Self-determination is the process by which a group of people, usually possessing a certain degree of national consciousness, form their state and choose their own government. Self-determination is not a crime under international laws and politics. It is a right - an inalienable human right under the United Nations Charter!
"We refuse to join those in political grandstanding, singing that Kenneth Kaunda is a great honourable man when the facts and our conscience say otherwise."
As Zambia and the world celebrate Kenneth Kaunda’s 96th Birthday, most Barotse nationals will choose to frown upon the man they consider responsible for Barotseland’s forced assimilation in Zambia - the republic that continues to deny them basic human rights such as free assembly, conscience, association and their self-determination as envisioned in 1964 when Zambia gained its political independence from Britain in joint sovereignty with the Kingdom of Barotseland.
Before its independence, the Northern Rhodesia Protectorate co-signed The Barotseland Agreement 1964 with the Barotseland Protectorate and Britain (their colonial master) for the two to proceed to political independence from Britain in joint sovereignty on the condition that the Kingdom of Barotseland would retain its autonomy within the republic as it was for many decades under the British colonial government.
Kenneth Kaunda, the man whose legacy is currently in the spotlight on his 96th birthday, is the man who signed and agreed on behalf of his Northern Rhodesian government that Northern Rhodesia would proceed to political independence with Barotseland as one nation, with Barotseland retaining its autonomy within the Republic of Zambia - as independent Northern Rhodesia would later be called.
[Before you claim we are committing the crime of proposing tribal war or that we are peddling tribalism, help us understand. Why on earth would the Zambian government advertise a government job to be based in Mongu, Barotseland, and put the ability to speak siBemba fluently as one of the qualifications in a region where the predominant lingua franca is siLozi?]
Hegemony, the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas, is nothing short of what the Zambian government is doing today by the promotion of the Bemba language at the expense of others in the same republic and before you know it, every citizen will be compelled to accept it as the national language of the nation of Zambia.
Currently, Zambia is largely seen as Barotseland’s colonizer who cannot be trusted to make decisions of such magnitude as the proposed listing of the Barotse Cultural landscape as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO without thorough consultations with all stakeholders in Barotseland.
A one-time directive meeting with the Limulunga Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and the about ten Zambian Members of Parliament (MPs) who hail from the Barotse region does not actually constitute a wide enough consultative process even by the UNESCO set standards.
Therefore, our candid advice is to wait until such a time that the people of Barotseland could not only be consulted but also educated on the implications of nominating their entire homeland as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO - bearing in mind that the Barotse plains and landscape are not only a home to thousands of Barotse but that the Barotse also depend on it entirely for a sustainable existence!
Further, the consultative process must be undertaken without the current associated political overtones. Therefore, the Zambian government must, as a matter of priority, firstly resolve the outstanding issues surrounding Barotseland’s political status within or outside the Sovereign Republic of Zambia.
The Litunga (King of Barotseland) and the President of Zambia cannot possibly broker a deal to restore the Barotseland Agreement 1964 alone without constitutional amendments. Therefore, reports by some sections of Barotse media that THE CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019 - Bill 10, will restore the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964 after the two leaders allegedly brokered a deal earlier in the week are either misguided or misinformed. If the reports are true that some sort of deal was made by the two, then His Majesty is once again being played for a fool because constitution-making is a transparent affair which must require consensus from both the Barotse and Zambian nationals.
Further, it is not true that Bill 10 has included clauses to restore the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964. Therefore, it would be a great mistake for the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to support this fundamentally flawed Zambian constitutional amendment bill based on such misrepresentation of facts.
Factually, there is currently no proposal in Bill 10 to restore the defunct 1964 pre-independence agreement. However, the truth is that the Barotse Royal Establishment did submit something concerning the defunct 1964 agreement to the Parliamentary Select Committee, chaired by Raphael Nakachinda, whose terms of reference was to scrutinize the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, N.A.B. No. 10 of 2019.
In doing so, the select committee did invite submissions from stakeholders and witnesses and compiled a report which the committee must submit to the speaker of the national assembly as mere recommendations. These recommendations are not binding on the executive arm of government who were the drafters of Bill 10.
Incidentally, the Parliamentary Select Committee’s Report has largely rejected Bill 10 as it was presented to parliament before its deferment to February next year.
The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) is indeed like the proverbial stubborn fly that follows the corpse to the grave and is buried alive. One wonders if and when they will ever accept that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is as dead as a corpse that can never be revived, and clinging on to it, like they are doing, will merely lead the stubborn BRE and the Litungaship to the grave with it.
The Zambian state has made it crystal clear that as far as Zambia is concerned, there is no Barotseland to talk about. Yes, during the occasional election season and for political capital or whenever the state wants to profit from the dead Barotseland Agreement, politicians will stroke the Barotse ego by appeasing the Litunga as King over the ‘non-existing’ Barotseland and appear to be willing to resolve all outstanding Barotseland matters!
However, the truth is that Barotseland right now is an already divorced spouse who the more powerful spouse, Zambia, occasionally takes advantage of and rapes to their pleasure! But when will the BRE and Litunga Imwiko II wake up and realize that linyalo ni Naha Zambia li felile kale? [that Barotseland's marriage with Zambia has already been annulled irreconcilably]
Therefore, the Zambian state must be judged through its public legal and constitutional actions towards Barotseland rather than through the occasional sweet words the President whispers in the Litunga’s ears when in the secret chambers of State House or the Kings Royal Kashandi!
