Re-burying the remains of Chinese martyrs: the rumours, controversies and revised solidarities of the new Tazara memorial park in Zambia

Streaming Media


The Chinese in Africa / Africans in China Research Network Conference Organising Committee in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Research and Development at the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong; and the Institute for Emerging Markets Studies at HKUST.

Event Title

CAAC2021 9th Online Mini-symposium : Distances and Intimacies

Document Type





9:00 p.m.


Online Session via Zoom


The TAZARA Memorial Park for Chinese martyrs who died in Zambia in the 1970s and 1980s is currently being built in Lusaka Province in Zambia, and is scheduled to open in 2022. In 2021, the remains of Chinese TAZARA workers and other laborers were retrieved from a dedicated graveyard in Mpika (Northern Province) and the Leopards Hill Cemetery in Lusaka, and have been re-buried in the new memorial park along Great East Road. Residents in nearby villages and in the town of Chongwe have heard rumours about the construction of a “large Chinese graveyard”, resulting in various concerns about the use of the land and processes of memorialisation. Controversies in the area, however, are not just about the construction of the Chinese memorial site, but are complicated by recent tensions between local residents and the former ruling party, the Patriotic Front, which was recently voted out of power. While the traditional ruler of the area, Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II, granted permission for the park to be built in her area when a delegation from the Chinese Embassy paid her a visit, the PF failed to consult her, adding to entangled suspicions about the park. In this presentation, I examine this new heritage site, which consists of an eco-park, a museum, a small cemetery and a series of public sculptures and memorials. I argue that the new park registers shifting solidarities, both in terms of local concerns that are linked to political fractures, and in terms of a contemporary re-interpretation of the revolutionary friendship or comradeship (zhanyou, 战友) historically associated with the TAZARA.



Additional Information


Ruth Simbao is a Professor in Art History & Visual Culture and the National Research Foundation Research Chair in Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa. She received a PhD from Harvard University, and runs the Arts of Africa and Global Souths postgraduate programme. Her research interests are the arts of Africa, art and activism, and artists’ responses to Chinese presence in Africa with a particular focus on South Africa and Zambia.

Recommended Citation

Simbao, R. (2022, January 21). Re-burying the remains of Chinese martyrs: the rumours, controversies and revised solidarities of the new Tazara memorial park in Zambia [Video podcast]. Retrieved from