By HUMPHREY NKONDE -
THERE is no region in Zambia that has a high concentration of attractions compared to the Northern Tourism Circuit comprising Northern, Luapula and Muchinga provinces.
In order to improve access to the Northern Tourism Circuit, the Government has embarked on infrastructure development starting with Kasama Airport.
It has engaged China’s Anhui Shui’an Construction Group to construct a 45-metre x 4,600-metre bituminous runway at Northern Province’s major aerodrome.
During the World War, Kasama Airport, which started as an airfield for the British military when they controlled Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), has been using grass and gravel runways.
During a tour with airport officials, it was found that the portion earmarked for the runway had been cleared and soil was being compacted on the future landing strip.
“The entire Boeing series of aircraft would be able to land at this airport once the bituminous runway has been completed,” said airport manager Raphael Sakala in an interview during a the tour.
Mr Sakala said in the next phase of the works, the Government planned to construct another terminal building and a modern control tower with a 360-degree view midway of the new runway.
Besides the runway, a local contractor has completed a terminal building, which has waiting halls for both local and international passengers.
There are plans to construct a new control tower and a new terminal building midway the new runway.
Since Kasama Airport has not been fully developed, it only attracts small airplanes, including Cessna Grand Caravans which are used by Proflight Zambia, the only local airline present.
In addition to the runway, a terminal building at the airport that houses offices for the airport, the Immigration Department and the Customs section of the Zambia Revenue Authority have been constructed.
The Northern Circuit has the greatest potential in tourism in the sense that there are several tourist attractions, that include waterfalls and Nsumbu National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika, which can support marine tourism, is the second deepest lake in the world after Baikal of Siberia, Russia.
It is common for tourists visiting Zambia to go to the tourist capital, Livingstone, home to the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, leaving some of the waterfalls located in the Northern Tourism Circuit.
However, a keen traveller can have a look at the water falls that have been formed by the Muchinga Escarpment in the northern part of Zambia.
Notable ones include Lumangwe Falls, the country’s second largest after the Victoria Falls, and Mbala’s Kalambo Falls.
Lumangwe is located in Mporokoso District, which is not far away from Kasama Airport and can be easily accessed by road.
Because of its size, Lumangwe is sometimes referred to as the miniature Victoria Falls.
Thirty-five kilometres from Mbala is Kalambo Falls, Zambia’s highest and is said to be Africa’s second tallest free-leaping with a single water drop of 235 metres, making it one of the potential tourist attractions in the northern tourism circuit.
Before tourists visit Kalambo Falls and Lumangwe Falls, they can start with viewing Chishimba Falls, located not far from Kasama Airport and the town’s central business district.
Apart from the waterfalls, tourists to the Northern Tourism Circuit can visit sites in Kasama and other locations with naturalistic and schematic paintings that were made by the Batwa people long before the Bantu settled there.
Among the famous rock paintings around Kasama are the paintings at Mwela Rocks about five kilometres east of the central business district on the road leading to Mungwi.
There are about 700 rock paintings on the outcrop rocks at Mwela, making the site to have one of the concentrations of those basic artworks in Southern Africa.
Another notable tourist attraction not far away from Kasama Airport is Chambeshi Monument, located 90 kilometres south of Kasama in Chief Nkolemfumu’s area, where Germany East African (now Tanzania) reached during World War I.
Chambeshi Monument also referred to as the Von Lettow-Vorbeck Monument, is the place where a commander of the Germany East Africa (now Tanzania) accepted a ceasefire at the end of World War I.
General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, Commander of the German and African troops, who had been assigned to defend German East Africa, took Kasama on British territory in Northern Rhodesia (presently Zambia) on November 13, 1918.
During the early 1900s, Germany suppressed African resistance against colonialism, formed Germany East Africa, where it established coffee and tea plantations.
However, Germany’s commercial interests in coffee and tea plantations, in which it had invested heavily, were threatened following the onset of World War One in 1914.
To defend its imperial territory, Germany appointed von Lettow-Vorbeck, then Lieutenant Colonel, in April 1914 and later his command grew to about 3,000 German troops and slightly more than 10,000 African troops.
Germany later signed an armistice to end World War One on November 11, 1918, General Von Lettow-Vorbeck took Kasama.
Midway into World War I in March 1916, the allies sought the services of General Jan Smuts of South Africa so he could capture General von Lettow-Vorbeck and his troublesome troops.
With a force of 45,000 men, General Smuts launched an attack from South Africa, but the Germany commander retreated into Germany East Africa and continued to attack the British railways, communications and forts.
General Smuts could not capture his Germany counterpart from East Africa.
General von Lettow-Vorbeck successfully entered Northern Rhodesia through the Kanyala border in the present day Nakonde District and advanced towards Katanga in the south-west through Kasama.
It was the same entry point that the Rwandese used to enter Zambia at the height of the genocide in the East African country in 1994.
Germany East African commander reached Chambeshi River, about 90 kilometres south of Kasama, on the morning of November 14, 1918.
It was there British Kasama District Commissioner, Hector Croad, who appeared under a white flag and communicated to General von Lettow-Vorbeck about the armistice, leading to the German East African commander agreeing to a ceasefire.
To remember the dramatic end of the World War I in that part of Africa, the British colonial government erected a cenotaph at the place where the Germany commander agreed to a ceasefire in Kasama.
A field gun, the type that was used by German soldiers during World War I, is part of the heritage site.
Another gun that the Germany soldiers used during World War I is an artifact at Livingstone Museum.
General Von Lettow-Vorbeck officially surrendered to the British in Abercorn (now Mbala) on November 25, 1918.
Visitors who intend to visit Kalambo Falls can also view another cenotaph in Mbala that has been constructed where the commander for Germany East Africa surrendered.
The Northern Tourism Circuit is a vast area whose sites cannot be fused into a single article like this one, for the purpose of this article was not be exhaustive, but to show some of the sites and infrastructure development at Kasama Airport.
(The author is a travel journalist)