The Lozi language developed from a mixture of two languages: Luyana and Kololo. The Luyana people originally migrated south from the Luba-Lunda empire in the Katanga area of the Congo River basin, either late in the 17th century or early in the 18th century. The language they spoke, therefore, was closely related to Luba and Lunda. They settled on the floodplains of the upper Zambezi River in what is now western Zambia and developed a kingdom, Barotseland, and also gave their name to the Barotse Floodplain or Bulozi.
The Kololo were a Sotho people who used to live in what is now Lesotho. The Kololo were forced to flee from Shaka Zulu's Mfecane during the 1830s. Using tactics they had copied from the Zulu armies, the Kololo conquered the Luyana on the Zambezi floodplains and imposed their rule and language. However, by 1864 the indigenous population revolted and overthrew the Kololo. By that time, the Luyana language had been largely forgotten; the new hybrid language is called Lozi or Silozi and is closer to Sesotho than to any other neighbouring languages in Zambia.