Background to the Centenary Commemoration

Remembrance Day

Every year, the Government of the Republic of Zambia joins the rest of the world in paying respects to those who died during the First and Second World Wars and later conflicts by holding the Remembrance Parades on 11th November or the Sunday closest to it.
These commemorations are held in Lusaka at the Cenotaph opposite the Cabinet Office where His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia leads in laying wreaths in remembrance of fallen heroes while Provincial centres also host similar events.
Though the world continues to commemorate the end of First World War (WWI) on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year, the War actually ended in Zambia at Abercorn, now Mbala town, on the 12th hour of the 25th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Rationale for Commemorating the Centenary of the end of First World War

The year, 2018, marks 100 years since the end of First World War. Therefore, Zambia is taking advantage of this renewed interest to ensure that the rest of the world is made aware of this important part of globe history.
Our Country has a big role to play in preserving this history for future generations and create an opportunity for the promotion of tourism and investment in Northern Province and the entire Northern Circuit.
The Commemoration of the end of First World War in the country is scheduled to attract over 19 foreign countries that participated in the East Africa war campaign and other countries that have expressed interest in this renewed history.The countries that took part in the East African war campaign were United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Therefore the presence of these countries will raise the image of Zambia as a beacon of peace not only in Africa but also the world at large. Ultimately, this will make the world realize, acknowledge and record that the last bullet of the First World War was actually fired on Zambian soil.

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The Armistice (Peace Agreement)

In fact, the notice of the end of World War I was received in Zambia, at Broken Hill, now Kabwe, on 11th November 1918. The message arrived via a telegram as a radio message from Britain, which was however only given to General von Lettow Vorbeck at Chambeshi on 14th November 1918. It was delivered late because it is believed that the Administration of Broken Hill had such a celebratory party that they forgot to send the message through to the Eastern War Front until the next morning on 13th November, 1918. After receiving the message from Kabwe, District Commissioner for Kasama, Hector Croad then arranged to meet Gen. Paul Emil Von Lettow Vorbeck at Chambeshi in Kasama on 14th November, 1918 to break the news about the armistice signed in Europe to signal the end of the First World War.
After accepting the contents of the armistice, Gen. Vorbeck together with his German troops then marched for 10 days from Kasama to Abercorn (Mbala) where he also gathered his troops along the way, before finally laid down the weapons before General W.F.S. Edwards, the British Commander at that time.
This happened at about 12:00 hours on 25th November 1918, thereby officially marking the end of the First World War and evacuation of German troops. A remembrance parade was carried out at Abercorn by the Northern Rhodesia government to remember that event.
In the meantime, evidence has emerged that after armistice, the German soldiers under General von Lettow Vorbeck opted to dump their weapons in Lake Chila (found in Mbala) on 25th November, 1918 in a bid to prevent the British troops from knowing the kind of weapons they used during the war. However, some of these guns have since been retrieved from Lake Chila and are displayed at Moto Moto Museum in Mbala District. To this effect, an exhibition of the recovered weapons will be held during the commemoration of the end of the First World War in November, this year.In addition, the gun Gen. Von Lettow Vorbeck was preparing to use to launch an attack on a rubber factory in Kasama is still mounted near Chambeshi Bridge (Kasama district) in Northern Province and has since been marked as one of Zambia’s historical heritage site.

Expected Impact

The Centenary Commemoration of the end of the First World War is expected to rewrite, preserve and put Zambia’s history on the global map. The event will also cement the strong existing multilateral ties Zambia has with United Kingdom and Germany as well as other foreign countries that took part in the First World War. This major event will further promote the tourism and investment potential found in Northern Province, which will create employment opportunities and in turn reduce poverty for the people of Northern Province and our Country as a whole.