Kariba Dam

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.


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by Stephen Luscombe