BAROTSELAND: Independence or Restoration?

29 August 2018
Author  Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post
FILE: A crowd during Kuomboka Ceremony, Barotseland Image Courtesy of voyazed


In restoration, the Litunga, King of Barotseland will merely be a glorified chief, with the superficial title of King, conferred on him by the Zambian president or government, which will be recognized only in Zambia, with a jurisdiction limited only to the Western Province - to be renamed Barotseland.

However, with Barotseland independence, Lubosi Imwiko II, King of Barotseland stands to be the first Sovereign De jure, Head of State of the Kingdom of Barotseland, who would be recognized by the whole world as such, and would freely interact with all the other reigning monarchs and presidents across the world as King and head of a sovereign state!

In restoration, Barotseland will only be confined to the territory currently named Western Province, while, with independence, Barotseland could CLAIM other districts such as Livingstone, Kazungula, Kalomo, Itezhi Tezhi, Namwala, Mumbwa, Kabompo, Chavuma and Zambezi which were ceded to Northern Rhodesia under some concessions with Her Majesty’s government for administrative convenience. Now that these treaties have all collapsed, having been annulled through the successor treaty, the Barotseland Agreement 1964, the Zambian state must lose its legitimacy over them as Barotseland reverts to her pre-treaty boundaries!

In Restoration, Barotseland won’t have an army, police and other defence wings, while independent Barotseland will have a right under international law to build its own security and defence forces.

It is highly unlikely that Barotseland will be allowed to have its own parliament in restoration. The Provincial Assemblies clause in the 2016 Constitutional amendment was rejected for being too expensive, and Zambian parliamentarians will not accept this for Barotseland alone unless the set-up was spread across all other Zambian provinces. With independence, however, Barotseland will establish an elective national assembly (Katengo) to form the lower chamber of parliament and another upper chamber for their Eminencies, Lords and Royal Highnesses to enhance checks and balances!

In restoration, the Civil and Public Service will still be run from Lusaka with continued discrimination, pruning and purging of Barotse people as Zambia continues with its shameful tribal hegemonic agenda.

In Zambia, under-development and poverty will continue to scourge Barotseland as the central government will continue to deprive the region of equitable development in preference to other regions of Zambia that offer more electoral fortunes to the ruling establishment than the less populated Barotse region. In fact, Zambia will continue to prefer an impoverished and subdued Barotse region, to perpetuate dependency, rather than a highly developed Barotseland region!

General dissatisfaction and civil strife will continue in Barotseland as the region will continue to be ruled with heavy-handedness to prevent or suppress any future uprising against not only the now alienated Litunga but also against the illegitimate Zambian central government.

Ethnic strife will continue in Barotseland as the Zambian state will continue to use tribe to divide, conquer and rule the Barotse region! It is no secret that the state has often used some Nkoya and Mbunda clique to show dissent. This way, the Litunga and the Barotse Roya Establishment, BRE, must continually pay allegiance to the central government to put this ‘rebellious’ clique under check! Similarly, the BRE and the Litunga are often seen to side with the general Barotse population whenever the Central government pays them little or no attention, and that way, the two establishments must continue to depend on each other for a balance of power!

Donor funds meant for the development of the Barotse region will continue to be misappropriated or diverted to other regions of Zambia to keep the region isolated in its poverty and under-development!

The region will continue to be a political battleground, always inclined to the opposition!

Restoration of the dead agreement will only benefit the King and his Ngambela, together with a clique of ruling elites such as the BRE and other indunas who may be put on a permanent government payroll, while the common Lozi people will receive no benefit at all! Independence, on the other hand, offers good prospects for all Barotseland citizens, irrespective of one's tribe and social status!

Whereas independence will enhance the full development of all our diverse dialectic and ethnic cultures, a continued stay in Zambia will lump all of our several diverse cultures into one imaginary tribe Zambia has called ‘Lozi’.

Only independent Barotseland will understand and appreciate that Lozi is not a tribe. It is merely a complex language or people group.

It is rather unfortunate, as one university lecturer, Mbinji Mufalo, has rightly observed in “The Barotse Question - A Dialectic Failure of Reason” that a language can be imputed to be tribal.

“How possible is that?” he asks, “when Lozi comprises dialect/language groups that include Kwangwas, Luyanas, Subiyas, Makomas, Nkoya (which is a language constituting Mashasha, Lushange, Lukolwe, Mbwela), Nyengos, Mbundas, Mashi, Mbowe, Kwandi, Mbukushu, Simaa, and Totela!”

These and many other problems would continue to plague the ordinary people of Barotseland if those in the current ruling class decided to make the mistake of buying into Zambia’s current treacherous maneuvers to sign a restoration of the dead 1964 agreement deal in exchange for and in total disregard of the unanimous independence vote concluded at the 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC).

The true and only salvation for Barotseland is independence, and Barotse people must courageously defend their declared independence just like their Batswana counterparts did when they refused to be federated with Rhodesia, or South Africa, even when the economy of Bechuanaland looked bleak.

They preferred temporary economic struggle in order to govern themselves than a life of subjugation under Rhodesia or South Africa under the guise of economic development!

Self-determination has no substitute! So, promises of peace and unity devoid of justice or assurances of improved equitable distribution of national resources for development should not dissuade the Barotse people from their march towards full independence of Barotseland!

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.