Maramba - History - Colonial History

Colonial History

In the 1890s Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company established British Empire rule north of the Zambezi and launched a wave of mineral prospecting and exploration of other natural resources such as timber, ivory and animal skins in the territory it called North-Western Rhodesia. The main crossing point of the Zambezi was above the falls at the Old Drift, by dugout canoe, later an iron boat propelled by eight Lozi paddlers, or a barge towed across with a steel cable. The Batoka Gorge and the deep valley and gorges of the middle Zambezi (now flooded by the Kariba Dam) meant there was no better crossing point between the Falls and Kariba Gorge, 483 km (300 mi) north-east. As the Old Drift crossing became more used, a British colonial settlement sprang up there and around 1897 it became the first municipality in the country and is sometimes referred to as 'Old Livingstone'. Proximity to mosquito breeding areas caused deaths from malaria, so after 1900 the Europeans moved to higher ground known as Constitution Hill or Sandbelt Post Office, and as that area grew into a town it was named Livingstone in honour of the explorer.

In the mid 1890s Rhodesian Railways had reached Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia spurring industrial development there, fuelled by the coal mines at Hwange just 110 km (68 mi) south-east of Mosi-oa-Tunya. The railway was extended to Hwange for the coal, but Rhodes' vision was to keep pushing north to extend the British Empire, and he would have built it to Cairo if he could. In 1904 the railway reached the Falls on the southern side and construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge started. Too impatient to wait for its completion, Rhodes had the line from Livingstone to Kalomo built and operations started some months in advance of the bridge using a single locomotive which was conveyed in pieces by temporary cableway across the gorge next to the bridge building site.

With the new Bridge open in September 1905, Livingstone boomed as British colonial settlers arrived and the British South Africa Company moved the capital of the territory there in 1907. In 1911 the company merged the territory with North-Eastern Rhodesia as Northern Rhodesia.

Livingstone prospered from its position as a gateway to trade between north and south sides of the Zambezi, as well as from farming in the Southern Province and commercial timber production from forests to its north-west. British settlers established local schools for their children, several churches, dining and entertaining businesses, local chambers of commerce, several banks, and large numbers of elegant colonial mansions and houses were erected which still stand. Although the capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935 to be closer to the economic heartland of the Copperbelt, industries based on timber, hides, tobacco, cotton (including textiles) and other agricultural products continued to grow under careful management and sustainable development of their British managers and laborers. Eventually, British capital, British settlers, and their Rhodesian descendents organized, capitalized, and built a hydroelectric plant. It took water from the Eastern Cataract of the Falls, becoming the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa. The town of Victoria Falls in Southern Rhodesia had the tourist trade, but many supplies were bought from Livingstone.

Of all the towns in Northern Rhodesia, colonial Livingstone took on the most civilized British and European character. Like most of Southern Rhodesia's or South Africa's cities at that time, it was one of the most developed urban area of sub-Saharan Africa having all the British-like facilities found anywhere in the world with gentlemen's clubs, pubs, hotels, hunting lodges, chambers of commerce, theatres, and housing estates. Surrounded by large numbers of African tribes and a still highly illiterate black urban population dependent upon British largess, it had a strongly marked segregation which while not being officially enshrined as an apartheid policy, had similar practical effects. The north and western halves of the town and the town centre were reserved for the colonial government and white-owned businesses and associated residential areas, while African townships such as Maramba (named after the small Maramba River flowing nearby) were in the east and south and were inhabited by working servants, craftsman, tradesman, as well as large numbers of non-working black families suffering under welfare dependency. Asians and people of mixed race owned businesses in the middle, on the eastern side of the centre.

As the British government began publicly discussing independence under pressure from the United States of America and Soviet Union, and news of the large scale genocide of white colonials in nearby Belgian Congo was heard, many Northern Rhodesians feared abandonment by the British colonial government. Consequently, many Northern Rhodesians began making moves to migrate south toward Southern Rhodesia or South Africa. When Northern Rhodesia was in fact ordered disbanded by the British government, an all black rule state consisting of the black tribes called Zambia was erected in its place over the Northern Rhodesian settlers, many more Northern Rhodesian whites continued to flee. By 1968, a one party black dictatorship had been established which seized most remaining non-black property, especially those of Rhodesians. Consequently, most of the remaining Northern Rhodesians left after an official policy of nationalisation in Zambia was announced and an outbreak of terror, crime, and violence began against whites.

Read more about this topic:  Maramba, History

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