Heroes’ Day in Zambia is observed on the first Monday of July every year and takes place on July 1 this year. The day honors those who fought in Zambia’s long struggle for independence. Recently, the list of heroes has expanded to include and commemorate those who may not have been a part of the struggle but still made heroic contributions to the nation’s advancement, such as the 18 members of the Zambian soccer team who died in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon in 1993.
Heroes’ Day is followed by Unity Day — both are public holidays where businesses, schools, and offices are closed.
History of Heroes' Day of Zambia
Zambia gained its independence from Britain in 1964, but only after a long struggle for many years. These years were filled with turmoil and unrest, with the colonial rulers violently suppressing and killing protestors.
In the 18th century, after European explorers discovered Zambia, the British colonized the region into the British protectorates of Barotseland-North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia, which lasted towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1911, these two protectorates were merged to form Northern Rhodesia, and in 1924, its administration was transferred to the British Colonial Office.
Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland (now Malawi) were grouped as a single autonomous region to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This was met with opposition from a sizeable minority of the population, who demonstrated against it in 1960–1961. The United National Independence Party (UNIP), under the leadership of President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, took up and led the campaign.
In October and December 1962, a two-stage election was held, which resulted in an African majority in the legislative council; however, the coalition between the two African nationalist parties was an uneasy one.
On December 31, 1963, the federation was dissolved, and in January 1964, Kaunda won the only election for Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 1964, with Kaunda as its first president. In 1974, Kaunda unveiled the Zambian Freedom Statue in downtown Lusaka on the tenth anniversary of independence. The statue is of Zanco Mpundu Mutembo, a Zambian freedom fighter who was imprisoned, which honors all those who fought for Zambia’s independence.
Heroes' Day of Zambia timeline
The British Colonial Office officially administers Northern Rhodesia.
Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland are merged to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
On October 24, Zambia wins its independence from the British Empire.
Kaunda unveils the 12-foot Zambian Freedom Statue in downtown Lusaka.
Heroes' Day of Zambia FAQs
What is Unity Day in Zambia?
Unity Day in Zambia celebrates the concept of “one Zambia, one nation.” It marks the unity and solidarity of its 70 ethnolinguistic groups while maintaining their sense of national identity.
What is the meaning of Heroes’ Day?
Heroes’ Day is a day that a country celebrates to commemorate its national heroes.
Why do we celebrate heroes?
National heroes are a representation of the country’s values and ideals. Their stories are passed down from generation to generation in order to inspire and reinforce these values in the next generation.
How to Observe Heroes' Day of Zambia
Host an independence day celebration
Invite your friends over to your place. Celebrate this day with traditional, delicious Zambian food and vibrant Zambian music.
Visit the Freedom Statue
Make Zambia your next destination trip and visit the Freedom Statue in Lusaka. The statue symbolizes the heroic freedom fighters who broke the shackles of colonization.
Share on social media
Share your knowledge about Zambia and its struggle for independence on social media. By doing so, you’ll raise awareness and spark a conversation about the impacts of colonization.
5 Interesting Facts About Zambia
Zambia has one of the largest waterfalls
Victoria Falls in Zambia is 354 feet high, nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls in Canada.
Victoria Falls has an indigenous name
The traditional local name of Victoria Falls is ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya,’ which translates to “the smoke which thunders.”
Zambia is a landlocked country
Zambia is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Copper is its biggest export
Zambia's main export is copper, which amounts to about 1.5 million tonnes a year.
There are over 72 Zambian languages
Although English is the official language, Zambia has over 72 languages spoken, the most widely spoken of which are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, Lunda, Kaonde, and Luvale.
Why Heroes' Day of Zambia is Important
It celebrates freedom
Heroes’ Day of Zambia recognizes and celebrates those who fought for the independence and freedom of Zambia. We think that’s worth honoring
It is a public holiday
Heroes’ Day is a public holiday. This means we get the day off to either celebrate or relax.
It is followed by Unity Day
Unity Day is also a public holiday, celebrated on the first Tuesday of July. Who does not love a two-day break?
Heroes' Day of Zambia dates