Interesting Facts You Should Know About Zambia

Hello beautiful people. As I was thinking of what to write for Thursday, the idea to share interesting facts about Zambia came to mind. Some things you may know, and some you may not know. I hope this post makes you want to #TravelZambia. Let’s get right into it.

1. Zambia tried to join the space race

In the 1960s, Edward Mukuka Nkoloso, inspired by his first airplane flight, hoped to plant Zambia’s flag on the moon. Nkoloso made up his mind to join the space race when “the pilot refused to stop the plane so that he could get out and walk on the clouds.” This gained media attention although people didn’t know whether to take it seriously or not. Nkoloso put together a group of 12 Zambians and trained them in readiness for space.

Unfortunately, the Zambians never went to space. Nkoloso wasn’t able to raise the funds he needed to make the trip happen. Apart from that, one of the members of the crew, Matha Mwamba, fell pregnant and returned home. Additionally, other members of the team joined a tribal song and dance group and two others went on a drinking spree and were never seen again.

You can read more on this in an article by Namwali Serpell here!

2. Zambia spent one night without a president

On 5th February, 1968, Zambia spent one night without a president. Zambia’s president at the time, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda resigned from office due to frustration after a meeting that resulted in tribal disagreements. According to Kauswe, “Kaunda did not want to be part of a political organisation and government promoting regional and tribal divisions…” After almost 14 hours and a lot of convincing by religious leaders, personal friends and even commanders of the armed forces, Dr Kaunda “rescinded his decision to quit.”

This is one of the most interesting things I have ever heard about Zambia. One wonders why this isn’t taught in schools. I first read about this in a twitter thread by Kauswe. However, you can read more about this in the book “The Night Without a President” by Sikota Wina.

3. Zambia was the first country to change its name and flag between the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics

In the 1964 summer Olympics, Zambia entered the opening ceremony as Northern Rhodesia. On 24th October, 1964, Zambia gained its independence. This date coincided with the closing ceremony of the 1964 Olympics and as such, Zambia left the Olympics with a new flag and its current name, Zambia.

Northern Rhodesia

4. Zambia is home to Africa’s Big Five

The Big Five game animals in Africa are the elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo. Zambia is one of the few countries where all five animals can be found.

The picture below is from a trip I took to Livingstone in 2018. You can find this picture and more in a post all about my trip here!

Love this so much. *Edit* The lion was blinking
*Edit* Someone asked if the lion in the first picture was blind so I had to add another one

5. The world’s largest man-made lake is in Zambia

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake. It is located in Siavonga, Zambia. It is used for fishing and also to supply hydroelectric power to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

There are some interesting legends about the construction of the Kariba Dam. A story is told of the Zambezi river god, Nyami Nyami. Legend has it that the rock on which the dam was to be built, was home to Nyami Nyami. The Ba Tonga (locals) believed that anyone who went close to that rock would be dragged down forever. When the construction of the dam began, the locals had to move but they always believed that Nyami Nyami would fight back and the dam wouldn’t be built. Like clock work, after construction begun and was almost completed, the greatest floods ever known to the area washed part of the dam away, along with some of the machinery.
When the next floods came, the project survived and the river was eventually controlled. However, to this day, the locals believe Nyami Nyami will be back and they will be able to return to their homes.

You can read more on this legend, in detail, here!

The Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project: Fact Sheet
Dam wall on Lake Kariba. Source

6. Zambia has 72 tribes

Believe it or not, Zambia has about 72 tribes. You would think this would cause commotion or confusion but it hasn’t been much of a problem compared to other countries. The main tribes in Zambia are the Lozi, the Bemba, the Kaonde, the Tonga, the Luvale and the Ngoni.

I belong to the Nsenga tribe in the eastern part of Zambia. Petauke, to be specific. As you can imagine, having so many tribes means so many languages. Out of the many languages in Zambia, I can only speak Bemba, Nyanja and Nsenga fluently. There are some that I can’t understand at all.

7. Zambia has 20 National parks and 34 game management areas

Zambia has 20 National Parks and 34 game management areas. Out of the 20 National Parks, I have only been to two. Kafue National Park and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Kafue National Park is the largest National Park in Zambia. I am hoping to visit South Luangwa National Park next. It is one of the marvels of Eastern Province.

