In a letter addressed to the Litunga through The Barotseland Post Editor, the anonymous Barotse national bemoaned the lack of forum for the free expression of what he termed ‘deep frustrations’ of the people of Barotseland without heavy handed Zambian state reprisals.
“Therefore, I wish to use this platform [Barotseland Post] to call upon His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, to come to Lusaka and speak to the Commonwealth Secretary General and to the President for the release of all incarcerated Barotseland Activists,” passionately appealed the anonymous Lusaka based Barotse national.
He further called on the BRE to travel with the Litunga to demand for the unconditional release of all the arrested Barotse people just like others have done for Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and some UPND members, using various interest groups such as the church, civil society and international organizations.
The Barotse national, who blamed the current agitations for an independent Barotseland on the despicable poverty, high unemployment levels and other socio-economic ills, said it was very depressing to see what had become of the once thriving Barotseland which was arguably the first to experience modernization, industrialization and western civilization in the now republic of Zambia and the larger part of the entire sub-region.
The letter is here below reproduced.
When analyzing the situation in ‘Western Province’; the levels of unemployment, poverty and under development compared to what they were at the formation of the republic of Zambia, you realize that calls for the unconditional release of all currently incarcerated Barotse Activists in Zambian jails are well justified.
The injustice is too deep and humiliation so unbearable for Barotseland, a place that was once at the helm of modernization in the entire region; with western education, its historical contribution to both police services and defense forces in maintaining order, its participation in the first and second world war, and later its role in the independence of what is now called Zambia.
Yet what is now reduced to Zambia’s Western province has no industries, factories and has nothing except the Zambezi river and magnificent Barotse flood plains, whose fish is being depleted and timber trees indiscriminately cut.
Zambian government programs are not feasibly implemented year after year.
The smell and sight of poverty is at every gate, door, living room and bedroom. A large population is marginalized mainly because there is literally no employment. Those who finish Grade twelve studies disappear for Zambia’s capital city or the ‘richer’ Copperbelt in search of employment.
The majority of the population relies on subsistence fishing which earns them very low income. Further, the abrogating of the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement 1964 has over the years caused the high level of poverty. Therefore, the government of Zambia cannot justify their control of the ‘western province’. This is the driving force for the people to advocate for a separate country under its own government.
It is against this and numerous other factors that the people of Barotseland have risen to advocate for the Independence of the once autonomous territory.
They know that successive Zambian governments have not helped them.
Fifty three years after Zambia’s independence, Barotseland has no single public university or proper colleges for that matter, in spite of education as we know it today having started in Barotseland, the first in the sub-region, at the turn of the 20th Century.
Zambian government representatives and employees merely seem to work in order to earn their salaries with no real intentions or efforts to relieve the people from their burdens of poverty and injustice.
Worse still, there is no forum where the people could express their dissatisfaction and deep frustrations without being arrested. When election time comes, the people vote for and endorse promising candidates who conspicuously turn silent over Barotseland matters and do not deliver on their electoral promises once in government.
As such, I wish to use my right of expression and through this platform to call on our Litunga, the King of Barotseland, to come to Lusaka and speak to the Commonwealth Secretary General and to the President for the freedom of all incarcerated Barotse Activists.
The Barotse Royal Establishment should also travel to Lusaka to demand for the unconditional release of Mr. Afumba Mombotwa and all the arrested Barotse people like others have done for Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and some UPND members.