From the Horse’s Mouth – Zambia

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It shares its borders with 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 of Zambia is Lusaka.

How are birthdays celebrated in Zambia?

Zambians love partying with friends at home, and some people will go to a nice restaurant to celebrate.

When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

We shake hands and we say ‘’Bwanji,’’ which means ‘’hello/How are you.’’

What languages are spoken in your country?

The official language of Zambia is English. It is used to conduct official business and is the medium of instruction in schools. The main local language, especially in Lusaka, is Nyanja, followed by Bemba, Lozi, Kaonde, Tonga, Lunda and Luvale.

What side of the road do people drive on? What might we need to know about driving in Zambia?

Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Zambia. Foreigners wanting to drive in Zambia need to be in possession of an international driving permit. The only foreign driver’s licenses that are recognised in Zambia are those from other SADC countries.

How important is punctuality?

I personally consider punctuality to be extremely important because it shows discipline. However, time is sometimes a vague concept in Zambia, and Zambians often have a very relaxed attitude towards punctuality. Meetings and social functions often start late.

What types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?

Kalindula is a kind of bass guitar which gives its name to a style of popular music in southern-central Africa. It has its origins in the late 20th century and is very popular in Zambia. It is also quite common in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

You can watch an example of this African genre of music local to Zambia by clicking on this link:


Some popular musicians in Zambia include:


Are there any traditional dances?

Some examples of our many traditional dances:


What traditional festivals are celebrated in your community?

The Nchwala Ceremony is held to celebrate the glorious deeds of the Ngoni tribe. The ceremony starts with the tasting of the first fruit of the year by the chief of the Ngoni tribe. This is followed by lots of singing and dancing. Speeches are given by the members of the community and a grand feast is laid out for the entire community.

Kuomboka – The name of this festival actually means “to get out of the water onto dry ground”. Each year towards the last part of the rainy season as the flood plain of the upper Zambezi valley increases, the Lozi people celebrate a traditional move to higher ground. When the Chief decides that it is time to leave, the signal of drums is given to all the people. They bundle their things into canoes and the entire ethnic group leaves all together. The chief leaves on his flatboat with his family and a crowd of conventionally dressed paddlers. The journey takes around six hours.

What are your seasons like?

There are two main seasons in Zambia. The rainy season lasts from November to April and occurs during summer. While the dry season lasts from May to November and occurs during winter. The country enjoys pleasant subtropical weather for most of the year.

What are Zambia’s major industries?

Mining. Zambia’s economy has grown annually by over 6% in the last few years. This sustained period of growth is due to the mining sector and the demand for copper, which is fueled by the electronics industry. Other minerals are also found in the country, including cobalt, gold, silver and iron ore.

How do people spend their free time?

Some locals enjoy partying while others may choose to busy themselves in church, or church-related activities.

What do people drink?

Mosi, Zambia’s best-known locally brewed beer and Coke products as they are accessible and cheap.

There is also a traditional local drink worth trying called Maheu. It is somewhat gritty and vaguely yoghurt-like but refreshing beverage made from maize meal.

What is a popular local dish?

Nshima is basically a type of thick maize porridge, rolled into balls with your right hand and dipped into a variety of stews known as relishes (ndiwo, umunani). Those who can afford them eat relishes of beef, chicken or fish, but the many who can’t make do with beans, tiny dried fish (kapenta), peanuts, pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa) and other vegetables such as okra (ndelele), cabbage and rape.

Ifisashi is usually a vegetarian greens and peanuts dish and is traditionally served with Nshima.

What do you pay for?

  • $1 (USD – Dollar) = Kw 20.25 (ZMW – Kwacha)
  • A cup of coffee in a restaurant will cost around Kw30.00. – Kw40.00.
  • A can of Coca Cola will cost around Kw12.00.
  • A 2-Course meal for 2 people at a midrange restaurant will cost around Kw500.00.
  • A loaf of bread (500g) will cost around Kw20.00.
  • A litre of milk will cost around Kw24.00.


What is the general security like in Zambia? Is it a safe country?

Zambia is definitely one of the safer countries in Africa. Most of the crimes that occur in Zambia are petty crimes such as bag snatching, scams, and theft. Zambia is also relatively safe for women, however, it is a conservative country so be advised to dress modestly.


To read more exciting blogs, please click on the link below:

Written by Eloise Williams

Edited by Saudika Hendricks

Contributions by Paul Masuwa