Barotse Plains As World Heritage Site - Saleya Kwalombota

17 October 2014

Contained herein are my personal views and not representative of any group. Please forward my views to BRE concerning the subject which I feel should be debated with a heart of Barotseland people at grassroots.

What is World Heritage?

World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.


What does it mean for a site to be inscribed on the List?

Once a country signs the Convention, and has sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation.

What is the Convention?

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is an international agreement that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. It is based on the premise that certain places on Earth are of outstanding universal value and should therefore form part of the common heritage of mankind. The countries who ratify the Convention (States Parties) have become part of an international community, united in a common mission to identify and safeguard our world's most outstanding natural and cultural heritage. While fully respecting the national sovereignty, and without prejudice to property rights provided by national legislation, the States Parties recognize that the protection of the World Heritage is the duty of the international community as a whole.

How is a site inscribed on the List?

A site goes through a nomination process before being considered for inscription by the World Heritage Committee. A site can be proposed for inscription only by the country in which the property is located. In our case, since we declared independence, means Zambia is not legitimate to champion our property for such call. Allowing Zambia to go ahead will mean that our 2012 independence declaration have been invalidated. The other point to consider is the life activities of our people is around the Barotse plains hence, any such development could have done in consultation with the local people

Who owns a site once it’s inscribed on the World Heritage List?

The site is the property of the country on whose territory it is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to protect the site for future generations. Its protection and preservation becomes a concern of the international World Heritage community as a whole. Therefore, Zambia will be the one to be recognized the sole owner and this will completely render our independence claim irrelevant and will stand to lose our cultural heritage including our language.

How is the Fund used?

Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The World Heritage Fund is used to provide international assistance to States Parties in the following areas: preparatory assistance for the nomination of sites, training activities, technical cooperation, emergency assistance, or promotional and educational activities. In this case Zambia is the one who will get such money and filtrate our territory with their people to squander the funds while leaving our people battle economic difficulties that comes with conserved areas.


The Lower Zambezi National Park was due to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO if the Zambian Government did not allow mining there. The world heritage site is even protected to that extent of not allowing any mining activities. What this means is that the territory will have no exploration of wealth generation mineral in the plains. The Patriotic Front Government changed there direction in order to start mining activities to benefit both the country and community of lower Zambezi.


Why is this regime after the Barotse plains? For who's benefit? So many questions but few answers. The BRE and people of Barotseland should work hand in hand not to allow this scheme to go ahead. When it matters them, is when they think to use our Barotse professionals to mislead our BRE the way it happened prior to 1964 Northern Rhodesia independence. In addition to the World Heritage Site, it is a category too protected area – managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation.Defined by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas as a ’Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to

(a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations,

(b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area

(c) provide a foundation for spiritual,scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.

May the almighty God guide our parents at BRE and the LITUNGA to consciously prevail over this evil scheme meant to destroy our cultural heritage and sovereignty.

By Saleya Kwalombota

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