Discovering the rich history
and tourist gems of Lusaka

learning about Lusaka WITH A LIFETIME ZAMBIAN

Driving through the Lusaka Central Business District (CBD) on my way to one of Children International’s community centres is a hustle. The city is a beehive of activities, with crowds of people rushing in every direction, cars honking and weaving through traffic, and vendors selling goods on the sidewalks. 

This, like many other times when I pass through town, is an experience that I am too familiar with. 

Despite the crowds and noise, there’s a palpable energy and excitement to the Lusaka CBD, with new opportunities and challenges around every corner. Whether you’re a seasoned businessperson or a curious tourist, you’re sure to find something to captivate your attention in this vibrant urban centre.

Daily life in the streets of the Lusaka Business District are busy with pedestrians, vehicles and street vendors.

As the driver and I continued to manoeuvre through the traffic, I began to wonder where the city got its name and whom it was named after. 

Recently, this curiosity set me on a journey to discover and learn more about my city; the city where I was born and bred.  I wanted to explore my city’s rich history and culture.   

Growing up, I have always been curious about a lot of things, like why things are the way they are. I have always wanted to know more — I guess that is why I became a journalist. Armed with vigour and excitement, I began my journey of discoveries by researching online, reading articles and talking to people who are more knowledgeable about the subject matter. 

During my research, I came across fascinating discoveries about the city, like how Lusaka became the capital city of Zambia and who it was named after. I was excited to explore and visit interesting places to enrich my knowledge of the city that I love.  

Below is what I discovered, and I am happy to share with you the knowledge that I gathered. 

Railway to Camp Lusaka 

In the early 1900s, the area that is now Lusaka was known as “Manda Hill,” named after a local chief. It was a small village with a few huts and a market. Then, in 1913, the British South Africa Company, which had colonized the area, decided to build a railway line from Livingstone, in the southern part of the country, to the copper mines in the northern part. 

The railway line was being built by a group of Indian laborers who set up a camp near the Manda Hill village. The camp was called “Lusaka,” which in the Soli language means “the place of the grinding stones.” This was because there were large stones in the area that were used for grinding maize into corn flour. 

Over time, the railway line was completed, and Lusaka became an important stop on the route. The village grew into a small town, and in 1935, it was officially declared the capital of Northern Rhodesia, which later became Zambia. 

Today, Lusaka is a bustling city with a population of over 2 million people.

It is a hub of commerce, politics and culture in Zambia. Lusaka is home to many museums, parks, and landmarks that reflect its rich history and diverse culture. The name “Lusaka” has become synonymous with the city itself and is a reminder of its humble beginnings as a small railway camp. 

Photo courtesy of JJ Arts Photography

Lusaka has over the years become a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers visitors a range of exciting experiences. From its rich cultural heritage to its stunning natural landscapes, there is something for everyone in Lusaka. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to unwind, Lusaka has plenty to captivate and inspire you.

Here, then, are some of the interesting places to explore
when visiting modern‑day Lusaka: 

The National Museum is a great place to start for those interested in learning about the history and culture of Zambia. The museum has a collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the country’s past. 

The museum is a prominent cultural institution located in Lusaka. It serves as a showcase of the country’s rich heritage, history and diverse cultural traditions and features a variety of exhibits and artifacts that provide insights into Zambia’s past, including its prehistoric era, traditional customs, colonial history and post‑independence development.

Lusaka City Market is a bustling place that offers an authentic African market experience. Here you can find a wide range of goods such as fabrics, crafts and fresh produce.

The Lusaka City Market offers a wide variety of goods, including fresh produce, clothing and household items. It is a central gathering place for locals and visitors alike, offering a lively and authentic African market experience.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross is an impressive architectural structure located in the heart of Lusaka. An Anglican church, it features beautiful stained-glass windows and a towering spire. 

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is a religious landmark that is used for wedding celebrations, funeral processions and national events such as the Day of National Prayer and Reconciliation.

Kabwata Cultural Village is another interesting place to visit. A centre for Zambian culture, art and handicrafts, the Village offers visitors unique insights into the country’s diverse cultural heritage. 

One interesting story about the Kabwata Cultural Village is that it was built in the early 1970s by a group of local artists and craftsmen who wanted to create a space where they could showcase their work and promote Zambian culture. The village was named after a local chief, Kabwata, who was known for his support of the arts. 

At the time, there was a growing interest in preserving and promoting Zambian culture, and the Kabwata Cultural Village became a focal point for this movement. It quickly became a popular destination for both locals and tourists, who came to see the traditional dances, music and crafts on display. 

Over the years, the village has grown and expanded, and today it is home to over 50 shops and stalls selling a wide range of traditional Zambian crafts and souvenirs, including woodcarvings, pottery, textiles and jewellery. Visitors can also enjoy live music and dance performances, as well as sample traditional Zambian cuisine at the village’s restaurants. 

The Kabwata Cultural Village is not only a place to buy souvenirs and experience Zambian culture, but it also provides an important source of income for local artists and craftsmen. By promoting and preserving traditional Zambian arts and crafts, the village helps ensure that these traditions continue to thrive for generations to come. 

These are just a few of the many interesting tourism sites that Lusaka has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature or culture, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.  

After my discoveries, I have developed a deeper appreciation for Lusaka’s history and culture, and I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to learn more about this amazing city.  

It is my hope that through this exploration, you, too, have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for Lusaka and all that it has to offer. 

Meet Caren Mwelwa

I believe in the power of the media to create positive change in the lives of children.

Working for Children International allows me to combine my passion for storytelling with photography and videography to shed light on the issues, challenges and triumphs concerning children's welfare.

Writing has always been my creative outlet and a way to connect with people. As a journalist, I have the privilege of using my words to amplify the voices of children and their families, shedding light on their experiences, challenges and triumphs. Through my storytelling, I strive to raise awareness about issues that affect children, inspire empathy and drive action.


Oct 13, 2023

Thank you for sharing information about your country. Elba and I enjoyed your presentation and the photos. Good luck in your journalism career.

mike k
Oct 16, 2023

Thank you. Very interesting.

Oct 17, 2023

Awesome! Beautiful country....

Oct 17, 2023

I really enjoyed your article about Lusaka, and I would love to visit someday. I wish you all possible success in your writing career!

Oct 17, 2023

This was fascinating! Thank you for sharing this!

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