As young people we pioneered a vibrant advocacy for recognition and restoration of the BA64 in 2006.
Many things have happened between then and now, the most important being the cloudy issue of the BA64 that was sorted out, buried and a made a dead history.
Barotseland did not only come out of hiding, when GRZ was so oppressive of anyone discussing this issue, but has moved on to Independence.
Barotse youths were inspired by the legendary Barotse Cultural Association gatherings, and all the brave men and women of Barotseland who spoke on this matter; which at that time was carefully hidden by GRZ from everybody else.
From them, we learned something that was very important. They had been fighting for years, clouding out their voices to a nation that was too proud and stubborn even to notice.
Many were jailed without anyone noticing, were incarcerated, lost properties, were blacklisted and all kinds of things done to them. We admired their firebrand resiliency that they could continue discussing this issue under such hostility and threats.
However we discovered that their activism was missing a key component, the Barotse’s already existing Government Authorities, the Litungaship and the Kuta.
We disagreed with many others who wanted to take up advocacy without including these Barotse structures.
Rightfully, done, our humble lobbying through our committees in Barotseland and abroad, and a courageous social media , culminated into a wide uproar for the recognition of Barotseland, as well as the need for the Kuta to work with her subjects for a common goal.
In the days when the mention of Barotseland agreement was treason; we had to come up with a strategy to take on the cruel and often crafty GRZ which was always ready to bounce on anyone who mentioned Barotseland and caring only for their side of story, without listening to the cries of the people of Barotseland.
We hated (and still do) the detestable name of western Province, the addressing of the Litunga as a paramount chief, and worst of all, the crime of GRZ to disregard Barotseland structures which formed the democratic practices involving all peoples in the land. Instead they dealt with the Litungaship in the absence of legislative authority responsible for making laws, the judiciary responsible for behavioral control over those who dwell within the area of jurisdiction, and the executive, organs which were all functional before colonization of Barotseland and their subsequent destruction by GRZ.
We must be aware that while Litungaship is head of State in Barotseland, he neither makes laws or decisions for the people, a norm and tradition GRZ has tried to change by making this institution to be all organs of state in one.
Well that is the democratic practice in Zambia, a nation that has struggled with human rights, rate highly in police brutality and fairness in executing issues involving their citizens.
But this is Barotseland.
However, we agreed that there was no common sense in fighting GRZ or anyone using stones, guns or violence. Just as GRZ used their brains to destroy Barotseland, we would also use our brains to get back what belonged to us. We mobilized students, youths and pupils in all schools in Lusaka and Barotseland. Ours was a new approach to Barotseland solution. There was no turning back. Where ever there was a Barotse, we sought out to let them be aware of what was stolen from them.
So we took advantage of the Levy Mwanawasa instituted constitutional commission to air our views. We took advantage of the debates and brainstorming for a new constitution to press hard for the recognition of the BA 64 in the new constitution.
We took advantage of the fact that BRE also wanted the BA 64 in the new constitution.
Soon our committees were spread all over Barotseland in ever town, community, mikulos, minzis and everywhere! We actually attended kuta gatherings and started to press for action on this issue. We knew that we were within the legal framework to debate on anything during a new constitution enacting period. We soon came up with an idea that if GRZ rejected BA64 in their constitution, they have rejected us for the last time and we would then know what else we would do.
GRZ was committing adultery by insisting on Barotseland. He who has divorced his wife must let her go instead of continuing to keep her in his bed. Barotseland gave GRZ all meaningful avenues to think things over and do the right thing. But GRZ was stubborn. They called the advocacy for restoration of BA 64 as acts of terrorism, treason and all kinds of names. They refused dialogue. They refused every meaningful suggestion to solve the problem.
As freedom activists groups started to spring up, GRZ used social groups of the likes of the now AGAPE to call us all kinds of names. The worst happened. They came up with a draft constitution that had no Barotseland in it and insisted to continue taking us as their colonial concubine, the ‘western province.’
And of all, they sent their army and police to crack down, with extreme force on Barotse activists demanding for the BA 64 to in the constitution. It was at that time that we saw no need at all to remain part of Zambia any more. We had given them all our peace and requests but they had rejected us. So why should we be with them?
How can any person reject the wedding vow? How can the contract that made two peoples to belong together be rejected by one who rises up to be more powerful over the other and annul all the requirements for its existence?
Of course that was the Zambian way of doing things.
