This journalist spoke to a number of citizens, movements and officials of activist organisations to understand exactly what 14th January brings to their minds.
One man lamentably said; “mwanake, 14th January ki lizazi lelusalufa silami mwa mibili. Milili yayema, kakuli iluhupuza kuli, anytime malozi can be slaughtered just like chickens around a feast. And no one even cares to find out. Rodger Chongwe came here in 2015 to listen to our cries about Barotseland. Muiboni report?”. (my son, 14th January gives us goose pimples because it reminds us that anytime Lozis can just be killed like chickens during a feast, and no one will care.)
Many others spoke against the continued and perpetual mistreatment of the Barotse people by the government they constantly called Northern Rhodesia (Zambia's pre-independence name). They claim that from the time Bulozi (Barotseland) made a mistake of joining hands with Northern Rhodesia in 1964, the Barotse people have suffered ridicule, discrimination, incarceration, politically motivated arrests, torture and death.
According to unofficial reports but as pre-empted by Dr Roger Chongwe who was tasked by the Zambian State in 2012 under then-president Michael Sata, now deceased, on that fateful day, 19 people including a child under 10 years were killed directly in cold blood or as a direct result of the raid by government security agents, all at the instruction of Mr Rupiah Banda, then President of Zambia. Following that, more than 200 people across Barotseland were arrested and tortured, charged with high treason or seditious practices, only to be released some three months later without any trial or compensation for wrongful and torturous incarcerations. It is further rumoured that in Senanga, lies a mass grave in which several Barotse nationals were buried. More than 15 youths are still unaccounted to-date.
And yet the Zambian state-controlled media only reported two people had died.
Currently, some Barotse remain in Zambian prisons, notably the leaders of the Barotse Transitional Government, slapped with 15-year jail terms after some trial for treason in which the state was complainant, judge and executioner!
The Rodger Chongwe Commission, having been commissioned by then president Michael Sata remains hidden! The people of Barotseland are asking, where is the report? It appears, the report unearthed serious issues that the people of Barotseland have spoken, chief among them, their desire to be independent from Northern Rhodesia.
As nationals of Barotseland soldier on in their struggle for self-determination, this day 14th January shall be remembered and honoured. They hope that with the new spirit emerging at Namuuso, Barotseland independence is only a matter of time!