BAROTSE CHANGE: Better arrive than travel forever hopefully!

08 March 2017
Author :   Lindunda Wamunyima, Barotseland Post

Around mid-20th century, a psychologist named Kurt Lewin identified a three - stage model of change developed to understand change in an organization. His model is the description of a three stage process of change known as Unfreeze, Change and Refreeze. This model has proved to be foundational to many change models and programmes for over half a century now; since 1950. This means the model is still applicable and a sure basis of Barotse Change approach today.

Therefore, it is in order to reflect on it and see how it affects Barotseland’s Independence Programme, doing so to understand our own Barotse Change programme better each month that comes our way. In fact, today we stand as a unique and credible case study for future change studies references concerning this very subject.

UNFREEZING STAGE

This is the first stage and the hardest of the three stages of change. It involves preparation of an organization to accept that change is necessary, including breaking down of the existing status quo to build up a new way of operating. I find this change principle meeting its greatest fulfilment in the famous BNC of 2012. This was simply the unfreezing of the Barotseland equilibrium and breaking the stability of the so called “Western Province” so that our old and ineffective colonial business practices as ‘Zambians’ could be unlearned and seriously consider our adopted new way of life in the independent Barotseland. It was both confrontational and breaking process because it involved the opening up of the shell of complacency in Zambianism and brought up the emotional stir-up, needed to break down the status quo of “Western Province”. As a change process stage in Barotseland it is and has been lengthy primarily characterised by unlearning and crisis (uncertainty) because THE BASIC TENDENCY OF PEOPLE AFFECTED BY CHANGE IS TO SEEK A CONTEXT IN WHICH THEY HAVE RELATIVE SAFETY AND FEEL A SENSE OF CONTROL. In establishing themselves, they attach their sense of identity to their environment ‘Zambia’. This creates a comfortable inertia and entropy from which any alternatives, even those which may offer significant benefits like New Barotseland, will cause discomfort; hence the resistance to Barotse Change we see in BRE’s dissidence, Zambia’s defiance and disillusionment of Barotzis traitors like the proposed MRE (Mbunda Royal Establishment) and others. Unfortunately, their envisioned safety and control has been illusory leading to the insecurity and loss of control, for instance, by BRE and Northern Rhodesia on Barotseland because the ULTIMATE COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE OF BAROTSELAND IS A MUST; WHETHER VIEWED FROM UNILATERAL SECESSION BY THE ENEMY OR SERIOUSNESS OF 2012 BNC PERSPECTIVE IN RESPECT OF INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMARY LAW LIKE THE VIENNA CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF TREATIES.

Talking about the New Barotseland through the 2012 BNC Resolutions is rarely enough to move Barotseland citizens from our 'frozen' state as Zambians and therefore, significant effort has been a need to 'unfreeze' us and get our people flowing, moving or changing. This stage usually requires Push methods to get people moving, after which Pull methods can be used to keep them going. Then we can say Barotzis are change ready for the New Barotseland’s complete independence. The term 'change ready' here is used to describe people who are unfrozen and ready to take the next step. Some of our people came ready for change whilst others are still taking a long time to let go of their comfortable current Zambianship realities typical of Zambianism but atypical to New Barotseland culture.

Unfreezing is the first of Lewin's change transition stages, where people are taken from a state of being unready to change to being ready [available, willing and able] to make the first step. Unfortunately, some of the elite Barotzish were initially available (unfreezing) but are no longer willing and able to resonate (flow/ move) with Barotse Change for fear of losing their personal aggrandised wealth from their Zambian enterprises.

However, I do hereby argue that not all is lost as yet and we have a duty to rescue whoever is willing to be rescued from the plague and leaven of Zambianism. There are some Push and Pull techniques done to mark this stage in Barotse Change like:

1.    Barotseland-wide System Planning strategy was employed when everyone planned together through the BNC system of representation and governance, to set formal objectives in form of Barotseland Emancipation Order, UDI mandate imperatives and Barotseland National Constitution framework all to act as catalysts and sureties for our unfreezing.

