Zambia’s Support for Liberation Movements; 1964-1979

The support Zambia gave to the liberation movements of southern Africa is a strong theme in Zambian history and national identity; the lengths to which they aided the various movements came at a great cost ‘in terms of human life, infrastructure and lost opportunity for economic growth’, as Livingstone Museum, southern Zambia, explains.  But there has been surprisingly little research done into the historical realities of that support, despite the large amount of written work on the conflicts that engulfed the region in the 1960s and 1970s.  This is perhaps due to the perception that Zambia’s support for the liberation movements was a mere ‘aspect’ of its foreign policy, that it formed ‘only one element of a broader strategy’.[1] This may be true, but there is scope for more work on this subject, which this paper hopes to illustrate by briefly covering some of the major themes.  The most substantial work thus far has been done by Douglas Anglin, cited above, but his work only covers the period up to 1974.[2] The years from 1974 to 1979 cast a different light on the topic, raising questions of the efficacy of Zambia’s support and the nature of Kenneth Kaunda’s role.  Further work by Anglin, Joseph Hanlon, Stephen Chan and Martin Meredith have shown the regional relevance of Zambia’s foreign policy, but more attention is paid to the relationship with South Africa and Rhodesia than the internal intricacies of Zambia’s support for liberation movements.[3] Hanlon shows Zambia’s role in the region in economic terms, such as how South Africa benefited during this period from trading with Zambia but still punished it with military raids for its support of liberation movements.[4] Chan also questions the relationship that formed between South Africa and Zambia during this period, and speaks of a ‘Zambian elite’ who benefited from this relationship despite its unpopularity with the general population.[5]

This paper is by no means an exhaustive study; much information such as that which concerns the funding provided to the liberation movements is still classified, and much business was done in secrecy.[6] The information sourced for this paper includes the University of Zambia (UNZA) library and the National Archives of Zambia.  The library is a useful source but the collection is rather depleted and run down, and there is a severe lack of Zambian scholarship in the fields of history and international affairs.  The National Archives of Zambia have recently been refurbished, although access to some documents, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, is still limited and other documents pertaining to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be hit or miss when it comes to valuable information.  Their collection of newspapers, such as the Times of Zambia, was useful; despite being a government paper it was not shy of criticizing government policy and can be used to gauge what public opinion was like at the time.  Once Zambia became a one-party state in 1972, much of the archived material after this date is less useful as it was transferred from government departments to the Central Committee of the ruling party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP).[7] The National Archives at Kew, London, are also useful, as some recently released documents under the 30 year restriction rule sheds light on British involvement and policy at the time, such as that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  By reassessing these Zambian and British sources, this paper hopes to provide a fresh examination of the nature of Zambia’s support for southern African liberation movements.  It raises questions about the efficacy of this Zambian support and the degree to which President Kenneth Kaunda really was – as he liked to portray himself – the principle architect behind this part of Zambian foreign policy.  This paper takes issue with the assertion made by Stephen Chan that Kaunda was the main source of decision making in Zambian affairs, by showing that he did in fact come under pressure from members of his own government and on several occasion succumbed to this pressure.[8] Despite the rhetoric displayed by Kaunda during this period, it will be shown the extent to which Zambia was brought to its knees by continuing its policy of supporting liberation movements.  The period of 1964 until 1979 has been chosen as it shows the period from Zambia’s independence until the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in the Zambian capital of Lusaka in 1979, a watershed moment in Zambia’s history.  The Commonwealth will also be referred to in this paper; it provides an insight into Britain’s involvement in the region, the relations Britain formed with its former colonies and how Kaunda used this relationship to garner support for his policy on liberation movements.

Zambia was formerly the British colony of Northern Rhodesia and in 1953 was brought into the Central African Federation, incorporating Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi).  But by the time of British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan’s tour of African in 1960, and his famous ‘Wind of Change’ speech given in Cape Town on the 3rd of February that year, it was clear that independence would eventually be on its way to the member states of the Federation.  But this did not mean that Kaunda did not have to fight against the Federation for independence; indeed he was responsible for the Cha Cha Cha campaign of civil disobedience against the Northern Rhodesian government.  It was only in April 1963 that Northern Rhodesia was given the right to secede, after Nyasaland, and by December 1963 the Central African Federation was finished.[9] At midnight on the 24th October 1964 the Union Jack flag was lowered for the last time as Zambia had gained full independence.  But Zambia was born into a difficult situation, to say the least.  It was a landlocked country surrounded by minority white regimes in Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia; it had a troublesome Congo to the north and Apartheid South Africa in the south, which regional power had a long stretch.  It inherited an economy that was completely dependent on copper and thus at the mercy of global copper prices, and was almost entirely run by whites and foreign businesses.[10] Zambia was also at this time dependent on the Benguela Railway, which ran from the Copperbelt region of central Zambia westwards through Angola to the port of Lobito on the Atlantic Ocean.  There are many instances when the Angolan government would manipulate Zambia’s reliance on the Benguela Railway to punish it for supporting Angolan liberation movements.[11] Zambia’s only ally in the region was Tanzania and its president Julias Nyerere; he too was committed to supporting liberation movements, but had the luxury of a long coastline and a more robust and varied economy than Zambia.

To the west of Zambia was the Portuguese colony of Angola, which had three nationalist movements fighting Portuguese forces for independence; Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA); Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA); and Holden Roberto’s Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA).  All three of these movements conducted their early operations from outside Angola, leading Portuguese forces to conduct devastating cross-border raids into Zambia.  To the south-east was Mozambique, another Portuguese colony experiencing an anti-colonial guerrilla insurgency, most notably from Eduardo Mondlane’s Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO).  Malawi and Tanzania were not sympathetic towards FRELIMO, leaving Zambia as their only option to set up bases in.[12] Portugal as a colonial power in Angola and Mozambique was quite different to that of Britain; they preferred the term ‘overseas territory’ and showed no signs of compromise let alone granting independence to its territories.[13] To the south was Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, with Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwean African People’s Union (ZAPU) and Ndabaningi Sithole’s and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) the two main liberation movements.[14] Zambia had been playing host to these two movements since 1963, but even this early their presence in Lusaka proved unpopular, with Zambian youths wrecking ZANU’s offices in response to ZANU’s accusations that ZAPU was receiving preferential treatment from the Zambian government.[15] Zambia also gave support to the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of what is Namibia today, and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, although the latter of these two would be more active in Zambia in the 1980s.

The nature of the support given to liberation movements

After independence in 1964, Kaunda swiftly threw his weight behind the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which had been formed in 1963.  It was based on the principles of pan-Africanism and anti-colonialism, and its charter was similar to that of the United Nations but without the Security Council.  A special wing was established to assist those states who had not yet achieved liberation, which would be run by a Liberation Committee based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.[16] Kaunda allowed a Liberation Centre to be set up in Lusaka, which was to provide offices to those liberation movements who had received official recognition from the OAU.  This would allow them to conduct the business of processing refugees, organising transit through Zambia, access to propaganda and other various benefits.[17] From early on it is clear that the OAU was pressuring Zambia into providing more support than it was initially comfortable with; one official said that he was under pressure to allow the transit of arms and ammunition through Zambia, but could not do so owing to ‘Zambia’s difficulties at the present moment’.[18] Tanzania was geo-politically much better suited to provide extensive help to the liberation movements, especially when it came to training camps and the acquirement of arms and ammunition.  Kaunda made no secret of his wish to assist the liberation movements, but in these early days he was still unsure of the exact nature of support to give, as he had to consider the reactions of his neighbours who would be the targets of the liberation movements’ struggle.

It was not long after formation that the Liberation Committee ran into financial trouble.  Member states of the OAU had been willing to talk the talk when it came to the liberation of Africa, but the trouble came when it was time for them to put their hands in their pockets.  By August 1965, nearly half the member states had not contributed their assessed contribution of £14,000.[19] The OAU Liberation Committee would shrink in its influence in Zambia as Kaunda gradually formed his own policy towards the liberation movements, although Zambia and Tanzania would be the only two states which remained up to date with its payments to the Liberation Committee.[20] Zambia also received support for his policy from outside Africa.  Relations with the Commonwealth were good at independence; the Secretariat in London was only formed in1965 but Kaunda enjoyed a good relationship with Secretary General Arnold Smith in those early days.  He publicly supported the Commonwealth, describing it as a tool that ‘can help spread independence’ in Africa.[21] But the issue of Rhodesia would prove to be a strain on their relationship, with Kaunda constantly pressuring the Commonwealth into taking more action against Ian Smith and even threatening to back the UN in decisions on Rhodesia.[22] Scandinavian countries had an exemplary record in assisting Zambia with its policy; Sweden in particular provided much humanitarian assistance to the liberation movements present in Zamia, and always did so after thorough consultation with the Zambian government – particularly when it came to issues of funding.[23]

Perhaps the most consistent aspect of Kaunda’s policy towards the liberation movements was his denial of their presence in Zambia.  He made no secret of his ideological support towards them, such as though pan-Africanism and Non-Alignment, and it was well known that he set up the Liberation Centre in Lusaka for administrative purposes.  One of the consequences of the regional conflict that was taking place was the influx of refugees over Zambia’s porous borders.  Refugee camps were set up to cope with the increasing numbers over time, but it will be shown that there was an increasing amount of camps set up by freedom fighters from neighbouring countries.  Kaunda consistently denied the presence of soldiers, bases, camps, or anything else involving military goods from early on, when it is plausible that he genuinely did not know, until there were virtually tens of thousands of soldiers all over Zambia.  His early denials were confident, stating that there was

‘no truth in the allegation that Zambia is helping freedom fighters with arms or that the Zambian government is providing and other facilities which could be described as encouraging or assisting them in the armed confrontation reported.  In fact, the Government has confiscated illegal arms from freedom fighters’.[24]

But this assertion would become more difficult to defend as events unfolded, and it became more obvious that there had to be some Government knowledge of at least some of the training camps.  In a meeting between Kaunda and Commonwealth Secretary General Arnold Smith, Kaunda stated that he only allowed the freedom fighters to maintain offices in Lusaka, but also pointed out that it was impossible to patrol the entire border ‘as Smith wanted’.[25] Unfortunately due to the secrecy of this information and a reluctance of Government ministers to divulge in their prior knowledge, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much was known of these camps and how much assistance was given to them.

