Lusaka: The Lusaka National Museum
Lusaka: The Lusaka National Museum.
I got moving sometime in the early afternoon. I wanted the sleep, but not at a cost of giving up a day. I wanted some education and history on Zambia so I walked about 200 meters from my guesthouse to the Lusaka National Museum. It turned out that the museum was actually fantastic. Go and spend the 25 Zambian Kwacha ($2.50).
If you are in Lusaka, go to the National Museum. You will need more time than you are expecting. There is a lot to get through here. The museum actually began in 1972 as a political museum dedicated to the Freedom Fighters for Zambian Independence that took place on October 24, 1964. Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president after independence, urged people to donate anything used during the fight for their freedom. In 1996, the museum was moved to its current location as part of a government complex.
However, the museum has grown much beyond politics. It is a fascinating building with a great overview on the history of this land since the first humans migrated here. There is a section of the building that is dedicated to witchcraft and has fascinating displays.
There was much on the slave trade. I spent much of my visit scribbling notes. Europeans were horrible people… Here are some pieces of information from the displays. Some show how horrible Europeans were and some show how terrible they were. These are direct quotations…
-“The Portuguese sailors/traders were the first to ship Africans from Africa to Europe. The first shipload of slaves had come into America in 1503. Starting in 1515, they were brought from the Guinea Coast directly to America.” (Jackdaw No 12)
-“European slave traders believed they were conferring a benefit on Africans by enslaving them and taking them to the Americas. They said they were giving the ‘savages’ a chance to become Christians and escape the primitive life.* Some Africans were even baptised into the Kingdom of Heaven before being chained and transported away from home.”
*(bold emphasis added)
-“Domestic slavery was common among African societies of Central Africa. The slaves were obtained when they failed to settle their debt, were implicated in criminal activities or were prisoners of war. Domestic slavery was relatively more humane as the slave was considered part of the family. The slaves who were skilled were used in various economic activities such as agriculture, hunting, fishing whilst some were used as black smiths, porters, soldiers and many other socio-economic activities.”
-“Most of the traders sent their ships from Liverpool, Bristol or London to the West Coast of Africa. A complete journey of a slave to America was in three Stages: capture in slave raid usually in the interior, secondly the movement to the coast and kept in the slave enclosures, and lastly, the voyage to America. The slaves were packed on ship decks with little or no room in between them. Many died due to the appalling conditions on the ship. These were collected and thrown to the sharks. Slaves who were difficult to control or had developed serious illness were thrown overboard while alive.”
-“The abolishing of slave trade took long because of counter arguments for the continued trade of Africans. William Wilberforce, a pioneer in the campaign of slave trade abolishment, brought the first motion for the abolition of slave trade in 1789. It was only in 1833 that slave trade was officially banned. Some of the reasons advanced by the pro-slavery group were:
1. Majority of slaves were prisoners of war, who would otherwise have been killed.
2. Africans are really insensitive to hard treatment and it was foolish to judge them by European standards.
3. The Bible frequently stresses the inferiority of Negros. God had cursed the children of Ham and to prove it had made them black.
4. The slave-ships were British built and the abolishment of the slave trade would put the British building industry, out of work.”*
*(bold emphasis added)
-“In order to cut on administrative costs in colonies, the BSAC (British South African Company – a company, not a country) adopted the indirect rule as a governing policy. This policy was meant to govern Africans through their own Chiefs to avoid conflicts. The African Chiefs had the Native Councils which looked into the Affairs of the Africans. Chiefs performed several tasks on behalf of the British colony such as collecting tax, labour, judicial roles and enforced passes-Chitupa through Chiefs retainers (Kapasos).
The mechanism for tax was introduced in 1901 basically to support the BSAC financial operations of the territories they occupied and force Africans to seek employment in European owned farms and mines. Several taxes were forced on the Africans such as the hut tax, dog tax and bicycle tax.”
-“When the British took over the control of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia today) from the BSAC, they began making changes that were in line with their governance interests….The Northern Rhodesia Regiment came into existence in 1933 and was separated from the police force.
The colour bar was enforced and became more pronounced in Northern Rhodesia. White settler benches, transportation and entrances were strictly forbidden for Africans to use. Residential areas were also restricted to either Africans or white settlers. No African was allowed to be found away from the reserves without passes. Africans were denied access to shops through doors, rather they were given whatever they bought through pigeon holes.”
Go and see the Lusaka National Museum. There are art displays. There are rocks used for meat scraping, arrow heads and plenty of artifacts found from the early history of man.
And lastly, there is an exhibition about the notorious Mailoni Brothers who lived in their own exile from society for seven years and murdered 12 people though Zambia and Congo. There is no event that triggered the vicious behavior of these serial killers, but many suspect it was a contribution of witchcraft. There is a peculiar display with weapons and spears the men used as murder weapons as well as photos of the men on homemade stretchers after they have been gunned down and images of their mother identifying them in the morgue. It is a very strange and fascinating story that should be made into a movie.
I spent the evening in a dingy bar across the street from my guesthouse in Lusaka. Drunk men seemed to be inescapable and women past-their-prime were trying to get to know me. The drunk men warned me of the past-their-prime women being thieves, feeling proud at likely having saved this poor innocent Caucasian man from the evils of humanity outside of the safety of his own home.
I sure hope nothing bad happens to me on the road, but I am a little exhausted of everyone’s heroics at “saving” this dumb little white boy who just does not know anything about anything and it is probably a wonder he was able to get this far…