Editor General, Barotseland Post
As Zambia and the world mourn the death of Kenneth Kaunda, many unschooled in Barotseland’s recent history often wonder why most Barotzis frown upon the legacy of the late founding president of Zambia.
Perhaps the following perspective may help explain why.
By 1964, the Kingdom of Barotseland legally existed as a separate British Protectorate, different from the Northern Rhodesia Protectorate, although both were governed by the same British colonial government due to geographical and historical proximity.
However, prior to Northern Rhodesia’s political independence in October 1964, Barotseland Protectorate signed a tripartite treaty with Northern Rhodesia and Britain regarding the Kingdom’s future co-existence within the sovereign Republic of Zambia, as Northern Rhodesia would later become after its independence.
The pre-independence treaty, The Barotseland Agreement 1964, was completed and signed on 18th May 1964.
Regrettably, Barotseland today exists only as a pariah territory, a subjugated and oppressed impoverished province of a fellow African country with its people deprived of not only basic amenities but also basic human freedoms such as the freedom to peacefully assemble and talk about its own affairs, as Zambian military and police contingents stay camped in the territory to suppress any sentiments of self-determination.
The correct name of the current Litunga (King) of Barotseland is simply Imwiko II and NOT Lubosi Imwiko II.
This is because when Kings are enthroned in Barotseland, they shed off their personal names and will only be addressed by their Kingly name.
Hence, Imwiko II is his correct Kingly name while Lubosi Imwiko II is wrong because Lubosi, his personal name, no longer applies to him.
This error has mostly been perpetuated by the Zambian media, and we too are guilty of having tolerated this anomaly, but must now try to correct this error since we know better.
Thus, even those kings before Imwiko II were often addressed incorrectly. For example, Yeta IV, King before Imwiko II, was always reported as Ilute Yeta IV. This too is wrong because Ilute, his personal name should no longer apply to him upon becoming Litunga.
Similarly, Lewanika II before him was popularly but wrongly called Mbikusita Lewanika II. Again here, Mbikusita, his personal name should no longer apply to him upon his ascension to the throne.
In 2017, we specifically warned Nabiwa Imikendu and his cohorts against dragging the Litunga of Barotseland to the Zambian courts as doing so would not only be futile but would also set very detestable precedence.
Those who may remember know that we specifically advised that the Litunga of Barotseland cannot be dethroned by the Zambian courts because he does not ascend the throne through these courts. We further warned that if we dethroned the Litunga through these foreign courts, we might as well begin a culture of enthroning subsequent Litungas in conjunction with the same courts henceforth!
However, those in support of Imikendu’s litigation against the Litunga were so headstrong that they even tried to emotionally blackmail us and others on the opposing side instead of stating the cultural and national merits of their intended action!
In fact, they made arguing against Imikendu’s action seem synonymous with supporting Imwiko II’s alleged bad governance, and called us enemies of Barotseland who supposedly took pleasure in the continued persecution of Afumba Mombotwa and others imprisoned under Imwiko II’s reign, or the 19 innocent Barotzis killed by Zambian assigned agents in 2011 under his watch.
We, nevertheless, stated clearly that our opposition to Imikendu’s litigation was actually based on the PRINCIPLES of who and what we are as Barotzis, and the precedence we seek to set for posterity.
Zambians are once again outraged at the state police’s alleged killing of two people in Lusaka when they overzealously tried to disperse a peaceful gathering of opposition party supporters who merely wished to offer solidarity to their political leader of choice.
It is widely believed that the police were carrying out orders from ‘higher’ command, reportedly from the outgoing president Edgar Lungu, in his desperation to stop his main presidential challenger, opposition UPND party leader, Hakainde Hichilema, from wrestling power from him in the August 2021 polls.
While the agenda to nominate both the Barotse plains and the cultural landscape as a World Heritage Site may often be presented as beneficial to the Barotzis at face value, the devil may be in the actual details because the proposal is being forcefully pursued by the Zambian State which continues to refuse to dialogue over the equally important matter of Barotseland's political status.
What many people may not know is that the Barotse landscape in question is a vast expanse of open land, covering almost the entire Kingdom of Barotseland as it stands today, technically rendering the entire Kingdom a World Heritage Site as the demarcation map of what is to be nominated will show!
Its floodplain stretches from the Zambezi's confluence with the Kabompo and Lungwebungu Rivers in the north to a point about 230km south, above the Ngonye falls, south of Senanga.
Along most of its length, its width is over 30km, reaching 50km at the widest, just north of Mongu, the main town on the plain, situated at its edge while the main body of the plain covers about 5500km².
Its maximum flooded area is 10750km² when the floodplains of several tributaries are taken into account, such as the Luena Flats.
"We refuse to join those in political grandstanding, singing that Kenneth Kaunda is a great honourable man when the facts and our conscience say otherwise."
As Zambia and the world celebrate Kenneth Kaunda’s 96th Birthday, most Barotse nationals will choose to frown upon the man they consider responsible for Barotseland’s forced assimilation in Zambia - the republic that continues to deny them basic human rights such as free assembly, conscience, association and their self-determination as envisioned in 1964 when Zambia gained its political independence from Britain in joint sovereignty with the Kingdom of Barotseland.
Before its independence, the Northern Rhodesia Protectorate co-signed The Barotseland Agreement 1964 with the Barotseland Protectorate and Britain (their colonial master) for the two to proceed to political independence from Britain in joint sovereignty on the condition that the Kingdom of Barotseland would retain its autonomy within the republic as it was for many decades under the British colonial government.
Kenneth Kaunda, the man whose legacy is currently in the spotlight on his 96th birthday, is the man who signed and agreed on behalf of his Northern Rhodesian government that Northern Rhodesia would proceed to political independence with Barotseland as one nation, with Barotseland retaining its autonomy within the Republic of Zambia - as independent Northern Rhodesia would later be called.