Editor General, Barotseland Post
"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.
[Before you claim we are committing the crime of proposing tribal war or that we are peddling tribalism, help us understand. Why on earth would the Zambian government advertise a government job to be based in Mongu, Barotseland, and put the ability to speak siBemba fluently as one of the qualifications in a region where the predominant lingua franca is siLozi?]
Hegemony, the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas, is nothing short of what the Zambian government is doing today by the promotion of the Bemba language at the expense of others in the same republic and before you know it, every citizen will be compelled to accept it as the national language of the nation of Zambia.
Currently, Zambia is largely seen as Barotseland’s colonizer who cannot be trusted to make decisions of such magnitude as the proposed listing of the Barotse Cultural landscape as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO without thorough consultations with all stakeholders in Barotseland.
A one-time directive meeting with the Limulunga Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and the about ten Zambian Members of Parliament (MPs) who hail from the Barotse region does not actually constitute a wide enough consultative process even by the UNESCO set standards.
Therefore, our candid advice is to wait until such a time that the people of Barotseland could not only be consulted but also educated on the implications of nominating their entire homeland as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO - bearing in mind that the Barotse plains and landscape are not only a home to thousands of Barotse but that the Barotse also depend on it entirely for a sustainable existence!
Further, the consultative process must be undertaken without the current associated political overtones. Therefore, the Zambian government must, as a matter of priority, firstly resolve the outstanding issues surrounding Barotseland’s political status within or outside the Sovereign Republic of Zambia.
The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) is indeed like the proverbial stubborn fly that follows the corpse to the grave and is buried alive. One wonders if and when they will ever accept that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is as dead as a corpse that can never be revived, and clinging on to it, like they are doing, will merely lead the stubborn BRE and the Litungaship to the grave with it.
The Zambian state has made it crystal clear that as far as Zambia is concerned, there is no Barotseland to talk about. Yes, during the occasional election season and for political capital or whenever the state wants to profit from the dead Barotseland Agreement, politicians will stroke the Barotse ego by appeasing the Litunga as King over the ‘non-existing’ Barotseland and appear to be willing to resolve all outstanding Barotseland matters!
However, the truth is that Barotseland right now is an already divorced spouse who the more powerful spouse, Zambia, occasionally takes advantage of and rapes to their pleasure! But when will the BRE and Litunga Imwiko II wake up and realize that linyalo ni Naha Zambia li felile kale? [that Barotseland's marriage with Zambia has already been annulled irreconcilably]
Therefore, the Zambian state must be judged through its public legal and constitutional actions towards Barotseland rather than through the occasional sweet words the President whispers in the Litunga’s ears when in the secret chambers of State House or the Kings Royal Kashandi!
That Barotseland’s 1964 ill-fated marriage with the sovereign state of Zambia ended in 1969, is now a matter of law and public knowledge! Therefore, anyone who will promise to restore the dead 1964 agreement without first changing Zambia’s national constitution is playing both the Litunga and the BRE for a fool!
In a bizarre twist of events, Barotseland independence leader Afumba Mombotwa has been expunged from the earlier list of pardoned inmates released by State House earlier this afternoon.
When asked by a journalist why the number of names pardoned has reduced from five (5) to four (4) with the notable absence of Mr Afumba Mombotwa, Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, announced that the list he was presenting was the official final list and any other list circulated elsewhere was not the official list.
However, both President Edgar Lungu and his Press aide, Isaac Chipampe, this afternoon released a press statement announcing that the President had pardoned five (5) inmates whom they named as:
1. Chief Mulongwe
2. Hon Maxwell Mwale, former Minister in the MMD Government
3. Mr Derrick Sinjela, a Journalist
4. Mr Afumba Mombotwa
5. General Christopher Singogo, Former ZAF Commander
Their statement was not only widely circulated on social media but was also made available to both radio and television stations in the country, including the country’s national broadcaster, ZNBC on their 13:00hrs news bulletins.
It was despicable to watch the republican president on national television publicly display a well-rehearsed orchestration by three self-imposed chiefs who have, for some time now, mounted an open rebellion against the Litunga, King of Barotseland, and to label their rebellion as ‘tribal conflicts’, even when the main architect among them is actually a blood relative of the current Litunga, is very disheartening.
If President Lungu and his Patriotic Front (PF) are not co-conspirators in this charade, then the Zambian President is being played for a fool by his regional political aides masquerading as civil servants, in the name of Permanent Secretary, Danny Bukali and his Kaoma counterpart, District Commissioner, Kennedy Liale Mubanga.