It was with deep shock and pain that we learned of the passing of yet another hero of the struggle for the total independence of Barotseland, Comrade Muyangana Muyangana. He was, in every sense, a brave warrior who never retreated in battle. He kept on believing in our cause and never allowed even sickness to change his conviction. In him was a man who truly lived for something he was ready to die for. This is sad indeed.
When we finally arrive at our destination and are reclining in our reed fenced compounds; when the history of our struggle is told, it will not be complete without acknowledging the sacrificial contributions the Muyanganas made. We would not be where we are with Barotseland’s independence today had it not been for the brave leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Muyangana. And with all honesty and humility, there are few among Barotse activists who can truthfully tell the Muyangana story better than the writer who lived and worked with them from the very beginning of their activism. In them, we lost a man and a woman who sacrificed themselves, their family and all their resources for the realization of Barotseland’s statehood.
The Muyanganas joined the struggle at a point when hope was almost gone. This was after all Barotseland Freedom Movement (BFM) activists had decided to call it quits following the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE)’s attempt to under-mine our objective of liberating Barotseland. Much to our displeasure, the Establishment had directed us to “work with” some Lusaka based activists who had been secretly advocating for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in an exclusive manner and only turned to the masses when signatures for futile petitions to the Zambian authorities were needed. It was during this period that the writer took it upon himself to go around Mungu, teaching and sensitizing those he could about the BA’64 and the implications of its unjust termination by the Zambian government in 1969. Among those who showed keen interest in the issue was the late Mrs. Grace Muyangana who in turn quickly informed her equally keen husband. Through this couple, BFM was able to re-group and introduce the struggle to the masses in a broader sense. We always believed that the Barotseland issue belonged to all Lozi people regardless of their position in society; the rich, the poor, the illiterate and the so called literate, the young and the old. It was not long before there were run-ins with the unjust Zambian police who initially refused to grant us permission to peacefully march to Limulunga Royal Village on 9th August 2010 and furthermore declined our request to hold a consultative meeting at Blue Gums Ground on 23rd October 2010. This was after the defunct National Constitutional Conference (NCC) had thrown out Barotseland’s submission to the then proposed Zambian constitution. Linyungandambo also came up around the same time and together we found common working ground. Our collaboration led to the unfortunate 14th January 2011 massacres and unjustified arrests. During 2010 and 2011, Mr. Muyangana suffered two harsh arrests while his wife endured one. At one point Grace had to go and live in the bush with her children, just to avoid arrest.
When Zambian general elections came about in September 2011, we saw that as an opportunity to get back at our persecutors. Although we could not entirely trust the Patriotic Front, we had, however, hoped that it wins the polls. The plan worked well in that we eventually found some much needed respite from Zambian attacks and further gained irreversible and priceless advances in our struggle. These were the unconditional release of all Barotse activists, the Roger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry (whose report remains a well kept secret), the historic Zambian State House meeting with the late President Michael Sata on 28th December 2011 which essentially resulted into the much more historical Barotse National Council Conference of March 2012. This was where Barotseland was unanimously declared independent of Zambia; a position that cannot and shall not be reversed.
There is no way how we could have got this far without the Muyanganas, given pre-BFM/Linyungandambo days when a few Lusaka individuals masquerading as Barotse activists schemed an exclusive elitist agenda that kept the so-called “semi-illiterates” out. Unlike these Lusaka boot-licker activists, the Muyanganas had bravely and uncompromisingly subscribed to the immediate independence; an ideal they both lived and died for. They are survived by children and grand children who now are the responsibility of all freedom believing Lozi people and friends of our struggle the world over.
Our sorrow is deep indeed. We never knew that after traveling for so long and so far together we would, today, have comrades of the Muyanganas’ and Mwangelwa’s caliber missing among us. However, we are assured of the fact that no position is left vacant in our ranks. Every spear that falls to the ground is quickly picked up by new and more zealous activists. Not even Honorable Afumba Mombotwa’s spear is buried in the sand. Our day of celebration is near. We may not get there together. But as a people and as a nation, we shall soon get there with joy. When we finally get home, we shall remember all our fallen heroes who fell in battle for our independence.
May their souls rest in eternal peace.
Shuwanga Shuwanga, BFM