After UDI

Zambia’s post-independence honeymoon ended abruptly on the 11th November 1965 with Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), when Ian Smith cut all ties with Britain and went it alone, coining the phrase ‘rebel regime’.  Kaunda appeared to have miscalculated this event, stating weeks before that he doubted they would ever do it, and as late as 1968 he still referred to UDI as a ‘passing phase’.[26] But he immediately took his anger out on the Zimbabwean liberation movements in Lusaka, launching scathing attacks on them through the media, calling them ‘stupid idiots’ and ‘chicken in a basket’.[27] By this point Kaunda felt that the Zimbabweans had been provided with enough assistance for a UDI to be averted, but instead ZAPU and ZANU appeared to be living in laps of luxury and bickering with each other, often quite violently.  He came under renewed pressure from within his own government and the OAU to allow troops from member states and even China and the Soviet Union into Zambia, in case of an attack by the Rhodesian Air Force. Kaunda appealed directly to British Prime Minster Harold Wilson for assistance, to which Britain responded by sending out a squadron of Javelin fighter jets, to take up a temporary defensive position on Zambia’s border with Rhodesia.[28] But Kaunda had little option but to continue assisting the Zimbabwean nationalists, and increased his efforts to unite the two parties.

By 1966 a further eight liberation movements, in addition to ZAPU and ZANU, were present at the Liberation Centre in Lusaka, ranging from sub-offices to headquarters.[29] This coincided with an increased amount of cross border raids being committed by Portuguese forces, as Angolan and Mozambican refugees and freedom fighter numbers increased in Zambia.  Not only did Zambia disapprove of this early presence of freedom fighters in the border region, it was soon shown that Zambia was entirely unable to regulate it.  The Zambian Police Force had suffered a constant loss of personnel in the years proceeding independence, combined with a vital oil pipeline to protect and a vast border to patrol, it would prove an impossible task to stem the flow of people across its borders.[30] In the coming years, border incursions would increase as would the number of Zambian civilians killed in the crossfire, as in 1968 when entire villages were being destroyed by helicopter gun fire.[31] In a marked escalation by 1972, villages on the border with Angola were being raided by freedom fighters for supplies, a Zambian para-military camp in Kanongesha was raided by Angolan freedom fighters for arms and ammunition, and border patrols recorded daily ‘provocative incidents, airspace violations and cross-border shooting’.[32] From this it can be seen that Zambia was already struggling to cope with the liberation movements it was supposed to be assisting.  Kaunda constantly reiterated that the Zambian people were willing to fight back against this aggression, but in 1970 the Zambian army had only 4,000 personnel and had no combat aircraft.[33] Zambian forces would prove no match for the highly trained Portuguese, Rhodesian and South African troops; as one British Conservative MP noted, Lusaka would be ‘flattened’ if any of the neighbouring states were to use direct force.[34]

The Lusaka Manifesto on Southern Africa was Kaunda’s first major foreign policy statement.  After five years in power, it was still difficult to pinpoint where Kaunda stood in particular to his regional foreign policy.  Signed in Lusaka in 1969, it stated that Zambia would always promote negotiation over violence, but it did state that violence could be used as a last resort if all else failed.   This document would be responsible for Kaunda’s promotion into the Non-Aligned movement, his charismatic personality and pan-Africanist influences made him a popular figure among African presidents.[35] But the Lusaka Manifesto was ambiguous when referring to its support of liberation movements; it did not rule out the use of force to attain its goals of independence and equality, but also encouraged negotiation which can be seen as a subtle South African influence on the document.  Despite this uneasy relationship between South Africa and Zambia, South African forces still conducted raids into Zambia in retaliation for their support of liberation movements, but more as a show of support for Rhodesia than the presence of South African freedom fighters there.  Kaunda would refer to this document in the coming years when talking about his foreign policy, but he would not always abide by its non-violent decree.

Problems arise

Zambia’s relations with Britain and the Commonwealth had severely deteriorated in the years after UDI, as Kaunda felt that Rhodesia was an entirely British problem that should be dealt with by Britain alone.  His feelings gained support in many Commonwealth states, and this nearly brought an end to the Commonwealth in the late 1960s.  Kaunda publicly blasted Britain for its ‘shameful’ policy towards Rhodesia, and claimed that Zambia had ‘no more relations’ with the Commonwealth.[36] But once again Kaunda was in talks with Britain at this time, asking for military assistance against border raids by Rhodesian forces.  When Kaunda complained to Britain about the arrival in Rhodesia of South African police, Britain responded by expressing its concern of the presence of foreign freedom fighters in Zambia.[37] Relations slipped further when it was revealed that Britain was planning to sell arms to South Africa, and at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Singapore in 1971 many states supported Kaunda’s stance against Britain.[38]

Kaunda had bigger problems at home, with the gulf between the ZAPU and ZANU not only growing but turning violent, with gun fights on the streets of Lusaka becoming more frequent.[39] Kaunda’s consistent efforts to unite the two parties had yet to bear fruit; even threats to cut off funding and offers to double funding had not brought the two movements any closer together.[40] When Kaunda finally managed to bring the two parties to the table and sign a pact, as he did in January 1971, it was only a matter of days before fighting between the two ensued.[41] ZANU proved to be the more difficult of the two movements to reconcile, as they constantly accused Kaunda and his government of favouring ZAPU.  There is no doubt some truth to this, as Nkomo and ZAPU were not only seen as less warmongering than Mugabe and other ZANU figures, but Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aaron Milner shared the same heritage of ZAPU, as he too was an Ndebele.[42] But this did not stop Kaunda from trying to reconcile the two movements, such as his controversial meeting with South African Prime Minister John Vorster to allow Nkomo, Sithole and Mugabe to be released from Rhodesian prison and engage in talks with Ian Smith.

The Angolan liberation movements also presented further problems to Kaunda, albeit of a different nature.  Zambia had given its support to the MPLA early on as it was the primary liberation movement in Angola, and in 1965 it had already opened a regional office and later headquarters in the Liberation Centre.[43] Jonas Savimbi had spent many years trying to gain official support for UNITA by Zambia and the OAU, despite being unsuccessful UNITA still had bases in western Zambia as early as 1966.[44] Zambia was consistent in its calls for unity within the liberation movements, which is one reason it refused recognition to UNITA, preferring MPLA over the three movements.  But Kaunda came under increasing pressure from certain members within his government to grant recognition and give support to Savimbi and UNITA. The then Ambassador to Egypt (and current president of Zambia) Rupiah Banda and Prime Minister Mainza Chona were instrumental in convincing Kaunda of Savimbi’s credentials and seriousness, when in October 1966 Kaunda raised the restrictions on UNITA and allowed them access to Zambia.[45] However, after less than a year, UNITA soldiers were responsible for attacks on the Benguela Railway in Angola which earned Zambia a harsh rebuke by the Angolan government, threatening to cut off Zambia’s access to the line completely.  Support of UNITA was immediately withdrawn and Savimbi arrested and sent to Cairo.[46] Kaunda went against his own policy of unity between the liberation movements, thus doing nothing to alleviate the situation in western Zambia and worsening relations with the Angolan government. One of his own ministers called on Kaunda to avoid giving Savimbi support, calling him a ‘deadly subversive and destructive foreign element’, advice Kaunda probably wished he took.[47] Kaunda’s short lived support of UNITA proved another miscalculation, a mistake he was unfortunate to repeat in the future.

Despite much of the secrecy involved in Zambia’s support for liberation movements, the difficulty that Zambia was by now experiencing had not gone unnoticed.  The British High Commission in Lusaka issued an investigation into this policy in 1973, which was to be sent back to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.  It refers to the ‘imprecise and somewhat uncomfortable relationship between the movements and the Zambian Government’, to which Zambia was beginning to have less control over.  Kaunda is still seen as the main decider in this policy, although it has become evident that there is a growing influence from the governing party’s Central Committee and particular members of it, such as Mainza Chona.  The OAU Liberation Committee is seen to have less influence on Kaunda, as Julias Nyerere is more often consulted on issues pertaining to the liberation movements.  It is noted that the Zambian population warily recognizes the need to support the liberation movements, but also recognizes that ‘they could not abandon the movements even if they wanted to’.[48] It is at this point Zambia can be seen to be losing control of the liberation movements it first set out to assist.

