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Civic Heraldry of Zambia

National Coat of arms of ZAMBIA

The contents of the shield and the crest are taken from the state's predecessor, the (British) Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. However, in the Northern Rhodesia arms the fish eagle (Haliætus vocifer) appears in the chief and holds a freshly caught fish (see below). Here the pallets symbolise the Victoria Falls, and by extension the Zambezi River, from which the state takes its name and occupy the entire shield and the eagle is transferred to the crest.

Ill-informed criticism of the Northern Rhodesia arms led to a popular belief that the fish symbolised colonial oppression, and there were also objections to the "dead fish" in fact, the fish would in real life still be wriggling. The eagle has also been misinterpreted by the heralds in London, who failed to take into account that the fish eagle is virtually identical in appearance to the American national bird, the bald eagle (a member of the same genus, named Haliætus leucocephalus) it is brown with a white head. The only easily recognisable difference between the two is the fish eagle's habit of catching its fish, so the fish in the claws is an essential mark of recognition.
However, in the arms of both Northern Rhodesia and Zambia, the eagle is coloured gold.

The implements in the crest are symbols of agriculture, while the ridiculously small additional elements on the compartment represent the copper mining industry (mine head), the country's main source of foreign exchange, its wildlife (a major tourist draw) and the maize which is the people's staple diet.

The supporters naturally represent the population, dressed in Western-style clothing to emphasise modernity (even down to the use of footwear) and to minimise ethnic differences. The man wears a safari suit, the simplified Western dress favoured by white male civil servants in the final years of the colonial era.

Zambia attained independence as a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, on 24 October 1964.

The arms of Northern Rhodesia are shown below. These were in use until 1954.

In 1954 Rhodesia was joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The arms of the Federation were designed by M.J. Morris and include elements from the arms of all three territories. Granted by Royal Warrant on 22 July 1954.

Literature : Information provided by Mike Oettle, South Africa.

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