How Kaunda deliberately impoverished Barotseland

How Kaunda deliberately impoverished Barotseland

1938: Namushakende. White bwana inspecting messengers

1938: Namushakende. White bwana inspecting messengers

The Western Province (Barotseland) is said to be one of the poorest in Zambia with poverty levels measured at 89 percent as per 2000 statistics. Its infrastructure in education and many other sectors is a sorry sight with only around 800 people in formal employment as of 2011.

Ironically, at the time of independence in 1964, Barotseland was the most affluent place than any other in Northern Rhodesia apart from some selected towns along the line of rail.

The change in the state of affairs was not by accident but by design as there was a master mind behind the running down of all sectors in Barotseland.

Having entered into a union with Barotseland through the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 (BA 64), the result of several meetings in Victoria town of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Mongu, Lusaka and finally London, Kaunda’s motive was to use Barotseland to help him secure independence from the British and later embark on a scheme to swallow Barotseland and erase any trace of it, never to appear again, at least that is what Kaunda thought.

True to his diabolic scheme against Barotseland, soon after independence he set his cruel scheme into motion almost unnoticed to most Zambians who saw him as a great leader.

Prior to 1964, Barotseland was exporting labour to South African mines, this being the result of an arrangement made by the British government, as debated by the House of Commons on 13th July 1938, to offer employment opportunities to the people of Barotseland.

Under this arrangement, 10,000 people were employed in South African mines for contractual periods of 11 months and were replaced by a similar number on rotational basis.

According to available records, in 1960, Kalabo district alone had 2468 work men recruited as compared to 800 people in formal employment for the whole region as of 2011.That year alone those workers repatriated a sum of £51,549 British pounds back home in Kalabo.

The Times of Zambia newspaper of 23rd September 1965 reported as follows: “The greatest source of cash income is from the export of labour to the South African Mines. This brings in an estimated £250,000 British pounds to the province every year. The Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WINELA), has depots in Mongu and Senanga and runs several charter flights to and from South Africa every week.”

Kaunda was not happy with this, noting that there was a disparity between the people of Barotseland and those outside Barotseland in other parts of Zambia and schemed to come up with a strategy to block this flow of income. The idea from the onset was to enslave Barotseland, but this could not be achieved if they had stable sources of income.

Barely two months after the Times of Zambia carried that story, on 5th November 1965, the Times carried another banner headline screaming, “RECRUITMENT OF LABOUR IN ZAMBIA PROHIBITED”

Kaunda came up with legislation to ban the export of labour knowing fully well that it was only Barotseland that was targeted.

Thus begun the journey of Barotseland’s high poverty levels that the same people who schemed it are now trying to use to perpetually enslave its people.

Having been blocked from working outside Zambia, the experienced labour force then attempted to shift to the Copperbelt, only to be told by Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe that the mine jobs on the copperbelt were only for ethnic groups outside Barotseland.

This action resulted in discontent among Barotses and gave rise to support for Nalumino Mundia’s  United Party (MBAULA) and the activities that followed. People cried in their mother tongues on the Copperbelt after the government (of Bembas) transported thugs and hired Tanzanians in five truck loads to ‘sort’ out Lozis from the mines but, unfortunately, they all retreated with one Minister losing his life as the Barotses put up fierce resistance, causing their attackers to retreat in shock.

One minister who was among the leaders commandeering the attackers only survived after he cried out in his native Soli language as he was pinned to the ground by Barotses in self defence.

Having cut the source of income for the people of Barotseland, Kaunda was still not happy as the Barotses were doing fine in all academic exam classes as compared to other parts of Zambia. Kaunda then hatched a scheme to cartel their progress in education through a series of diabolic measures.

According to an international research document by an organisation called Meyers Konnversationslexikon, it was shown that  “within the geographical entity early in the century, Barotseland was the most developed and had the highest population density. A map of 1913 shows that within Northern Rhodesia, mission stations are concentrated in Barotseland.”

Between 1964 to the 70s, Kaunda launched an onslaught to cripple the education system in Barotseland, as he considered them to be way ahead of other parts of Zambia, hence he wanted to slow them down to allow the other parts of the country to catch up. It is this kind of thinking that is believed to have brought about the cancer of exam ‘leakages’ in the name of catching up with Barotseland.

In Mongu, there was Mabumbu Girls Boarding School which was offering facilities up to standard six, the highest standard of education one would aspire for at the time.This school was left dilapidated as Kaunda sent away all the missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society who were running it. Today this school only goes up to grade seven.

