The Ambassador of Zambia Praising Unity in Diversity
H. E. Amb. Anthony Mukwita expressed the importance of the Zambian cultural value of ‘unity in diversity’ for peace in his country.March 25th, 2019
During the Berlin Economic Forum 2019 focusing on Africa, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy received the Ambassador of Zambia to Germany. During the Zambian dinner that followed his country presentation, an interview with H. E. Amb. Anthony Mukwita revealed positive developments for Zambia.
H. E. Amb. Anthony Mukwita presented Zambia as a peaceful mosaic of ethnic groups. Indeed, the country comprises 72 ethnic minorities, whose cultural traditions are well preserved and represented. The value of “unity in diversity” prevails in Zambia, which explains the long-lasting decades of peace and stability contrasting with other African nations’ ethnic bloody wars. In addition to the diversity of Zambian people, the Ambassador mentioned that Zambia welcomes refugees and political exile from other countries.
UNESCO has recognized the diverse ethnicities’ traditional ceremonies as an intangible cultural heritage. Every year, the Livingstone International Cultural and Arts Festival (LICAF) showcases the dances and music from the 72 tribes. Beyond promoting Zambia’s rich cultural heritage, LICAF also serves as a platform for cultural exchange as regional and international groups can join. This year the festival will take place from April 4th to 6th, 2019.
During his presentation, the Ambassador transformed the term ‘land-locked’ to the more positive term “land-linked” country as Zambia shares borders with 8 different neighbors. The economy is still mainly based on copper mining, however the government is pursuing a diversification strategy. The Ambassador regrets that climate change results in less annual rainfall, negatively affecting the agricultural sector. 64 % of Zambians live in rural areas where most rely on rain-fed subsistence agriculture. However during the interview, the Ambassador revealed that in 2015, the country successfully got through a drought season and was actually able to export the surplus of maize production to other African nations. This success is due to the investments in climate smart agriculture practices in order to be drought-resilient and cope with climate change. The government is therefore acting to ensure national food security. The absence of rainfall also created shortages of energy. Indeed, the country heavily relies on solar and hydro-energy. Therefore, H.E. Amb. Anthony Mukwita calls for German investments in alternative sources of energies.
After the conference, the audience had the chance to taste Zambian cuisine. H. E. Amb. Anthony Mukwita enthusiastically accepted to be interviewed. The first question was whether tourism benefits ethnic minorities. He responded that yes it does, however the country can do better by promoting more places to visit than the Victoria waterfalls. Ethnic tribes far from this current main touristic attraction don’t benefit from the resources brought by tourism. Therefore, the Ambassador told that this year the government launched a national masterplan to diversify tourism.
The second question was what are the government’s social priorities. The Ambassador answered that the government is investing in the construction of new hospitals to ensure greater access to health services across the ten provinces. The main concern is to reduce infant mortality by reducing the distance pregnant women have to travel, especially in remote rural areas. Moreover, the government is developing telemedicine. This practice consists of using telecommunications to increase medical reach. For instance, everybody should be able to call a doctor at anytime anywhere.
To conclude, Zambia is a peaceful country, united despite its diversity. The 72 different ethnic tribes are attached to their cultural traditions and have the opportunity to showcase them to an international audience every year during the LICAF festival. The government works toward improving health, diversifying the economy and, expanding tourism activities to more places. It also seeks to invest in climate smart agricultural practices and alternative energies to ensure the country is self-sufficient despite climate change.