MUST READ: A general guide to Barotseland self-determination

23 April 2017
Author  Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post
A young Lozi student in Russia, Justice Kazunga, models the Lozi national and Traditional outfit for men, the siziba.


Although the concept of indigenous PEOPLES and their rights to SELF DETERMINATION is a lengthy and complicated subject, I will try to briefly explain it by firstly stating which international law and conventions support and promote these rights, and lay out the definition of Indigenous communities, peoples and nations which validate Barotseland as such a nation and the Barotse as such a people.

Later, some guidelines will be offered on what the people of Barotseland can practically do today in order to assert their right of self-determination. These guidelines will also include some cautionary ‘don’ts’ when asserting Barotse rights of self-determination.

However, this is not an attempt at creating a ‘hard rules’ book but a mere personal perspective from having closely followed the progression of Barotseland’s quest for self-determination since the January 14th 2011 Mongu massacre of innocent unarmed Barotse, who were killed by Zambian state agents, as they tried to peacefully assemble with their traditional leadership to collectively chart the way forward for their nation Barotseland.


The right to self-determination is contained in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December, 1966, and in force from 23 March, 1976.


1. All PEOPLES have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All PEOPLES may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may A PEOPLE be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.


The right to self-determination is a right of 'PEOPLES' rather than of individuals, and how they express it is entirely up to their collective agreement; for example, they could choose to exercise it within the mother state or outside of it.


In 2004, 19th -21st January, the United Nations DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS Division for Social Policy and Development Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held a WORKSHOP ON DATA COLLECTION AND DISAGGREGATION FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES in New York, to consider THE CONCEPT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.

One of the most cited descriptions of the concept of the indigenous PEOPLES considered was that given by Jose R. Martinez Cobo, the Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in his famous Study on the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations (UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7 and Add. 1-4).

Further, it is important to note that significant discussions on the subject have been held within the context of the preparation of a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (The Draft Declaration is contained in UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/2/Add.1 and was considered by a Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights) by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations since 1982. An understanding of the concept of “indigenous and tribal peoples” is contained in article 1 of the 1989 Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, No. 169, adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).


“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.

“This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present of one or more of the following factors:

a) Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them;

b) Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands;

c) Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.);

d) Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal language);

e) Residence on certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world;

f) Other relevant factors.

“On an individual basis, an indigenous person is one who belongs to these indigenous populations through self-identification as indigenous (group consciousness) and is recognized and accepted by these populations as one of its members (acceptance by the group).

“This preserves for these communities the sovereign right and power to decide who belongs to them, without external interference.” END.

BAROTSELAND meets the entire criterion above; distinct historical national identity and definite historical territory, which has existed as Barotseland, sustained through treaties, concessions and agreements, firstly with the British Empire and later with the government of the Republic of Zambia, agreements which the latter grossly abrogated unilaterally, resulting in the 27th March, 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) resolutions for Barotseland Independence.

Therefore, the above definition is the one I wish to adopt in this guide to Barotseland Self-determination.


First and foremost, it is important for Barotse people, and Zambians alike, to know that seeking self-determination is neither a crime nor necessarily a declaration of war on Zambia as it is provided for under the above stated international laws and conventions that Zambia is a state party to. It does not also mean loss of jobs, legally acquired property and professional or academic accreditations. Neither does it mean breakage of legally constituted marriages, families or other social religious ties. It simply means separate state sovereignty for Barotseland, unlike its current existence as a pariah or dependent territory under shared sovereignty with Zambia.

Barotse nationals are not Zambian by descent; therefore, they should, as much as practically possible, stop considering themselves as Zambian because they are NOT inherently Zambian. Their citizenship in the republic was based on and guaranteed by the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement 1964. This is a legal fact that even an impartial body of Zambian legal authorities acknowledged in the 2003 constitutional commission recommendations.

Since the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was unilaterally abrogated by Zambia in 1965 – 1970, and the abrogation having been formally accepted by the Barotse traditional authorities and general Barotse population in 2012, the Barotse people’s citizenship has now been left to the mere options of personal choice, conditioning and naturalization.

Although for now, and in the transition, the Barotse will continue to bear the green national registration card and Zambian money, etc, these will and can easily be renounced once there are alternatives exclusive for Barotseland. Rejecting of citizenship of one country is normal and non criminal, even under Zambian laws.

Barotse do not have to ‘like’ or ‘enjoy’ the present status quo. As such, they do not have to participate in optional activities such as joining Zambian political parties (PF, UPND, MMD, FDD and the rest of them).

One does not have to vote either, and it is not a crime NOT to vote in Zambia. The greatest message the Barotse can send to the world about the seriousness of their desire for self-determination is if all the polling stations in Barotseland territory were to register zero votes (or a handful) in periodic Zambian elections. The world media would report on the Zambian election results but the major story would be the fact that the region of Barotseland had shunned the Zambian elections because the region no longer considers itself a part of Zambia.

What a powerful statement that would be!

Zambians would not come and arrest all Lozi people for having refused to vote because there is currently no law in Zambia for mandatory voting. However, it is sad to see Barotse people continue to line up for elections and actively engage in political activities of a country which has continued to occupy Barotseland illegally.

Other ‘non-criminal’ or ‘passive resistance’ activities every Lozi could undertake without necessarily ensnaring oneself in the draconian Zambian laws or publicly declaring oneself a freedom fighter are actions such as shunning all public gatherings organized by Zambian politicians such as president Lungu, VP Inonge Wina, Minister Mubukwanu, Permanent secretary Liomba and all other meetings organized under the auspices of the Zambian government. It is not a CRIME even under Zambian draconian laws to 'snub' these politicians and their meetings. However, if one still works for the Zambian government and must attend, then they must attend. Time will come soon when one will be able to choose to work for the Barotseland government instead.

