Indians in Zambia

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Indians in Zambia
Regions with significant populations
Lusaka · Chipata
Tamil · Hindi · Gujarati · English
Hinduism · Islam
Related ethnic groups
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin · Desi

There is a small but recognisable community of Indians in Zambia. Unlike the better-known Indian communities of South East Africa, they were little-studied by historians until the 2000s.[1]

Migration history

Indians from Gujarat arrived in what was then the British territory of North-Eastern Rhodesia (later part of Northern Rhodesia and then Zambia) in 1905 via Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) or the British Central Africa Protectorate (later Nyasaland, now Malawi). Unlike the population of Indians in South Africa, the proportion of indentured labourers among them was quite small; most instead were skilled artisans or businesspeople.[2] Initial settlers were Muslims, but they were soon followed by Hindu traders.[3] Indians always formed a much smaller portion of the population than Europeans, but their numbers continued to increase until the 1950s; in 1930, the ratio of Europeans to Indians was 300:1, but by 1951 the proportion had shifted to just 10:1.[4] One main driver for this was the expansion in Northern Rhodesia's mining industry in the late 1940s, which attracted demobilised white British servicemen as well as Indians.[2] Immigration again accelerated around 1953, for fears that the new federal government of Northern Rhodesia would place restrictions on Indian migration.[4]

The India Office had repeatedly expressed interest in sending a representative to British Central Africa to look after the interests of Indian emigrants, but permission was refused for fear that the presence of such a representative could stir up ethnic tensions between Indians and Europeans.[5] Following Indian independence in 1947, the British High Commissioner to India proposed that one seat on Lusaka's legislative council be allocated to an Indian, but this suggestion was ignored and not further pursued. The Indian High Commissioner for British East and Central Africa was specifically warned "not to be the spokesman of Indians permanently resident". The Indian government, when it did voice complaint about issues of Indians in Africa, tended to focus on those in East Africa rather than Central Africa.[5]

After Zambia achieved independence in 1964, the government started looking to India for material and moral support, and since then the Indian community has played a meaningful role in the Zambian economy.[3] Most held Zambian or British citizenship.[6] Many are in professions like banking, retail, farming and mining. Recent arrivals include medical and educational professionals. The Levy Mwanawasa government was friendly towards the Indian community; the functions hosted by the Indian community, such as Diwali, were attended by a number of cabinet ministers of the Mwanawasa government.[3]

Notable people

See also



  1. ^ Haig 2007, Section I
  2. ^ a b Haig 2007, Section II
  3. ^ a b c Singhvi 2000, p. 109
  4. ^ a b Haig 2007, Section IV
  5. ^ a b Haig 2007, Section III
  6. ^ a b c MEA 2008, p. 9
  7. ^ "Chiluba names his full cabinet", Cape Argus, 2001-05-09, retrieved 2009-08-20
  8. ^ a b "Lands Deputy Minister, Hamir dies", Lusaka Times, 2009-05-08, retrieved 2009-08-20
  9. ^ "Veep mourns late Hamir", Lusaka Times, 2009-05-09, retrieved 2009-09-26
  10. ^ Neems, Jeff (2009-03-11), "Top billing Fans mob cricket's stars",, retrieved 2011-04-15
  11. ^ Kaunda, Danstan (2010-02-11), "Zambian Doctor in Prestigious Award", New Science Journal, retrieved 2011-04-12
  12. ^ Ghodiwala, Adam; Mank, Yacoob, eds. (2011), Bharuchi Vahora Patel (PDF), United-Kingdom: y, Gujarati Writers' Guild, p. 96, retrieved 2012-12-27 [permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Thakorbhai Desai: forgotten hero | Kwakay Zambia". Retrieved 2017-04-06.


  • Singhvi, L. M. (2000), "Other Countries of Africa", Report of the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora (PDF), New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, pp. 89–109, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-06
  • Haig, Joan M. (2007), "From Kings Cross to Kew: Following the History of Zambia's Indian Community through British Imperial Archives", History in Africa, 34 (1): 55–66, doi:10.1353/hia.2007.0004, OCLC 358450873
  • Zambia (PDF), Foreign Relations Briefs, India: Ministry of External Affairs, 2008, retrieved 2009-08-21

Further reading

  • Dotson, Floyd; Dotson, Lillian O. (1968), The Indian Minority in Zambia, Rhodesia and Malawi, New Haven: Yale University Press, OCLC 418796
  • Phiri, B. J. (2000), A history of Indians in Eastern Province of Zambia, Lusaka, ISBN 978-9982-9918-0-3
  • Phiri, B. J. (2001), Zambians of Indian origin: a history of their struggle for survival in a new homeland, Occasional Papers, 12, Cape Town, South Africa: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society, ISBN 978-1-919799-57-5, OCLC 51080657
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