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Information on the Country Zambia

Demographical Information On Zambia

Once known as Northern Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe, its neighbor to the south, was called Southern Rhodesia) Zambia was controlled by the South Africa Company from 1891 until its takeover by the United Kingdom in 1923. After many years of struggle with the British, independence was secured in 1964, and the name was officially changed to Zambia.

In the early 20th century, lucrative copper mining opportunities brought an onslaught of European immigration, and the country subsequently became the world's 4th largest producer.

Zambia is famous for the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, the later of which was named by David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer, and the first European to see the falls.

In recent years an impressive (and necessary) collection of national parks has developed in an effort to protect once decimated species of wildlife, including elephants, leopards and lions.

Facts and Figures

  • Official Name: Republic of Zambia
  • Capital City: Lusaka (pop: 1.5 Million)
  • Country Population: 12 million
  • Largest Cities: Lusaka, Ndola, Kabwe, Chingola
  • Languages: English (official), Shona, Sindebele and other tribal dialects
  • National Day: 24 October (Independence Day)
  • Latitude/Longitude: 15º S, 30º E
  • Official Currency: Zambian Kwacha
  • Religions: Christian (65%), Muslim and Hindu (34%), indigenous beliefs (1%)

Land

  • Land Area: 740,720 sq km (285,992 sq miles), or about the size of the U.S. State of Texas.
  • Land Divisions: 9 provinces
  • Highest Point: Mafinga Hills (2,301 meters)
  • Landforms:

Most of the country covers a wide plateau, with some scattered mountains (Muchinga)north and central. Major river systems include the Zambezi and Luangwa, and their numerous tributaries. Victoria Falls is on the southern border with Zimbabwe. Additional landforms include a swamp basin surrounding Lake Bangweulu, savanna grasslands, woodlands and Rhodesian teak forests (southwest).

Climate

Zambia's climate is moderated by the country's altitude and tropical location. It has three distinct seasons. December to April is warm, wet and humid, May through August months are cool and dry with some frost in the mountainous areas. September to November is hot and dry.

Economic and Political Background

The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the South Africa Company from 1891 until takeover by the United Kingdom in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule, but the subsequent vote in 1996 saw blatant harassment of opposition parties.

Information on Lusaka

Lusaka is the capitol of Zambia with a population of 1.5 million people. The city is located in south central Zambia on a plateau at 4200 feet in altitude. Lusaka was founded in 1905 by European settlers. In 1935 it replaced Livingstone as the capital of the British colony, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia today). Zambia has one of the highest urbanization levels in Africa with 50% of its population living in cities, Lusaka and the cities of the Copperbelt being the primary centers for urban growth. Because Zambia is one of the few countries in Africa that has a stable government, it is home to many different international aid organizations (e.g Red Cross, United Nations, Food Relief, etc).

Though the city has received a major facelift in the past few years, it is not the cleanest city in the world. The spectacular and untamed Lunsemfwa River is a 3 hour drive from Lusaka and the drop into the Zambezi Valley is miles away from the edges of Greater Lusaka. And, although Lusaka is not a tourist attraction, it is a gateway into Zambia and its tourist attractions.

AIDS Epidemic in Africa

There is a sense of urgency about our work in Zambia. We now stand on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis in Africa. This is not the result of just one problem, it is the combination of a whole array of problems. AIDS, civil war, drought, starvation, famine, poverty, and new, drug-resisting forms of malaria and other diseases are now now coming together to produce an incredible health crisis in Africa. Millions of people are going to die in the next few years; thus, the sense of urgency.

