On Tuesday morning, patrons of Zambia’s state-owned newspaper, Times of Zambia, found more than the usual English they expected in their copies.
The paper had published an article in Mandarin – The dialect of Chinese spoken in Beijing and adopted as the official language for all of China.
The Chinese article in question was titled ‘We’ve still got it’ was written by one Steven Zande. The English version of the story was the main story of the day. Reporting about President Edgar Lungu’s pledge to maintain Zambian interest in dealing with donors – be they from the east or west.
This is the latest in a China-dominated last few days for the southern African country. Reports emerged over the week that the country had deported Kenyan pan-Africanist PLO Lumumba reportedly over his hard stance on China.
Then on Monday, police in the capital announced the arrest of a Chinese national for allegedly giving illegal military training to a security firm.
The publishers of the paper have yet to comment on the move but it has not stopped citizens from expressing outrage at the event.
A leading local portal, Mwebantu asked on their Twitter handle if Mandarin had been added to the list of national languages.
#ZAMBIA: Times of Chambia ?: Mwebantu, is Chinese Mandarin, now the 8th official Zambian language now?
Can an article written in Chibemba, Chitonga or Silozi appear in a major national newspaper in #China ?
DISCUSS (100 Marks) pic.twitter.com/vFFBZM0tkTLoading...
— Mwebantu (@Mwebantu) October 2, 2018
Given Zambia's literacy levels- who was the target audience of that article & given that few learned Zambians can read Mandarin, how will the common Zambian have #access to the #information in that article? ToZ editorial office needs to explain this one 🤔
— Natasha Mhango (@natasha_mhango) October 2, 2018
Zambia = China
— Sammytkamau (@sammytkamau) October 2, 2018
I'm going to assume they did this to incite us into action or elicit a response. So good for them. It may start a conversation that is positive but I don't think so.
— Farmer_Sal (@FreeSalsBrain) October 2, 2018
— katzam..🇿🇲🏴 (@katandhl) October 2, 2018