Happy 50th Birthday, Zambia!

Zambia celebrated 50 years of independence on October 24. Zambians from Kafue to Kasama, Lusaka to Livingstone, and every other point between and within the republic rejoiced. So did others from around the globe. For all of Zambia’s challenges, political stability is not one of them. Northern Rhodesia was renamed Zambia when it became independent of the United Kingdom on October 24, 1964. On a continent where strife and tension are common, this nation is unique and has enjoyed a mostly peaceful existence.

Students at Amos Youth Centre have talked about Zambia’s Independence Day as one of the most joyful of the year. Leading up to the big day, students drew Zambian Flags and handprints to decorate the center.

The students organized and held festivities to celebrate including a short play and dance routine by students in the drama club, local music performed by the students, and a speech by a freedom fighter who lives in Kafue. Thanks to a recent donation by local businesses, the students also enjoyed snacks and small goodie bags!

On the other side of the pond, United States President Barack Obama sent a congratulatory message to Zambia and said the American people joined Zambians in honoring the occasion. Count the African Education Program’s founders and supporters high among them.

“As you celebrate the 50th anniversary of Zambia’s independence on October 24, please allow me to offer warmest congratulations from the American people to you and the people of Zambia on this historic milestone,” President Obama said. “The United States joins you in celebrating your Golden Jubilee as our countries have enjoyed a strong partnership through your country’s history.”

In his message, President Obama noted a favorite photo in the U.S. embassy of Martin Luther King Jr. with Zambian’s first president Dr. Kenneth Kaunda in 1960. When Zambia gained its independence four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote his congratulations to Dr. Kaunda.

Earlier this year, Second Lady Jill Biden visited Zambia. The country has hosted former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush along with former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.