The Lisbon Coup

By 1974 Zambia’s support for the liberation movements was taking its toll, made tougher by falling copper prices, tough trade sanctions on Rhodesia, further increasing attacks on Zambian soil and a refugee crisis in both the east and west of the country.  Rhodesia had shut the border with Zambia in 1973 in retaliation to the presence of guerrilla bases in the Zambezi border region, but Zambia had defiantly refused to reopen its border when Rhodesia ended its border closure.  This was possible due to the construction of the TANZAM Railway, a Chinese funded railway line linking the Copperbelt with Tanzania, a trade route that would not have to pass through hostile territory.[49] There was also a food shortage, forcing Zambia to accept food aid from UNITA in what must have been a humiliating gesture from Savimbi.[50] Despite Kaunda giving much support to the MPLA and stressing the notion of presenting a united front in their fight, the MPLA split into three and fighting between all parts ensued.  The Portuguese were no closer to granting independence than they ever were, remaining true to their colonial policy.  Even Mainza Chona told the British High Commission that he did not expect to see any progress on Angolan and Mozambican independence any time before 1978.[51]

Despite the precarious situation Zambia was in, its revelation came not from Lusaka or even Africa, but in Lisbon, Portugal on the 25th April 1974. Largely in response to the devastating colonial wars Portugal was engaged in, the government of Marcelo Caetano was overthrown in a military coup by a deputy chief in the general staff António de Spínola.  Spínola had made clear the unwinnable nature of the colonial wars Portugal was engaged in, and only days after the coup the entire Portuguese colonial administration fell apart.[52] Kaunda was quick to seize the opportunity, and immediately brought the liberation movements from Angola and Mozambique and representatives of the new Portuguese government together in Lusaka for independence talks.  FRELIMO were by default the largest liberation movement in Mozambique, and were the only movement given official recognition by both Zambia and the OAU, together with a regional office in Lusaka.[53] But they had struggled in their fight against Portuguese forces, not helped by Malawi’s refusal to allow freedom fighters to pass through or set up bases.[54] But there was a second liberation movement in Mozambique, Comité Revolucionário de Moçambique (COREMO), although they were never given official recognition they were still allowed to locate their headquarters in Lusaka.  When independence talks for Mozambique began, FRELIMO were not happy with the options presented to them with regards to COREMO.  Kaunda swiftly withdrew all support for COREMO, barred them from the talks, closed their offices and rounded up all their soldiers operating in the border region and sent them to Tanzania.[55] This rare but effective show of force allowed for an agreement to be reached relatively quickly on Mozambican independence, although perhaps Kaunda could have done more to discourage the series of retribution attacks that took place in the coming months, leading to a mass departure of skilled workers that would severely hamper Mozambique over the coming years.

Angola was to prove a far more difficult challenge to the negotiating skills of Kaunda, not helped by the recently discovered natural wealth that Angola possessed and the interest expressed in the region by the major actors in the Cold War.  The FNLA had overtaken the MPLA in terms of military power, the latter having suffered from its factional fighting.  UNITA was also on the scene; it was the weakest of the three movements by 1974 but had backing from China and significant influence in Angola’s largest tribe.[56] Despite these differences, the Alvor Agreement was signed in Lusaka on the 31st January 1975 which would lead to a coalition government in Angola, albeit a short-lived one.  It was only a matter of weeks before fighting between the three movements intensified, only to be made worse by the involvement of Cuban, Russian, Chinese, American and South African forces, to mention a few.

After the agreement was signed, Zambia once again gave official recognition to UNITA although it still recognized the MPLA as the legitimate government of Angola.  The reasons for this were that Kaunda had grown increasingly wary of the MPLA, concerned not only about amount of arms flowing into Angola from the Soviet Union, but of events he learned of after the signing of the Alvor Agreement.  Kaunda was told of the execution of fifteen Angolans, part of the Chipenda faction of the MPLA, that took place in a camp on Zambia soil in 1974, this incensed Kaunda and he immediately withdrew his support for the MPLA and threw his lot in with UNITA, with some convincing by Chona and Banda.[57] What made this move significant is that South Africa was one of the major backers of UNITA, which was seen as the aligning of Zambian and Apartheid foreign policy.  This turned out to be a major miscalculation by Kaunda, which came at a time when Kaunda and Chona were seen to be spending much time travelling between Pretoria and Lusaka trying to find an agreement on the situation in Angola.  This perceived alignment with South Africa split opinion in Zambia, some saw it as a genuine stance of anti-imperialism and non-intervention against Russian involvement in the region, others saw it as an appeasement to South Africa and its racial government policies.[58] Student riots broke out at UNZA in January 1976, leading to several students and lecturers being arrested.  A mutiny broke out at Lusaka Airport, when pilots refused to bomb MPLA targets in Angola and a full scale gunfight broke out, leading to a state of emergency being declared.[59] In April 1976 Kaunda was forced to retreat on his policy, and once again withdrew his support of UNITA and officially recognized the MPLA as the government of Angola.  His support of UNITA may have had little consequence in the civil war that would engulf Angola, but it pushed the patience of the Zambian people to its limit and showed that Kaunda was susceptible to influences from within his own government yet again.

The assassination of Herbert Chitepo

Southern Africa had changed drastically after the events in April 1974.  ZANU had now moved a major part of its operations out of Zambia and into the independent Mozambique, allowing it to open up a second front on Rhodesia.  South Africa no longer gave its unconditional support to Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, now that it shared a border with an independent Mozambique.  There was an event in 1975 would drastically alter the landscape of Zambia’s increasingly strained support for the Zimbabwean liberation movements.  On the 18th March 1975, Herbert Chitepo, head of ZANU’s War Council, was killed in a car blast outside his home in Lusaka.[60] To understand the significance of this event, it must be seen in context, as it marks the end of Kaunda’s patient negotiating between the Zimbabwean movements and the end of his pacifist tones of the Lusaka Declaration on Southern Africa.  The events in Mozambique and Angola had changed the dynamics of the region considerably, and Smith was brought under increasing pressure to release Nkomo, Sithole and Mugabe – who had been arrested and imprisoned in Salisbury, Rhodesia – and to engage in talks with them.  Kaunda was instrumental in uniting ZANU, ZAPU and a third liberation movement called Frozili under the new African National Council (ANC) under Bishop Abel Muzorewa.[61] The Unity Accord of the OAU was signed in Lusaka on the 3rd December 1974, although this too would have a similar ending to the previous treaties signed between the two parties.[62] ZANU was not in a good position to negotiate, it had suffered with the detention of its leaders, and there was factional fighting between those loyal to Sithole, Mugabe and military commander Josiah Tongogara.[63] A small faction of ZANU soldiers objected to the signing of the unity accord, not only because of the fractured state of the party but because of the prospect of serving alongside ZAPU.  Under the leadership of a young soldier called Thomas Nhari, a group of rebels marched from their Chifombo base in eastern Zambia and other bases in Mozambique to disrupt events in Lusaka, it what was to become the Nhari Rebellion.  The rebels were eventually rounded up by Zambian police and handed over to Chitepo, as the most senior figure of ZANU in Zambia.  What happened next is still shrouded in mystery and debated in Zimbabwe to this day.  The rebels were handed over to Chitepo, on the condition that they received a trial and were not executed.  It is estimated that over 250 ZANU men were killed in the reprisals of the Nhari Rebellion, not only were the rebels in Lusaka killed but the Chifombo base too was raided.[64] It is still debated as to who was responsible for the executions; a recent book by Louis White claims that Chitepo gave the orders for their death, but Fay Chung – an academic and former ZANU guerrilla, claims that Tongagara was responsible.[65] Kaunda was understandably angry that his continued efforts to unite the Zimbabwean liberation movements had ended in the deaths of hundreds of soldiers on Zambian soil, and relations with ZANU rapidly deteriorated.  Zambian officials became even more open in their hostility towards ZANU officials, with Foreign Minister Vernon Mwaanga in particular calling for Chitepo’s arrest and trial.[66] Chitepo is said to have feared for his life in his last few days.

On the morning of the 18th March 1975, when the bomb blast killed Chitepo and two of his bodyguards, there were many people who could have benefited from his death, in what has been called the JFK mystery of Zimbabwe.  The Rhodesians no doubt would have benefited from the removal of this high level ZANU figure, and after the war claimed that they were responsible for placing a landmine under his vehicle.[67] ZAPU would have benefited from his removal, as they would have been left as the sole Zimbabwean liberation movement in Zambia, as by then ZANU were already moving operations into Mozambique.  ZANU was split into several factions, and even Chitepo’s wife maintains that it was an internal assassination by ZANU.

But what concerns us here is the alleged role of the Zambian government.  Zambian police rounded up over 70 ZANU members in the days immediately after the assassination, and barred all Zimbabwean liberation movements from Zambia with the exception of the ANC.[68] Many ZANU members fled back over the border into Rhodesia, which is said to have aroused suspicion in Kaunda, and Mugabe immediately launched a verbal offensive at Kaunda for the detention of so many ZANU men.[69] In response to criticism of his handling of the assassination, Kaunda announced the opening of a Commission of Inquiry into Chitepo’s death; at the opening he complained that ‘Zambia had spent millions of Kwacha and lost more lives and property to assist the Zimbabweans in their liberation struggle than that [had been] lost in the armed struggle to free Mozambique and Angola’.[70] The commission was filled with Zambian officials and its impartiality questioned.  A document published by the owner of the Times of Zambia, Tiny Rowland, on the day of the conclusion of the Commission claims to show that Kaunda and South African Prime Minister John Vorster had planned Chitepo’s assassination, due to his continued opposition to unity and to amalgamation into the ANC.[71] Although the nature of this document is of questionable quality, it raises questions over Kaunda’s role in the whole Chitepo incident, as his frustration and growing animosity towards ZANU was no secret.  The Commission published its findings a year later, in an unsurprising result it blamed virtually every member of ZANU’s High Command and dismissed at Rhodesian or South African involvement.[72] After expelling all ZANU men from Zambia, Kaunda threw his weight behind ZAPU.  In a noted departure from the relative pacifism of the Lusaka Declaration, Kaunda became more warmongering in his speech, declaring that ‘only war can free Zimbabwe’.[73]

This period marked a change in Zambia’s policy towards liberation movements.  By now the Angolan and Mozambican movements were virtually out of the picture, and only ZAPU and SWAPO were operating out of Lusaka by the end of 1976.  His chasing out of Zambia all ZANU members had sent many of them to their deaths when crossing back into Rhodesia.[74] But Kaunda was forced to appeal fellow Commonwealth countries at the 1975 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting for assistance, especially with the refugee crisis that had was unfolding in Zambia.  By December 1975 it is estimated that 35,000 Angolan refugees were present in western Zambia to escape the civil war in Angola, as well as a further 5,000 Namibians.[75] The talks in Kingston ended with the Commonwealth pledging its support for Zambia, especially in its struggle to adhere to the sanctions in place against Rhodesia.[76]

