Friday, September 18, 2009


By Namakando Nalikando Sinyama
The matter of Barotseland is undoubtedly one that is bound to play out longer than we would want it to. When one recalls the colonial land apportioning process which brought about the boundaries of the British Protectorate of the Nation of Barotseland and its eventual total traditional and regional geo-political sphere of influence, what springs to my mind is the argument embodied in this Latin maxim, “Nemo Dat Quod Non Habit”. The explanation of which is that, we could not have given any land to any foreign power as we had no legal title to it in the first instance. For more reasons, than I care to go into right now, this argument is indeed laughable and can not warrant to engage my mental processes. More recently however, gallant sons and daughters of our Nation who have in the past struggled to champion the Cause for Barotseland have reached a painful realization that as a people we lack the gusto, serious ability and collective resolve to give them support for the reclamation of what is rightfully ours (Great Barotseland). This, coupled with the sad situation where on most critical points we seem to be in discord with the Barotse Royal Establishment on charting the way forward on this issue. The apparent internal power struggles between the existing Barotse Royal families has and will only serve to weaken us further as a people. The gaping welfare disparities between Indunas, the loyal sons and daughters of the Nation and the ruling class is indeed much cause for great concern and dissonance in our Kingdom. What is felt is that, the obligations of the Zambian central government in accordance with Barotseland Agreement 1964 seem to accrue mostly to the Royal court and not to every Mulozi. This potentially, may explain the near tepid and almost indifferent disposition of the Royal elite when it comes to matters affecting the populace or fighting for the collective good of the Marotse. To some measure then, it may be said that, in some areas, Zambia could actually be honoring, albeit shrewdly, the letter and spirit of the Agreement.

These Barotse Patriots have since opted to see which side of their bread is buttered and have since chosen to pursue their own narrowed life objectives, after all ,their sacrifices were not supported let alone appreciated. My realization over the Barotse Question has been that, the agreement which made possible the formation of the country called Zambia today was to an extent entered into under some degree of duress originating from the Ma Lozi themselves. Now that we signed it(Barotseland Agreement 1964), though either party to it still legally reserving the right to withdraw and proclaim self-determination when one of the parties abrogates the terms like it has happened, the logical choice should be to co-exist in accordance with those conditions set in the clauses of The Agreement. Self-determination is defined as free choice of one’s own acts without external compulsion; and especially as the freedom of the people of a given territory to determine their own political status. In other words, it is the right of the people of a nation to decide how they want to be governed without the influence of any other country. The latter is a complex concept with conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination. What constantly sparks off this issue is the current political marginalization and shocking levels of economic neglect in Barotseland.

I hope am not being overly pessimistic on the matter to state that, to romanticize the total restoration of the Mighty Nation of Barotseland with its borders extending into parts of Namibia, Angola, DRC, Botswana, Zimbabwe and effectively cutting Zambia in half along the main line of rail (which installation by the way, was erected with a Barotse King signing on the contract/treaty or concession), going westwards, would be to say the least naivety of the worst sort.

Since calls for the conclusive resolution of The Barotse Question are mostly spurred on by years of economic neglect, to gain support has become hard. This picture becomes all the more uglier and is in turn compounded by the worst case scenario where only Western Province (The bastardized name for Barotseland minor) is making the loudest calls for equity. This is on account of it being the worst hit by a deliberate and subtle economic blockade imposed on it by the successive central governments. The other parts of Barotseland now annoyingly called North Western and Southern Provinces respectively, are enjoying slightly better economic fortunes than ‘The West’ and thus may not be so keen on any calls for federalism and some semblance of relative autonomy from the central government what with the discovery of copper and petroleum deposits in the former and a booming tourism industry in the latter.

