She left this world in 1986, but her spirit lives on. Thank you Julia Chikamoneka for standing up for our rights as the people of Zambia. For believing that you could make a difference. For fighting with the only weapons you had -your voices, your bodies, your vision for a better future for generations to come. As Zambia celebrates 50 years of independence today I reflect upon this great woman who was one of a number of women who were a part of the liberation struggle. I am proud and honoured to be of such great kin.
Mary Lombe daughter to Mulenga Lombe son of Chief Chitimukulu-Ponde of Zambias Bemba ethnic group, was born in 1904. She later was christened Julia and even later took the name Chikamoneka (meaning “victory will be seen”) for her fearless attitude in Northern Rhodesia‘s independence struggle and as a mantle to cover her operations during the independence struggle.
She started her career as a housemaid, then became a restaurant owner, during which period she became politically involved attending rallies, planning protest marches, and organizing boycotts of shops that discriminated based on race. Not having a formal education did not hinder her from being a leader in the independence struggle. Chikamoneka was known for her effective fundraising in addition to leading protest marches. She also provided food and shelter for people politically involved and risked arrest by opening her house for political meetings. She inspired women to take an active role in the independence struggle.
Julia Chikamoneka, along with Zambia’s first ever First Lady, Betty Kaunda, Emilia Saidi and Mandalena Mumba petitioned colonial authorities for the release of detained political party leaders. Her most dramatic protest occurred in 1960 when she marched to the District Commissioner’s office and slapped him. Then, accompanied by Emilia Saidi and Mandalena Mumba, proceeded to strip down to her waist before leading a group of women protesters on a march to the national airport.
Affectionately called “Mama UNIP” for her contributions to the party that led Zambia to independence. Her contribution was publicly acknowledged, in 1969, when President Kenneth Kaunda (1924– ) bestowed her with the Order of Distinguished Service. When she died in 1986 she was accorded a state funeral and buried with full military honors.
I have indulged in a number of pictures from this era from the National Archives in the UK.
Happy Independence day Zambia!
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