Escalation

The coming years would be marked by a large-scale escalation in conflict on Zambia soil.  Rhodesia was now experiencing a war on two fronts, with guerrilla infiltration coming from both Zambia and Mozambique.  With the expulsion of ZANU from Zambia, Kaunda hand handed their bases over to Nkomo and ZAPU, increasing their capability to train soldiers on a larger scale, and was a departure from his constant policy of denying their presence in Zambia.[77] This led to a subsequent increase in Rhodesian attacks on targets in Zambia.  There was a clear distinction in the Zambian targets chosen by Rhodesian forces; with bases and camps forming one type of target, and the other being strategic targets like railways, bridges and roads which they hoped would force Zambia to resume – or increase as some suspected – trading with and through Rhodesia.[78] Furthermore, a rebellion at a SWAPO camp in western Zambia had led to dozens of arrests both at the Mboroma camp and in Lusaka.  Estimates at the time say there were over 1,000 soldiers at the camp, which had been attracting attacks by South African forces.[79] Curfews and blackouts were rolled out in major cities as incursions into Zambia for Rhodesian forces penetrated deeper.  Zambian forces on the border were in frequent gun battles with Rhodesian forces, but successes were limited despite Kaunda’s assertions that Zambia would not tolerate external aggression and would ‘continue to render every support for … the liberation movements of southern Africa’.[80] In one horrific attack, three Zambian soldiers and three civilians were killed when napalm was used in a border gunfight.[81]

After several high profile attacks on ZAPU bases in Zambia, the sheer size and scale of the training camp network now in existence in Zambia was coming apparent.  In 1978 the Rhodesians launched Operation Gatling, a coordinated attack on the largest bases in Zambia, such as Freedom Camp just north of Lusaka and Mkushi Camp an hour north-east of Lusaka.[82] Over 400 people are believed to have been killed in the combined attacks which saw Rhodesian forces brought in by helicopter and razing both camps to the ground.[83] Zambia complained that both camps consisted of refugees, but photographic evidence shows a large military presence and arms dumps at both camps.[84] Nkomo had been having some success in shooting down Rhodesian aircraft in the border regions, and some Zambians were beginning to question why Kaunda did not offer the same form of defence against these attacks.[85] Kaunda reiterated that any form of retaliation to these attacks would be ‘suicide’ and bring chaos to Zambia, but that point appears to have already been reached by then.[86]

Kaunda was in frequent contact with the British government, and was also rumoured to be in talks with Smith over a solution to the escalation in violence.[87] Despite Kaunda’s constant public declarations that the situation in Zambia was under control, his secret meeting with British Prime Minister James Callaghan in Nigeria in September 1978 tells a different story.  After stressing the need for the meeting to be kept secret due to the sensitive nature of his visit, he stressed his worry of the strength that Nkomo’s army had reached in Zambia, and that they looked ready to launch a full scale invasion of Rhodesia in the coming months.  Kaunda said that he was under increasing pressure from within his own government to accept generous assistance from Cuba and the Soviet Union, but it was only the continued help from fellow Commonwealth countries that had allowed him to refrain from ‘turning east’ thus far.  Britain offered military assistance such as a defence system for Lusaka and a small number of RAF Phantom jets, but Kaunda stressed that this would be a ‘moral issue’ he would have to consider.[88] The meeting concluded with Britain agreeing to purchase Zambian copper to assist the Zambian economy and to send out military advisors to assess Zambia’s defence, but the most significant point from the meeting was the agreement on the necessity of bringing Nkomo and Smith to the negotiating table.[89]

The beginning of the end

1979 began the way that 1978 had ended; with further attacks on ZAPU camps around Zambia and continual bombing of Lusaka, Livingstone and other cities.[90] Some questioned Lusaka’s ability to host the Commonwealth Head of Governments meeting in August, due to the increase in violence it was experiencing.[91] This was none more prevalent than on the 13th April 1979, when the Rhodesians made their most daring raid yet.  ‘Operation Bastille’ consisted of several dozen Rhodesian soldiers driving up to Lusaka on the main road and launching coordinated attacks on a ZAPU armoury west of the city, the Liberation Centre and Joshua Nkomo’s house.[92] Nkomo had managed to escape the attack by climbing out the window of his toilet, no mean feat considering the size of the man.  But his house was destroyed and the Liberation Centre sacked, as well as several Zambian guards killed.  The Rhodesians managed to escape, and a curfew on Lusaka was swiftly enforced.  There is no greater example of the vulnerability of Zambia and its inability to defend itself than this event, as foreign forces drove into the capital and launched an attack only a short distance down the road from State House.  But Commonwealth Secretary General Sonny Ramphal insisted that the Commonwealth meeting proceed, saying that it was probably the most important meeting of the organization yet.[93]

The 1979 Head of Government Meeting in August was Kaunda’s crowning moment.  It was a tense and delicate meeting, not helped by the arrival of the new Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who had already expressed her desire for the current Muzorewa government in Zimbabwe–Rhodesia, a situation that Kaunda was not happy with.  Kaunda was instrumental in bringing all parties to the table, with Mugabe and Nkomo proved difficult men to please.  Kaunda’s record showed that he was more comfortable on the big scene at Commonwealth conferences than negotiating settlements between liberation movements, and together with his new found allies in Ramphal and British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Lord Carrington, all making sure the conference ran smoothly.  Veteran Commonwealth journalist Derek Ingram covered the meeting, noting how Kaunda was ‘instrumental’ in getting Mugabe, Nkomo and Smith to agree to further talks at Lancaster House, which would eventually lead to full independence for Zimbabwe.  Kaunda was also responsible for chairing an emergency meeting in his study between Thatcher, Ramphal and Australia’s Malcolm Fraser, after Fraser had leaked news of the agreement to the Australian press, jeopardizing the agreement.[94] The talks would end with the Lusaka Declaration of 7th August 1979 on Racism and Racial Prejudice, and with Kaunda gracefully dancing with Thatcher at a ball held after the meeting, two significant and poignant moments signaling the victory of Kaunda’s policy and principles, and the repairing of British and Zambian relations fourteen years after UDI.

Attacks on Zambia continued after the Commonwealth meeting, and even after the Lancaster House meeting, as Rhodesians tried to stop ZAPU soldiers from returning back to Zimbabwe to vote in the first elections.  Estimates put the number of ZAPU fighters present in Zambia at the time of the conference at 18,000 – 25,000, lending weight to the idea that a full scale invasion was not far away.[95] The last months of 1979 saw dozens of roads and bridges blown up, costing the Zambian economy a great deal in lost trade.  In a sign of solidarity with their president, 50,000 Zambians took to the streets of Lusaka in November 1979 to show their support for Kaunda, something not many Zambians had felt the desire to do for many years.[96] The Times of Zambia newspaper started a ‘Bridges Fund’, to help the repairing of bridges around the country, of which Germany, America and Sweden all contributed to.

It would take some time for events in Zambia to settle down, and it was not until 1981 that Kaunda could even ‘pretend to be the master of his own house’.[97] Considering the support that Kaunda had given Nkomo and ZAPU over the years, he was understandably disappointed that Mugabe had been voted in ahead of Nkomo, it would in fact be two years before Kaunda paid his first state visit to Zimbabwe.  The 1980s would see Zambia’s policy take on new directions, as the world’s attention turned to South-West Africa and South Africa.  Kaunda would be instrumental in supporting SWAPO and the ANC of South Africa in their fight for independence, as would his role in the Commonwealth.

Conclusion

There can little doubt of the volatile situation that Zambia was born into.  Blessed with natural wealth, Kaunda acknowledged that ‘the Copperbelt is a white supremacy oasis in a black republic’.[98] Zambia was surrounded by hostile states, but they were hostile because Kaunda had made clear very early on his desire to support the liberation movements from within those countries.  Zambia did have other options than the policy it chose; countries like Malawi and Botswana chose accommodation, which is an acknowledgement of their submissive position (with regards to South African in particular) in return for beneficial policies such as trade; another option is dissociation, whereby a country rejects aligning itself with the larger state, but does not confront it head on either; lastly a county can choose confrontation, whereby it commits itself to the liberation of the minority in the larger state.[99] It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where on this level of analysis Zambia would fit, perhaps somewhere in between dissociation and confrontation, depending on which suited it the most at the time.  There can be no doubting Kaunda’s pan-African credentials during this period, he remained committed to the eradication of all forms of colonialism and racism, and his Lusaka Manifesto would serve as a blueprint for the OAU and Non-Aligned Movement.[100] But behind the persona he presented to his people he was aware of the limitations of his own policy of supporting liberation movements, particularly with regards to South Africa with whom his relationship remained ambiguous right into the 1980s.[101] There is still much to be discovered of this period, such as the extent to which trading continued with Rhodesia even when the border closed, and the allegations that Kaunda was complicit with Rhodesia in some of its attacks in Zambia, such was Kaunda’s fear of Nkomo’s presence there.[102] Just ascertaining exact figures of the numbers of camps that existed and the amount of refugees and fighters that attended these camps would shed much needed light onto the topic, and would allow further investigation into Kaunda’s persistent denial of any knowledge of the existence of these camps.

