Actually, they do not mean it! If they did, why would they want to spend nearly a million kwacha of taxpayers’ money to try and bribe some BRE officials and their cohorts, to constitute a sham of a dialogue process that has set predetermined outcomes, if they could simply make that decision with the Litunga as the sole and only authority in Barotseland?
The same Zambian government has even permitted some disgruntled Lozi individuals to drag their so-called immense Litunga to their courts of law in litigation, only because such embarrassment momentarily suits the government agenda, meanwhile, they continue to protect and offer their own Republican President immunity from prosecution!
So, who is fooling who here? On one hand, the Zambian government wishes to claim that our Litunga is above the law in Barotseland and can act unilaterally, and yet, on the other hand, they have permitted the Litunga to be dragged before Zambian courts in Mongu where he has been made to submit before their own court officials!
When it suits them, they claim the Litunga is above the law, and yet at other times, they have been quick to mock the Litunga as ‘just like any other chief’ in Zambia without any real powers!
When we say the Litunga in Barotseland does not make personal decisions on behalf of the nation, we are not implying that he is a powerless figure or that he does not wield any such immense powers over the nation! Far from it! The Litunga’s powers are in fact so immense that in Barotseland, he is considered above the law! Except he, as King, must always regulate and limit his conduct to the same national laws and cultural norms which he reigns over, whether these laws and norms are codified or not!
It is sometimes very hard to explain Kingdom Principles to non-kingdom people around Zambia and the world! So, for the sake of illustration, allow us to briefly draw parallels with the concept of the ‘Sovereignty’ of God as King and supreme ruler!
God is King and rules over His kingdom we call the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of Heaven, and the earth is a part of this Kingdom! He is supreme, all powerful and all knowing! No one could really instruct him or control Him! He can do anything at any time and to anyone in any situation!
However, when it comes to His interaction with His creation, especially in the realm of the earth and over the affairs of mortals, God has given His dominion to mankind, his most treasured possession and subjects He created in His own image!
Aside from granting man, male and female, dominion over the earth, He gave them a ‘free-will’, to the extent that mankind could freely choose to not only rebel but also deny the existence of God as creator and supreme ruler! In this way, mankind could also freely choose to yield to His reign as King!
In this concept of ‘kingship’ and ‘kingdom’, God as the sovereign ruler and King could overrule man at any given time! In reality, however, God must not and will not overrule mankind because He, as God, is also bound to His own word and honor when he said;
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 [ESV]
So, in spite of God being supreme and sovereign, He is also ‘bound’ by His own word through which has delegated His power to mankind - literally making God ‘illegal’ on earth and over earthly affairs!
For God to act and be ‘legal’ on earth, He almost always must work in consultation with and through mankind! Is it any wonder that mankind must always pray and petition or invite God before he could act on their behalf? Even to execute mankind’s redemption plan, God had to come as and through the man Jesus, even when He, as God could simply have done it arbitrarily! In this act, although above any laws, God submitted Himself to earthly laws in order to fulfil the plan of redemption!
In fact, it is almost as though God, despite being a Sovereign ruler over the earth and universe, needs our permission or the instrumentality of mankind to be able to intervene or act in our affairs!
Could God act without our co-operation? Certainly, yes! He could, but He will not! Not because he is a powerless or uncaring figurehead, but because He must operate within earthly laws and only through mankind, the only visible ruler and owner of the earth, otherwise His well-intentioned actions may be challenged as illegitimate in the Earthrealm! And there are plenty of scriptural references to prove the above analogy which we will not get into at this moment!
The above illustration may sound nearly sacrilegious or blasphemous because the Litunga is only a King but not GOD! However, it is here used to merely explain a ‘kingdom’ principle to an audience that is largely Christian and may be living under a republic system of government!
In fact, we can even dare to say that governance in the Kingdom of Barotseland is actually closer to God’s governance than the governance in the Republic of Zambia!
People ignorant of these obvious differences between governance in the Kingdom of Barotseland and the Republic of Zambia, must be made to understand that whereas the president in Zambia, as an elected state official, is delegated or mandated by the popular vote to ‘act’ on behalf of citizens, the King in Barotseland is never voted into his kingly office, and could not possibly ‘act’ on the people’s behalf, but rather the people themselves must make their own national decisions, which the King must then endorse using his immense and sovereign authority into kingdom law!
Therefore, the Litunga will always exercise his sovereignty through the people and the various laws that govern Barotseland, even when he is above them!
So, anyone who says the Litunga is the ‘only and final’ authority must also know that by implication he is saying the people are really the ‘only and final’ authority because the word Litunga actually means nation or land, AND the people OWN the Litunga!
For instance, the Litunga’s signature might be the one visible on the Barotseland Agreement 1964, but in reality, it embodies the aspirations and decisions of the entire nation and people, not the person occupying the throne. The Litunga is an enduring and long-lasting institution while the occupants will come and go!
Great power demands great responsibility! So, the Litunga’s immense powers must be exercised with even greater responsibility!
In explaining Barotse governance, we have often tended to also make references to the governance of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland because of how similar the two are!
We are not British governance experts, but from the little we know, in Britain, like in Barotseland, the Queen’s powers are so immense that she is above all laws; owns everything and everyone, including her subject’s very souls as Queen and Head of the Church respectively!
Her powers are so immense that she could even overrule her people in a national election or referendum or on matters of faith and religion!
She could make laws, change laws as she is above all laws! She can overrule people’s votes and appoint her own Prime Minister, dissolve parliament, arrest or imprison anyone at will, kill anyone for no reason, declare war against any other country on earth without consultation!
She is simply above any national and natural laws!
However, in spite of all this immense power the British monarch wields, it is simply amazing that Her Majesty’s office will be the first to advise and guide you that Her Majesty does not act except at the advice and recommendations of the people through line ministries and parliament!
In fact, it will take extraordinary circumstances for her to use her powers unilaterally! Neither does she break British laws or commit any crime merely because she could! This is because as Queen, she is the custodian of the laws that she signed into existence! She will not violate these laws! This is what makes the monarchy in Barotseland and the United Kingdom to be called ‘limited’ democratic constitutional monarchies, different from a totalitarian or unlimited absolute monarchy!
So, ignore Zambians with their ignorance! As much as we know that the visible signature on the defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964 is that of the King and his Ngambela (Prime Minister), we also know that they only signed because the people made the decision prior to signing, that the king should sign on behalf of himself, his heirs, his chiefs, and the people!
A Barotseland Post Commentary for Saturday, 8th September 2018