There is a legend told about a baobab tree in the Kafue National Park. Legend has it that two young girls were swallowed by the tree while they were on their way to fetch water from the near by river. It is said that if you put your ear on a smooth part of the tree, you can hear the girls sing, “Remember us. Remember us. The wives of Kondakamwale.”

I remember this word for word because when I was told about this legend, while in the Park, I didn’t sleep because I was scared. I was a young girl at the time. The perfect age for the tree. Read more about the legend here!

8. Largest falls and second highest falls in Africa

I can’t talk about Zambia and leave out the Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls are the largest waterfalls in the world. They are also among the seven wonders of the world.

Victoria Falls, the most extraordinary waterfalls in the world
Victoria Falls. Source
Visiting Devils Pool Victoria Falls: What to Expect | Drink Tea & Travel
Devil’s pool atop Victoria Falls. Source

The second highest waterfalls in Africa are the Kalambo Falls. The Kalambo Falls are located in Northern Zambia.

Kalambo Falls - Wikipedia
Kalambo Falls. Source

9. Zambia has no national dress

Zambia has no national dress. This could be due to the large number of ethnic groups in the country. However, different tribes have their own traditional attires. For example, Lozi women have the Musisi and Lozi men wear Siziba.

Musisi. Source: Pinterest
Siziba. Source: Pinterest

Zambian women traditionally wear chitenge which is a piece of cloth with colourful print and patterns. The chitenge cloth is also used to make different clothes with different designs.

Those are some facts about Zambia. Are any of the ones I mentioned new to you? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!
Wonani Xx

Hey guys! Today is Day 18 of the Afrobloggers WinterABC 2021 blogging challenge. The theme for this week is Fashion and Culture. Today, I decided to share some interesting facts about the place I call home. Follow the blog to keep up with all the posts in this challenge.

Find all the WinterABC 2021 related posts here!


22 thoughts on “Interesting Facts You Should Know About Zambia

  1. WOAH! So so so interesting!
    Victoria Falls is on my bucket list – till things return to normal!
    The reason why Nkoloso wanted to join the space race is so hilarious. πŸ˜€
    Wow so much wildlife! Much like India! We have A LOT of national parks – over a 100!
    Can’t wait to visit Zambia – will message you for help with planning an itinerary. πŸ™‚

    Those lion photos are amazing. Not to be a bummer but I am against humans interacting with wildlife especially predators – because in most cases it isn’t ethical and done only to make money, not sure how it works in these national parks. What is your perspective?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so funny πŸ˜‚
      I’ll be looking forward fo that πŸŽ‰

      I totally understand you.
      I just need to clarify that those pictures weren’t in the park. In the National Parks, the animals roam freely and you can’t interact with them at all. That’s their home and so in the park, humans are the intruders.

      However, in places like the one shown in the photo, they keep a few endangered species like the cheetah whose numbers have really decreased in Zambia and those that are “vulnerable” like the African lion. They keep them for breeding purposes and then release them back into the wild. In any case, lions like the ones in the picture will still attack you if they feel the need to.
      Only a few places in Zambia do this and they release the animals back into the wild.

      Of course, keeping these animals only to make money isn’t right at all and I am totally against that.
      I hope this makes sense.


  2. I read about the Zambian Space Race in The Old Drift by Β Namwali Serpell it was quite fascinating…. I went and searched for references on the internet and discovered the BBC interview with the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy…

    With 72 tribes I can imagine at times some things get wild and we struggle with only 16

    Laughing at the comment on the blind lion …. 🀣


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. It was a very interesting interview.

      πŸ˜‚ honestly, 72 is quite hard for me to fathom. Quite unbelievable how we make it work, for the most part at least.

      πŸ˜‚ I had to fix that quickly.


    1. Oh yesss!!! It makes me feel good every single time. Imagine how those who were there must have felt. So good.

      KK did what he did and he did it well. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohh woow is the Lion blind?πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
    You are one of the bravest people I knowπŸ˜†πŸ˜†

    Wow those are really interesting facts. You making my trip to Zambia closer and closer. πŸ’•πŸ’•

    Liked by 2 people

    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I just added another picture because of your question. The lion was blinking 😭
      Thank you!

      Hahaha I can’t wait for you to visit!


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