By Hyde Haguta
Prior to Zambia’s independence in 1964, there existed the Lozi kingdom under the leadership of the tribe’s paramount chief- the Litunga.
A few facts about the Lozi Kingdom is that it existed even before the founding of Northern Rhodesia in about 1911-12.
Fact number two, the Kingdom was never colonised by the British Government at the time Northern Rhodesia present day Zambia went under the British hands.
Fact number three, that the Barotse Kingdom is not a tribe (of Lozis) but a nation with several tribes that were within the realm.
Fact number four, it was not the Litunga who gave the geographical scope of his territory when he said as far as the horizon falls, a fact to be elaborated further in this discourse.
In seeking safety at the peak of the scramble for African resources, the Litunga sought British Protection in as much as his counterpart in Botswana did a case of another country that was not colonised but enjoyed British protection in exchange for mineral exploits.
Today, it is both historical and current knowledge that Botswana was not colonised but given British protection even when the continent went through the vagaries or vicissitudes of leaderships.
Britis/Cecil Rhodes Motives in Protectorate
In giving protection to the Litunga, the British were in exchange to get mining rights from his territory, apparently at that time, only the Litunga had modern form of organised governance – with an administration system akin to one exitent in Britain one - the Litunga at the helm of Government, the Kuta responsible for law making and implementation, and advising him since it was composed of the council of elders- a status quo still in existent to present day.
Thus in the system was to be found in the delight of the British, some form of an Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
Given this kind of an organised structure, it would be with much ease for Britain to engage in a contract that would provide a two prolonged approach – firstly, that would recognise and give protection to the Litunga, and secondly, in exchange for mineral and mining rights.
Historians therefore hold that in the mapping of the mineral areas, it was not the Litunga who gave the geographical scope of his Kingdom but rather John Cecil Rhodes and his men who had the technical know-how as to the extent of copper in Northern Rhodesia.
The territorial boundary for protection would span as far as the Copperbelt province through to Luapula according to the British, but not necessaily held in that sense by the Litunga at the time.
Thus in Rhodes’ asking the Litunga the scope of the King’s Kingdom whose response is without substantiation is referred to “as far as to the extent of fall of horizon” pointing to the north, Cecil Rhodes wittingly include all territories that did not belong to the Litunga because he wanted to reach out to rich minerals Britain wanted to extract.
Thus the seeming aphorism that the Litunga lied that the Copperbelt Province fell under his kingdom is to be found wanting in this explanation.
In the aftermath of the agreement, the Litunga’s or (keeper of the earth) territory would exist, spanning boundaries to other provinces of present day Zambia.
As a fact presented in the argument by Lozi historians, the BA 1964 brings into fore the fact that the establishment is not a tribe but a nation.
There were other tribes that co-existed albeit with their own sub leaderships not very much subservient to the Litunga such as the Nkoyas just to mention but one.
Such a status quo would exist until the era of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – the two Rhodesia being: Northern (present Zambia) and Southern (modern Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi)
But as the struggles for African independence swept through the continent, the federation would only break up.
Political pressure exerted on Britain to give Northern Rhodesia independence, saw efforts being made to hand over power smoothly, but first, by ensuring that the Litunga’s Kingdom would be safely integrated into the would be single nation after independence.
The British were keen to ensure that the citizens of the Lozi Kingdom would equally enjoy all rights and benefits citizens of the new nation would enjoy in the new constitution.
Thus according to the Barotse agreement of 1964 signed on 18th May 1964 six months prior to Northern Rhodesia’s political independence,
“Kenneth David Kaunda, as Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, on behalf of Government of Northern Rhodesia of one party and Sir Mwanawina Lewanika The Third, K.B.E., Litunga of Barotseland, acting on behalf of himself, his heirs and successors, his council, and chiefs and of people of Barotseland of the other party and…the Right Honourable Duncan Sandys, M.P., Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the colonies…”
signed the Barotse Agreement of 1964 to pave way for Northern Rhodesia’s independence.
It was from this background that the motto “One Zambia One Nation” would be coined or adumbrated to unify the previously two different countries – one which was under the Litunga on one hand, and another, Northern Rhodesia, under David Kaunda on the other.The signing of this agreement on 18th May six months earlier would thus see the birth to the independent Republic of Zamia in October 1964, and the unification of Northern Rhodesia and the Barotseland Protectorate, both of which were previously under separate British rule come together.
The agreement gave the Litunga a degree of autonomy to administer the region within the confines of the constitution of the independent Republic of Zambia.
However, Kaunda’s government reneged on the agreement in 1969, through a constitutional amendment.
Subsequently, any discussion of the restoration of the agreement was silenced.
However, in recent years, there have been growing calls by various individuals and groups originating from Western Province, for the restoration of the agreement.
Most recently, representatives of the Litunga’s traditional authority, the Barotse Royal Establishment, made written submissions to the National Constitution Commission (NCC) for the recognition of the agreement in the proposed constitution; however, the submission was rejected by the majority of NCC delegates, according to MISA Zambia.
Since then, advocates for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement have become more militant, forcing police to use force to quell meetings called by the activists to discuss the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement.
The riots of 14th January were the most violent and left two people dead.
About one 131 people have been arrested though only 24 have been formerly charged.
Investigations are still ongoing to slap appropriate indictments on the detained secessionists.
By Wednesday 19th January, twenty four people had been charged with treason for allegedly agitating for the secession of the Western Province.
The charge was read out to them when they appeared in the Lusaka Magistrate Court.
A Lusaka Police Officer was also early this week indicted for the same charge of treason, and if convicted, the accused all could be handed down death penalties.
Lusaka Magistrate Newa has told the accused that their case will in the meantime be heard by the lower court pending advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP to move the matter to the High Court.
Some of those charged with treason include Muyangana Muyangana, Mulasikwanda Chezele, Nyambe Namushili, Mukubesa Ilukena and Nayoto Lyambai.
And Western Province Police Chief Peacewell Mweemba has told ZNBC that the charging of the 131 people picked up following last Fridays disturbances in Mongu, is on-going.
Mr. Mweemba says a team of investigators is still categorizing charges, ranging from rioting, conduct likely to breach peace and treason.
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