Zambia Culture

Zambia Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Zambia

According to ESTATELEARNING.COM, Zambia is a country located in Africa. The spread of daily newspapers in Zambia is small (12 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). There are two major daily newspapers, the Times of Zambia (edition: about 65,000 copies) and Zambia Daily Mail (about 40,000 copies), both published in Lusaka and since 1988 owned by a state publishing house. Freedom of the press is limited, but there is some critical journalism.

Radio and TV are run by the state, partly advertising-financed Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), founded in 1961. The radio broadcasts in three national channels (in English, Bemba and lozi, for example) and TV in one. Radio and television news usually reflects the government’s view. There are 145 radio and 34 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, the rapid urbanization seems to have divided Zambia into two worlds: the rural old village communities with traditional living patterns and the modern cities with a Western influenced lifestyle. The division can create tension, but many Zambians move seamlessly between the different cultures.

For many writers, the country’s linguistic divide has made it a difficult choice: to either express themselves in their local language and thus limit their prospects to broader success or to write in the language of colonial power in English and primarily reach the educated elite. Dominic Mulaisho and Binwell Sinyangwe include writers who have chosen to write in English. Namwali Serpell, who is active in the United States, became the first Zambian author in 2015 to win the British Caine Prize for African writers founded in 2000. She won with the novel The Sack (Sack).

In art and music, influences from both traditional and modern culture are felt. One of Zambia’s most popular artists is singer Maureen Lilanda, who mixes African and Western music. During the 2000s, several artists have appeared on the national music scene with African pop, hip hop and rap on the repertoire. Some of them have made careers in South Africa.

Within the art there is a rich sculptural tradition, which is represented by, among others, Friday Tembo and Flinto Chandia.

Since the late 1990s, groups of young intellectuals have been working to develop national identity through online forums. Among other things, they have coined the term “Zanglish”.



Regime-critical artist gripped again

December 21

Hip-hop artist Chama “Pilato” Fumba is arrested by police as he talks about state corruption at a meeting in the town of Livingstone. According to police, the organizers lacked permission to hold the meeting and therefore Fumba was arrested. He is released on bail a few days later pending the trial to be held in mid-January 2020. Fumba has previously been arrested on several occasions for criticizing the country’s leaders.

“President Lungu involved in log smuggling”

December 6

President Lungu, his daughter and a number of ministers are accused in a report of being involved in illegal timber exports to China. The international organization Environmental Investigation Agengy (EIA), which maps and combats environmental crimes, writes in the report that large quantities of rose wood are smuggled out of Zambia each month despite a ban on felling and transport of this kind of wood in force in 2017. EIA writes that Lungu with several are part of an illegal network that handles smuggling and that the state-owned lumber company ZAFFICO is used as a cover. Jean Kapata, Minister of Land Affairs and Natural Resources, is one of those mentioned in the report. He dismisses the allegations by saying that the government is under siege by hostile domestic and foreign forces and is threatening the EIA with a legal process.


15 years in prison for homosexuality

November 28

Two men are sentenced to fifteen years in prison for having had sex with each other in a hotel. The men are believed to have committed an “unnatural act”. Tolerance for sexual minorities is low in Zambia. President Lungu has spoken out strongly against LGBT -personers rights despite foreign creditors pushing for a more liberal view of such matters. The US ambassador to Zambia criticizes the prison sentence and is subsequently declared undesirable in the country, leading to Washington calling him home.

Separatist leaders are released from prison

November 11

President Lungu pardons separatist leader Afumba Mombotwa, who was jailed in 2016 and sentenced to ten years in prison for treason. Mombotwa, leader of Linyungandambo, is one of the groups that requires the self-government of the Lozi people’s kingdom Barotseland in western Zambia to be restored. Four other prisoners were also pardoned when Lungu celebrated his 63rd birthday, including journalist Derrick Sinjela who in 2018 was sentenced to six years in prison for court strife (see December 20, 2018).