As things stand, Barotses will always play second fiddle in the Zambian political arena. Kindly allow me make a profound statement here,
"No openly known Barotse/Murotse National by name and decent will ever contest and for as long as The Barotseland Question remains unresolved . There has been far too much divisive and corrosive Poison of misinformation that has been fanned by successive Zambian governments which has permeated the societal fabric and the thinking of ordinary citizens alike. The highest point of which was reached during the chiluba administration. This unfortunately, has been out of utterly shocking points of sickening ignorance of the collective aspirations of the Barotse as a people. This, to me is the most disturbing effect of our having almost willingly surrendered our Nationhood to join Northern Rhodesia and form Zambia as envisaged and penned down in The Barotseland Agreement 1964." - Namakando Nalikando Sinyama

I have always pitied several Barotses that have and still think they can make it in Zambian politics. If their aim is to be content on just being social agitators or to be mere appendages to already established and entrenched hegemonic body politic, and be parasitically ridden on like sea urchins in an unfair but purported symbiotic existence ,they should realize that all these Rhodesians do is feed off our brains but can never allow us to take lead. Without having to cite names most Barotses have always baffled me as to what exactly they have felt they would achieve in Zambian politics. I would have loved them to sit me down and enlighten me. Sadly,though they have no idea what we encounter in our various individual co-existences with Rhodesians. They do not know what each Barotse university student has had to go through during campus politics. These tertiary institutions have provided a fertile ground where this poison of misinformation germinates hatred for Barotses and what they stand for as a people. I may just bore you too much. But what am merely asking from you honorable sons and daughters of Barotseland is your input on the matter. Where do we go from here? Should we disengage, capitulate, approach them tail tucked in with a begging bowl for real political inclusion thus get subdued so that we fully and psychologically integrate. Finally accepting to be ruled forever as subservient nationals?

During my pre-pubescent years I had rather ignorantly regarded Kaunda as a great statesman worthy of international recognition and adoration. After adulthood however, upon discovering what was inflicted on the Nation of Barotseland with his machinations, my impressions of the individual have been revolutionized. He was surprisingly helped in his schemes by our own people. How do/should we treat erring Barotse families that have historically clearly betrayed the Nation of Barotseland? These have and are selling us out in their many ego-centric dealings with the Zambian central government. The weakening discovery I have made is that, we as Barotses are our own worst enemies!

How many sitting's, tumi kopano kopano nyana are we going to have talking and discussing the same old issue ad infinitum even to ad nauseam with little result? You should see how most Ma Lozi hastily excuse themselves when in the company of one who is brave enough to publicly raise The Barotseland Question! They have been fed with this almost morbid fear of nothing really. The matter is so straight forward that despite the many threats of treason or sedition to Barotses you will never be taken to court for talking about it because you will win as there is absolutely NO case against you even in any international court. Bu pyeha Ma Lozi, Bu pyeha!!!

In my heart of hearts what I feel is, having or winning back our homeland as Barotses is riddled with a multiplicity of social intricacies that need realistically looking into if we are to clearly define our path towards reclaiming our respectability and decency as a people in or out of the entity called Zambia.
Firstly , many a Mu Lozi, contrary to the dictates of our fore fathers, has opted to break the elitist taboos decreed onto us by the gods that as far as matrimonial engagements go, as much as it can be managed, should only get yoked to a Mulozi period. No known exceptions to this Golden Rule. Unfortunately, for a long time I had been locked in an internal psychological and physiological struggle where I wrestled with a real feeling that any Mu Lozi princess (female) no matter how beautiful or well endowed I seemed to have had an innate strong filial connection with them. This effectively made it near impossible for me to harbor any affection for them other than those of the plutonic sort. They were in mine eyes practically sisters. This I found rather queer until elders whispered in my ear that it is our national state secret, “ALL Barotses are actually related!” I have since overcome this feeling gladly. Being the pragmatic individual that I am, it was not long than I started dating a beautiful Barotse Princess who i will be united with in holy matrimony even when I feel brotherly connection with her. Long live the Kingdom of Barotseland!

Those that have dared challenge the Golden Rule have since regretted by going through unnecessary frictions with marriage partners from other parts emanating from the stack cultural differences and reasoning. The reverse of which has been that, through what is deemed modernity and the unsighted nature of the prevailing emotion(love); most Barotses have broken the cultural divide and married from other cultures and bare testament to blissful unions. When these families are confronted with the suggestion that they live in a separate state, Barotseland, to them seems the re-enactment of an existence akin to the East and West Germany separation with uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unforeseen future consequences for most. Secondly, purely for economic reasons, I have noted that through years of co-existence in Zambia, most Barotses have managed to carve up a respectable life by investing in all corners of Zambia and as such may not be so willing and keen to dessert all their established assets and businesses in a foreign country!

