The imposition of British colonial rule brought rural societies in Zambia to the crossroads of traditional and bureaucratic administration. Indigenous forms of government mediated central government institutions and regulated administrative changes. The majority of rural Africans were governed by composite structures. They were under a bureaucratic system but not part of it. The colonial form of local government, the Native Administration, was not a bureaucracy, though it may be considered a formal organization, in that ‘collective efforts were explicitly organized for specific ends’ (Blau and Scott, 1962: 223). Under colonial rule the principal ends were to maintain law and order and to collect taxes from the African majority. The indigenous political systems were left largely intact, and thus, politics was an intimate part of local government. This paper looks at one of these local systems of government and deals with its development and transformation through a number of phases, focusing primarily on the transitional period at the end of colonial rule (the late 1950s and the early 1960s) and the beginning of Zambian independence and on the persistence of traditional chieftainship as the basis of local government through the process of political change.