Secondly, snub performances by Zambian artists such as musicians, comedians, including sports activities such as Zambia’s Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) football teams. Instead, support your own local national musical/arts industry which is fast developing. In the long run, Barotseland will also establish a national football team, The Black Bulls of Barotseland, which will not be gunned down by Zambia’s Copper Bullets.

Thirdly, promote your Lozi culture; speak the national lingua siLozi or any of the 35 plus indigenous languages of Barotseland such as Nkoya, Mbunda, Subiya, Kwangwa, Nyengo, Luyana, Fwe, Totela, Toka and many others. There is no need to speak foreign languages when in Barotseland and when addressing fellow Lozis, unless it is a courtesy offered to visitors, who must also be encouraged to learn siLozi anyway.


The quest for Barotseland independence is a ‘national’ and not a ‘tribal’ matter between the nation state of Barotseland and the republic of Zambia. Therefore, Xenophobia and Tribalism are inimical to the cause of Barotseland. Hatred or hurting of those considered foreigners such as Bembas, Nyanjas, Mbundas, Chinese, English, etc is against Barotseland's laws and culture. Barotse people are known for their hospitality to visitors as evidenced during Kuomboka festivities.

Additionally, bear in mind that no tribe in Barotseland is more or less LOZI than the other because Barotseland is one strong nation. It is a common heritage to all Chokwe, Imilangu, Kwamashi, Kwandi, Aluyi, Luvale, Lushange, Mafwe, Maikwamakoma, Makololo, Makwamwenyi , Makwengo, Maliuwa, Malukolwe, Mambumi, Mandebu, Mashanjo, Mananzwa, Makwamulonga, Mahumbe, Mayauma, Mandundulu, Mashasha, Mbunda, Mbukushu, Matotela, Lushange, Luvale, Nkoya, Simaa, Subia, Mafwe, Nyengo, Toka- Leya and others, who are all Barotseland nationals and must enjoy equal rights as citizens of Barotseland.

Also remember that some LOZI nationals will be products of intermarriage with Bemba, Ngoni, English, Chinese and tribes from all over Zambia and the world. Further, under Barotseland laws, it will be possible for anyone from anywhere in the world to acquire Barotseland citizenship, and all these will be as much LOZI as the indigenous Lozi.


Insulting authorities such as Zambian Government officials, BRE, Litunga and Barotseland liberation leadership does not add value to the campaign for self-determination. It is, rather, repulsive to the Barotse cause. Therefore, those in media and all independence advocates should practice their activities with civility. Insults and violence are not part of our known Lozi culture. Neither are they promoted in our new Barotseland laws.

It is encouraged, therefore, to debate ISSUES and not PERSONALITIES; it is also possible to express one’s very strong views without having to insult or cause bodily harm to others and/or public/private property.


If you wish to relay your Barotseland independence messages through Graffiti, please, do it on your own property such as shops, houses, cars, or clothing – and not on public property.

Burning and destruction of public property is a crime even under the Barotseland penal code (In DRAFT) and generally considered under acts of terrorism. Do not kill or cause bodily or general harm to those who do not agree with your political views. If you belong to Linyungandambo, or BNFA, BNYL, BI, BRE, etc, remember that others have an equal right to belong to some other persuasion different from yours and this is perfectly okay in a democratic society like Barotseland. Barotseland does not need to have one political movement to attain self determination. And indeed, the existence of several groups is not a sign of division, but rather, an exercise of multiparty democracy.


Barotseland’s self-determination is CURRENTLY being pursued through peaceful POLITICS, DIPLOMACY and LEGAL means. If you take up ARMS and other WEAPONS, you are ON YOUR OWN and it will be considered criminal. Barotseland has NOT, and will not have MILITIA, REBEL or LIBERATION armies.

However, what Barotseland is seeking to have is a REGULAR DEFENSE FORCE, POLICE SERVICE, AIR FORCE and MARINE FORCE that will be established UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAWS to defend the territorial sovereignty of Barotseland.

Therefore, it is ONLY the Royal Barotseland Government (RBG) or the Barotseland Government in Transition (BTG) that will be tasked, if need be, with the responsibility of militarily defending the territory of Barotseland.

As such, DESIST from publishing messages that DECLARE WAR or military actions against the state of Zambia or any other nation and tribes considered foreign via social media or printed pamphlets. This is criminal even under Barotseland penal code in DRAFT.

All mass activities such as demonstrations should be civil without threat to other people and public or private property.

While there is great honour in dying or getting arrested for Barotseland self-determination related causes, being arrested for burning or destroying public/private property is sheer criminality and one would still be arrested even under Barotseland laws. Do not be a lone ranger, but try to operate under the auspices of one of the many political groupings in Barotseland for support and guidance.

Last, but not least, READ extensively (even long articles like this one) to learn to present your arguments about Barotseland more accurately. Barotseland Post is a good platform to start from as it will guide you on other resources currently available online and in print.

Those that have the knowledge, please, share it liberally. You can write books or articles which Barotseland Post can help distribute and publicize.

Wear your musisi, siziba, lishushu, tou (although, other countries forbid REAL ivory bracelets) etc and be proud of your Barotseland nationality while you enjoy the Kuomboka, Kazanga, Makishi, Mukanda, Siomboka, Sipelu, Likenge, Mikiti and all other ceremonies of Barotseland.

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  • Kabisoi Kabisoi Sunday, 23 April 2017

    Wonderful indeed! That is the spirit. Aluta continua

  • Kabisoi Kabisoi Sunday, 23 April 2017


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.