One of the more remarkable features of this period is the legacy that it enjoys in Zambian history.  The National Museum in Lusaka proudly displays newspaper clippings detailing some of the horrendous attacks that took place on Lusaka and propaganda pamphlets dropped by Rhodesians, situated in the same section as the anti-colonial struggle.  When asked, many Zambians have a pragmatic view of this part of their history, acknowledging the devastation that occurred with the view that it was a policy that Kaunda and Zambia had to pursue, for the sake of southern Africa.  Kaunda, too, enjoys a legacy that not many retired African presidents do; he is still an immensely popular figure not only in Zambia but in the Commonwealth.  Despite the questions that this paper has raised over the efficacy of Kaunda’s policy, it must be acknowledged that he was responsible for keeping Zambia relatively peaceful and stable in a time of great conflict, and stepped handed power to his predecessor when democratic elections were (eventually) held in 1992.  Although it is mildly ironic that over after nearly 30 years of independence in Zimbabwe, Zambia is experiencing an influx of refugees from Zimbabwe and Kaunda is calling for unity within the Zimbabwean government.

It has been shown that Kaunda’s record with regards to his policy of supporting liberation movements is somewhat questionable.  Despite being considered as the sole decider of Zambian foreign policy, Kaunda has been shown to under increasing pressure firstly from the OAU to increase assistance given to liberation movements, then from members of his own government to give official recognition to UNITA, when Kaunda had been a long supporter of the MPLA.  The two occasions that he did give support to UNITA turned out to be disastrous, such as the rebuke from the Angolan government over the Benguela Railway and the events at UNZA and Lusaka Airport.  But Kaunda did resist pressure from within to allow the Soviet Union and Cuba to become involved in Zambia, which may have in the end led to an escalation of the conflict in Angola.  He too showed his ability to ‘knuckle down’, such as the negotiations with FRELIMO during Mozambican independence talks.

It has also been shown the extent to which Zambia lost control of the liberation movements.  From first offering them office space in the Liberation Centre in Lusaka, large amounts of fighters and refugees began using Zambia’s border region as forward bases.  Kaunda’s preference of ZAPU over ZANU was clear from the start, which led to an early breakdown in relations between the Kaunda and Sithole and Mugabe.  After the suspicious events surrounding the assassination of Herbert Chitepo, ZANU was expelled and Joshua Nkomo effectively given the keys to Zambia.  Kaunda was aware that ZAPU were being armed and trained by the Soviet Union, but by 1977 they had grown out of Kaunda’s control and had bases all over the country.  Kaunda’s meeting in Nigeria and the intensity of attacks on Lusaka showed that Kaunda had virtually lost control of his country, and were it not for this efforts at the Commonwealth meeting in Lusaka in August 1979 events could have escalated much further.

Kaunda really found himself in the Commonwealth, where he had a captive and sympathetic audience who were ready to offer assistance.  The near breakup of ‘The Club’, as he affectionately called the Commonwealth, over UDI in Rhodesia was followed by a continued growth in relations, which Kaunda used as leverage to gain assistance from the British government.  Kaunda and the Commonwealth shared policies with regards to the ending of minority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa, although they never always agreed on what course of action was to be taken.[103] During the 1970s Zambia policy of supporting liberation movements received much help from Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand, India, Uganda and Nigeria, relationships with remain strong to this day.

As stated before, this is not an exhaustive study.  It is a brief and general look at the complex, important and misunderstood policy of a country and of a man.  By understanding the events that took place during this period, it allows one a greater understanding of the history of Zambia and of the entire region.  Perhaps this has left more questions unanswered than answered, but there is plenty of room in this field of study and further research is certainly needed.  Africa is a continent where the struggle for liberation is not just a matter of history, as many of the liberation movements still form the ruling party today; a greater understanding of the history of these movements helps create a greater understanding of southern Africa today.


[1] Douglas Anglin, ‘Zambia and Southern African Liberation Movements: 1964-1974’, in Timothy Shaw and Kenneth Heard (Eds.) The Politics of Africa: Dependence and Development (New York, Africana Publishing Company, 1979), p. 183.

[2] Ibid, pp. 183-213.

[3] Douglas Anglin, ‘Southern Africa Under Siege: Options for the Frontline States’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 26 (1998), 549-565; Joseph Hanlon, Beggar Your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa (London, James Currey Ltd., 1986); Stephen Chan, Kaunda and Southern Africa: Image and Reality in Foreign Policy (London, British Academic Press, 1992); Martin Meredith, The First Dance of Freedom; Black Africa in the Postwar Era (London, Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1984).  This list is not exhaustive, but covers the major literature that explains Zambia’s role in southern Africa during this period.

[4] Hanlon, Beggar Your Neighbours, p. 244.

[5] Chan, Kaunda and Southern Africa, p. 63, 76.

[6] Vincent Khapoya, ‘Determinants of African Support for African Liberation Movements’, Journal of African Studies 3:4 (Winter 1976/), p. 473.

[7] The National Archives of Zambia is currently digitizing certain sections of its collection, including an interesting collection of photographs from the period, http://www.zambianarchives.org.

[8] Chan, Kaunda on Southern Africa, p. 3.

[9] Meredith, First Dance of Freedom, pp. 126-127.

[10] Andrew Roberts, A History of Zambia (London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1976), p. 224.

[11] Paul Moorcraft, African Nemesis: War and Revolution in Southern Africa (London, Brassey’s, 1990), p. 70.

[12] João Cabrita, Mozambique: The Torturous Road to Democracy (Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, 2000), p. 34.

[13] Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (London, The Free Press, 2005), p. 310.

[14] The military wing of ZANU was known as the Zimbabwean African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), and that of ZAPU was known as the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), but for the case of simplicity their main organizational names will be used in this paper.

[15] The Northern News, 18th June 1964, p. 1.

[16] Guy Arnold, Africa: A Modern History (London, Atlantic Books, 2005), pp. 95-111.

[17] Anglin, Zambia and Southern African Liberation Movements, pp. 190-194.

[18] FA 1/42 (OAU Coordinating Committee on the Liberation of Africa) 90. Letter from A.M. Simbule, High Commissioner for Zambia in Dar es Salaam to the Permanent Secretary, Ministory of Foreign Affairs, 10th May 1965.

[19] Ibid, POL10/1, Draft Resolution on the financial situation of the African Liberation Committee, August 1965.

[20] Khapoya, Determinants of African Support for African Liberation Movements, p. 475.

[21] The Northern News, 26th October 1964, p. 1.

[22] Ibid, 29th may 1965, p. 1.

[23] Tor Stellstrom, Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Volume 1 (Stockholm, Elanders Gotab, 1999), pp. 292-363.

[24] Zambia Information Service, Press Release 1724/67, 27th August 1967.

[25] SG/172/ZAM ‘Notes of a meeting between the Commonwealth Secretary General and President Kaunda of Zambia; Lusaka, 28th January 1973.

[26] The Northern News, 7th May 1965, p. 1.

[27] Times of Zambia, 15th November 1965, p.2.

[28] CAB/128/39, Conclusions of a Meeting of the Cabinet held at 10 Downing Street, SW1, on Monday 29th November 1965, p. 3.

[29] Anglin, Zambia and Southern African Liberation Movements, table 8.2, p. 189.

[30] Republic of Zambia Police Report (henceforth known as ZPR) for the year 1967.

[31] ZPR, 1968.

[32] ZPR, 1972.

[33] CAB/129/54 Defence Forces of countries with interests in the Indian Ocean, 31st December 1970, p. B6.

[34] Times of Zambia, 28th October 1967, comments by Nigel Fisher MP.

[35] Timothy Shaw, ‘The Foreign Policy of Zambia: Ideology and Interests’, The Journal of Modern African Studies 14:1 (1976), pp. 82-84.

[36] Times of Zambia, 6th and 12th of October 1967.

[37] Jan Pettman, Zambia: Security and Conflict (Lewes, Julian Friedman Publishers Ltd., 1974), pp. 168-173.

[38] Ibid, p. 176-177.

[39] Times of Zambia, 24th April 1970, p.1; 11th May 1970, p.1.

[40] FA/1/310 (Rhodesia Political), Summary minutes of meeting held on 3rd November 1969.

[41] Times of Zambia, 26th January 1972, p.1.

[42] Chan, Kaunda and Southern Africa, p. 82; Luise White, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe (Cape Town, Double Storey Books, 2003), p. 50.

[43] Douglas Anglin, Zambia and Southern African Liberation Movements, p. 189.

[44] FA1/1 22 ‘Operations of Angolan Nationalist Parties’, 344/163/01 SEC, 174.

[45] Fred Bridgland, Jonas Savimbi: A Key to Africa (Johannesburg, Macmillan, 1986), pp. 69-70.

[46] Ibid, p. 75.

[47] FA 1/1 22, ‘Letter from Nkoloso to Kaunda’, 7th December 1965, 344/163/D1.

[48] FCO/45/1322 ‘Liberation Movements in Zambia’, letter from J.A. Robson of the British High Commission, Lusaka, to A.B. Moore of the Central and Southern African Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, dated 5th December 1973.

[49] Klass Woldring, ‘Aspects of Zambia’s Foreign Policy in the Context of Southern Africa’ in (Klass Woldring Ed.) Beyond Political Independence: Zambia’s Development Predicament in the 1980s (Berlin, Mouton Publishers, 1984), p. 235.  Although the TANZAM railway would prove to be a lengthy and costly route, not helped by frequent sabotage and disrepair.

[50] Bridgland, Jonas Savimbi, p. 95.

[51] FCO/45/1322, letter from J.S.R. Duncan of the British High Commission in Lusaka to P.M. Foster of the CSAD, FCO in London, dated 18th May 1973.

[52] Meredith, The State of Africa, p. 310-311.

[53] Anglin, Zambia and Southern African Liberation Movements, p. 189.

[54] Cabrita, Mozambique: The Torturous Road to Democracy, p. 30.

[55] Ibid, p. 71-72.

