The short answer is a categorical NO!
We understand how some Barotse nationals might be feeling in Zambia where it is not uncommon for them to be treated as second class citizens.
However, while we agree that Zambia has been pursuing Bemba hegemony since 1991, and we have proof of this ‘Bembalization’ agenda, in reality such an anti Bemba/Nyanja campaign would dilute our Barotseland NATIONAL struggle for independence, reducing it to a mere TRIBAL campaign against Bemba and Nyanja.
Rather, Barotse should now wholesomely boycott Zambia national events and activities such as elections, independence celebrations, government officials, etc. because our struggle is for BAROTSELAND independence from ZAMBIA and not a tribal fight against Bemba, Nyanja or any other tribe or language for that matter.
In fact, the Barotseland struggle should not even be ‘anti’ Zambia, as Zambia could continue to exist as Barotseland’s neighbor long after Barotseland attains full independence – although it might make more sense for the territory that remains to change its name since the Zambezi River where the name ‘Zambia’ was derived from will no longer be on the territory. However, our campaign is and should continue to be for Barotseland’s right to exist as a sovereign state separate and independent from Zambia.
Barotse people should be known for what they stand for rather than for what they stand against in this matter. Therefore, when complaining against Bemba hegemony in Zambia, we ought to be very careful so that we are not misunderstood to be pushing a TRIBAL agenda.
Besides, Lozi people have intermarried with Bemba and Nyanja people for over sixty years! Therefore, even in independent Barotseland, some of our children, parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents and other relatives may be Bemba, Nyanja or any other Zambian tribes Barotse have intermarried over decades, with full constitutional rights, and like all other Barotse citizens from inherent tribes of Barotseland such as maKwangwa, maSubiya, maLuyana, maNkoya, maMbunda and the rest of the other 35 plus linguistic and or tribal groups of Barotseland.
Bemba or Nyanja is not really our problem. We should, however, encourage and campaign for the use of our own siLozi language, which has been a lingua franca in Barotseland since its emergence after the 1830 maKololo invasion and has earned its place as an official national language. Barotse must be made proud of siLozi as a national language in Barotseland without the necessity of mounting an ANTI-BEMBA campaign.
Barotseland as an independent democratic constitutional monarchy will be an OPEN country that any person from anywhere on earth, including Zambia will be free to visit or settle in as a citizen or foreigner as long as they abide by the sovereign laws of the kingdom.
For further reading, please, refer to the article we did some time back on the same topic here titled ‘A Bemba will be as much a LOZI as a Luyana in new Barotseland’.
Kozo shangwe and hopefully you will actively campaign for Barotseland’s independence from Zambia through any of the existing political and liberation movements existing in Barotseland, and please, advise all others that you see pushing this tribal agenda against other tribes to stop it as it is not what the Barotseland independence struggle is about.
Editor General, Barotseland Post