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Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe

simonkapwepwe.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, GILBERT, ARIZONA – According to the CIA Factbook, "The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the [British] South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964."

One of the leaders of the Zambian independence movement was Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. The father of Mulenga Kapwepwe (our dear Zambian friend with the Zambian National Arts Council), Simon became the second vice-president of Zambia. He was born in Chinsali on April 12, 1922. At age 12, he became friends with Kenneth Kaunda who was also a Chinsali native. The two later met again at Lubwa Mission where they were trained as teachers. Kapwepwe started teaching primary school in Kitwe but he was already dissatisfied with the colonial government. In 1948, he was a founding member of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress, which was later to be come the Africa National Congress. He became a member of the national executive and was secretary of the Kitwe Branch.

In 1950, Kapwepwe quit teaching to pursue further studies (including Journalism) on a four-year scholarship to India. When he returned to Zambia on January 6, 1955, Kapwepwe found ANC without a leader as both Harry Nkumbula and Kaunda were in prison for having literature deemed subversive by the government. Kapwepwe took over the leadership and quickly acquired a reputation as a firebrand because of his persuasive oratory skills. Among his newly acquired policies were racial equality and passive resistance to colonial power.

I found an audio recording from 1965 by the African Writers Club. Simon Kapwepwe is discussing the challenge of Zambia's position between primarily white-controlled Southern Africa and independent Africa.

"The power which establishes a state is violence; the power which maintains it is violence; the power which eventually overthrows it is violence." — Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia