Constipated nationalism: ingredient for chaos, divisions, stagnation (Part 1)
Published On February 20, 2024 » 994 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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. Kaunda

By GUNSTON CHOLA –
CONSTIPATED nationalism, as being peddled by proponents of the “resurrection” of the defunct Barotseland Agreement, is a probable ingredient for chaos, divisions and stagnation in the land.
Already, the Lamba Lima Royal Council and the Lamba Lima Swaka Association of Zambia have fired a salvo and warned of serious consequences should the issue drag.
The Lenje, through spokesperson Jonas Shakafuswa, have not hidden their profound revulsion for the campaign.
Some finished politicians and clearly nabaneka [I am just alone] parties, coming together as United Kwacha Alliance (UKA), have called it a festering wound which needs dressing while leader of the opposition Socialist Party (SP) Fred M’membe has even gone to the extent of promising chiefs provincial political roles in his “government”.
To the British Crown, it was a freely negotiated agreement which terminated the rights and obligations of the Crown and of the Northern Rhodesia government arising under “all existing agreements, undertakings or understandings with the Litunga of Barotseland”.
The acrimony began when President Hakainde Hichilema, at a high level meeting of controlling officers, announced that there was no country called Barotseland.
It claimed the first casualty when former Ngambela Clement Sinyinda resigned from the Teaching Service Commission.
As an immediate consequence, the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) summoned the Kuta whose resolutions the Litunga endorsed and still seek clarification from President Hichilema over his statement.
The rest of Zambia support the president and state that he spoke the truth because there was never a country called Barotseland.
On Sunday February 11, 2024, the Lamba Lima Royal Council and Lamba Lima Swaka Association held a press conference in Ndola and declared the concessions fraudulent and the Barotseland a non-issue, dead and buried in line with the 1963 referendum held in Barotseland.
“We, the Lamba people of the Copperbelt Province, also found in parts of Central and North-Western provinces, do hereby give a testimony of truth that we are the indigenous and rightful inhabitants of the mineral-rich lands which were fraudulently occupied and exploited by the British colonialists because of illegal concessions signed between the Litunga of Barotseland and the early explorers,” said the statement read out by former senior aide to President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, Jack Kalala Nkonde.
The Barotseland issue has been emotive from the beginning.
It also featured in the British House of Commons during debate of the Zambia Independence Bill in July 1964 presented by John Tilney, Under Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies.
Mr Tilney cited Clause 8 which terminated the rights and obligations of the Crown and of the Northern Rhodesian government arising under all existing agreements, undertakings or understandings with the Litunga of Barotseland but which Clause did not affect the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, entered in between the Northern Rhodesian Government and the Litunga at the time of the Independence Conference.
The minister told the House that the British government had been conscious throughout the approach to independence of their special relationship with the Litunga who visited London in 1963 for discussions with the first secretary.
As a result of these talks, he agreed to open discussions with the Northern Rhodesian government about the future relationship between Barotseland and the Northern Rhodesian government.
Mr Tilney reported that after a long process of negotiations, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and the Litunga, in the presence of the secretary of state, signed a new agreement on May 18 which defined the position of Barotseland which was to become an integral part of independent Zambia.
“This Agreement has been published – Cmmd 2366. I pay tribute to the statesmanship of the Litunga and Dr Kaunda in reaching agreement, which enables Barotseland to go forward with the rest of Northern Rhodesia as a unity, and has enabled Her Majesty’s Government to discharge the obligations arising from our mutual links that have last so long,” Mr Tilney said.
The sympathy in the House for the Litunga came from the Member of Parliament for West Bromwich Maurice Foley who felt that the Litunga was somewhat unfairly treated and betrayed by Her Majesty’s government which persuaded him in 1953 to agree to the formation of the Federation, for which he was rewarded with a knighthood and gave him the name Litunga, when he was forced at night to sign the Barotseland agreement he was not part of.
But this assertion of unfair treatment was immediately and cruelly dismissed by Mr Tilney.
“The hon. Member for West Bromwich was a little unfair about the agreement with the Litunga. There were long and patient negotiations with the Litunga before he came to London. For these we provided, at our expense, legal advisers, one of them being one of my hon. friends, and an administrative adviser.
“It must be borne in mind that the Independence Conference was confined to political parties. The settlement – namely, the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 – is, I believe, a very fair one in the circumstances. As to the basic premise that Barotseland is to become an integral part of Zambia, the Litunga has not lost much in power. He still has considerable power inside his domain, and it is right to say that we have not deprived the Litunga of this power.It was a freely negotiated agreement,” Mr Tilney informed the Commons.
The phrase “inside his domain” is the question that all those campaigning for the restoration of Barotseland need to answer.
What was the extent of the Lewanika’s domain?
Was it what that Lozi luminary and freedom fighter SikotaWina called “mythical boundaries” when this issue resurfaced back then in 2010?
Could it be that all along the British knew the edges of the Lewanika domain and the protectorate was only confined to the area where Lozi was spoken as a language and where the Litunga had influence?
