The mighty dam at Kariba on the Zambesi River, opened in I960,
stands as an impressive though not entirely perfect tribute to British
settler rule in Africa. It aroused controversy from the start. When the
government of the Central African Federation (comprising Southern
and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland) rejected an alternative and
cheaper scheme to dam the Kafue River, African suspicions were
aroused. The Kafue was in Northern Rhodesia, but Kariba lay just
inside Southern Rhodesia, which was ruled by a sizable and firmly
entrenched white minority. This meant that the vital machinery
would remain under white control whatever political developments
occurred north of the Zambezi.
The uprooting of some 50,000 Africans to make way for the world's largest man-made lake also caused trouble. Many villagers resisted the flooding of their ancestral homes and in September, I958, nine were shot dead during by the police. The dam was a constant source of conflict between Zambia and Rhodesia during the UDI years.