In Senanga, Senanga Girls Boarding School was offering classes up to standard six, it was also under the management of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (ever heard of Francis Coillard?) This school was also deliberately run down as Kaunda sent away the missionaries, and today the school only goes up to grade seven.

In Seshekes’ Sichili, (Mulobezi) area, Sichili Girls Boarding School offered classes up to standard six, and was run by the Catholic Capuchin Fathers. In like manner, Kaunda sent the missionaries away and run down the school. Today it only goes up to grade seven.

All these Girls Boarding Schools, that were well positioned across Barotseland, were turned into day schools – effectively cutting out hundreds of girls from far flung areas. Kaunda did not want them to get an education as he did not want to meet an educated Barotse elite in future should they challenge his diabolic scheme against their country.

In Lukulu district, the Catholics were running Sancta Maria Girls Boarding School, offering classes up to standard six. Kaunda relocated this school to Mongu, and the name was changed to Holly Cross, effectively condemning the girls in Lukulu to illiteracy.

Despite the relocation, Holly Cross posted impressive results in the 1972 exams, sending 22 girls to the University of Zambia. This annoyed Kaunda so much that he shut down the boarding facilities lest they churn more girls to the university.

Another boys’ school in Lukulu run by the Catholics, was similarly relocated to Mongu as St Johns Secondary School.

To Kaunda’s disappointment, however, the school sent 40 boys to the University of Zambia in the 1973 exams. The following year Kaunda shut down the boarding facilities and interfered with the running of the school.

Having cut the parents from accessing jobs in South Africa, he now blocked their children from getting education. It is difficult to comprehend what was driving the malice against the people of Barotseland.

The remaining co-education schools spread across Barotseland were deliberately run down. No wonder today we are told by Emanuel Mwamba that he found mud and pole schools in ‘Western Province.’

The Missionary Schools in other parts of the country were, however, left to flourish to this day.

Kaunda did not stop at this. He went further to design a higher cut off point for Barotseland to ensure he blocks all loopholes. For example, the pass mark for Barotseland was put at 86 percent for boys and 76 percent for girls, while in other parts of Zambia the same was fixed at 66 percent for boys and 56 percent for girls.

The scheme was then targeted at sports, as he made sure facilities were run down but, unfortunately for Kaunda, the Barotse School teams were unbeaten in all events. For example, at the national school games of 1975 at Chizongwe, 1976 at Samfya secondary school in Luapula, and 1978 at Monze Secondary school in Southern Province, the Barotse teams organised by a Mr Little Jones of Sifula Secondary School, were unbeaten in all the events, but surprisingly, they were not allowed to represent Zambia at the finals that were usually held in Zanzibar in Tanzania and in Kenya. Instead the losing Zambian teams were sent, and they continuously came back with sorry results – pretty much like what happened when Chipolopolo Boys were invited to the CECAFA Cup in Ethiopia a few years ago. The Zambians won the finals but were told that they could not get the trophy because they were only invited as outsiders. So was the case of Barotse schools’ sports teams.

Kaunda still had unfinished business as he detested the name ‘Barotseland’. It was a reminder to him of Barotseland statehood, dating back hundreds of years before Zambia was born.

To deal with this challenge, Kaunda thought of hiding the BA 64 agreement, no wonder it was never to be taught in any school curriculum at any level. He then merged the Church of Barotseland (Keleke ya Bulozi) with the Methodist Church in Zambia and the United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia, to form what is now called the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).

When the Church of Barotseland, through the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) sought to pull out and claim back their church buildings in 2002, among them the UCZ Coillard Mission in Livingstone, the Zambian media and UCZ leaders widely condemned the BRE (I suppose this was out of ignorance as they sounded so blank over the back ground to the issue). To them, the BRE was trying to grab the churches because they ‘claimed’ control of the land where the structures were built.

Kaunda, the schemer, then changed the Barotse Park in Livingstone to Mukuni Park, despite resistance from the local authorities and the community. This is the very Park where King Lewanika signed several concessions with the Europeans.

To crown it all, Kaunda announced on 26th August 1969, that he was changing the name of the Barotse National School in Mongu, and the name of Barotseland was to be changed to Western Province, while the formally Western Province was changed to the Copperbelt.

Unfortunately for Kaunda, everything he did or attempted to do was well documented, and the moment of truth has now come. We are back, heavily armed with documentary data. Watch this space as we uncover the history that was deliberately hidden from the Zambian public for half a century.


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