Hunger in the wake of the drought

October 29th

The Red Cross aid organization warns that around 2.3 million Zambians are facing an acute food crisis as many crops have been devastated by drought and flooding. The figure has risen from 1.7 million in just one month. Southern Africa is experiencing the worst drought in several decades when the usual rainfalls have not gone away while temperatures have been record high. In the worst affected areas, where residents are referred to survive on wild fruits and roots, there is also a lack of drinking water, a Red Cross spokesman said. The drought primarily affects western and southern Zambia while the northern and eastern parts of the country have received too much rainfall, which has led to flooding.


Reforms will strengthen the president

September 29th

President Lungu understands that his government will go ahead and try to push through a number of constitutional changes despite great opposition from the opposition and civil society. According to media reports, the changes mean strengthening the president’s powers. The president is given the right to appoint judges and ministers, change the electoral system and approve loans without consulting Parliament. The central bank’s monetary policy also falls under the control of the president.


Risky to sing about dogs

August 28th

Opposition politician Chishimba Kambwili, is accused of defaming President Lungu. Kwambili has posted a video on the Internet that has become very popular and where Kwambili performs a song with the lyrics “some dogs from Chawama do not tire of traveling”. Chawama is a slum suburb of the capital Lusaka where Edgar Lungu lived before becoming president. When the arrest occurs, Lungu is in Japan, and the week before he visited India. If Kambwili is sentenced, the sentence can be imprisoned for up to three years.

Monitoring cooperation with Huawei is denied

August 16th

Zambia’s government denies media reports that Chinese telecom company Huawei has helped Zambian authorities to spy on oppositionists. According to the US Wall Street Journal, tech from Huawei has helped monitor bloggers who have started a government-critical news site.


Start shot for campaign against corruption

July 20

Hundreds of people start a campaign against corruption and hold a first meeting in the capital Lusaka. The protesters wearing yellow t-shirts demonstrate with placards outside Parliament, singing regime-critical songs and waving yellow cards. The action is led by anti-corruption activist Laura Miti and singer Chama Fumba, known as Pilato.

Swap at the finance minister post

July 7

President Lungu dismisses Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe without explanation. New Finance Minister becomes Bwalya Ng’andu, Deputy Governor of the country’s central bank. Mwankakatwe had been sitting at her post for just over a year and had received internal criticism for the austerity program she initiated in an attempt to reverse the weak economic growth, which is partly due to low copper prices in the world market. The switch to the finance minister post seems to have been appreciated by international investors. When the news became known, the value of Zambian government bonds rose.


The president threatens mining companies

June 23rd

President Lungu goes against the majority owner of the country’s largest mining company KCM. Lungu threatens to dissolve KCM and sell the Indian-owned company Vedanta’s stake to other stakeholders. The reason is that Vedanta has failed to pay some employees and subcontractors. President Lungu has at all raised the tone against the activities of foreign mining companies, accused them of not paying taxes and threatened to throw them out of the country. The hard line could increase support for Lungu in the region where KCM operates, which could be crucial to his chances in the 2021 election, writes AFP news agency.


Killed minister is charged with abuse of power

15th of May

Emerine Kabanshi, who was Minister of Social Affairs until September 2018, is charged with abuse of power. She is suspected to have been involved in embezzlement of aid funds to be used for grant payments. As a result of the suspicions, the United Kingdom canceled its aid to Zambia and the following day Kabanshi was forced to resign (see 19 September 2018).


The opposition leader claims attempted murder

February 20th

Opposition representatives say they will report President Lungu and a handful of his closest associates to the ICC because of acts of violence against the opposition. According to the largest opposition party UPND, party leader Hakainde Hichilema was subjected to an assassination attempt at a general election before a filling election just over a week earlier. UPND states that Hichilema was shot by police and had to flee into the bush to save his life. The police say that the disjointed belligerent meeting participants but deny that sharp shots were fired.

Minister arrested for corruption

February 5

The country’s anti-corruption unit announces that Minister of Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela has been arrested and will be prosecuted for two cases of corruption. According to a representative of the anti-corruption unit, the minister has tried to conceal his holding of two properties which he is suspected of having acquired illegally.

Zambia Culture

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