2.    Burning boats and bridges to create or expose a crisis such that you cannot cross back to ‘Zambia’. E.g. renouncing Zambianship and its IDs to avoid the unfreeze entropy. Unfortunately not all of us, our elders and leaders did burn the boats in 2012 to this very end, and hence the tendency to retreat or linger to and fro between two opinions of Zambianship and Barotzish!

3.    With BTG’s inception we were commanded to move forward, challenged and inspired to achieve remarkable milestones pertaining to the 2012 BNC Resolutions and independence imperatives like the recognition by UNFSA, UNPO and FFSA and other accomplishments.

4.    Cold, hard data was availed as to why Barotse Change; the evidence of abrogated BA ’64 Treaty an honourable document protected by international law and thus difficult to ignore.

5.    Restructured changes in Barotseland governance were announced aimed at forcing behaviour change; BRE to RBG comprising the Monarch and Civil as Constitutional Monarchy governance structure.

TRANSITIONING STAGE

This is moving stage also called change, marked by recognition of need to change and acceptance of change by majority of organisational members. This is why nothing will ever beat the import of 2012 BNC meeting because apart from being a unanimous Barotse action it is a done irreversible deal, in the history of Barotseland. After the uncertainty created in the unfreeze stage, then change or transition stage is where people begin to resolve their uncertainty and look for new ways to do things.

The key part of Lewin's model is the notion that change, even at the psychological level, is a process or journey rather than a simple step accomplished in a moment of time. This means that the journey may not be that simple and the change target persons may need to go through several stages of misunderstandings before one can transform into the expected outcome. Particularly, it is a stage when Barotseland business is in transition to new ways of operating as a new nation and state - A STAGE THAT NEEDS TO BE DYNAMIC FOR BAROTSE CHANGE OR ANY OTHER TO BE EFFECTIVE, WHILE TAKING SOME REASONABLE TIME AND PERIOD OF OCCURRENCE. Indeed time has passed since March 2012; a period of five (5) years of Barotse Change this year on 27th March, 2017. With the elite British protectorate status lost and the surrogate protector Zambia harassing Barotseland more prowess of every kind is required to root out the insurgent dissidence among our people and ‘elite’ elders who are now changing goal posts and walking back over their word and pledge of allegiance to New Barotseland!

A classic trick in transition or change stage is for the leaders to spend months or years on their own personal mindset transitions but then expect everyone else to cross the gap in a single jump; it does not usually happen that way. In fact I can say here that in any given organisation subjects rarely will get above the level of the moral prowess of their leaders! That is to say, if leaders are cowards few or none of the subjects will dare surpass their leaders. It goes without saying that if leaders are not united at this stage the subjects can easily become like sheep without a Shepard and so forth. Transitioning therefore, requires time, ardent leadership and uncompromising forceful programme of action. This is consequently true because leaders usually go without some form of coaching, counselling or other psychological support and yet are expected to be the source of the same freedom struggle virtues and offer help to subjects on the same issues. Otherwise, it becomes disastrous if leaders are disoriented to the very cause. Could this be our predicament in Barotseland, a situation that squarely depends on the political leadership to remedy now? In fact, what is happening to our monarch system is a clear testimony that absolute monarchy is obsolete and a bygone in 21st century dispensation of governance; needs a strong and auxiliary political arm.

Further observations indicate that although transition may be hard for an individual, usually the hardest part is to unfreeze. At least we started the transition in 2012 so we must be ready to change and then refreeze sooner than later. Even when a person is unfrozen and ready for change, that first step can be very scary. That is why all the fears displayed by our folks opting out to be either ambivalent or betrayers of Barotse Change in preference for Zambian economic alms and other perceived benefactions!

