It’s Independence Day and the power’s out.

Too few sightings todayIt’s Independence Day and the power’s out.

Not a big surprise, really. The load shedding schedule in the newspaper is really just a small fraction of the daily brown outs. Though it does make me wonder on this 45th birthday of Zambia’s, just how do Zambians connect to this holiday that celebrates the birth of their nation?

Talk to the old timers and you can hear about when crowds flocked to Independence Stadium in the tens of thousands for a raucous celebration with Coke and scones freely handed out to everyone. Bursting with pride and excitement were the Independence Days of back then.

But those are the same old timers that’ll tell me that our neighbourhood’s dusty road used to be paved and lined with streetlights with electricity flowing non-stop like Vic Falls after the rainy season.

A young Zambian co-worker, when I asked her what her Independence weekend plans would be, told me they’d be nothing out of the ordinary. “I don’t really connect with this holiday anymore,” she said. “Not many of my generation do.”

That seemed to sum up the situation in Lusaka today: the nation’s capital was celebrating the nation’s birthday with all the bravado of a laundromat’s Grand Opening. Hardly a flag or a banner to be seen in town, though sure, a few more people than normal were sporting Zambia’s green, black, red and orange. Maybe the bravado of a regular season hockey game.

Though I don’t know the flow of Zambian history like a local does. Did celebrating Independence Day quickly change from lively to not-so-much once copper prices tanked in the 80s? Or was it a gradual decline from exuberance to this? I’m still trying to calibrate—maybe I shouldn’t have such a foreign look of shock at the low-key nature of this national holiday. Maybe the Chez Ntemba dance club will be particularly lively tonight, like July 1st on Whyte Ave.

For now, though, power’s off, dinner’s on hold, neighbourhood’s quiet, mosquitoes are out—Independence Day, check.

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1 Response to “It’s Independence Day and the power’s out.”


  1. 1 Haile October 28, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Thats sad to hear as used to live in Livingstone years ago when it was all a big celebration.


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Working to include smallholder farmers in agricultural markets, we know there are no easy answers. This blog is a place to ask "What does it take to make it work?" and to share what we're seeing and learning.
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