I would want to forgive anyone who would ridicule this piece of exposé as I have noticed that continued non peaceful resolution of contentious issues particularly the Barotseland Question may explain why there is lack of true national unity, which is such an important precursor to meaningful economic, cultural and political development.

If a people as individuals or a group fail to relate to their own ethnic and cultural identity, and choose to masquerade as another tribe for fear of being laughed at by those who think are better than others this will spell doom. Then as any sociologist of some repute will tell you, it may partly explain why this country will take long to attain equitable development. In a show of a rare form of ‘lunatic fringe’ they do not seem to make any efforts whatsoever at learning other people’s languages but instead opt to impose theirs on any unassertive groups whom they find with their backs already bent to be ridden on. Dr. King was right when he said, " No man can ride your back unless it is bent." I have hypothesized that, an individual’s linguistic dexterity is directly proportional to their intellectual acumen. Theses characters are either too proud and feel other languages are unimportant or inferior and thus do not even merit learning or they just merely lack the capacity to learn. I have immense respect for other tribes or individuals that have learnt my language because I know or would want to learn theirs as well; with them I have no problem speaking their language.

As Barotseland, we have the most number of tribal cousins all over Zambia. This is a measure of how vast the Barotse Empire extends. Historically, one will find that tribal cousinship results from periods of conquest after past armed encounters and thereafter when peace is reached by which ever means(regardless of who the victor or the vanquished was in the historical battles, cousinship results). We have respectfully under our care ,Kaondes,Lambas, Tongas,Lenjes,Solis,Ilas,Lalas,Salas(only to an extent) etc As Barotses however, I have noticed that we have been poor at cementing these relations which I find extremely crucial and serve as a fuse of sorts to stabilize any potential conflict situations. Most of us do not reach out to learn our cousins’ languages even when some of them are quite fluent in Si Lozi this I find disrespectful and rather bossy of us. This has to change if we are to remain united with them forever. We have also miserably failed to marshal this unity by utilising it as an influential voting block of people of like mind and virtues so that you shape the destiny of this country instead of leaving it to the whims of people with a propensity for thieving.
As Barotseland, we should learn from Scotland and Ireland that are working hard to revive or promote the use an ancient language called Gaelic as they have made commendable strides in this direction. We have our Si Luyana language to preserve before it is lost forever as it is the original dialect used by the off shoot of the aluyi during pioneering migrations of the ANU or ANNUNAKI as spoken of in the Sumerian tablets by David Icke. To this effect, I would like more than anything to see the promotion of the use of the individual languages in Barotseland which are intersected by Silozi, a unifying lingua franca of sorts. Here I speak of Barotse languages such as Sisubiya,Totela,Mbukushu,Nyengo,Luchazi,Makwandi,MaMbowe Chokwe,Mbunda,Lunda,Luvale,Kwangwa, Nkoya and many more. These should be encouraged to attain prominence because Silozi is only a uniting language in Barotseland we all have indigenous languages where we hail from in its length and breadth. Here is a strong caution or warning, call it what you may, which goes to all those sons and daughters of Barotseland who out of unforgivable ignorance have unwittingly divided this Great Nation of Barotseland by going about thinking and saying they are more Lozi than other tribes within Barotseland. This is a criminal mistake; a cruel and misplaced sentiment that has worked to divide our nation so much that outsiders have even used it to incite internal insurrections which caused us to rise against each other(Kindly Read about the Kafue Province Petition). I beg to be corrected here, but there is NO tribe in Barotseland called Lozi. Si Lozi(sotho, kololo) is but a language spoken by the many tribes therein. Although, outsiders think us a united people what they do not realize is we have never been so divided as a Nation with every Mu lozi pursuing their own issues. Time has come when merely the privilege of being an oarsman in the King’s Royal barge is scarcely enough anymore to make one a proud Mu Lozi. We need to step up and do more for each other and for the Kingdom. Truly you are Kings and Queens!! To this effect I propose that Barotseland starts to honour its people who make remarkable contributions towards the development of the Kingdom be it economically, intellectually, culturally or otherwise. This may be done in the Knighthood conferring fashion of the Brits or which ever way Ma Lozi will deem fit.

