As celebration fever mounted last week, thousands of plumed warriors with spears and blunderbusses hunted elephants, hippos and buffaloes in the bush to provide a fitting repast for the independence day feasting. Along Northern Rhodesia's Congo border, Bemba tribesmen blasted homemade, muzzle-loading guns into the night. In Lusaka, the capital, representatives from more than 60 nations gathered to watch the lighting of a 6-ft. freedom flame marking the rechristening of Northern Rhodesia as Zambia * and its proclamation as an independent republic within the British Commonwealth. President Kenneth Kaunda tooled around about town in his $11,000 Chrysler Imperial convertible, happily waving to the cheering citizenry. Said he: "At the moment, all is gay-but soon the problems will have to be faced."
Actually, the 30th African country to achieve independence in the past decade is beset by fewer problems than most. Despite sporadic fighting between government troops and the fanatical Lumpa cultists (TiME, Aug. 7), in which 650 people thus far have been shot or chopped to death and 150 villages burned to the ground, Zambia's future looks comparatively bright. One reason is that Zambia contains nearly a fourth of the world's known copper reserves, and her mines are heading for a $400 million production year, providing 68% of the gross domestic product. The chief economic problem is the desperate shortage of skilled African manpower.
With 3,600,000 people scattered over an area larger than Texas, Zambia has barely 1,500 African high school graduates, fewer than 100 university graduates, four doctors, ten lawyers and no engineers. To keep the mines and mills running, Zambia is dependent on skilled white manpower.
Prison Graduate. The biggest cause for optimism is Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda himself. A teetotaling, guitar-strumming, nonsmoking Presbyterian preacher's son and ex-schoolteacher, Kaunda spent eleven months in British jails-long enough to qualify him for leadership of the ruling United National Independence Party, but not long enough to make him a bitter enemy of the British, who ruled Northern Rhodesia for 73 years. A moderate, Kaunda opposes black racism as practiced by some of the newly independent African states, instead advocates a "multiracial society" providing equal rights for Zambia's 74,000 whites.
He has served notice that he wants a bigger slice of the profits fattening the British and U.S.-owned copper companies, but has no intention of nationalizing them. In foreign affairs, he subscribes to "positive neutrality," which means he wants to be friends equally with the West, the Soviet Union and Communist China. At the same time, he is helping an assortment of black revolutionaries, including some from Mozambique, where rebel bands have been fighting Portuguese troops since September.
Startling Vision. Yet Kaunda is painfully aware that Zambia's economy is almost wholly dependent on neighboring white-ruled countries. Zambia's exports flow through the railroads and ports of South Africa, Rhodesia and the Portuguese colonies, and two-thirds of Zambia's imports come from the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia.