Barotseland, Lenshina and past human rights abuses stain Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy

29 April 2020
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FILE: Kenneth Kaunda visiting King Sir Mwanawina III of Barotseland three months after they both signed the Barotseland Agreement 1964 to reassure the King that his (Zambian) government would honour the signed agreement. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE!

 

"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.

Although separate, the two British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland were governed under one imperial government because of shared proximity. Therefore, it was agreed that the two would continue to co-exist in Zambia under the terms of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 even after political independence from British colonization.

However, Kenneth Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP) would unilaterally abrogate the 1964 pre-independence Barotseland agreement barely a year after it was signed, completely annulling it in 1969 purportedly through the Zambian parliament.

Like Mr Michael Sata (later to be Zambia's 5th Republican President) said in 2011 when addressing the abrogated Barotseland Agreement 1964, we wish to reiterate that Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy will be tainted by how he reneged from the pre-independence 1964 agreement which he signed voluntarily.

“Those with honour and integrity [must] honour valid agreements they have entered into whether they still like them or not,” Mr Sata was widely quoted by the nationally circulated Post newspaper in 2011.

Although he as president followed Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s path in disregarding the 1964 Barotseland Agreement, Mr Sata’s words above remain true today, as he went on to say that only ‘crooks’ and ‘dictators’ would have a problem honouring the Barotseland Agreement 1964, an agreement he called valid and non-treasonable, while partly attributing the relative peace that Zambia had continued to enjoy to the very 1964 agreement.

By Michael Sata’s logic above, would anyone be deemed mischievous if they stated that not only Kenneth Kaunda but also all other successive Zambian presidents, including Edgar Chagwa Lungu today, who have neglected to honour the Barotseland Agreement 1964 are crooks and dictators?

Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy is and will continue to be stained by the Barotseland saga until he publicly states why and how he defrauded Barotseland and her people of their right to Self-determination alongside their brothers and sisters in Zambia as guaranteed in the now-defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964.

Although we must join those wishing him good health and long life, we must also implore him to put his house in order so that he may have a stainless legacy, and one of those acts he must make right is the matter of Barotseland.

Understandably, his handling of Lenshina and the Lumpa Church uprising, as some may wish to call it, and his negative human rights record in the twenty-seven years that he was president over Zambia may also be cited by some as part of that stain on his legacy. We, however, may leave that for them to frown upon.

And because of his dishonest and treacherous behaviour towards the Barotseland Agreement 1964, problems surrounding the agreement persist to this day, with many Barotse people killed, maimed, tortured, incarcerated arbitrarily and without trial, while Afumba Mombotwa, Inambao Kalima and Pelekelo Likando continue to serve 15-year draconian prison sentences.

Consequently, we and many Barotse nationals will continue to say that Kenneth Kaunda is not an honourable man because he failed to honour the Barotseland Agreement 1964 which he signed in earnest. 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.

Long live Kenneth Kaunda!

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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.