Barotseland was in uproar. There was wide spread discontent in Mongu, Kaoma, kalabo, Senanga, Lukulu and Sesheke.
People wanted total independence. Barotse were doing nothing wrong to demand for freedom and fairness. They had seen through the immoral face of GRZ.
President Rupiah Banda did not even want to discuss with us. He and his colleagues did not see the important of an agreement that made Barotseland to be part of Zambia, and Zambia to be in Barotseland. They have power, an army, money and guns. They could just come to Mongu and arrest everyone at will.
And that’s what they intended to do.
Lusaka, meanwhile suffering from the ignorance of this union of two nations, which their forefather Kenneth Kaunda had mercilessly hidden from them, took us the activists as evil people. They called us separatists, secessionists and all the negative publicity. Zambian media played the real colonizers. They refused to allow live debate on the issue. Civic organizations were sponsored to put their nails in the heels of Barotse activism. There was nothing good anymore. Zambia was not friendly to anything good other than western province remain her eternal colony.
Had GRZ been smart enough to try something they are trying now through Agape, maybe they would found one or two willing to go along with them, unlike now. At that time… Barotse had organized themselves well and had seen the importance of the Litunga and the Kuta to declare independence.
The Limulunga declaration was planned by courageous men and women of Barotseland.
There was no more need to beg Zambia to include BA64 in their constitution. Barotseland wanted Independence.
Zealous Barotse would organize a march and all peoples of Mongu would March to Limulunaga. There, no one could stop Barotse; a nation of 38 tribes and languages united under Litungaship and their Kutas, to declare their independence.
The goodness of Barotseland’s democracy! Every person is a member of the Kuta and can actually summon it. Constituency politics and democracy give raise to party loyalty, not the will of the people. That’s why Zambia is failing to in act a new constitution till now. Not Barotse democracy. People can convene a kuta (Parliament) and discuss and reach an agreement.
This is the democracy we want to preserve.
At Limulunga, the Zambian flag would be officially replaced, and GRZ would be kicked out of Barotseland. That was the taste of their own medicine. At that stage, no one could intervene to stop what the people want. Only force. Foreign force; like they did.
The Litunga would rule, once again, and our laws and organs of state would be revived.
But GRZ had enough Barotse sell outs on their side. They knew that No declaration made at the kuta by the people could ever be disputed. This is their greatest fear until now. It is not the Barotse activists. It’s the Kuta they fear.
Activists without the Litungaship and Kutas on their side are a waste of time and resources.
It’s the KUTA, which comprises the legally constituted assembly of Barotse, and can pass laws, statutes, orders and directions that GRZ fears. That’s why they destroyed the organs of Barotse Government and left only the Litungaship and a non representative BRE. The Litungaship agrees with what the kuta has decided. It’s what his people have decided. That’s all.
And that’s why they stopped the people to march to Limulunga and constitute a Kuta! But then Barotse had learned to use commonsense instead of emotions. The BRE and Namuso presided over by a full seating Ngambela and Kuta; called a PIZO, the assembly of the people of Barotseland to constitute the Barotse National Council of March 2012.
The BNC 2012 gave the final hammer on all matters concerning Barotseland.
All the Kutas in Barotseland to revert to the status before the BA 64 was signed arrived at a decision. That status meant that Barotseland can’t be part of Zambia any more, since only the BA64 made her to be. That status meant that Barotseland was now to rule herself and was no more a Zambian province. This was after GRZ had rejected Barotseland’s tireless efforts to have that agreement in their constitution. It was agreed that Barotseland must accept the abrogation (divorce) of Zambia’s Barotseland Agreement, and move on to re institute her governance structures in a free state of Barotseland.
The BNC was so cleverly organist that it comprised the institution of the Litungaship, who gave a go ahead to it, the Kutas, and the Barotse freedom activists.
Zambia’s defense chiefs, Ministers, MPs and high level officials were well represented at the function. Chiefs from other parts of Zambia were there. Politicians from various political parties in Zambia were there. It was by far, the most inclusive BNC ever seen in Barotseland. However by the time they realized what Barotse had done, it was already late and the following morning. Barotseland was now Independent, and no one could ever reverse it.
His Royal Majesty the Litunga had already consented to the resolutions and declarations and gave BRE the duty to implement them. Barotseland agreement was gone, dead and buried. In its place was a new agreement, the BNC Resolutions.
Therefore, talk about the Barotseland Agreement is like going back to eat one’s own vomit. We have moved forward and only a way forward remains.
Watch out for day 2 discussions