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MBALA: the Home of World War One History

Yohane Mbeeya Moono

Mbala is located in the North-East of Modern day Zambia. The town which is about 167 Kilometers North of the Provincial Capital Kasama will forever be etched in the history of Zambia and the World at large in the context of the 20th Century global catastrophe the First World War.

From an African historical perspective, the town is home to the Kalambo Falls. This is the place where Fire was first discovered in Africa. Archeologist Desmond F Clarke confirmed the discovery of Fire at this magnificent and elegant water body through his archeological works.

Mbala houses one of Zambia’s oldest repositories of knowledge the Moto Moto Museum. Father Dupont a white missionary in the 19th Century is one of the founding fathers of the museum. He is credited with coining the term Moto which means Fire. Oral history has it that Father Dupont mostly used the term Moto to ask for fire from the locals in Mbala during his time as a missionary. The said ‘Padre’ is also said to have been installed as a Headman by the locals for his works and ability to Unite the locals in Mbala.

The museum is a reservoir of knowledge about the First World War and the Zambian involvement in the global war. Perhaps the global war was the beginning of the globalisation agenda. Historical information indicates that the Last Bullet in the War was fired in the town called Abercon present day Mbala. This was due to communicate delay as technology was not so advanced in the country. When the white flags were raised in other countries, information had not reached Mbala. Apart from that, the museum houses rich historical, cultural, social, economic and political information about Northern Rhodesia through to present day Zambia.

Mbala is also home to a lake called Lake Chila which geographers say is part of the Uningi Plains in the heart of Mbala. In 2018, during the Centenary Celebrations marking the end of the First World War, some of the guns that were used during the war by the German soldiers who came from Germany East Africa (Present Day Tanzania) were retrieved from the Lake. The operation took about 30 minutes and was observed by then Republican President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

Mbala borders with Tanzania to the East. This provides an opportunity for enhanced trade between Zambia and Tanzania. However, it is challenging that there is no facility of note to facilitate trade between citizens and companies of the two countries. This scenario, makes it very easy for authorities from the two countries to criminalize economic activities by the citizens of the two countries. Therefore, it is important a border facility of notable standard is put up to enhance trade between the two countries, so that Mbala can contribute more effectively to the economic basket of the country.

With that said, it is important that Mbala’s historical importance to the country is marketed aggressively to make the town a tourism hub. The country risks losing this historical. These historical sites have the potential to be the economic hub of the Northern Province.
This information if not well market and stored.

The history of Mbala is forever etched in the history books and that should be accompanied by economic contribution to the Nation’s Treasury.


Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator

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