Knowledge and Culture in Zambia

Zambia’s school system is divided into three levels. The Primary School is from first to seventh grade, while secondary is divided into Junior Secondary (eighth and ninth grade) and Upper Secondary (tenth to twelfth grade). The school is free for the first seven years. The majority of students do not go further. The country has six universities. 71 percent of the population over the age of 15 can read and write.

According to the World Bank

According to the World Bank, 83.7% of all children in Zambia completed primary school in 2013.

As in most other Southern African countries, radio is the most important medium in Zambia. The state broadcaster Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) is licensed and operates TV and radio channels. In addition, there are a number of private radio channels. Among the largest are Flava FM and Breeze FM.

A number of English-language newspapers are published, including Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and The Post. The online newspaper (and formerly the paper newspaper) Zambian Watchdog has made several corruption disclosures, which has led to the publishers getting murder threats and now running the newspaper from exile.

The oldest signs of visual art are known in Zambia. In 2000, pigments found between 350,000 and 400,000 years old were found in a cave at Twin Rivers outside Lusaka. Researchers assume that the colors were used for body painting and / or cave paintings.

Today, Zambia has an active artist community. The most famous contemporary Zambian artist is Henry Nkole Tayali (1943–1987).

With many different peoples, Zambia has a varied folk music tradition. A recurring feature is songs in “call and response” format, where one song sings a line, while the rest of the songs respond in the next line. Different types of drums and percussion instruments are also common in folk music.

With the spread of radio after independence, the Zambians developed their own popular music, with both traditional and western influences. In the mining towns in the Copperbelt, the music genre Zamrock grew in the 1970s, a guitar-oriented genre heavily inspired by blues, psychedelia and British progrock. Witch, Amanaz and Musi-O-Tunya are among the best known zamrock bands.

Zambia has long traditions for oral handover. It was not until the country was colonized that the country had a written literary tradition. In 1964, a group of academics, journalists and other enthusiasts started the influential New Writing from Zambia magazine, which aimed to build up an English-language Zambian literary tradition.

Among the most famous English-language Zambian writers is Dominic Mulaisho, who has written the novel The Tongue of the Dumb. Other authors write in local languages, such as Alick Musonda, who has published books on bemba.

The Victoria Falls are a waterfall in the Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and  Zimbabwe.

Music in Zambia

The music scene reflects the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Traditional music is associated with religion, work, the life cycle, public life and oral history. Songs are performed unanimously, often in alternation between lead singer and group, and with different harmonization practices among the various folk groups. Instruments are mostly used by men and include rattles, scratching instruments, drum and thumb piano in various forms, xylophone types, pan flute, horns, bow of music, sitter types and single string fiddle.

In the 1940s, i.a. after the influence of western films that were shown in the mining towns, an urban popular music emerged with polyphonic song and guitar accompaniment. This developed and received impetus from other African countries (South African jive and kwela, Congolese rumba). At the same time, traditional forms also lived in urban environments. Since the country became independent (1964), efforts have been made to develop traditional forms. From the 1960s, pop groups, with Alick Nkhata’s Lusaka Radio Band in the lead, have begun using traditional songs and instruments in a new style called Zamrock.

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