The Culture of Zambia
Zambia is a large landlocked country located in Southern Central Africa. With just over 13 million inhabitants – it is quite sparsely populated.
The eight countries with whom we share borders are; The Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. Since most of the national boundaries in this part of the world were drawn up by politicians relatively recently and many of the people are traditionally migratory by custom there is plenty of tribal overlap from country to country. As an example of this, the people of the Luangwa Valley, where our workshop is based in the east of the country, are from the same tribal background and speak the same language as much of the population of Malawi and some of Mozambique.
The population in Zambia comprises over 70 ethnic groups, but there are seven major tribes; Lozi, Bemba, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga , Lunda and the Kaonde. The people of Zambia are renowned to be very friendly and welcoming; visitors to the country are invariably touched by the warmth with which they are greeted.
Zambians are peace-loving by nature. The fact that there are so many different ethnic groups and tribes means that there is no power struggle between larger more dominant groups leading to the type of unrest that has been seen in other African countries over the years. There are some general cultural norms for visitors that it’s good to take note of; Zambians generally dislike criticism of the government or religion, and women should take care not to wear very short skirts or shorts in public. It is expected that respect be shown towards older people, as well as people in authority such as immigration officers, police and village chiefs.
The majority of the population live in the urban centres. Lusaka is the capital city with a population of around 1.5 million. The Copperbelt – the small cluster of mining towns to the north of Lusaka – Ndola, Kitwe and Chingola – is close to the Congolese boarder. Copper mining in this area has dominated the economy for several decades and the mines employ large numbers of Zambians and some overseas expats.
Zambia is a Christian nation with some 80% of the population belonging to a Christian faith. Faith has always been very important and many of the churches will combine modern day religious practices with more traditional animist beliefs. Many of the rural inhabitants of Zambia still retain their traditional customs and values.