Barotseland Freedom Movement
International Relations Secretariat
Kindly find attached our response to the Mbunda people’s submission to the Barotse Shootings Commission of Inquiry. If you find it worthy publishing on your popular site, please do go ahead with our blessings.
Barotseland Freedom Movement International Secretary.
THE MBUNDA SUBMISSION TO THE BAROTSELAND COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
We would like to commend the Mbunda people for making such a brave submission to the just ended Commission of Inquiry into the Barotseland shootings.
While their submission contained some facts, it should, however, be pointed out that some points raised were non factual and largely speculative, which leaves one wondering as to what the Mbundas were hoping to achieve.
The BA’64 and Misplaced Government Policy Caused Existing Divisions
It is true that the Mbunda, Nkoya and others tribes mentioned in the submission came to Barotseland during Litunga Mulambwa’s reign. They were warmly welcomed and allowed to freely settle in Barotseland. This Litunga was a vehement adversary of slavery. His name, ‘Mulambwa’ simply means you only buy a dog not a human being.
The Mbundas and Nkoyas co-existed with Alui was purely based on the principle of unity in diversity, a principle that Zambia has struggled to comprehend in her 47 years of existence. The Alui recognized that the Mbundas’ culture and customs were different from their own but were quick to identify the points of strength in the latter on which they could rely as classily explained in the submission. In spite of the known and understood minor differences, the Alui had no problem co-existing with the Mbundas as they both found areas of common interest which benefitted both.
Apart from the Ba Luvale incident which required British intervention, it goes without saying that all tribes in Barotseland lived in harmony in spite of expected occasional schisms which would be normally got over with without serious negative consequences.
All tribes in Barotseland have always accepted each other; hence the early intermarriages which resulted in leaders like Sikufele being born of a Mbunda mother. The ridicule of Mbundas as a refugee tribe only took place at community level and was never the policy of the Barotse traditional leadership. At national level, the Mbunda were even represented in the Barotse National Council, as correctly acknowledged in the submission. This is the very Council referred to in the Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Ironically, Limulunga Royal Village is said to be built on the land that “belongs” to a Mbunda chief. This signifies the oneness that the Alui and tribes originally from Angola enjoyed before the Batotseland Agreement 1964 was entered into.
It would, therefore, be correct to point out that the marginalization and discrimination that the Mbundas and Nkoyas complain about today is primarily a consequence of the BA’64 and the governments’ failure to properly explain and implement the “one Zambia one nation” motto. The fact that there were elements on the Alui side which had even gone to the extent of burning Mbunda literature proves that a foreign influence had been deliberately introduced to divide the united peoples of Barotseland. This can partly be blamed on ignorance just as we are seeing in Zambia today where the BA’64 is concerned. Despite its importance to Zambian history, this Agreement was never taught in schools, resulting in its mixed understanding from most Zambian citizens who even include intellectuals.
It is without a doubt that the first Zambian government was bent on wiping out the memory of Barotseland. Nothing could better do this than dividing the peoples of that territory and further denying them the knowledge of their history. An ignorant Mbunda could easily believe that the Lozi wants the former deported back to Angola even when such a thing is simply not possible. Similarly, an ignorant Lozi can easily conclude that a Mbunda is indeed an enemy within who must be attacked at a whim. This fact must be understood by both factions in order to re-discover the common ground that once united all the over thirty tribes in Barotseland. Only then would even the issue of senior Mbunda chiefs be properly addressed as hoping to get the Zambian government’s intervention in this would easily be termed as meddling in Barotseland’s traditional set up.
The Threatening Fliers
According to knowledge based on Mumbwa Court proceedings on the “Mongu riot”, no Barotse activist was fingered out as having had a hand in the writing and distribution of the fliers before 14th January, 2011. The quick “arrest” of a Mongu MMD lady who had been behind the distribution of anti-opposition fliers later in the same year shows that had the violence threatening fliers of January 2011 been the work of Barotse activists, culprits were surely going to be apprehended and maybe the resulting violence could have been prevented. At work here is a foreign element that is aware of the formidability of an Alui and Mbunda unity. This element is bent on ensuring that such a unity never again takes place.
It is therefore, up to the Alui and Mbundas to take up the challenge of re-tracing our past with the intention of re-discovering and re-implementing the concept of unity in diversity which our forefathers taught us and which our enemies do not want us to know.
Mixing up present government appointments and the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is total confusion because the two are not related at all.
Barotse Territory outside Zambian Boundaries
The Barotseland Agreement 1964 should not be confused with Lozi territories outside Zambia. No Angolan, Namibian, Tswana or Zimbabwean Lozis were included in the Agreement. This Agreement only addresses the territory within the present boundaries of Zambia and its peoples. If there were other documented treaties concerning the “foreign” Barotse territories affirming that they indeed belonged to Barotseland then such issues could only be dealt with by the International Court of Justice. As for now and hopefully in the future when the issue of the BA’64 is being addressed, it would be irrelevant to even associate the Barotseland being referred to in the Agreement with the Barotse territories outside Zambia. However, we cannot deny those territories neither can we claim them based on the BA’64.
Based on their own submission to the Commission of Inquiry and what has been said above, our Mbunda relatives must realize that the restoration of the BA’64 will only make things worse for them. They should only be brave enough and seek reconciliation with their closest relatives, the Alui. Barotseland is their home too as Litunga Mulambwa had told them. This is not tribalism but self-determination which is a universal human right recognized in international law. True unity is not to be coerced or manipulated into adopting someone’s culture or indeed speaking someone’s language. Respectfully acknowledging each others differences and yet deliberately choosing to co-exist brings true unity.
The BA’64 was a uniting treaty alright just like a marriage is a uniting agreement and no such treaties necessarily addresses the issue of a possible separation. However, it is elementary knowledge that even marriage agreements get terminated on a daily basis the world over primarily due to breach of such agreements. Only a fool would dare think the BA’64 is different.
Thank you for publishing this response to our dear Mbunda relatives, Nkoyas and the rest included.