims that made up the Copperbelt were
divided between two conglomerates - the Anglo American Corporation
of South Africa and the U.K. Selection Trust. (Later the Roan
Selection Trust - RST) An initial boom in the industry was affected
by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. International gearing
up for the hostilities that resulted in World War 2 created the
next boom which lasted until the early seventies. This broad
outline does not even begin to illustrate the enormous impact that
copper has had on the country which is Zambia
It was copper that motivated
infrastructural development in a country low on the priority list
in the Colonial repertoire. It was copper that shaped colonial
policies towards a federation with the then Southern Rhodesia
(Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi). It was copper that created the
social realities that fomented trade unions and the birth of
Zambian Nationalism. Zambia was born with a ‘copper spoon in
its mouth’. A newly independent Zambia based political and
socio-economic policies and strategies on the fortunes of
With the collapse of copper prices, Zambia
has become a nation foundering, struggling to find a replacement
for foreign exchange earnings. Copper, once the country’s
saving grace, has become its albatross.
Courtesy of :
In addition to copper you see a lot of products made out of
Malachite. Malachite is a secondary ore that occurs in the upper
levels of copper deposits.
action of atmospheric agents on copper mineral outcrops has
combined copper with solutions of carbonated water to produce
malachite. It is the copper content of malachite that gives it a
green (like tarnish) color. More water in the copper makes it
lighter and less water makes it darker. The absence of water makes
Read more about
Create your very own Dump
Dump Trucks and other heavy industrial equipment
in the Congo
Troubles in the
landless Baluba in the Kasai, living as virtual slaves to the
Lulua, were quick to seize the opportunities for advancement
offered by the mission schools and the colonial government.
While the aristocratic Lulua sat back on their prerogatives for
sixty years, the ambitious Baluba got educations, took government
jobs, went into business, and even managed to obtain large amounts
of Lulua tribal land through a government scheme which was aimed at
producing cheap manioc to feed the African mine workers. Under this
government scheme, all unused land was declared public domain to
which any African could obtain title by farming it. Soon Baluba
farms encircled the town of Luluabourg.
Then without warning, the distant dream of independence became an
impending realty, and it was clear to the Lulua that after
independence the Baluba, with their educations, economic power, and
experience in government, would take control of the province. This
was intolerable to the Lulua, the ancient aristocrats of the land.
The Belgians didn’t like it either, because the unpoliticized
and tractable Lulua were far more likely to give the Belgians a
free hand with the diamond mines, than were the knowledgeable and
being good businessmen the Belgian Government and the Royal Family
decided to grant independence to the Congo, but on six months
notice and with absolutely no preparation for self-government- no
Congolese has ever had a higher education. That alone should insure
disaster, but in addition the Belgians are fostering tribal wars
and supporting tribally based politicians who want their own
domains, so that the Congo will be torn apart after
should Belgian want to tear the Congo apart? So they can hold onto
the mineral rich areas of Katanga and the Kasai from the chaos. As
for the rest of the Congo, it can go to Hell. And it will go to
Hell, believe me it will.
And the tribal war in Luluabourg? A little trouble the
Belgians brewed up that’s come to the boil too soon. They
have to keep it a secret, because if the world knew what the
conditions were in the interior of the Congo, the Belgians might be
pressured into postponing Independence. And I wouldn’t want
to be in the Congo the day that happened, either!
African was set an annual quota as a ‘tax’ which he had
to deliver to the government station. Those who could not meet
these all but impossible quotas, were punished by the African
police, recruited from enemy tribes, went out to delinquent
villages and cut the right hands off men, women, and even small
children. The African police would smoke the hands and carry them
back to the government station by the basketful to be tallied, and
the payment was the same for the hand of a little girl as for her
father's hand. At other times the police were ordered to enslave,
torture, or kill tax delinquents. These were not isolated
incidents, but on-going policy throughout the Congo which continued
into this century. It is estimated that as many as ten million
Congolese died as a direct result of King Leopold's
Casement’s report to the British Government and Edmund
Morel’s book 'Red Rubber' published in America in 1907,
brought the force of world opinion to bear on the Belgian
parliament which in turn made Leopold turn his Congo Free State
over to the Belgian Government as a colony.
But Leopold managed to profit from even this, retaining the best
lands and most valuable monopolies for himself and receiving
payment for the roads and other improvements in the Congo he had
built with African slave labor. The last thing Leopold did was
empty the Congo treasury into his own pocket.
While the Belgian Government did not resort to cutting the hands
off little children, they established an efficient, all-pervasive
administration which was even better at exploiting the Congo and
its people then Leopold had been.
Courtesy of: D
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