[56] Meredith, The State of Africa, pp. 313-314.

[57] Bridgland, Jonas Savimbi, p. 110.

[58] Zambia Daily Mail, 8th January 1976, p.1.

[59] Bridgland, Jonas Savimbi, pp. 187-188.

[60] Times of Zambia, 19th March 1975, p. 1.

[61] Frozili (Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe) was a small movement formed by disaffected members of ZANU and ZAPU.

[62] White, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo, p. 19.

[63] Geoff Hill, The Battle for Zimbabwe: The Final Countdown (Cape Town, Zebra Press, 2003), pp. 65-66.

[64] White, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo, p. 19-27.

[65] Fay Chung, Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle (Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute, 2006).

[66] White, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo, p. 45.

[67] Barbara Cole, The Elite: The Story of the  Rhodesian SAS (Amanzimtoti, Three Knights Publishing, 1984), p. 61; Peter Stiff, See You In November: The Story of an SAS Assassin (Alberton, Galago Publishing, 1999), pp.109-124.

[68] Times of Zambia, 29th March 1975, p.1. ZAPU would subsequently be allowed to stay.

[69] Ibid, p. 3.

[70] Times of Zambia, 1st April 1975, p. 2.

[71] ZANU, The Price of Détente: Kaunda Prepares to Execute More ZANU Freedom Fighters for Smith (London, 1976).

[72] Times of Zambia, 10th April 1976, p. 1.

[73] Times of Zambia, 28th April 1976, p. 1.

[74] Moorcraft, African Nemesis, p. 130.

[75] FCO/45/1759 ‘Political relations between Zambia and other southern African countries’, Letter from M.J. McLoughlin (British High Commission, Zambia) to P.M.H. Young Esq.  (CSAD, FCO) dated 4th December 1975.

[76] Times of Zambia, 6th May 1975, p. 1.

[77] Moorcraft, African Nemesis, p. 130.

[78] Howard Simson, Zambia: A Country Study (Stockholm, The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1985), p. 18.

[79] Peter Katjavivi, A History of Resistance in Namibia (Paris, UNESCO, 1988), p. 107.

[80] Times of Zambia, 3rd September 1977, p. 1.

[81] Times of Zambia, 12th September 1977, p. 1.

[82] Cole, The Elite, p. 225.

[83] Times of Zambia, 23rd October 1978, p. 1.

[84] Stiff, See You In November, pp. 208-216.

[85] Times of Zambia, 20th October 1978, p. 2.

[86] Times of Zambia, 24th October 1978, p. 1.

[87] Colin Legum, The Battlefronts of Southern Africa (New York, Africana Publishing Company, 1988), p. 46.

[88] He would later decline their offer, not feeling comfortable with a British military presence in Zambia.

[89] CAB/128/64/13 ‘Conclusions of a Meeting of the Cabinet held at 10 Downing Street on Thursday 28th September 1978’, Zambia, p. 6.

[90] Times of Zambia, 1st March 1979, p. 1.

[91] Times of Zambia, 14th June 1979, p. 1, these claims were made by the British press, in particular the Telegraph.

[92] Cole, The Elite, pp. 277.

[93] Times of Zambia, 1st June 1979, p. 3.

[94] Interview with Derek Ingram in London, 18th December 2009.

[95] Cole, The Elite, p. 395.

[96] Times of Zambia, 21st November 1979, p. 1.

[97] Moorcraft, African Nemesis, p. 165.

[98] Colin Legum (Ed.), The Speeches of Kenneth Kaunda (London, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., 1966), p. viii.

[99] Anglin, Southern Africa Under Siege, pp. 555-556.

[100] Although it would later be altered by then, removing the non-violent aspect of the manifesto.

[101] Jotham Momba, ‘Change and Continuity in Zambia’s Southern African Policy: From Kaunda to Chiluba’, in African Insight 31:2 (Africa Institute of South Africa, 2001).

[102] Legum, The Battlefronts of Southern Africa, p. 27.

[103] Chan, Kaunda and Southern Africa, p. 94.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

South Africa’s bad week

With the Soccer World Cup only weeks away, the world’s press has been fixed on South Africa for some time now.  They certainly got their fix of news in the past seven days.

Last Saturday night I was just on my way to bed when I received news about the death of Eugène Terre’Blanche.  I knew straight away that this would be big news, especially with Julius Malema and his ‘kill the boer’ song causing problems at the same time. 

Don’t get me wrong, I despise Terre’Blanche and the AWB, and everything they stand for. I think it is sickening to see children walking around with AWB banners, too young to know what it means but old enough to be brainwashed by their parents.  But the timing couldn’t have been worse with other events that are transpiring.

The South African media have not covered themselves in glory in the past week.  In a country with a young democracy and sometimes fragile racial tensions, I believe they have a responsibility to treat certain stories with a degree of sensitivity, as they are aware of the ramifications of their actions.  But they treated Terre’Blanche’s death with the same sensationalism that they would any other story, with talks about ‘race wars’ and making links between Malema and Terre’Blanche that would only worsen the situation. 

An example of this was the allegation over a condom that was found at the scene.  Reading the entire story, it was clear that this was a rumour but they decided to run it as a main headline anyway.  A few hours later the police denied the existence of any condom, but the seed of doubt was already planted.

The British media, as usual, has made a complete meal of this too.  They showed loop after loop of an old video of Terre’Blanche mounting his black horse, whilst they too talked of ‘race war’ and questioned South Africa’s ability to host the world cup.  The Star newspaper even ran a story about ‘machete wielding gangs’ running amok in the streets of South Africa.  I’m sure they’ll even use the Terre’Blanche story as an excuse when their team exits the competition early.

In reality, Terre’Blanche and his AWB represents a minority of white South Africans and a minority of Afrikaners.  South Africa is still a fragile democracy, it’s hard to believe that 20 years ago it was will under Apartheid.  Events like this show how fragile that democracy is, and how every South African has a responsibility to protect it.  That includes the media, Jacob Zuma, the ANC and the DA.  Perhaps even a few representative voices of the white community could have spoken up during this time, but their silence was deafening. 

As Terre’Blanche’s body is laid to rest, what he stood for will still linger for much longer.  After a week in the spotlight, South Africa still has many questions to answer about itself.

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

The interesting stranger

As posted below, I recently returned from a quick trip to South Africa.  When I got onto my connecting flight at Doha, I noticed that someone was sitting in my window seat, but I didn’t mind the aisle seat anyway.  The fact that he was a scary looking man in South African army uniform had nothing at all to do with my decision, none at all.

We didn’t speak apart from the customary hello at the beginning, as I got out my book and he fell asleep.  But once we were about an hour from Johannesburg we got chatting.  I didn’t want to press him too much into the reasons for travelling, but I was dying to know where he was coming from and where he was going, as is my fascination with all things military.

He was a sergeant in the South African Army, in the intelligence department, and was currently serving with the United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan.  He was on his way to Durban for the funeral of his grandmother, so it wasn’t a pleasant trip but he appeared glad to be away from it.  I asked him how things were in Darfur, and his short answer seemed to tell more than a long one would.  “It’s bad.  It’s very bad”.  He told me of the frustration he and his troop’s experience out there, as they are unable to intervene in the daily attacks by rebels on civilians.  From the first day they were stationed there, every morning more and more refugees appear at the gate asking for protection.

I inquired how long he (I was told his name but for obvious reasons won’t disclose it) had been in the army.  His answer surprised me.  Born and bred in Durban, he became involved in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK, the military wing of the ANC) from a young age and rose through the ranks.  By the age of 19 he was wanted by the South African Defence Forces (SADF), and when they killed his brother – thinking it was him – he was forced to flee the country.  He joined up with several other wanted men and was sent to Lesotho and then Tanzania.

He spent several years in one of the dozens of training camps in Tanzania, living on rations of beans and rice for months at a time.  He said that they ate meat about twice a year, a luxury that he never takes for granted even now.  It was here that he became involved in intelligence, and even served with Jacob Zuma and several other prominent ANC figures.  He was eventually sent back to South Africa, but had to operate under a disguise for 3 years, during which time he was unable to visit his family who by then had presumed he was dead.

He didn’t divulge into what he got up to when he was back, but spoke of the difficulty of the integration by both MK and SADF into the South African National Defence Force, and how close it came to civil war.  He told me that sometimes he and his troops are inspected by generals who he served with, and there is an uncomfortable recognition between the two because they both know of “very bad things” that they got up to before 1994.  He spoke of a system of favours that exist in the army still, between higher up generals and those below them who threaten to divulge what that person got up to in the 1980s.

He was not a young man, but had served in almost every sub-Saharan country, most recently Sudan and the Congo.  He still had another 3 months on his tour, but said it had already been extended several times to facilitate a smooth handover to the new forces.  He told me how much he was looking forward to seeing his wife and three sons, all of which were either in good high schools or studying at university. 

No sooner had we started talking he disembarked in Johannesburg to fly to Durban, and I continued on to Cape Town.  His story astounded me.  I felt I could write a book on his life, but there were so many other like him with their stories untold.  He joked that one day he would write a book on his life, and I joked that I would love to be the one help him tell it.  But I wasn’t joking, and I hope he wasn’t.

Recent books like “32 Batallion” and “The Days of the Generals” have begun to tell the stories of some of the covert wars that were taking place across southern Africa, but there is a market for some of the individual stories too.  His story is one of thousands yet to be told, and they deserve their moment to tell it.  I hope one day they do, and South Africans can hear another angle of their fight for freedom and democracy.

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

A quick but insightful trip to South Africa

I have recently returned from South Africa, where I popped over for a quick 10 days to attend a family wedding.  It is nearly a year since I was last in South Africa, apart from a few hours in Johannesburg on my way back from Zambia.  Being away for that long, whilst still keeping up to date with the news from South Africa allows for an interesting perspective on a quick visit.

