Freedom Railway


Chinese construction of Africa’s longest railway.


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Producer: Contempary Films
Year Produced: 1974
Running time: 45 minutes
Trailer:  Watch on Youtube
Watch online: ideo on demand


Chinese construction of Africa’s longest railway. Built by 14,000 Chinese people and 40,000 Africans, and financed by generous loans by the Chinese government, this was the largest infra structure in Africa. The Tan-Zam railway line links Dar-es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean with Kapiri Mposhi in the heart of the Zambian copper belt, 1900 km through jungles, over mountains and across swamps and great rivers. The thousands of trucks, bulldozers and locomotives, the engineering workshops and the steel for the rails and bridges came from China in Chinese ships. Greene also conveys how the Chinese and Africans lived and the relationship that developed between peoples of such different cultures. A truly epic construction. However today this great enterprise functions very poorly, using less than a tenth of its capacity. Its original reason for construction was that Zambia was surrounded by apartheid South Africa and colonies of European powers, and shipment of its copper was held to ransom on their railways. Now with the changes their shorter lines to ports are open again and are used more than the Tan-Zam to transport copper. But the Tan-Zam still serves a useful function in serving the many villages and small towns which have sprung up along its route. Also tourist traffic using luxury trains is growing.


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