That Barotseland’s 1964 ill-fated marriage with the sovereign state of Zambia ended in 1969, is now a matter of law and public knowledge! Therefore, anyone who will promise to restore the dead 1964 agreement without first changing Zambia’s national constitution is playing both the Litunga and the BRE for a fool!
It was despicable to watch the republican president on national television publicly display a well-rehearsed orchestration by three self-imposed chiefs who have, for some time now, mounted an open rebellion against the Litunga, King of Barotseland, and to label their rebellion as ‘tribal conflicts’, even when the main architect among them is actually a blood relative of the current Litunga, is very disheartening.
If President Lungu and his Patriotic Front (PF) are not co-conspirators in this charade, then the Zambian President is being played for a fool by his regional political aides masquerading as civil servants, in the name of Permanent Secretary, Danny Bukali and his Kaoma counterpart, District Commissioner, Kennedy Liale Mubanga.
There are six common lies often told against Barotseland Independence by those who seek to stop or discourage it:
1. Barotseland independence will bring war to peaceful Zambia
2. Zambians have intermarried, so Barotseland independence will destabilize peaceful families
3. Barotseland will not survive as it is economically unsustainable
4. Lozis have invested a lot in Zambia and will stand to lose their investment
5. Other regions in Zambia will also demand independence
6. Barotseland’s borders extend to Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Botswana and Congo DR.
Let’s examine and debunk these common lies one by one.
The First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Namugala, may have just confirmed that the Zambian state is intent on destroying, in whole or in part, the entire nation of Barotseland, which amounts to the popular understanding of what constitutes genocide as prescribed by the United Nations (UN) Genocide Convention!
Article II of the Genocide Convention contains a narrow definition of the crime of genocide, which includes two main elements: A mental element and a physical element!
According to the United Nations convention, the physical element may mean any of the following five acts: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
While the Zambian state may argue that none of the physical elements listed above has ever been done in Zambia in specific relation to the Barotse people, definitely, the Zambian State can no longer deny that it has committed the mental element of genocide which according to the United Nations classification includes the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group!”
This mental aspect of genocide is what the Zambian state has been engaged in – a systematic intent to destroy, in whole or in part, Barotseland which qualifies both as a nation and ethnic grouping.
Rarely do we address individuals except when we have cause to believe their public sentiments represent a national or a sectional mindset that needs pointing out, calling out or deserves commendations. This is the case with our esteemed elder brother, Bo Simataa Simataa, whose recent public sentiments on Barotseland must be addressed because he, like many others, are today apparently struggling to reconcile themselves with the ongoing increase in separatist feelings among many, especially younger Barotse people in Zambia and Barotseland!
Therefore, rather than think that this is an attack aimed at our brother’s person, we would hope that this is taken as an interrogation of his kind of mindset about Barotseland, which unfortunately is still shared by many others! We sadly observe how he and many others suffer noticeable anguish whenever they encounter Barotseland nationalism, especially on social media! Although Barotse people are usually peaceful in their debates, Bo Simataa and his kind somehow believe it is wrong for any Barostzish person in Zambia to think of themselves as anything other than Zambian. Bo Simataa may be sincere in his recent cautionary views about Barotseland but we also think his recent warnings are wrong and misguided.
With His Majesty, The Litunga, King of Barotseland now back from what many agree was a splendid and spectacular historic royal visit to the tourist city of Livingstone, some were, however, unamused that Barotseland Post did not highlight the alleged flouting of some core cultural values of Barotseland!
“How can your publication (Barotseland Post) flatter Lubosi with such praise about his magnificence when you know very well that he is breaking cultural norms daily, uncharacteristic of the King of Barotseland?
“What is ‘Kupuwana Ceremony’ and how could you even think of using such a term for what Lubosi just did in Livingstone?” retorted one unhappy reader of our article on the royal visit, introducing herself as an angry and disappointed royalist and member of the extended royal family, who also went on to say she had since lost confidence in Barotseland Post, claiming further that she previously believed the publication would always defend Barotseland. She was now accusing the publication of apparently condoning and promoting Imwiko II and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in their gross violations of the long-established cultural traditions.
However, after a long discourse with her explaining that, as a publication, it was within our mandate to document and report on all major events taking place in Barotseland, factually and objectively for posterity, the complainant was pacified by further assurances that the Editorial team would write a commentary to include her actual concerns, among others.
In Barotseland, the Litunga is the owner of the land, water, forests and all animals, fish and birds. He is also the ruler and king over every inhabitant in the kingdom, regardless of their individual ethnicity, tribe, race or creed. His reign extends over whatever territory constitutes Barotseland. His position is very similar to that of the Queen in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!
In Zambia, however, the Litunga’s position and authority are so unclear that many people don’t know what his official or legal designation is in the nation’s laws or in the nation’s official policy.
This article, therefore, explores at length the facts and misconceptions about this matter to help the reader appreciate why there is so much controversy relating to the Litungaship in Zambia.