My arrival in Cape Town International Airport was an eye opener.  Since I last flew out of there in April 2009, the entire international wing has been rebuilt and is impressive and spotless.  The domestic wing is still under construction, but judging by the rate they build at it shouldn’t be long before it is up and running.  I immediately made my way north up to Yzerfontein via the R27, with even more construction taking place here, this time a bus route in the middle of the two lanes.  Just in the few days I was there I noticed progress in the building, unlike in the UK where roadworks and construction take forever, as there never seems to be anybody working on them.

On my way over I must have passed Jacob Zuma in the sky, as he was on his way to England for an official visit by invitation of the queen.  The reaction of the British press to his arrival was disgusting, including one particularly distasteful article by the Observer.  They found it necessary to dig up every issue that Zuma has faced in his past, including rape and corrupction charges that he was proven not guilty of, rather than focussing on far more important issues facing the British South Africa relationship.  The reaction of the South African press was interesting, they are never shy to shower criticism on Zuma but in this case they leaped to his defence which was quite refreshing and patriotic.  They all agreed that what had been the most obvious and disturbing feature of the British press to South Africa and its president was their complete and utter ignorance on display.

On an internal flight up to Johannesburg, I read the latest copy of the Financial Mail and some very upbeat reports on the South African economy.  This was on display when I drove out to my old neighbourhood of Weltevreden Park.  The entire area has exploded with building along the Hendrich Potgieter road out to Krugersdorp.  What used to me veld and farmland when I first moved there is now a cluster of townhouse complexes, shopping centres, car dealerships and petrol stations.  What I was particularly impressed with was Silversands Casino, an enormous casino that wouldn’t look out of place on the Wild Coast or V&A Waterfront.  Inside was a collection of restaurants, shops and a hotel built around a dam that has an elaborate musical fountain display every 30 minutes.  All this made an interesting contrast to the doom and gloom of the recession in the UK and Europe.  There didn’t appear to be any signs of a recession from where I was sitting that night.

But it is not all good news.  On a drive back from the Magaliesberg I was taken through a new township that had sprung out of nowhere on the outskirts of Honeydew.  My driver used some colourful language to describe the problems that this had brought the area, but judging by the atrocious conditions that these people were living in this is hardly surprising.  It took us nearly 10 minutes to drive from one side to the next, and what struck me most was what appeared to be the lack of South Africans I saw.  It was clear that this new township consisted mostly of immigrants from all over Africa, from the other side of the Limpopo to West Africa.  As we were driving, we came across some more construction, this time an elaborate footbridge over the road we were on, connecting one side of the township to the other.  I found this a perplexing idea; most of the houses here were built of tin and held down by rocks on the roof, and there was no sign of toilet facilities to cope with these huge numbers of people.  But here was a government funded project to build a footbridge! Surely that money and effort could have been put to better use by building toilet blocks, a school or daycare centre, or even a police station.  Perhaps this is illustrative of South Africa’s attitude towards the large amounts of immigrants now in the country; it is not that they are failing to deal with them, but they are severely misguided!

Sitting at Cape Town Airport waiting for my return flight was an awful feeling.  It is never nice saying goodbye to Africa, knowing that it would be at least another 10 months before I was back again.  Instead of getting used to my frequent departures, it seems to get harder every time.  I get a feeling in my gut, like something reaching in and grabbing me, urging me to stay.  I know that I will be returning for good soon, perhaps in about two years, but it is still difficult.  If absence does makes the heart grow fonder, then I am a perfect example of that.

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  

The Congo needs an earthquake

This may sound like an absurd statement to make, but I have my reasons.  An article and video was recently brought to my attention on Twitter by New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof, who has the same idea.

The earthquake that devastated Haiti last month is one of the worst natural disasters I have ever seen, the only hope came from the miracle survivors pulled out of wrecked buildings up to two weeks later.  The international response has been generous, with many countries pledging money, supplies, rescue workers and more.  The scramble to help caused mayhem at the main Haitian airport, with some humanitarian flights having to be turned away.  The death toll as I write this has passed 150,000, with the threat of disease yet to set in.

This death toll is minute comparable to that the war in the Congo.  Since 1998, an estimated 5.4 million people have died as a result of the conflict.  With sporadic fighting continuing, there is no reason to think that the death coll could pass 6 million in the coming years, which would equal the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.  Most of these deaths are from disease and malnutrition, both of which are not unsolvable problems. The most horrifying aspect of the conflict in the Congo is the brutality; gang rape, maiming, child soldiers; the stuff of nightmares.

I hear so many people talk about the Rwandan genocide and how they can never let it happen again, and that the world should have been quicker to react but the concept of humanitarian intervention was unpopular in 1994.  With many of the Hutu militia taking part in this conflict, it is hard to differentiate between the two.

So why do countries rush to help people being harmed by nature, but ignore it when people are harming other people?  There are many obvious reasons; it is easier to send doctors, nurses, recovery teams, aid packages, than to become involved in a brutal civil war.  But this does not make it any more acceptable.

I believe that to a large extent it is the media narrative which is responsible for this.  News teams flocked to Haiti to cover the aftermath of the earthquake, often making stories far more dramatic than necessary and becoming more of a nuisance than anything else.  The Congo is an old story, most people will probably remember it as “that place that had the Ebola virus”.  It is not suitable for hoards of western journalists to fly into Kinshasa, or Goma and cover the dire humanitarian situation, it’s just not “newsworthy”, there’s nothing “new” about it.

Geography also plays a large part; Haiti is a very poor country but it is within a reasonable distance of the US where most of the aid came from.  Although the main port was damaged, it didn’t stop neighbouring countries from sending over boats with aid.  The Congo is, if you excuse the cliché, the Heart of Darkness – a giant land mass in the middle of Africa that is largely inaccessible, dangerous and complicated.

I do not mean to offend the people of Haiti, or to cast doubt on their terrible situation, I wish them all the best.  Rather, I wish to draw attention to the continued crisis in the Congo, one which has been ignored for too long.  There is no quick fix solution for the Congo, but should the media cast more attention on the conflict, there is a greater likelihood that some form of help can be offered.  With 5.4 million people dead since 1998, I wonder what my children will think of this generation, the same way I wonder how my parent’s generation could let the Holocaust happen.

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 9:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Cabinda is not representative of Africa!

The attack on the Togo football team was a dreadful event, the scenes of the shocked footballers consoling each other were especially moving.  The reaction to the event, at least in Britain, has been infuriating.  It has shown the ignorance of people in general to Africa, not that it should come as a surprise.

The BBC has given coverage to this, something they would not have done had a Manchester City player been one of the players on the bus.  Cabinda is a volatile area, and has been since Angolan independence in 1975 with the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) fighting there despite a ceasefire in 2006.  But rather than interviewing an expert on sub-Saharan conflicts, or even a South African Soccer World Cup representative, instead the Manchester City manager became an expert on all things African.  He said that this attack raised questions of South Africa’s ability to host the world cup this year.

I find these comments quite inflammatory, for some unknown reason the British media needs to find a reason to cast more doubt on South Africa and the world cup.  Things have been going far too smoothly lately to let his opportunity to pass unnoticed.

A greater understanding of events could have been easily achieved by simply looking at a map of Africa.  Firstly, the distance between Togo and Angola is incredibly long and doing so by coach is madness.  Perhaps the Togo team could not afford the flights, but considering the wealth of their Manchester City player he could have paid for a private jet to fly them there.  Cabinda is a dangerous area to travel through; I could have told them that.  Angolan authorities are astounded by the Togo decision to drive there, and insist that they would have given them an escourt had they known.

Secondly, a map would show the distance from Cabinda to Johannesburg is not dissimilar to the distance from England to Turkey.  Nobody would ever say that events this far away from England will have an effect on London’s Olympics, so why on earth an isolated shooting in tropical Africa should have an effect on South Africa is beyond me.

Perhaps I look into these things too deeply, but I cannot help but get annoyed.  The 2010 Soccer World Cup is by many means ‘Africa’s cup’, but this does not mean that Africa should be regarded as one monolothic unit.  Hopefully the world cup will be used as an opportunity to educate people who hold these out of date views on Africa.

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Africa’s top news story of the year

Virtually every newspaper, magazine and news channel is running their annual “top stories”, most of which cover Obama’s first year in power, the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the global recession and the run up to the ill-fated Copenhagen Climate Change talks.

This got me wondering what would Africa’s top news story be?  When I say ‘top’, I mean the story that has been in the headlines more than any other story on Africa.  Most western news agencies must have some sort of quota on Africa stories, like for every good story they publish they must cover at least a hundred stories of war, disease and famine.  Our continent may face its fair share of problems, but overall it hasn’t been a bad year.

Much attention was paid to Zimbabwe this year, to see if the government of national unity which signed the Global Political Agreement in 2008 would sink or swim.  They seem to have ended 2009 as they started it; making little headway on disputed issues and with the ZANU-PF thugs fighting amongst each other.  The good news has been the stabilising of the economy, thanks to Tendai Biti the shops are full, inflation is under control and things look better for 2010.

2009 was a year of elections for some southern Africa countries such as Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.  There were some concerns over a coupe of the elections, but by and large they were free, fair and had little violence.  Of the greatest consequence was the election of Jacob Zuma, who has defied the pessimists and had a very successful 2009.

Equatorial Guinea was in the headlines in the UK as Simon Mann was pardoned for his role in an attempted coup.  Not much has been heard from him since his return, but I don’t think that Mark Thatcher was on his Christmas card list.  There were also question marks over the role Britain played in this, considering the oil wealth that Equatorial Guinea possesses.

