Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest.
Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region which comprises modern Zambia was colonised during the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, Zambia became the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, the country was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company. On 24 October 1964, the country became independent of the United Kingdom.
Zambia has one of the lowest populations to land ratio’s in Africa. Only about 10 million people in a country half the size of Europe. The employment opportunities in mining and associated industries have caused Zambia to be one of the most urbanized countries in Africa. About one-fifth of the population lives on the Copperbelt and an estimated 2 million plus people live in Lusaka – the capital. This has resulted in massive tracts of uninhabited land across the country.
Zambia’s diverse cultures bring with them a wide variety of traditional skills. Crafts can be found in great variety if not in abundance and among them is some of the finest basketry in Africa. The economy of most of the crafts people is based on fishing, cattle or the cultivation of crops. Craft work is often done seasonally to supplement the income of many families. It was originally intended for barter and made according to the needs of other villagers. To many, especially the subsistence farmers, craft work is their only means of earning cash.
Organizations such as Zintu Handicrafts in Lusaka, the Nayuma Museum in Mongu, the Tonga Museum in Choma and the Moto Moto Museum in Mbala, aim to stimulate the production of quality craft work both in traditional forms and where craft work is a contemporary expression of art.
Traditional Zambian art consists chiefly of wood carving (most often practiced by men), pottery making (usually practiced by women), and basket weaving (practiced by both genders). Among musical instruments, drums are the most widely used, but there also are stringed bows, flutes, horns and pipes, xylophones, bells, rattles, and the kalimba, or African piano, made of strips of steel attached to a small board and vibrated by the fingers. Music, dancing, and song are used in tribal rituals and celebrations and are connected with good health, prosperity and security, or with the cycle of birth, marriage, and death. Music, as in many other countries, is used for entertainment as well and varies in form among ethnic groups.