Bwana Mkubwa, Zambia

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Bwana Mkubwa, Zambia

Region: Copperbelt Province

Geographic Coordinates: -12.983300, 28.700000
Temperature Range: 10.0°C to 35.0°C (50°F to 95°F)
Population: 118464
Language: Bemba

Bwana Mkubwa is an archaeological site in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, Located about 10 kilometers from Ndola city and spanning around 1, 500 hectares. The name Bwana Mkubwa means big boss in Swahili, Given by local workers during excavation. The site was discovered in 1902 by British colonial officer Harry Ware who found evidence of ancient mining activities. However, Extensive excavations didn’t begin until the 1950s under British archaeologist Professor Roland Oliver. Excavations revealed that Bwana Mkubwa was a significant center for copper production during the Iron Age (AD 1000-1500). It contains smelting furnaces, Workshops and living quarters for workers.

At its peak, It produced up to one tonne of copper per year. One unique aspect is its use of hydropower to operate bellows used in smelting copper ore. Channels and dams harnessed water from nearby streams to power water wheels which operated bellows used in furnaces. Bwana Mkubwa also provides insights into social organization during the Iron Age period with clear divisions between skilled craftsmen and laborers who worked under difficult conditions. Today visitors can tour the site and view artifacts recovered from excavations at a small museum on-site.

The remains serve as a reminder of Zambia’s rich history as one of the world’s earliest centers for copper production.

Primary Industries

  • The major industry in Bwana Mkubwa, Zambia is copper mining.
  • The Bwana Mkubwa Mine is one of the largest copper mines in the country and is operated by a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals.
  • Other industries in the area include agriculture, with crops such as maize, cotton, and tobacco being grown.
  • There are also small businesses such as shops and restaurants that serve the local community.

  • Noteable History

    1. The Bantu Migration: The Bantu people migrated to the region around Bwana Mkubwa in the 4th century AD, bringing with them their expertise in agriculture and ironworking.
    2. Copper Mining Emergence: By the 10th century AD, copper mining had become a crucial industry around Bwana Mkubwa, where there existed a large smelting furnace and other mining infrastructure.
    3. Arab Traders: Arab traders began visiting Bwana Mkubwa during the 12th century, exchanging goods such as cloth, beads, and ceramics for copper.
    4. European Exploration: In 1798, Scottish explorer David Livingstone visited Bwana Mkubwa during his African travels.
    5. Colonial Rule: British colonial rule was established in Zambia (then known as Northern Rhodesia) in 1899 which led to increased investment in copper mining and infrastructure development around sites like Bwana Mkubwa.
    6. Independence Movement: In the mid-20th century, Zambia played a vital role in Africa’s independence movement against colonial rule with prominent nationalist leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda (who later became Zambia’s first president) and Simon Kapwepwe leading this movement.
    7. Modern-Day Mining Industry: Today, copper remains an essential industry for Zambia’s economy with multinational companies operating mines throughout the country including near sites like Bwana Mkubwa.
    8. Zambia National Museum houses artifacts from excavations at bwana mkuba which include pottery pieces, metal objects, tools made from copper and other materials.

    Museums and Things To See

    • 1. Copperbelt Museum – a museum dedicated to the history of copper mining in the region.
    • 2. Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage – a sanctuary for orphaned and injured animals, particularly chimpanzees.
    • 3. Mokambo Gorge – a scenic gorge with hiking trails and waterfalls.
    • 4. Dag Hammarskjold Memorial – a monument honoring the former UN Secretary-General who died in a plane crash near Ndola.
    • 5. Ndola Golf Club – an 18-hole golf course with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
    • 6. Kapisha Hot Springs – natural hot springs believed to have healing properties.
    • 7. Mukuyu Slave Tree – a tree that was used as a holding place for slaves during the slave trade era.

    These are just some of the many attractions that Bwana Mkubwa has to offer visitors.

    Cultural Events

    1. Kuomboka Festival: This is celebrated by the Lozi people of Western Province when they move from flooded plains to higher ground.
    2. Ncwala Ceremony: A traditional ceremony of the Ngoni people that marks the beginning of a new year and harvest season.
    3. Lwiindi Gonde Ceremony: The Tonga people in Southern Province celebrate this harvest festival.
    4. Umutomboko Ceremony: Celebrating the founding of the Lunda Kingdom by Mwata Yamvo and his followers.
    5. Likumbi Lya Mize Festival: This festival celebrates King Mwata Kazembe’s victory over his enemies and is held annually in August or September.

    Please note that these are just examples, and there may be more cultural events specific to Bwana Mkubwa or its surrounding areas.


    • Nkana Restaurant – Known for its traditional Zambian dishes like nshima (maize meal), fish stew, and grilled meats.
    • The Grill Shack – A popular spot for burgers and other American-style comfort food.
    • Mpongwe Farm Restaurant – Offers farm-to-table dining with fresh produce from their own garden and locally-sourced meats.
    • Kafue River Cliff Lodge – Serves a mix of international and Zambian cuisine with stunning views of the Kafue River.
    • Chitenge Restaurant & Bar – Offers a variety of African-inspired dishes like chicken peri-peri, curried goat, and vegetable samosas.
    • Moba Hotel & Convention Centre – Features a restaurant serving both local and international cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients.
    • Cafe Zambezi – A cozy cafe offering breakfast items like omelets and pancakes as well as sandwiches, salads, and pastries throughout the day.

    • Parks and Recreation

      1. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the most up-to-date information on public parks and recreational activities in Bwana Mkubwa, Zambia.
      2. It is recommended to consult local tourism websites or contact the Bwana Mkubwa city government for more information.


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