The Federation was dissolved in 1963, its only enduring monument the Kariba Dam across the Zambezi, intended by the federalists to bind Northern and southern Rhodesia forever. In January the following year Zambia’s first universal adult suffrage elections were held and though the ANC performed well in a few substantial areas, UNIP won convincingly, Kaunda becoming Prime Minister. Then at midnight on 24th October 1964, Zambia became an independent republic with him as president.
The one-party state was abolished and free elections were held in October 1991. Kaunda and UNIP were defeated eighty per cent to twenty per cent by the newly formed Movement for Multi-party Democracy, a broad coalition of different interest groups.
The Great Rift Valley, which cleaves the earth from the Lower Zambezi River in Southern Zambia to the headwaters of the Nile in Egypt, is now known to be one of the cradles of the human race, and Zambia’s present population lives on lands that have been inhabited by our forebears for uncountable aeons.
Archaeologists have established that in the northern African Rift Valley, the civilizing process got underway at least 3 million years ago, and crude stone implements, similar to some of that age found in Kenya, have also been found beside the Zambezi River.
Early stone age sites have been unearthed in many parts of Zambia, the most significant being at the Kalambo Falls in the North and at Victoria Falls in the south. At the former there is evidence that primitive humans began using fire systematically some 60,000 years ago. At the latter, a complex has been fully exposed showing the development of skills from the most distant past (this ‘dig’ is enclosed at the Field Museum at the Victoria Falls).
The skull of Broken Hill Man, dated to 70,000 years ago, gives an indication of what humans of that period looked like.
It was during the next phase – the middle Stone Age – with its refinement in the manufacture of tools, differentiation between populations, and burial of the dead, that modern man probably emerged in Zambia, at least 25 000 years ago.
We may imagine family groups of small-statured people living near water and sustaining themselves by hunting the abundant game as well as gathering fruits, tubers and honey from their surroundings (some skulls show serious tooth decay caused by honey?) They would often be on the move, following the antelope as they migrated with the seasons. By 15,000 years ago, the Late Stone Age commenced.
People began to live in caves and rock shelters, the walls of which they decorated with paintings. Very few of these have survived Zambia’s seasonally humid climate, and those which have, do not display the sophistication found in the Rock Art found in Zimbabwe or South Africa. But a surviving drawing of an eland at Katolola in the Eastern Province suggests that this art was more than decorative, that it had a ritual or religious meaning: it has been shown in South Africa that this animal was sacred to the Late Stone Age people there.
This spiritual and artistic development occurred alongside another, the invention of the bow and arrow, which revolutionized hunting and also gave humans a mechanical weapon of war, a musical instrument, and a method of starting fire! It has been determined that the people of the Late Stone Age neither tilled the soil nor kept livestock.