In West Africa, all eyes are on Guinea as violence and assassination attempts took place.  Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is considered responsible for the killing of 150 pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital of Conakry in September, signalling that 2010 could be a rough year for the country.

The border of eastern Congo, Rwanda and Uganda is normally filled with violence, refugees and never-ending warfare.  But it was quieter than usual from that side, although things are far from perfect.  The refugee camp in Goma is overflowing, but the United Nations seem to have things under control than they normally manage.  Late in the year Rwanda was admitted into the Commonwealth, which could lead to increased British support to the region.

To return to the question at hand though, what was Africa’s top news story?  For me, it has to be ongoing piracy taking place off the coast of Somalia.  All year, I was amazed to hear continued reports of armed fishermen in small boats hijacking multi-million dollar cargo ships and oil tankers.  Many shipping companies settled these disputes by paying the randsom, thereby encouraging the pirates to continue with their efforts.  International law is still unable to decide how to legally deal with these pirates, and most ships cannot afford the cost of hiring mercenaries to accompany them on their long journeys.  The issue of Somali pirates also raises the issue of Somalia as a failed state, and goes back to the ill-fated humanitarian intervention by the US and UN in the 1990s.  Until the international community stops ignoring the issue of Somalia, the piracy will continue. 

Let us hope that 2010 is a good year for Africa in the news.  Let’s hope that South Africa has a hugely successful Soccer World Cup, and that it leads to an improved perception of the continent as a whole.

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 5:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Zambia research trip – day 20

Tuesday 25th August 2009 – Day 20 (and afterwards)

My last day in Zambia.  I was so excited that on my final day of research, I would get to interview the First Republic President, His Excellency Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, what a way to finish off.  I had initially planned to head to the University in the morning to speak to Prof. Phiri, but I made the decision to leave it.  I really didn’t want to risk being on the opposite side of Lusaka in case I get a phone call telling me to come in immediately.  From my experience, the Office of the First President is a busy one and would not want to mess them around, such as when I didn’t phone Sunday when instructed to.  I was disappointed not to have been able to go there, but in hindsight I doubt they would have agreed to anything at the last-minute.  Despite the e-mails from John Tarrant of the Commonwealth Association of Universities, I had not been expected when I introduced myself and felt that I had to force information out of him.  Anyway, I get the sense that they would prefer answering questions by e-mail.

I popped downstairs for breakfast, during which time I must have checked my phone 20 times.  After that I went back to my room and started packing anything I wouldn’t need over the next couple of days, with CNN in the background and my phone ringtone on loud.  Like the day before, I had my bag packed by the door with my suit ready to go.  By lunchtime I had heard nothing, and only a phone call from Kennedy inquiring where I was to test my nerves.  I decided that if I heard nothing back by 2 o’clock I would phone to check on the situation.  When nothing happened bythen, I picked up the phone and phoned the office of the First President, very worried that I might offend them being a nuisance.  There was no answer to that call of the two afterwards.  I began to give up hope, and regretted not going into UNZA to conduct some interviews there instead.  The more I thought about it there more upset I became, had it not been for the beaurocracy surrounding Kaunda I could have wrapped things up much sooner than the last day. 

But after speaking to my fiance afterwards, I decided that I could not let it get me down, it had been the most incredible trip of my life and I would not let one let down ruin it for me.  When I considered the possible reasons for not being contacted, I wondered if the questions I proposed to ask were too sensitive, even after all these years.  In which case, if Kaunda preferred not to answer these then the interview would have been of less use to me than hoped.  As I carried on packing, I started to think of everything I had accomplished over the past 20 days; the research, the people I met, the rugby (my knees still hurt!), Livingstone and Victoria Falls.  From thinking how long 3 weeks was halfway though, it suddenly seemed like if flew by in an hour.  I suddenly wished I had just arrived again.

I decided to pop outside and see if I could find a curio shop to buy some goodies for friends and family back home, but was told there was nothing nearby and would be better off getting a taxi to a local centre.  I felt guilty not using Kennedy, but it was only around the corner.  Just off Independence Avenue, I found a traditional ‘village’ with all the tourist curios I could ask for.  There I bought some nyami-nyamis, bed covers, pictures and other bits at a really good price, much cheaper than Livingstone.  It was the most beautiful time of the day when we drove back, dusk brought with it a stunning orange-brown tinge to everything as the Lusaka rush hour was in full swing.

That night in the restaurant I had fish and nshima for dinner, it was very tasty and wish I had tried it earlier.  I had a couple of Mosi to wash it down and finished my packing.  I would have to have an early night as Kennedy was picking me up at 6:00 am, and I knew that meant 5:30 am.

The next morning Kennedy was as early as I expected, and I bid farewell to the staff at the Lusaka Hotel.  The roads were dead and the sun was starting to come up as we headed out on the long road to the airport.  Kennedy and I chatted, and I promised that when I returned to Zambia in the near future I would give him a call.  His price was as reasonable as usual, but this time a gave him double as a thank you.  I checked in quickly and made my way around the maze that is Lusaka Airport.  I didn’t have long before I was on the plane to Johannesburg, and even as the plane made its way to the take-off strip, all the stories I had read about dignitaries coming and going from the airport, guerrilla attacks and bombing campaigns came flooding back.  I felt I had arrived knowing so little and was leaving a much wiser man about Zambia.  I had fallen in love with the country and was already looking forward to returning.

Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Soccer fever his South Africa

I don’t profess to be a huge soccer fan, but it was difficult not to get caught up in the excitement of the team draws yesterday.  All over the news channels, Facebook, Twitter and every other medium, everybodty was talking about South Africa 2010.  For now, it seems, the doubters and nay-sayers have shut up after a flawless ceremony watched by the entire world started the countdown to the opening game between South Africa and Mexico.

Apparently the party in Long Street was one to remember, with people arriving more than seven hours before it was due to start.  One can only imagine what it will be like when the matches start in a few months time. 

The only cringeworthy moment for me was when actress Charlize Theron, who participated in the draws, said in the plum American accent ‘it’s good to be home’.  I can understand that she is a figure that is recognized around the world, but surely there are more worthy South Africans who could have participated in that ceremony? 

Nonetheless, it must have been a wonderful occassion which could have done with a bit more coverage than just the team draws, I would have particularly liked to see Jonny Clegg perform ‘Scaterlings of Africa’.  I will be firmly behind Bafana Bafana for next year’s competition, although it would be a wonderful day for Africa if any of the teams from the continent won it.  Let’s hope so.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Zambia research trip – Day 19

Monday 24th August 2009 – Day 19

 

The bus arrived at the inter-city bus station at about 3:00am, just as I woke up.  I couldn’t believe that I had slept most of the way, it felt like I was constantly waking up to adjust my jersey which was doubling up as my pillow.  I sat on the bus expecting everyone to get off, but it seemed it was going somewhere else, and by the time I gathered my gear and got to the front the bus was moving, but they let me off.  Thank goodness the lady next to me woke me up otherwise I have no idea where I would have ended up.  I jumped into the first taxi that was offer to me, and in a few minutes I was up in my room and getting ready for a well earned sleep.

 

I set my alarm to wake up at 9:30, to give me time to prepare for my 10:00 am phone call to Sunday.  But the usual early morning noises woke me up at about 7:30, I was so exhausted but I was starting to get used to the feeling.  I popped down for breakfast and got some airtime, ready to phone at the stroke of 10.  When I phoned, Sunday told me to come to his office for 11am in Kabulonga.  I didn’t expect that, so I quickly jotted down some of the main questions I had for Dr. Kaunda and got into my suit, Kennedy was waiting downstairs to whisk me off.

 

I got there at 11 on the dot, and was led up the path by the guard into a beautifully maintained colonial house complete with a plant filled centre court.  I was led through a meeting room and into Sunday’s office, all immaculately kept with huge leather sofas everywhere.  He was friendly in greeting me and told me that he was waiting on his Chief of Staff, and asked me if I was alright with waiting.  I said fine and took a seat, and was handed the Post to read.  There was much coming and going for the next two hours until at just gone 1pm the Chief of Staff, Mr Mfuma made an appearance.  He was quite an elderly gentleman, with a big smile, booming voice and infectious laugh.  He led me into Sunday’s office and sat me down, and I explained who I was, where I was from and what I was hoping to do.  He jotted down the details in a notepad and said that he was meeting Dr. Kaunda later and would run all this by him.  I showed him my poorly written questions in my journal, I would have made more of an effort if I knew people were going to look at them.  He said I should give my questions to the secretary who would type them up and then presented to Dr. Kaunda, I did this but she decided to go photocopy them instead.  She also suggested that I ask him a couple of questions about the Kenneth Kaunda Foundation and One Africa, I wasn’t too keen on this but out of respect I jotted them down.  After another long wait, she returned with my journal and explained that the Chief of Staff, who had my number, would phone me imminently to let me know.  Quite pleased, I returned to the taxi where Kennedy had spent over 2 hours waiting, and went back to the hotel.  I was left with the impression that the call could come at any minute and I was expected to be there right away, so everything was prepped and left by the door.

 

I had intended to pop into the university to interview either Prof. Phiri or other staff at the history department, but knowing that the phone call could come at any minute, I decided to wait at the hotel so that I could leave straight away.  That phone call would not come today, but the rest of the afternoon gave me the opportunity to catch up on some work.  It was starting to dawn on me that the next day was my last day in Zambia, and had wished I had arranged some of the interview sooner.  But saying that, I had sensed an uneasiness and unwillingness to discuss my topic on a professional level, and clearly the beaurocracy involved with trying to arrange an interview would exceed my stay in Zambia of 3 weeks.

 

I had some spare ribs for supper, and told the waiter that as the next night would be my last, I would have nshima with my supper, the local delicacy.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm  Leave a Comment