Until we write our own history, the narrative of the African record will continue to be viewed as a counter or an alternative to the record written by slave traders (and merchants). The perspective of who we are will continue to be driven by views that are founded on racial disparity and disinformation about the struggle for African mental and material emancipation. This mischievous beginning of facts deliberately imposes slavery as the beginning of Africa.
In this respect, there must be an understanding that there was a real struggle for the liberation of the African continent from all oppression. Liberation involved a real struggle which cost Africa uncountable misery including untold loss of human lives on a large scale. Therefore, the suggestion that colonialism ended because Europe did not have money after the second world war and could not afford the cost of running the colonies is half-hearted and untrue.
Such accounts are many and give the impression that Africa has no real value except that which is given to it. surprisingly, Africa’s resources did not suddenly expire or decrease in value after colonialism. It is these same resources that continued to fuel the world economy centuries later and propelled the industrial revolution. By and large, trade routes were established so that the southern part of the geographic divide provided resources to the northern part of that map. This required a lot of labour which India, Africa and other colonized lands provided aptly.
Here in Zambia, various taxations imposed in the 1920s by the colonial government forced people, mostly men, to seek employment, away from their cultural and traditional homes. Non-payment of tax meant imprisonment and those engaged either in farming or fishing had to abandon homes to avoid conflict with the new administrative order. When the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was introduced in the 1950s, the more radical freedom fighters such as Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula condemned this act without reservation. This followed earlier by the likes of Lewanika Mbikusita, Titus Mukupo, Robinson Nabulyato and Dauti Yamba.
At that time, Africans such as Munukuyumbwa Sipalo and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, visionary radicals in their own right, had come to the realization that the struggle was wider than just Zambia (or Northern Rhodesia at that time). Their exposure enabled them to establish trans-border linkages with like-minded people who fought against oppression. There were others, such as Nalumino Mundia, it is told, who would go on extended hunger strikes in front of the governor’s home and offices to express displeasure with colonial governance.
Indeed, nations such as India, Ethiopia and Egypt that had experienced oppression and liberated themselves became instrumental in supporting liberation movements materially and mentally. China too, and the far east did not shy away from supporting self-rule for Africans. Moneys raised through such support networks enabled freedom fighters to be relocated to Lusaka, which was the administrative hub of the colonial governments.
Such proximity to the administrative or political center provided invaluable insight into how that system operated, its weaknesses and strengths, and other key details that developed strategies for the liberation movements. In 1957 the incoming President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah invited freedom fighters from across the continent to witness the independence of an African country by indigenous people. This single act by Ghana’s president galvanized and inspired those still under the shackles of colonialism.
In time, the relationship between Zambia and Ghana has drawn similar patterns: both nations were the first to introduce multi-party politics in the 1990’s; both entered into the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) around the same time. Zambia continues to draw inspiration from its compatriots and has led the continent in various areas.
It is here, in this unity of purpose, that the future and glory of Africa is. That even if we find it difficult to redraft our history correctly, we have a chance to write our future as foreseen by our freedom fighters such as Mzee Chapa Yotam Munchimbawakubwato Chikamba and other surviving heroes of the liberation movement.