Although not the sole factor, AIDS does stand as the primary contributor to this problem. Consider the impact that AIDS is having on Africa and Zambia in particular:

  • It is estimated that 1 in every 5 adults in Africa is infected with the HIV virus.
  • In Africa, 8000 people die of AIDS each day.
  • Zambia has 6th worst AIDS epidemic in the world.
  • Only 1% of Zambia’s AIDS patients is receiving any AIDS medication.
  • Estimated that 8 out of every 10 hospital beds in Lusaka are filled with a patient that is dying of the AIDS virus.
  • 120,000 people die of AIDS each year in Zambia.
  • Zambia has lost 3300 school teachers to AIDS.
  • T.B. rates have quadrupled since 1990 due primarily to HIV.
  • As of October 2003, none of the $15 billion promised by President Bush to fight AIDS in Africa as yet been appropriated. Perhaps $15 billion sounds like a lot of money, but actually the USA is the stingiest spender on Foreign Aid – we donate just 1/10 % of our national income.
  • There are 34 million orphans in Africa, 11 million are children whose parents died of AIDS.

Thus, when we talk about evangelism in Africa, there is a sense of urgency. Nevertheless, there is some good news. The Churches of Christ are doing something to respond to this impending crisis. One of the ministries of the Namwianga Mission (which is located in southern Zambia) includes an Orphanage. Lorie and I visited this orphanage in August and were most impressed with the work that is being done there for these children. However, the seriousness of the situation was made clear to us when a AIDS Health team came to the orphanage to test the children for HIV. Two of the children tested positive for HIV.

The Church in Zambia

Approximately 65-70% of Zambia professes to be Christian. However, there is a great level of superficiality and a serious lack of real understanding about the true nature of Christian faith and discipleship. Witchcraft and African traditional religion is still very strong in Zambia and among those who profess to be disciples of Christ.

It is estimated that there are about 45,000 members of the Church of Christ in Zambia with 831 congregations. What is true of Christianity in general is also true of our churches in Zambia. Although Zambia is one of our (Church of Christ) oldest mission works in Africa, the growth of the church has not equaled what has been experienced elsewhere in Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, etc). One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of leadership training -- a problem that our ministry will seek to correct.

Another concern of the work in Zambia has to do with the regional distribution of our churches. Sixty-two percent of our churches are located in the Southern province among the Tonga tribe. It is for this reason that most people in Zambia identify the Church of Christ as a Tonga-tribe religion. This is one of the reasons why it is important that we establish a school in Lusaka, so as to shift the center of the church to more central location and to foster a national identity.

There are three areas of Zambia that are of particular concern because of the population density and their strategic importance to Zambia. One area is Lusaka since it is the capital of the country and Zambia's largest city (political/economic center). The second region is that of the Copperbelt which is an economic region for the country (due to the copper mines). And, the third area of concern is the Northern province because of its high population density and because it has demonstrated a high level of receptivity to the gospel in recent years.

A third concern involves the spiritual immaturity of our churches due to the lack of adequate Biblical training. Bible knowledge is extremely weak and many churches do little more than meet on Sunday mornings. There is very little teaching on matters involving ethics, faith, and ministry. And, many are still practicing the traditional ways (witchcraft). Correcting this problem will be the primary objective of our ministry to Zambia. Our efforts will focus on congregational development and leadership training.

Africans are becoming Christians at the rate of 20,000 per day. This growth only increases the demand for trained leaders who are capable of leading these new believers toward maturity in Christ. We believe that leadership training is the essential component to the continued growth of the church in Africa and Zambia in particular.

A fourth concern for the church in Zambia is the challenge of urban evangelism. Most of our mission work in Africa has been devoted to planting churches in the rural areas of Africa. We have done relatively little to plant churches in the cities of Africa and efforts to do so have not proven very successful. But, this is changing. Africa is moving to the cities and nowhere is this more true than in Zambia where nearly 50% of the population now lives in urban areas. Due to economic reasons, this trend is expected to increase dramatically in Zambia in the future, especially in Lusaka and in the cities of the Copperbelt.

A fifth area of concern has to do with the spread of Islam into southern Africa and into Zambia in particular. Islam is growing twice as fast as Christianity in Africa. Much of this growth is due to the large amounts of money from the oil-rich Arab countries that are being funneled into African missions. Muslims are building primary/secondary schools in Zambia in an effort to convert the next generation of Zambians. Zambia now sits right at the edge of this Islamic advance into southern Africa.

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