If not put to a nation wide referendum, yes just as Scotland is doing to determine if they should continue being in the Union of Great Britain, the Barotses may not know the full extent and height of nationalistic zeal. The referendum idea thankfully can not happen anymore because we decided to revert to our original staus in the light of the unilateral abrogation of the unity treaty that was B.A 1964. The monarch form of governance in Barotseland has persisted for millennia but whether this is the way we still want to go is a matter that needs to be addressed. The way the Royal families have educated themselves and their children at the expense of the ordinary citizens has long been a source of much dissent.

To have a horde of citizens walking around with a dangerously low self-esteem is a sure recipe for disaster. This country rather naively has chosen not to see that most Barotses though not openly showing it have not fully integrated in the entity called Zambia and go about their business with their hearts heavily laden with discontent which they efficiently pass onto their children’s children. The cycle will continue. This issue means so much to me otherwise I would not be expending any intellectual thought and energy on it if it were not.

What I dread or rather find disconcerting more than anything else is the almost inescapable prospect which stares every Barotse in the face, that of creating or begetting offspring’s who would be born with a stigma not of their own choosing where they are effectively condemned to living in a state where they are treated as second class citizens.

In Zambia today whenever Barotses go about their business and they peacefully converse in their tongue (Si Lozi) they are called selfish. What has happened is that ,some subjugated ethnic minorities have become so minicule in their selfworth that they are more than glad to pass as another tribe. To do this, they are not ashamed to speak a language other than their own even if they met as brothers and sisters. In retrospect, I think this is exactly where our problem is as Barotses, we are not a minority. In public offices, as we go about performing our duties, diligently I might add , speaking Silozi is our trademark but this is always looked at with scorn and rather ignorantly labeled tribalistic. Literacy levels in Zambia are so low that some even call it racist of us! We are sometimes painfully asked, “Why can’t you just speak a language we can all understand?”(Their Language) Which then they would deem perfectly acceptable even if it is not the official language either! They seem so insecure that we could be talking about them even when we have other far better themes to engage us. My skin craws with revulsion and I shudder to think of a day I will knowingly speak another language to a Barotse National, other than Si Lozi or English of course. What these detractors fail to appreciate is what it means to be from the Mighty Barotseland and to be a Mulozi. The climax of what am belaboring to say was reached when it was observed that some community Radio stations and churches in Barotseland were almost slowly found to be using a language other than Si Lozi like they have done in other parts of Zambia. Enter The Language Debate!

Barotses have been found not to be as malleable as other tribes hence their being labeled stubborn, selfish, greedy, and very proud (quite guilty on this score!) For this country to truly continue enjoying the relative ‘peace’ they sing about, this status quo has to be boldly challenged, confronted and changed. This is the job for civil society which they must commence to do with greater urgency.

It is indeed saddening to learn of a situation where in parliament to mention the word Barotseland is almost a taboo subject. Some MP had the rude audacity to say, ‘Barotseland or whatever it is’ in such a rude and insolent tone during parliamentary debates. The dangerous situation which persists where successive constitutional review commissions have simply glossed over the matter of The Barotseland Question and prevented the publication of volumes of written matter presented as Barotse submissions to see the light of day is a dangerous tactic with potential dire consequences. The education system in Zambia has deliberately failed to make such an important historical document like The Barotseland Agreement 1964 which made Zambian independence possible a subject of learning in schools by their children’s children. Who is responsible for the preservation of Zambian heritage?

Its worth mentioning that on a countless number of times I have encountered individuals who have said or stated in no uncertain words that a Mu Lozi no matter how intellectually brilliant will never rule Zambia as President or attain any meaningful political ascendancy. In this, we find we are not alone, as the Tongas have equally been victims of this kind of stereo-typing in the political arena. Even when as an individual am pretty much apolitical, this sentiment regrettably I have since learnt is shared by a scary many Zambian electorates due to many years of ‘state’ encouraged misinformation. We have seen how some political aspirants have secretly fanned this kind of mental disposition in the electorate and sought to gain political capital from it. This feeling has since gotten a foothold and has been implanted in the Zambian social psyche.

