sounds around: Zambia

official name:  Republic of Zambia

capital:  Lusaka              location: 15°25′S 28°17′E

borders: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Botswana

population: >14,309,466

currency: Zambian kwacha (ZMW)

major exports: Copper and agriculture

popular sports: Boxing, cricket, football, and rugby


In my last post about Zimbabwe, I became more aware of Zambia and its shared colonial history with Zimbabwe. Specifically, that the territory of Zambia was the northern portion of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe the southern. At that time it was called Northern Rhodesia until its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, 16 year before its southern neighbor, Zimbabwe gained its independence.

More interesting facts about Zambia:

  1. Zambia is named after the Zambezi River. The river separates Zambia from Zimbabwe; is home to the Victoria Falls; and empties into the Indian Ocean to the east.
  2. Zambia gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964, has a democratically elected government, and compared to most African nations has a stable economy.
  3. The musical instrument, Kalumbu, is the mother of the Angolan/ Brazilian Berimbau.
  4. "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" The region of Zambia is where Scottish explorer David Livingston traveled looking for the source of the Nile. He was well-revered by locals because of his respect for the people he met and his anti-slavery activities.

Music & the People of Zambia



The Tonga Peoples

The Kalumbu is a one-stringed musical bow, the ancient origins of which lie with the San people.

In Zambia it is only found amongst the Ba-Tonga and Ba-Ila peoples of Southern Province. Chris Haambwiila is a Ba-Ila from Chitongo village and one of the best kalumbu players to be found.


The Kankobela is the thumb-piano, similar to the Kalimba of Zimbabwe. Benson Siamundyoli who lives in the Zambezi Valley in Zambia, is one of the few kankobela players still left. 



The Lozi and Nkoya Peoples

The Silimba is a xylophone developed by the Lozi people in Barotseland, western Zambia. The tuned keys are tied atop resonating gourds. The silimba, or shinjimba, is also used by the Nkoya people of Western Zambia at traditional royal ceremonies. The silimba is now used in most parts of Zambia.


Ngoni Peoples

The Ngoni peoples trace their origins to the Zulu people of South Africa. Their ancestors resisted colonization by the British South Africa Company, that eventually controlled the area as Rhodesia. The video shows a part of the Nc’wala ceremony that involves Paramount Chief Mpezeni dressed in leopard skin re-enacting an old tradition which has roots in early Zulu culture.


Official language:  English

Recognized regional languages:  Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nyanja, Chewa



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