IN THE years before Zambia achieved statehood in 1964, one of the few white men to stand up against the culture of white supremacy was a Jew — Simon Zukas.
Mr Zukas and his family came from pre-war Lithuania to what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia because it did not employ quotas limiting Jewish settlers — unlike South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe.
He later joined the territory’s struggle for independence and today remains a standard-bearer for its small Jewish community as chairman of the Council for Zambian Jewry, an umbrella organisation.
“The threat of Hitler was around when we moved from Lithuania but we didn’t foresee what was going to happen,” he once told the Zambian website Extraordinary.
“We left for economic reasons but we were lucky. Only a few years later it would have been very difficult because of the war.”
Mr Zukas’s schooling took him to the University of Cape Town, where he studied civil engineering. His time there coincided with the inauguration of apartheid, which thrust him into radical student politics and inspired him to join the main nationalist movement, the African National Congress, when he returned to Northern Rhodesia.
An active participant in the country’s struggle for independence, he was eventually deported to Britain but, following statehood, was invited