It maybe argued that in a democratic political landscape such as the one embraced by Zambia, these would be fairly entitled to having such a mind set no matter how flawed and dangerous. The closest that Ma Lozi ever got to high office was during the first republic when we saw the emergence of Nalumino Mundia,Kebby Musokotwane, Munukayumbwa Sipalo et al. I do not want to seem too gloomy in my analysis as Zambia is fairly a young democracy by comparison to other long established ones. We therefore may be suffering from eliciting our data from an insufficient sample space and displaying a child’s impatience when a toy has been grabbed from them! The truth about the Zambian landscape however, is such that (this you sense and hear from the social circles that comprise the electorate) the only president that would be acceptable has to come either from the North or East. The others may make it only by default. As a country Zambia may take a long time to grow out of this mental limbo.

The so called ‘national’ motto of ‘One Zambia One Nation’ has its origins in the desire to reiterate the fact that the founding of the country called Zambia was by the coming together of two previously autonomous and different entities of Northern Rhodesia and The Kingdom, Protectorate of the Nation of Barotseland hoping they would be a united Nation. It should not be surprising then that when ever Barotses air nationalistic sentiments this motto is thrown and slammed into their faces. To us it is so empty because the people who parrot it have not the foggiest idea of its origins and we have come to know it is meant to anesthetize us into submission so that we do not question the status quo.

I would like to urge any interested sociologist to study why there are a lot dread locked ‘Rastafarians’ among Barotses than any other ethnic group in Zambia. The essence of a Rasta life style is one that seeks to challenge any form of social injustice and manifests itself as revolt or rebellion against a persistent social tyrannical system. Barotses have long done this in more quite ways but for how long?

There are some Barotses I have encountered in my brief existence who can not utter a word of Si Lozi and from these I must confess I have walked away and not given them the time of day. It is however perfectly understandable for some who have been born away from Barotse influence; others I have realized have consciously decided not to have any connection with Barotses possibly due to having had an abusive heavy drinking parent who later deserted them or due to having experienced some other potentially traumatizing event inflicted on them by a Barotse. The sad thing is most of our young Barotses think not knowing how to speak Si Lozi is a status symbol or is a measure of how modern and typically town-like they are. These consider it backwardness (or being a villager) to speak the language of their fathers and mothers and ancestors, it is these I really pity. What these young people should realize is that it is hardly funny or cool but shameful to know other people’s language and not know your own. It is not being modern, far from it. There are exemplary Barotse men and women with Ph.D and MSc degrees who have traveled the globe, interacted with different cultures but still proudly speak Si Lozi. The others due to having lost both their Lozi speaking parents in death have not been able to learn it, these are forgiven.

I would like to commend all those parents who have not allowed their children to speak any other language except Silozi in the home. These children, when outside their home playing with their ethnically diverse friends, are more than free to speak in any language they please after all they are intelligent enough to learn their friends’ languages. What I find worrisome is Barotse children speaking very good English but NOT knowing or mastering Si Lozi to the same level of proficiency. This situation should not be treated lightly but be addressed as a national cultural emergency as it is a sign of gross embarrassing failure on the part of their Barotse parents or guardians. Barotse families in this situation run the risk of what I have come to coin ‘Bastardized Barotse Cultural Surrogacy’.

In Zambia there are folks who even take offence when you insist on conversing with them in English which is the only official language. The reason, I have come to learn is that most of them are not conversant in the official language. They disparagingly call you, ‘some of us’ whatever that means! It is advisable that one exercises some degree of forbearance with them as their inability to speak English may explain why they quickly gravitate into speaking their mother languages. If they ever tried to carry on in English usually what comes out is a language very similar to that of the Angles, one that would make Shakespeare turn in his mausoleum.

An example of what am writing about will help make the point. An independent panel of university lecturers in Zambia carried out a survey and found that the quality of written work from their students was below expected standard. The reason they discovered was because the students speak too much of their local dialects. While at university, passing time in the library, I got hold of one of those Path Finder guide books which strangely enough was quoted in one of its country profiles that in addition to English, Zambia had one other official language. One wonders where they got their information. I fully take cognizance of the fact that my piece of writing will be branded Tribalist, Dangerous, Inciteful, Divisive,Right Wing,Left Wing ,Agitative, Biggoted,Centrist, ‘Racist’,Seditious and what not, but I really do not mind much because its non of the above. I have every confidence that some one will find it eye-opening and useful in fostering true national unity which is what every Barotse desires and will get in the end. So ‘One Zambia One Nation’, maybe not quite yet, unless of course we want to live in a fool’s haven!

