The Battle for Barotseland’s Self-Rule in Pre and Post Colonial Times – by Saleya Kwalombota

27 December 2014
Author 
King Lewanika I

In June 27 1890, King Lewanika I and the British South Africa Company signed the Frank Lochner Treaty, which made Barotseland a British protectorate.

NOTE: However, the Treaty to a considerable extent diminished Lozi autonomy. And probably, this lose of autonomy could be the genesis of the quest for self-rule that has been evidenced overtime, with first at colonial times, and subsequent post-colonial time.

In 1907, King Lewanika requested the British Government to accord Barotseland protectorate the same status as Bechuanaland (Botswana) and be removed from North Western Rhodesia and company rule.

However, the request was denied by Lord Selborne, the British High Commissioner in Cape Town.

In 1921, King Yeta III presented Prince Arthur of Connaught, the new High Commissioner, a petition that demanded direct rule of the Imperial Government as a protected native state over the entire territory known as Barotseland North-Western Rhodesia.

In 1932, the Barotse Royal Establishment held discussions with the Governor at the Colonial Office on the quest for Barotseland being a separate Native State. The discussions, again, did not yield the desired quest for self-rule.

In June 1948, the Barotse National Council (BNC) demanded that there should be self-governing status for the Barotseland protectorate.

In 1953 a phantasms of self-rule was attained, when Barotseland was declared a ‘protectorate within the Northern Rhodesia protectorate of Northern Rhodesia'.

In addition, Barotseland’s sovereignty was further recognized in section 112 of the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia.

In 1957, the Barotse Native Government, through its National Council, resolved that Barotseland should secede from the Federation and remain under the protection of Her Majesty’s Government.

In the year, 1960, a demand for secession from Northern Rhodesia and the Federation was instituted by the Barotse National Council (BNC). To which end, it is imputed that Ngambela Imasiku said the following:

“We do not consider ourselves a part of Northern Rhodesia or as a ‘protectorate within a protectorate’. We are a different country and a different people. We have our own government.”

In 1961 Barotseland secession demands submitted to the Colonial Secretary and to the Northern Rhodesia Government mostly affirmed Barotseland’s right to self-rule and independence.

Noteworthy, is that protestations for Barotseland self-rule continued up to Zambia’s independence and even after the promulgation of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 due to the post colonial government of Zambia's failure to live to the terms and conditions of the treaty of 1964.

In 2012, however, the Barotse National Council (BNC) made a historic move that declared Barotseland territory in its entirety as it was in 1900, independent.

It is observed that the struggle for Barotseland independence has always required the consolidated efforts of the Litungaship as an institution to accomplish the vision of our forefathers, that of having self-governing territory.

Barotseland was destined to exist as a separate country, not as an integral part of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).

It is, therefore, puzzling to note the docile attitude of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and Mulonga in regard to Barotseland independence struggle. For instance, we have not yet heard of any public position statement from the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in regard to the recent arrests and eventual incarceration of His Excellence Hon. Afumba Mombotwa, Hon. Pelekelo and Hon. Kalima of the Barotseland transitional government by the Zambian government, three weeks after their arrest.

Sadly, even the BNFA under Hon. Clement W. Sinyinda, who claim to be ‘umbrella’ group of all liberation movements in Barotseland, has conspicuously kept quiet and one is left to wonder whether the 2012 BNC resolutions have been invalidated!

If not, we need to draw our strength from the past Litungas who courageously fought to secure the autonomous status of Barotseland, even before the world could have Public international law in force.

Tukongote Litunga Ni lyetu.

By Saleya Kwalombota

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