Kitwe is the largest town in the Copperbelt. It is home to Nkana Mine which is owned by Mopani Copper Mines. The main centre where the banks are found is all concentrated in a small area around the Edinburgh Hotel. There are plenty of shops, take-aways and street traders. However, now that the new Mukuba Mall is open, most people tend to go there for shopping. The Mukuba Mall is on the site of the old Kitwe Zoo.
The main streets are tarred with some of the side roads dirt; all are in reasonable condition. Unlike Ndola, the roads have names on them so it is easy to find your way around.
Mopani Copper Mines has invested in Kitwe by completely renovating the Nkana Golf Club and also bringing the Rokana Sailing Club back to life and constructing a motorcross course.
Further afield on the road past Kalulushi is the Chembe Bird Sanctuary.
Kitwe has two football stadiums. The Arthur Davies Stadium is home to Power Dynamos; Nkana Stadium is the base for Nkana FC.
Every year Kitwe holds a large Commercial Show at its showgrounds in May.
- Old Map
During the search for minerals in Northern Rhodesia during the early 1900s, the deposits around Kitwe were identified by James Moffat Thomson, the local Native Commissioner, in 1910. In those days not much notice was taken of mineral deposits in Northern Rhodesia; all the business entrepreneurs headed to Katanga mines to the north in Belgium Congo.
The Rhodesian Anglo-American Corporation took over Nkana Mine as well as Bwana Mkubwa near Ndola and Nchanga in Chingola. The first shaft was drilled in 1926 at Nkana.
Under the agreement with British government, the mining company was responsible for the development of the infrastructure for their staff. The British government provided the public township which included the administration, hotels, shops and facilities for artisans.
Nkana township, under the mining company, had homes, a club, swimming pool, sports facilities, hospital and a school; water, sewage and electricity were also provided. The administrative centre near Nkana was called Kitwe after a stream which runs through the town. The stream was called Ichitwe. Ichitwe means a ‘large head’ and it is said that an elephant skull was found by the stream, hence its name. Ichitwe became Kitwe.
From the Great North Road by June Bohl: On June 5th 1932, I came into this world, the 4th baby born in the tiny Nkana mine hospital with Dr (Mrs) Fischer attending. More houses had now been built as far down as 7th avenue and we moved to a new house, with an asbestos roof, in Uchi Street. It was a short walk through the bush to the slimes dam, where we took dogs to romp around, and we would also play with the slimes mud.
Kitwe grew over the years and engulfed the Nkana township and eventually the area became known just as Kitwe.
Up until the 1970s the Copperbelt was very prosperous. Kitwe grew into the major town in the region.
It now has a population of over 500,000 and Nkana is a suburb of Kitwe.
We have shown part of the old areas of Kitwe and the street names. The street names were changed at Independence so the map is for any historical visitors to Kitwe.