PASSIVE RESISTANCE: A very powerful weapon for Self-determination

29 April 2017
Author  Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post

The term, PASSIVE RESISTANCE is misleading in that it implies PASSIVITY. Some people may even wrongly and ignorantly suggest that it is a ‘useless’ form of cowardice or a sign of weakness.

In reality, however, PASSIVE RESISTANCE is a fight; a very POWERFUL WEAPON for those considered weak against a more equipped and stronger adversary.  It can also be thought of as an active, but nonviolent, mode of struggle in a social political conflict.

Passive resistance commonly refers to consciously chosen actions of nonviolent protest or deliberate resistance to authority for achieving a desired political or social goal. The participants purposely abstain from violent response even in the face of violent aggression.

The term came into common use during the independence struggle in India between the 1920s and 1948. Since then, it has been used widely by groups of people who lack formal authority or position and has sometimes been called the “weapon of the weak.”


Zambia’s fifth republican president Michael Sata once mocked Barotseland as the weaker party. He was right. Barotseland currently has no military weaponry and armament to put up any armed struggle or resistance against Zambia. Therefore, anyone preaching armed ‘action’ is bluffing, either out of naivety or is simply trying to play champion. These are the ones who keep preaching falsehoods, and in the process frustrate the hopeful and desperate Barotse who genuinely long to see a free Barotseland.


In the absence of an army to defend or claim territorial sovereignty, and while independence leaders are still working around the intricate maze of getting the illegal Zambian administration out of Barotseland using diplomacy, political and legal maneuvers, the only weapon Barotseland has for now is passive resistance.

Matters of armament and establishment of Barotseland defense forces are better left to the Royal Barotseland Government (RBG), or the Barotseland Transitional Government (BTG) in transition, who should lead the way in that regard in conformity with relevant international laws and conventions that govern such delicate processes.

Besides, military struggles are not always a quick guarantee to self-determination as entities such as ISIS or ISIL and Boko Haram are present day examples who are still nowhere near self-determination despite being heavily armed since 1999 and 2002 respectively.

People of Barotseland should not be under any illusions or allow themselves to be hoodwinked by some groups known for cheap lies and propaganda among the Barotse community.


The actions that fall under the term passive resistance include many forms of civil disobedience and noncooperation such as sit-ins, boycotts, blockades and occupations of buildings, tax refusal, and alternative publications and media. More active forms of passive resistance include strikes, walkouts, protest and prayer marches, theatrical protests, and hunger strikes.

However, in the context of Barotseland, one of the most effective, easiest and probably the most applicable option of Passive Resistance is a general and wholesome boycott of Zambian politicians, their bribes and electioneering.

The other options would not work as effectively because Barotseland does not have a big enough media that would bring such mass actions to the global audience and Zambian media would most definitely black them out.

Election boycotts, however, would receive world media focus because even as Zambia would be announcing their election results, it would be noticed if the Barotseland region registered Zero or only a handful of votes. Further, peacefully mobilizing a Barotse boycott of Zambian elections is not a crime in itself as voting or not voting is a civic choice that one can freely choose to withhold without consequence.

Barotseland already declared independence in March 2012; why then should the Barotse  people continue to vote in Zambian elections? It is now time that Barotseland employed such Passive Resistance, and it is not true to claim that Barotseland has already tried Passive resistance for over 50 years and it has not worked. The fact is, Barotseland has never employed this form of resistance and dismissing it as a futile activity before even trying it is REAL COWARDICE. It is only cowards who keep talking about military actions when they know that Barotseland has no capacity currently to wage an armed struggle. So why don’t they support peaceful resistance options which are attainable for now? How can they even be trusted to give up their precious life in an armed struggle when they cannot even give up their useless Zambian vote? Barotseland voted in the 2016 Zambian elections and all others before them; of what use was that vote?

Remember that Passive resistance is rooted in the view that political power and ruler-ship of a community or nation are dependent on at least the acceptance of those who are ruled. Thus, even a dictator’s power rests to an important extent on some level of cooperation by the population.

The premise that governance derives its legitimate authority only from the consent of the governed is the foundational idea of modern democracy which was articulated by Étienne de la Boétie (1530–1563) in the sixteenth century, as well as by John Locke (1632–1704).

So Passive Resistance is actually a very powerful weapon that Barotseland can use right now to assert their inalienable right of self-determination while other measures are still being considered by those already tasked by the masses to engage relevant international bodies and nations of the world sympathetic to Barotseland’s quest for self-determination. Barotseland has a legitimate CLAIM of self-determination as they are a PEOPLE.

Under the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964, Barotseland would have its own government, parliament, laws, and treasury, among other components of self-determination within the republic of Zambia. However, the Lusaka central government under first republican president Kenneth Kaunda, and successive governments thereafter, rejected repeated appeals to have the pre-independence agreement domesticated, but instead abrogated it and annexed the Barotse autonomous territory, administering it as just another province of Zambia. This blatant violation of the rights of the Barotse people led to Barotseland’s declaration of separate sovereignty in 2012 after formally accepting the abrogation of the 1964 agreement.

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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.