Militarizing Kuomboka proves Barotseland and Zambia are estranged - Lozis

06 April 2017
Author :   Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post
FILE: Thousands of Zambian soldiers and other security agents have occupied Barotseland since 2011, under the guise of some undisclosed ‘regular’ military operations.

 

The heavy deployment of security forces of the Zambia army, police and paramilitary troops for this year’s Kuomboka ceremony of the people of Barotseland is a sure sign of strained relations between the two territories, some Lozi nationals have observed, alleging further that the unprecedented move proves that Zambia currently administers Barotseland only by the barrel of the gun.

This follows official announcements by Zambia’s Home Affairs Minister, Stephen Kampyongo, that the Zambian government had deployed extra six hundred (600) paramilitary officers from Lusaka through his ministry to police the traditional ceremony slated for this Saturday, 8th April, 2017.

‘This deployment is unprecedented and a sure sign that things between Barotseland and Zambia are not cordial’, Muyendekwa Sishekano stated, reiterating his earlier appeal to the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) last month not to host Kuomboka this year until the outstanding contentious matters affecting  the territory had been harmoniously resolved.

Muyendekwa, a governance expert, further scoffed at the assertion that by attending as an honored guest, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia will be stamping his and Zambia’s authority over the contested territory of Barotseland, but rather the heavy presence of Zambia’s military and security personal at the Kuomboka actually validates the submission that Zambia currently rules Barotseland only by the barrel of the gun, typical of colonialist mentality.

‘In reality, Barotseland is an occupied territory since 2011 with thousands of foreign military and security personnel from Zambia traversing the Lozi country, and now extra six hundred paramilitary police from Lusaka just to police the Lozi traditional ceremony? What is next and what are they afraid of, when the Lozi are a peaceful citizenry?’ asks Muyendekwa.

His observations are widespread as currently, Barotseland is peacefully advocating for self-determination from Zambia since its March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) which unanimously resolved to pursue independence from Zambia after the latter’s rejection of repeated appeals to honour a pre-independence 1964 treaty that had provided for the autonomy of the Barotse territory within the republic of Zambia, which the government unilaterally and completely abrogated by 1969.

Zambia’s heavy-handed response to the demands of Barotseland self-determination has enforced indiscriminate mass arrests of all those perceived to be pushing this agenda with the imprisonment of the Barotseland independence leader, Afumba Mombotwa, and two other members of Barotseland’s August 2013 declared transitional civil government, who are currently serving ten (10) year prison sentences with hard labour in separate jails located in remote northern provinces of Zambia far from Barotseland.

AND the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) First Trustee, William Harrington, has said that the people of Barotseland do not want to see unnecessary heavy presence of police on the streets of Mongu during the 2017 Kuomboka ceremony.

Mr. Harrington, speaking on Zambia’s independent MUVI television yesterday, has since appealed to Home Affairs Minister, Stephen Kampyongo, to handle the Barotse ceremony with caution as the people of Barotseland are peaceful and non-violent.

‘Kuomboka’ is a Lozi word which literally means ‘getting out of water’, and more specifically, the movement of the Barotse monarch from the flooded lower land Royal Capital of Lealui to the Highland Capital of Limulunga.

During the voyage and ceremony, thousands of people from all over the country and overseas crowd both palaces to follow the spectacular proceedings clad in traditional and national dress, the Musisi for women and Siziba for Men, amidst various cultural dance performances like Liwale for women and Ngomalume for men. 

 

Video Courtesy of MUVI Television.

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