Transition can also be a pleasant ensnarement just like Robert Louis Stephenson once said that at this stage some people would rather adopt the ‘better to travel hopefully than arrive' mentality. When people in change are fearful, complacent or become comfortable in temporary transition comfort situations, where they are not accountable for the perceived dangers of Barotse Change prospects and where mere talking about Barotse Change become a pleasant substitute for real action as better than pursuing the main objective of the journey commenced, then people are simply joyfully and hopefully travelling toward the goal! Sadly this well depicts our current transition plight – there is more talking than transitional action. We have not yet arrived at the vision and therefore, WE BETTER ARRIVE THAN TRAVEL JOYFULLY AND HOPEFULLY! One way to do this is to keep our attention off the distracting “hopeful” issues ensuing in Barotseland and preserve our ultimate focus onto the 2012 BNC Vision. Some of the Push and Pull methods or ways of entrenching this include the following:

1.    Making personal noticeable incremental change gains in transition toward a purely Barotzish mindset change.

2.    Challenging and inspiring ourselves to change bad current affairs into positive remarkable achievements and landmarks of the transition stage.

3.    Offering coaching and psychological support to our leaders who are feeling the most heat of the transition.

4.    Those in command should tell us what to do periodically to accelerate and maintain the momentum of Barotse Change at its crucial dynamic level.

5.    Using available facilitators from within Barotseland and diaspora to guide Team Barotse and to exploit and maximise the power of synergy into our change programme – TUKONGOTE!

6.    Involving everyone by giving them an important role to perform somehow, e.g. “nokushimba” to network amid the intolerant political environment.

7.    Providing more open space to our people to talk about what concerns them; like we see through our media houses so far.

8.    Re-skilling ourselves especially our “lone” leaders in requisite new knowledge and skills in successful management of Barotse Change.

9.    Restructuring or redesigning Barotseland by the use of dynamism to force the needed behaviour change.

REFREEZING

When the changes are taking shape and people have embraced the new ways of working, the organization is ready to refreeze. At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to 'refreeze', putting down roots again and establishing the new place of stability; ensuring that Barotse Change sticks and gets embedded into our new best practice activities. Our actions now match the intended Barotse Change imperatives and strictly reinforce stage 2 transition and bring about the stability of the completely independent New Barotseland.

In practice, refreezing may be a slow process as transitions seldom stops cleanly, but go more in trails of bits and pieces. THE COMMON DANGER THAT MAY BE EXPERIENCED IN THIS STAGE IS WHEN MANY PEOPLE FALL INTO A STATE OF CHANGE SHOCK, WHERE THEY WORK AT A LOW LEVEL OF EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS IN ANTICIPATION OF THE NEXT CHANGE PHASE; COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE. As the result “It's not worth it” becomes a common phrase when people are asked to improve what they do. We should work hard against this syndrome not to become a stumbling block to Barotse Change this time around.

Refreezing Push and Pull Techniques in Barotseland include but not limited to the following, aimed at   transforming people by taking them from a state of being in transition and moving us to a stable and productive state. Here are some ways to make it happen:

1.    Burning Bridges and boats this time to ensure there is no way back to ‘Egypt’ of Zambianism. This is the disengagement; individually and nationally, from every Zambian way of life in form of identity documents, currency, and so on in preference for our own to actualise the complete independence of ourselves and country.

2.    Showing the stream of evidence to Barotse populace unambiguously and assertively that the Barotse Change is real, certain and irrevocable.

3.    Institutionalization by building Barotse Change into the formal systems and structures of Royal Barotseland Governance (RBG).

4.    Mass communication of new information or updates to inspire Barotse citizens to keep looking to the future for a completely free and Independent Barotseland.

5.    Aligning rewards with behaviours accordingly; the erring Barotzis must urgently be censured accordingly and the compliant ones reinforced – calling spade by its right name so as to deter any further proliferation of bad influences that have a tendency to impede the refreeze change.

Tukongote, Litunga ni lyetu!

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