|Kingdom of Barotseland
Top: Proposed flag and arms.
Bottom: Map of Barotseland within Africa; orthographic projection
|Common languages||Lozi, English|
142,403 sq mi
The traditional Monarch of Barotseland is the Paramount Chief, called the Litunga meaning 'keeper or guardian of the earth', who is directly descended from the ancient Litunga Mulambwa who ruled at the turn of the nineteenth century and through his grandson, Litunga Lewanika who ruled from 1878–1916, with one break in 1884-5, who restored the traditions of the Lozi political economy in the arena of recent invasion by the Makololo, internal competition, external threats such as that posed by the Matabele and the spread of European colonialism.
The Government of Barotseland is the Kuta, presided over by the Ngambela (Prime Minister).
Its heartland is the Barotse Floodplain on the upper Zambezi River, also known as Bulozi or Lyondo, but it includes the surrounding higher ground of the plateau comprising all of what is was Western Province of Zambia, but it has now declared itself independent from Zambia. In pre-colonial times, Barotseland included some neighbouring parts of what are now the Northwestern, Central and Southern Province as well as Caprivi in northeastern Namibia and parts of southeastern Angola beyond the Cuando or Mashi River. A map showing the possible extent of Barotseland in 1844 has been prepared, though it is not known on what basis.
Before the advent of European explorers such as David Livingstone the Baroste had no written history, so the history was all passed down by word of mouth, with all the inevitable concomitant errors. There is a somewhat unbelievable "Family Tree" of the lines of succession.
A detailed investigation into the history of the Barotse was carried out in 1939 in connection with the Balovale Dispute, see below.
Barotseland had been conquered by the Makalolo from Lesotho - which is why the Barotse language, Silozi, is a variant of Si-suto. The Makololo were in power when Livingstone visited Barotseland, but they were eventually driven out.
Barotseland's status at the onset of the colonial era differed from the other regions which became Zambia. It was the first territory north of the Zambezi to sign a minerals concession and protectorate agreement with the British South Africa Company (BSAC) of Cecil Rhodes. This was prompted by Lewanika's fears of an invasion by the Matebele under Lobengula.
Later Lewanika protested to London and to Queen Victoria that the BSAC agents had misrepresented the terms of the concession, but his protests fell on deaf ears, and in 1900 the BSAC formally annexed the territory as a protectorate and governed it as part of North-Western Rhodesia.
In the 1930s, there was trouble between the Barotse and the Balovale and Balunda tribes who occupied the land to the north of the land occupied by the Barotse. The Barotse claimed that these were vassal tribes, while they claimed that they were not. Eventually the Government set up a Commission to adjudicate, and the Barotse lost.
The proposed national flag of Barotseland has a white bend, bordered in black, on a red field.
Barotseland Agreement 1964
On 18 May 1964, the Litunga and Kenneth Kaunda Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia signed the "Barotseland Agreement 1964" which established Barotseland's position within Zambia in place of the earlier agreement between Barotseland and the British Government. The agreement was based on a long history of close social, economic and political interactions. The Barotseland Agreement granted Barotse authorities and people specified limited local self-governance rights and rights to be consulted on specified matters, including over land, natural resources and local government.
Path to Independence
Barotseland continued to lobby to be treated as a separate state and was given substantial autonomy within the later states, Northern Rhodesia and independent Zambia. At the pre-Independence talks, the Barotse simply asked for a continuation of "Queen Victoria's protection".
A desire to secede was expressed from time to time, causing some friction with the government of Kenneth Kaunda, reflected in Kaunda changing the name from Barotseland Province to Western Province, and subsequently tearing up the 1964 Agreement. According to Barotse views, the government in Lusaka also starved Barotseland of development — it has only one tarred road into the centre, from Lusaka to the provincial capital of Mongu, and lacks the kind of state infrastructure projects found in other provinces. Electricity supplies are erratic, relying on an ageing connection to the hydroelectric plant at Kariba. Consequently secessionist views are still aired from time to time.
Barotseland Political Parties
Currently, there are three groups who claim to represent Barotseland. In January 2012, The president of Zambia, Mr.Michael Sata met the representatives of the three groups at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. The groups are Linyungandambo, Barotse Freedom Movement (BFM) and the Movement for the Restoration of Barotseland. Experts have said that these three groups may become political parties should Barotseland gain independence. Fighting between the three groups has already surfaced. An article which appeared on the Zambian Watchdog purported to be authored by a BFM representative condemned the activities of Linyungandambo group. The BFM accused the Linyungandambo of having set up Barotseland Government portal website without consultations, and included BFM members in the puroported Barotseland Government without their consents, and in disregard of the effort being made by Mr. Sata to find a lasting solution. The author, Mr. Shuwanga Shuwanga went on to also reveal how the Linyungandambo had refused to work with the BFM back in 2011.
The various activist groups championing the self-determination of Barotseland have since formed one umbrela organisation called the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) which is headed by the former Ngambela of Barotseland Clement W. Sinyinda.
Two protesters where shot dead when police opened fire on a crowd in Mongu, Western Province. A previously unknown group the Barotse Freedom Movement (BFM) organized the protest to raise awareness about the need to restore the 1964 Barotse Agreement. Police immediately moved in as protesters gathered in the morning for the protest and dispersed the gathering saying it is illegal.
On the 14 January 2011, thousands of Mongu residents in Western Province most of them youths rioted demanding the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. During the riot at least two people were left dead while about 120 were arrested, charged with treason and detained Mumbwa Prisons for nine months.
Ngambela of Barotseland Maxwell Mututwa, Ex Prime Minister of Barotseland was sent in 2011 to prison at the age of 92 by the State of Zambia following the riots in Mongu, Barotseland.
Hundreds of people were arrested and prosecuted over the 14 January 2011 riots that left at least two dead and several others injured.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Barotse and Barotseland.|
- The prefix "Ba-" indicates "the people/tribe of"; "Lozi" or "-rotse" are different interpretations/spellings of the same word. "Si-" indicates the language.
- See G.C.R.Clay, "Your Friend, Lewanika" Chatto & Windus, 1964
- Lewanika wrote to Queen Victoria, "My country is your blanket, and my people are the fleas in that blanket."
- Camerapix: "Spectrum Guide to Zambia." Camerapix International Publishing, Nairobi, 1996.
- Full text posted in a comment at http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/ngambela-on-bbc-we-are-forming-our-own-barotse-country/
- Personal anecdote from G.C.R.Clay, who, as Resident Commissioner, accompanied that delegation. http://www.spanglefish.com/gervasclay
- African languages in general do not have a word for "maintenance"
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