History records that the earliest known tribe of the Lozi people to settle in the area, the Luyi, migrated from Katanga in the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ruled by a long line of female rulers.
They settled on the Bulozi flood plains.
Between 1820 and 1840, they were invaded by a branch of the Basotho from the Bafokeng region of South Africa known as the Makololo or Kololo led by Sebitwane who conquered the Luyi led by Mbuyawamwambwa.
But in 1864, the Luyi, under Mwambwa, overthrew drunk Makololo and reverted the rule back to Luyi.
Arising from the history, was the mining concession signed with Lochner delivered to John Cecil Rhodes’ British South African Company (BSAC) the determinant of the Barotseland boundaries as incorporated in Lewanika’s request for a protectorate delivered by Corydon to the British Consul in Cape Town in 1897?
In this case, the Lamba Lima Royal Council has a point.
The desire of the conference, Mr Kalala said, was to set the record straight and redefine the extent of the boundaries.
For the sake of record, Lambaland extends into the Katanga Province of the DRC where there are chiefs of the same clan.
As the most affected, aggrieved and defrauded ethnic group in the history of this country in as far as colonisation, exploration and mining of precious minerals from the said land is concerned, “we stand to speak out vehemently against the recent utterances of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and other advocates of the defunct Barotseland Agreement to secede from the Republic of Zambia.
“We wish to set the record straight, once and for all,” Mr. Kalala said, adding: “As heirs to the rich cultural heritage and custodians of our ancestral lands, we stand at a pivotal juncture in our country’s history, reflecting on the path that has brought us to the present and envisioning the road that lies ahead.
“Our identity, deeply rooted in the soil of our forebears, is etched with the values of peace, love, unity and an unwavering commitment to the prosperity of our nation,” he said.
The statement, signed by the president Jimmy Musuka Katanga and his deputy Josephat Nsundwe, recalled that since the dawn of independence, Zambia had been a beacon of peace, a “testament to the resilience and collective will of its people”.
“This peace, a precious jewel handed down to us through generations, has been the cornerstone upon which our society has thrived. It is against this backdrop of tranquility and mutual respect that we the Lamba people have cultivated our love for our country and hospitality to other ethnic groups, the affection that transcends the mere boundaries of patriotism and encompasses a profound desire for the well-being of all its citizens.
“As a people, we are hospitable and welcoming, having received people from all parts of Zambia who have made their home among us. As custodians of the mineral wealth that has built the infrastructure of Zambia and some foreign countries, we have never claimed a special status within the Zambian polity, because we firmly believe in the value of One Zambia, One Nation,” the statement read.
They compared mining to the construction of the Kariba Dam in Southern Province.
“The dam has become a national asset which is providing economic life to Zambia through provision of hydro-electricity to the copper mines and other industries as well as household consumers. But the Tongas of Southern Province have never claimed a special recognition and instead espouse the unity for the Zambian society.
“Motivated by this enduring culture of peace and our deep-seated love for our homeland, we hereby affirm our unwavering commitment to uphold and propagate these values for the sake of posterity. It is with a spirit of unity and a heart full of hope that we approach the discourse on the Barotseland Agreement,” he said.
Mr Kalala said the absolute fate of Barotseland was decided in the 1963 Barotseland referendum which pitted nationalist Princess Mukwae Nganga Nakatindi and divisionist Mufaya Mumbuna.
The Princess led pro-unity campaigners to a victory of 63 against two votes for proponents of secession.
As Lamba Lima, they were also mindful of the delicate tapestry of Zambia’s unity which they seek to preserve and enrich.
“Our position is founded on the principle of dialogue, understanding and the respect for the diverse cultures and histories that coalesce to form the fabric of our nation.
“In light of the Barotseland Agreement, we seek to reaffirm our dedication to the stated principles, advocating for a permanent resolution that honours our shared history, respects our differences and paves the way for a future where peace, unity, love and prosperity will reign supreme.
“As the Lamba people, indivisibly part of the Zambian society, we extend our hands in friendship and solidarity to the Government of the Republic of Zambia and all stakeholders, guided by the conviction that together, we can forge a path towards a harmonious and inclusive future devoid of conflict or strife,” the statement read and continued:
“It is with this vision in mind that we submit our expression for unity, peace and love, a legacy that the people of Zambia since the attainment of independence in 1964, want to bequeath to the future generations. Constitutionally, Zambia is a unitary state and should remain so until the constitution is amended, when and where necessary as provided for in the constitution,” he put it emphatically.
“The people of Zambia are indivisibly one. Colonial activities should not be allowed to create any divisions to break the peace and unity that has existed since Zambia’s independence in 1964. No one single tribe in Zambia should be given space to resuscitate and ride upon fraudulent, oppressive and divisive colonial schemes to engender chaos in this beautiful and peaceful country.
They were surprised at the Lozi and the BRE’s resolve for Barotseland’s self-determination and self-rule, making this top of the agenda in their planned meeting with President Hichilema who has already reiterated that there is no country on earth called Barotseland and that Zambia is and will remain a unitary state.
The author is a former deputy minister in the Levy Mwanawasa administration and former Ambassador to Brazil

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