King Mulambwa stopped slave trade in Barotseland

25 June 2017
Author  Sibeta Mundia

Among Barotse kings, perhaps the pivotal personage is that of Santulu.

Born Maimbolwa Santulu, he became Litunga Mulambwa in 1780 as the tenth King of Barotseland. He was a younger son of Mwanawina the First and is King Lubosi Lewanika the first’s grandfather.


His name Mulambwa started off as a nickname but was officially given to him later. The name ‘Mulambwa’ was inspired from the saying that ‘Mu ula mbwa, Munu Nino loto’ translated to mean that ‘one buys a dog, but not another human being’. This was in direct scorn of the slave trade.

Accordingly, Mulambwa made Barotseland a no go area for European and Euro-African slave traders.


Not only did Mulambwa stop the slave trade but it was Mulambwa who established the constitution and foundational jurisprudence of Barotseland. He inter-linked governance, economic, and cultural relationship between the different communities, on the basis of unity and brotherhood in diversity and reciprocity.

He established the rule of law and put Barotseland firmly as a multicultural plural nation, by welcoming, settling and integrating Mbunda refugee communities.


During his rule which lasted from 1780 to 1830, King Mulambwa fought against Makalahadi chiefs and the Mashukulumbwe (Ila communities).

These war raids were for beefing up cattle populations in Barotse kraals. He also fought against some Maluvale communities in what is now Angola.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains extracts from the book ‘FREEDOM PARK Inaugural Memorial Lecture on KING LEWANIKA I OF BAROTSELAND 1842 – 1916 A LEGACY OF INDIGENOUS AFRICAN NATIONALISM’ written and Edited by Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika available in popular book stores and online stores.

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