Thursday, 24 November 2016

How The City Of Ndola Got Its Name

A view of the Ndola Central Business District
By Paul Shalala in Ndola

Ndola is the second largest city in Zambia.

It is a sprawling metropolis which hosts some of the country’s most important industries.

Indeni, Zambia’s only oil refinery and a number of cement plants are within Ndola.

The city is only second to Lusaka in terms of high-rise buildings.

It is NOT only a major transit hub on the Copperbelt, but also the administrative centre for the province.

Ndola is also a terminus for travelers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and for onward traffic to the southern part of the country.

In Ndola, residents fondly call themselves ba ZimaNdola.

JK, one of Zambia’s most celebrated musicians even sung in one of his songs describing how he grew up in the town and calling its residents ba ZimaNdola.

But what does the name Ndola mean?

“All I know about Ndola is that it’s a name. I came here over 10 years ago but I don’t know what it means,” said Chanda, a cleaner.
Part of Kafubu river in Ndola's Twapia area

Most residents do not know where the name Ndola comes from.

Others even create false stories about it.

“Ndola is a name of a woman who used to live here. I heard this story from a friend,” said John Chileshe, a minibus driver who operates on the Itawa route.

To get to the bottom of the origin of the name Ndola, we need to dig into history.

The Copperbelt Province, where Ndola is located,  was originally inhabited by the Lamba speaking people.

Where Ndola is located, the first inhabitants were the Lambas who were led by Senior Chief Chiwala the first who reigned in the 17th century.

The traditional leader is believed to have migrated with his people from present day Tanzania and settled in the area where Rekays is.

Senior Chief Chiwala
According to the current Senior Chief Chiwala, who is the eighth person to hold the throne, Ndola was named after a stream called Ka Ndola which originally starts from the Kaloko Hills and flows through present day Mine Masala, Kabushi and drains its water into the Kafubu River.

The traditional leader says when his fore fathers were alive, the stream was a life line for the people and it was a revenue earner.

But a check at the site has reveled that houses have been built across the stream, gardens have been set up and the stream has almost disappeared.

“It is a pity that this stream has dried up due to human habitation. When our ancestors first settled here, the Ka Ndola stream provided them with fish and animals which feed in water,” said Senior Chief Chiwala as he took this blogger on a tour of the former stream.

Only a few portions of the Ka Ndola stream have remained.

Children find pleasure in the little flowing water remaining and they also catch crabs which they take home to eat.

“We usually catch these crabs and take them home for food. They are nutritious,” said Mulenga, an 11 year old boy from Kabushi who was found swinning.

Meanwhile, Senior Chief Chiwala says a number of residential areas such as Itawa, Kansenshi and Minsundu have historical significance to Lamba culture.
A street in Ndola a hundred years ago

“What you call Kanshenshi today comes from a Lamba word called akansenji which means beavers. We used to have beavers along the Ka Ndola stream. The residential area Itawa comes from the word Itabwa, that’s the name for us the Lambas under Senior Chief Chiwala.”

The traditional leader went on to reveal several other unknown stories about other aspects of Ndola city.

But as the Ka Ndola stream keeps disappearing due to increase in population and human habitation, authorities need to quickly protect it and help preserve the city’s history.

The stream (or the few portions remaining) deserves to be declared a national heritage site as it holds the history of Zambia’s second largest city. 

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