A History of the care of orphans in pre-colonial and colonial Zambia, 1880-1964

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Mbewe, Mailes
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The main purpose of the study was to present the care of orphans in pre-colonial and colonial Zambia as one of the most important welfare services besides education and health which have been the main focus in the historiography of welfare services in Zambia. The study also examined the causes and impacts of orphanhood. In addition, the roles of different institutions in the care of orphans were identifies such as the extended family system, missionary societies and the Colonial Government especially after 1948. Lastly, the study examined the impact of the institutionalization of orphans in orphanages.Research data for the study was obtained from the University of Zambia Library, the National archives of Zambia, the Ministry of Community Development’s Documentation Department, The Faith Encounter and Spiritual Centre of Zambia, Kasisi Orphanage (Children’s Home) and the Catholic Secretariat’s Social Welfare Department. In addition oral interviews were conducted to establish the possible impacts of the institutionalization of orphans in orphanages.The study has established the presences of orphans in pre-colonial and colonial Zambia and their plight contrary to many casual observers views’ that there were no orphans during the period under study. The study has presented evidence of the presence of oral traditions in form of folklore on the existence of orphans in African societies. During the colonial period and as a result of the socio-economic policies of the colonial government, there was a notable increase in the number of orphans in both the rural and urban centres according to Social Services Reports and Legislative Council debates. The stakeholders in the care of orphans were the extended family system, the missionaries who established orphanages such as Kasisi, Kalene Hills and Kabompo Orphanages and the government.Despite many concerns the colonial period raised over the possible negative impacts of institutionalization of orphans in orphanages, many orphans who were brought up in orphanages and left the orphanages when they became adults benefitted through academic and professional training. Hence they were better equipped and were easily integrated in the new society after independence. The author hopes the study will contribute to the historiography of social welfare in Zambia.
Orphans , Care of Orphans , Disadvantaged Children---Care