In the wake of repeated Rhodesian raids deep into Zambia, whites living in this normally easygoing African society are feeling more ill at ease and uncertain of their future than at any time since independence 15 years ago.
"Any more attacks and we are really going to be in trouble," remarked one liberal Zambian-born white.
Yet everyone here is expecting just that and assuming the Rhodesians are beyond caring if one of the effects of their raids is the destruction of good race relations in Zambia.
For the moment, the outburst of anti-white sentiment that saw several dozen Europeans pushed around or beaten up by angry Zambian mobs in downtown Lusaka early this month has subsided. But it has given a good case of the jitters to many of the 30,000 to 35,000 white residents, and some Dutch technical experts have abruptly canceled contracts and gone home.
"You don't know what to believe any more," said an elderly white woman, the wife of one of Lusaka's first tobacco growers who has retired to a farm outside the capital. "We are all a bit touchy."
The Rodesian air and ground attacks on nationalist guerrilla camps here have made Zambians suspicious that whites are Rhodesian spies or saboteurs as some certainly are. The local press has heightened suspicions, calling Zambian servants to report to the police on the activities of their white employes.
As a result, relations between whites and blacks, which generally have been excelelnt, are now uneasy. There are still sporadic incidents, with just enough evidence of some white collaboration withn the Rhodesians to keep Zambian suspicious aroused.
FOr example, last week an apparently innocent American tourist couple visiting Victoria Falls was detained by police for several days simply because they happened to be taking pictures in nearby Livinstone when a Zambian Army Land Rover passed by.
In another incident, a white woman who apparently got confused over which road she should take at a junction by the home of Joshua Nkomo, the Rhodesian nationalist guerrilla leader who resides here, was shot at by his guards for behaving suspiciously. She backed her car down the road in fright and ran it into a tree.
On Friday, a white farmer living 50 miles south of here was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison after police uncovered a small arsenal on his property, including several bazookas, hand grenades and AK47 rifles. The farmer admitted he had allowed his estate to be used by a storage center for the invading Rhodesians.
Zambians were incensed by what they felt was a light sentence, feeling the white farmer might have been tried for treason and sentenced to death.
Doubts about other farmers led guerrillas of Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union to abduct five Europeans in early November around their camps outside Lusaka and Livingstone. Several were tortured and one is not expected to walk again after his feet were slashed with a bayonet.
The abducted farmers were eventually handed over to Zambian police and released.
The basic reason for Zambian and guerrilla wariness toward whites in Zambia is that many of them have relatives living in Rhodesia and often travel back and forth via South Africa. Some whites even send their children to school in Rhodesia. The ties go back to pre-independence days when Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia, linked for a time in a federation with Southern Rhodesia - now called simply Rhodesia.
That many Zambian whites sympathize with the plight of their "kith and kin" in Rhodesia was made clear at a Nov. 12 meeting of 70 white farmers and their wives at Ngwerere, a small farming community outside Lusaka. Some of the farmers called the guerrillas "terrorists," just as the Rhodesians do, and threatened to stop planting and burn down their farms if something was not done by the government to curb alleged guerrilla excesses.
Zambian anger at these threats and haughty white attitudes was reflected in a speech Sunday by President Kenneth Kaunda at Mkushi, site of one of the recent Rhodesian attacks 12 miles north of Lusaka. He warned the farmers that if they thought they were indispensable to the Zambian economy and tried to threaten the country with starvation, they "get out."
"Don't think like the Boers in South Africa," he advised the crowd dotted with white farmers, some of whom were in fact Boers.
About 350 white farmers are credited by the Commercial Farmers' Bureau with accounting for 60 to 70 percent of all marketed farm produce, including 40 percent of the key staple crop, corn.
Some are Afrikaners, or Boers, who migrated from South Africa or Rhodesia before Zambia's independence and still speak English with a heavy Africaans accent.
Until recently, the whites of Zambia have had little to complain about under black rule. Many live on sprawling estates or in isolated rural communities as if nothing much had changed since colonial times. Most have servants, homes with swimming pools, exclusive sport and drinking clubs and expensive imported cars.
Generally speaking, whites are still held in awe and respect by Zambians. "Whites are still allowed to push, quickly," remarked Guy Scott, 34, a prosperous Zambian-born farmer.
He described white relations with blacks as traditionally "rather better" than some relations between black tribes.
Reflecting on the history of relations since independence, Scott said whites "definitely" had provoked most racial incidents.
However, there have been many armed attacks by Zambian and Zairian gangs on white farms lately.
The mounting crime rate is linked by most observers to the collapse of Zambia's copper-based economy that has resulted in massive unemployment at a time of high inflation and acute shortages.
Many of the 4,000 whites working in the northern copper mines are leaving because of crime, the high cost of living, shortages, steep taxes and the near impossibility of transferring money abroad in hard currency.