Zambia, then and now

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Stony Brook University]On: 25 October 2014, At: 14:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Contemporary AfricanStudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjca20

    Zambia, then and nowHugh Macmillan aa African Studies Centre , Oxford University , UKPublished online: 05 Oct 2010.

    To cite this article: Hugh Macmillan (2010) Zambia, then and now, Journal of Contemporary AfricanStudies, 28:4, 528-529, DOI: 10.1080/02589001.2010.513579

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02589001.2010.513579

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  • have been the concerns of womens NGOs in Ghana? The book has much room to

    expand. It could be stronger and more substantive if it had taken the above questions

    into consideration.

    Mi Yung Yoon

    Department of International Studies,

    Hanover College, USA

    Email: yoon@hanover.edu

    # 2010, Mi Yung YoonDOI: 10.1080/02589001.2010.513578

    Zambia, then and now, by William D. Grant, London, Routledge. 2009, 328 pp.

    including index, black and white photographs, ISBN 97807 1031 3430

    This book is a contribution to a genre that dates back at least as far as Kenneth

    Bradleys classic Diary of a district officer (1943), which was based on a diary of

    administrative tours undertaken by its author in 1938 in the Fort Jameson (now

    Chipata) district of the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia, and which includes

    Robin Shorts African sunset (1973), a slightly regretful account of decolonisation.

    They are all memoirs by colonial officials, district officers and district commis-

    sioners, who served in the provincial administration of the country that is now

    Zambia. Bill Grant, an Edinburgh University history graduate, was a member of one

    of the last, though not quite the last, batches of recruits to the colonial service in

    Africa. He arrived in Northern Rhodesia in 1958 and served for only one tour of

    three years, leaving the country in 1961. He served in two districts in the North

    Western Province, Mwinilunga on the borders of Angola and the Congo, the scene of

    major social anthropological studies of the Lunda by Victor and Edith Turner under Robin Short and Kasempa, a slightly more accessible district, which wasdescribed in some detail by the British South Africa Company official and amateur

    social anthropologist, F H. (Frank) Melland in his study, In witchbound Africa

    (1923).

    The book consists of three unequal parts. The first half deals with Grants

    experience from 1958 to 1961. Although it covers fairly well-trodden ground, this is

    probably the most useful part of the book, dealing with the recruitment, training,

    and the varied roles of a district officer as, inter alia, magistrate, tax collector,

    mediator, as well as road and sanitation engineer. It is still surprising to read, though

    this reviewer can confirm it from his own teenage experience of the Mkushi and

    Balovale (Zambezi) districts, that three or four officials could in the last days of

    empire administer an area of 10,000 square miles with a population of 30,000 people,

    with the support of no more than 15 district messengers, with no resident police force

    or special branch, while living at bomas (district headquarters), where houses could

    not be locked for the simple reason that the doors had no locks. Grant sees British

    power as based on bluff . It is surprising how little awareness he displays of the

    emergence of African nationalism, or of events in the neighbouring Congo. His

    decision to leave after three years does, however, appear to have been based on the

    realisation that colonial rule had no great future, though he acknowledges that he

    528 Book reviews

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  • would at the time of his departure have anticipated Zambias independence as

    coming in 1974 rather than 1964.

    The second part of the book is a somewhat superfluous and sketchy account of

    the political history of Zambia from independence to 2006, while the last third of thebook describes the authors return visit to Zambia in 2006 after an absence of 45

    years. His description of his return visits to Mwinilunga and Kasempa, which are

    well away from the usual tourist track, are engaging. Everywhere he goes he and his

    wife are warmly welcomed, though not remembered. The highlights are his

    attendance at the installation of a new Chieftainess Ikelenge and his welcome by

    the Lunda chief, Kanongesha. A comparison of this book with Bradleys Diary of a

    district officer would shed some light on the vicissitudes of the chieftaincy in Zambia

    from its re-invention with the introduction of indirect rule in the 1920s and 1930sthrough decolonisation to its later revival by the MMD government in the 1990s. The

    admission of a man doing something like Grants old job in Mwinilungas somewhat

    dilapidated boma offices in 2006, and that decisions on local expenditure on road-

    building, for example, would be made in Lusaka, suggest that in that respect,

    anyway, little has changed. The same source seems to be as sceptical as Grant is

    about the possibilities for local democracy in Zambia.

    This is a useful book, which is well written, has good illustrations, and sheds

    some light on the history of two of Zambias most remote and least known districtsin the last 50 years.

    Hugh Macmillan

    African Studies Centre,

    Oxford University, UK

    Email: hughmacm@gmail.com

    # 2010, Hugh MacmillanDOI: 10.1080/02589001.2010.513579

    Journal of Contemporary African Studies 529

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