AT a time when several countries are ravaged by civil strife and territorial disputes, Zambians must surely be proud of their country, which is said to be among the most peaceful on the African continent.
The 2014 Global Peace Index (GPI) by the Institute for Economics and Peace ranks this Southern African country the third-most peaceful in Africa after Mauritius and Botswana.
Renowned for its near-accuracy, GPI is the world’s leading measure of national peacefulness whose rankings have all along been little disputed, if at all.
This is true for Zambia, which has never had conflicts with any of its Southern African neighbours since the country gained independence in 1964.
Indeed ever since skirmishes were reported with Zambia’s previous white minority-ruled countries south of the Limpopo, the country has only known peaceful coexistence with its neighbours.
This is in spite of the fact that this Southern African country shares borders with eight other nations. One tourist from the West once said of Zambia as a country renowned for its scenic splendour, colour, warmth and, above all, friendliness.
Zambia is indeed an exceptionally peaceful country, which is now also known for its democratic and peaceful political transitions. First Republican president Kenneth Kaunda led the way and since then, there have been peaceful hands-over of power to the winners of the elections.
Currently, Zambia’s population is estimated to stand at more than 14 million people, who belong to a large number of tribes which speak 73 dialects.
From a linguistic point of view, some people say that the English language acts as a major unifier and peace builder. However, this is just an official language which is not even spoken by all the citizens and residents of Zambia.
So credit for the peace the country has all along enjoyed should most certainly go to Zambians themselves and their leaders, particularly Dr Kaunda who, besides standing for national unity, also appreciated the different languages and cultures. This helped entrench peace in the country.
Of course today there might be isolated rivalry among some communities, especially in respect of land disputes, as well as clashes during election campaigns. However, despite this, Zambia largely remains one peaceful nation.
In addition, the Zambian people are known to be generally very friendly and easy-going towards foreigners, and this is evidenced from a lack of xenophobic attacks against their brothers and sisters of foreign origin with whom they live and conduct business side-by-side.
Further, as a nation, Zambians obviously have a strong dislike for open criticism of their government or country and their leaders, including traditional rulers.
And, culturally, Zambians expect that respect be shown, and politeness be practiced towards leaders and older people, as well as such individuals as teachers, doctors, church leaders and the police, to name just a few professionals.
Zambians also want to see and maintain a morally upright society. As such, they are opposed to practices deemed to be corrupting morals such as homosexuality, public or semi-nudity, et cetera, all of which are deemed to be provocative and might lead to conflict.
Of course it is not all Zambians who keep these norms. However, the fact that the majority of citizens have agreed that this is their culture, their way of life that must be respected, has equally helped maintain a harmonious atmosphere within the country.