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Zambia Commemorating End of WWI without special mention of Lewanika I, Sir Mwanawina III (KBE) Kings of Barotseland hypocritical

28 November 2018
HRH Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, visiting with families of World War Veterans during the centenary commemoration of the end of the WWI


Commemorating the end of World War I without a special mention of the contribution of King Lewanika I and his son, Sir Mwanawina III (KBE) King of Barotseland, is one of the most hypocritical stunts the Zambian state has pulled thus far.

In their centenary celebrations, slated for the northern Zambian town of Mbala where the last war shots were allegedly fired, government officials keep talking of how Zambia contributed 2000 plus soldiers to the war but conspicuously neglect to mention that, in fact, the 2000 of the about 2300 soldiers were actually from Barotseland, and were contributed to the war by King Lewanika I under the command of his own son, then Sergeant Mwanawina.

King Lewanika did not only send the 2000 men from Barotseland but he also reportedly contributed £1400 towards the war which later Germany, through their territories of Germany East and South West Africa, Tanzania and Namibia, intensified in Africa.

From independently recorded history, we further understand that it was his involvement in this war as commander that Mwanawina III was later knighted with the SIR title, and also given the highest honour ever given to any African; the honour of Knight Commander - of the Order - of the British Empire (KBE) for his additional involvement in the Second World War.

This was during the famous New Year Honours of 1959, at which the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, honoured and knighted many people in the Commonwealth realms, including Mwanawina III who was actually given two Honours; the SIR medal for the Services Mwanawina, who was then a Sergeant, rendered to the British during the First World War, commandeering the 2000 Barotse porters up to Serenje, and the second Medal of Knight Commander - of the Order - of the British Empire (KBE) was for his services he rendered when he was the Senior Chief of Mankoya, by assigning his subjects to provide rubber from Mambongo tree species, a special rubber substance, needed for Weaponry hardware during World War II to the British.

Must Zambia re-write everything that has to do with Barotseland? Would it not be fair to simply state historical facts as they were?

If the Zambian State can invite the grandson of the then German Commander to the Mbala ceremony, would it hurt to also have the grandchildren of Lewanika I and Mwanawina III, many who are still alive among us or officially involve the Barotse Royal Establishment, BRE, in the ongoing celebrations?

In our view, both Lubosi Lewanika I and Sir Mwanawina III, KBE, deserve the highest honours available in Zambia for not only their respective involvement in the World Wars but also for shaping Zambia as a country and as it is known today!

If the British honoured Sir Mwanawina III with the highest honour given to any African, why would the Zambian state not consider Sir Mwanawina III worthy of any honour?

In fact, we understand that Mwanawina was “the first and the last African to be so honored”, and that the services King Lewanika I rendered to the British culminated from an understanding between him and King Edward VII in 1902 at SPITHEAD - a site where the King or Queen of England inspects the immensity of weaponry power of Great Britain in the AIR, LAND and SEA.

This agreement, we understand, was after the two Kings had a luncheon and a conducted tour for the Barotse King to see the treasures of Britain.

Consequently, when World War One broke out in 1914, Lewanika wrote to the British Government that he was ready to join the war alongside Britain according to the Spithead Agreement.

At first, Britain replied that as much as it was a good idea for Lewanika to get involved in the war, unfortunately the weapons used were too advanced for the Africans to operate or plan for.

Lewanika then contributed £1400 towards the War.

Later, however, Germany intensified the War in Africa through their territories of Germany East and South West Africa, Tanzania and Namibia.

It was then that Britain requested for 2000 Porters from Lewanika, and within a couple of days, 2300 troops were assembled at Mongu's Nandimba site en route to Livingstone to board a train under the Command of Lewanika's Son Mwanawina.

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