The sickening feeling I got when I went to Mungu (Capital of Barotseland) is indescribable. Shock is what I experienced and saw, that due to infrastructural interconnectivity made possible by the road network and the resulting social interaction, there has been an emergence of other Non Barotse languages on the streets, at the markets and at the harbour. This has unfortunately brought with it the attendant increase in criminal activity and some socially undesirable behaviour from characters that have appeared in Barotseland. These have no qualms about showering one with alphabetical obscenities in their mother tongues at the slightest infuriation. We find it difficult, almost impossible to hear the insults you get on the copperbelt province of Zambia in Barotseland. This is something rare and heavy to accomplish in Si Lozi because our culture does not permit it. Do not get me wrong we are not used to the current levels of criminal activity in Mungu and Livingstone.

It should be fairly easy to make an assessment of the origins of the majority of the inmates in Zambia’s prisons and holding cells. I would like to urge all the people of Barotseland to avoid taking what does not belong to them (stealing) because it is not in our nature. I further commend them for not having involved themselves in rampant corruption in Zambia as can be confirmed from those who are facing high level corruption charges. This is a clear testimony that unlike others we are not ‘blessed’ with a propensity for thieving that is why we may be considered ‘sleepy, dwanzy, sheepish’ etc.

In the field of academia we hear comments passed by students and lecturers that Barotses are naturally intelligent. As to what extent this is due to the fact that the first schools were built in Barotseland is something yet unproven. Unfortunately I have encountered very clear contradictions or exceptions to this rule of purported divinely bestowed intelligence on us. This is a notorious myth which has misled many a playful Barotse student. While at university I had seen some mischievous Barotse students not studying much but instead opting to become playful by going on unplanned and unwise drinking binges and other unthinkable orgies banking on the theory above. I am sorry to report that for most of them school was not quite as smooth sailing as anticipated. Myth Busted!! My conclusion is, in academic circles who ever applies themselves and works diligently will make it regardless of their ethnicity. The fact that Barotses are some of the very best brains around or most educated people in Zambia has unsettled certain quarters of society. I wonder what became of ‘PROJECT ZABADU’ (Zambezi Basin Development University) in Barotseland. We should realize that everything is used to distract Barotses from uplifting themselves even ministerial appointments can do if their vision can only take them so far.

We are not strangers to clandestine projects where the cut off points in Barotse schools have been raised so as to disadvantage our children from entering university. How they have lowered the grades in their schools so that their children flood university as a way of equalizing or countering Barotse dominance in the number of learned people. To verify my revelations just get hold of any newspaper issue showing a listing of university admitions then you will know what i mean. We also know that the head of the above project recently passed on, ‘bless his soul’ M.H.S.R.I.P! We also know how they send their teachers to Barotseland in a calculated relentless wave of cultural invasion to dilute or confuse our language and tradition.

Kindly forward this piece to every Barotse National you feel should see it as i may not know the emails of those who may need to read it. That is if you find it worth brain storming over as BAROTSELAND.
These issues are of great import if we are to change are current state of being.

Sa ng’ole sibe siile kwaule!

Kozo Sicaba Sa Mulimu,

Namakando Nalikando Sinyama
Barotse Patriot
Barotseland, Central Africa
“I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of all things, my son, never live under a slavish bond.” – Sir William Wallace’s Uncle

1 comment:

  1. Namakando, taba yo n'ozi ki yabutokwa luli. Mikihande kuziba kuli kuna ni bana ba SiLozi babautwela naha yabona butuku. Kukaba butokwa hahulu kunola likaze ni mwa puo yaluna. Baba ibzi bulozi baswanela kuli bala. In addition, to e-content, zakona kun'olwa mwa tubukanyana ni kuabela batu kuli bazibe za naha ya bona.

    Zwelopili ya bulozi yakona kuezahala. Selu tokwa ki minyolui ku bulelela sicaba kusebeza katata. Sicaba bautwela hahulu mulenen'i. Mulenen'i iswanela kuba relevant kwa sicaba, and should provide leadership in sensitising sicaba za matuku a AIDS, butokwa bwa sikolo, swalisano, njimo ni zen'ata ze felisa bubotana.