By Sity Mwitu
The debate on the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 has exposed the hatrage that exists against the Lozis not only from Bembas, but also from Nyanjas. The hatrage for the Lozis has not just started now; but it is a long story that began immediately when Zambia attained her independence. The basis for this hatrage originated from the fact that at the time Zambia became independent in 1964 many Lozis were more educated than Bembas and Nyanjas. Of course, it may have been natural considering the fact that education first began in Barotseland at Sefula mission in March, 1887.
That is why Dr. Kaunda’s first Cabinet had seven (7) elite Lozis of profound standing; of which six (6) were University graduates. As a result, evil schemes were put in place to deprive the Lozis of their dignity and cultural pride. Therefore, it should not surprise to anyone to hear of PF leader Mr. Michael Sata’s recommendation to the former President Dr. FTJ Chiluba regarding their stance on the Barotseland Agreement and his suggestion to the then President to drop the recognition of the Litunga in 1996. How can someone drop the recognition of state that was founded in 1550? The hatrage for the Lozis is rife in every sphere of life in Zambia and now it has even turned into a terminally illness without cure, hence the justifiable call of the Patriots for secession. For the past 46 years, Lozis have been intimated, suppressed and oppressed, so Lozis are terribly hurt. If you talked to any Lozi hailing from Barotseland from all the walks of life except those whose stomachs are fed by the MMD oppressive regime, they will confess that they are genuinely hurt. Lozis are not seeking attention, but respect and equity in every sphere of life.
The first Republic President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda knows this too well and that is why this issue is now haunting him since most of his colleagues who penned their signatures on the document have since passed on. What this means is that Dr. Kaunda is the solution on this matter and his availability should not being ignored completely. He must not continue to be silent on this matter. He must realize that his continued silence is doing harm to this nation. His guilty of his past actions should not keep him out of what is happening in the country now. I did mention in my previous articles that there has never been a time when the issue of Barotseland Agreement was brought up and blood was shed, but in 2010, the calls for the restoration of Barotseland Agreement led to the shedding of blood. Zambian is a Christian nation and Christians over the world in general and Zambia in particular know that without shedding of blood, there is no salvation. The blood that is shed has a voice. It speaks and the blood of Jesus Christ still speaks even today. In the same vein the Barotseland Agreement Activist’s blood that was shed in 2010 is speaking up to now until the reason it was shed for is accomplished. The Jews, Moslems as well as Christians know too well that once blood is shed, there is no turning back. The mighty Russians failed to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan so will the Americans. The President of Sudan Mr. Omar Al-Bashir with all of his state power and machinery including his Moslem militia gangs tried to quell the Southern Sudan apprising, but from 9th to 15th January 2011, they have been voting for their self determination and yet this was a country that did not have agreement biding them together. Unless Dr. Kaunda comes out in the open to tell the nation why it was necessary for him to pen his signature on the agreement, whatever blood will be shed in the future will be on his hands. He still has the time and energy to redeem him and clear his name and the role he played regarding the abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement and his hatrage for the Barotse people. Dr. Kaunda is known to be a confessed Christian and he knows that only the truth sets people free. If he does not hate Lozis, he should then come out in the open to tell the nation the truth.
It should not be forgotten that Dr. Kaunda’s slogan of One Zambia and One Nation was not just a mere social unifying slogan as many people perceive it today, but an anthropological and sociological scheme formulated to devalue the status of the Lozis in Zambia and Its results can be seen on the faces of many Lozis in Barotseland. Unfortunately, despite their education, intelligence and being predisposed to leadership, many elite Lozis of profound standing bought to the slogan for the sake of their stomachs, selfishness and greediness which has led Barotseland to its present day enslavement. It is not a hidden fact that most of the prominent Lozis that became Dr. Kaunda’s close associates became Lozi sell outs. Even today, they will never stand for the noble cause of freeing Barotseland from the yokes of discrimination, poverty, illiteracy and disease which came as a result of bonding Barotseland to thieves forever. They sold Barotseland for a piece of silver.
Dr. Kaunda’s hatrage for the Lozis was manifest in his fruitful and manipulative moves that saw him pass a lot of legislation that crowded the face of Barotseland Agreement to a point of no recognition. Apart his legal manipulation, Dr. Kaunda also used his political schemes to deface the status of the Litunga. As a result, against all norms and Lozi traditions, the Litunga was appointed Member of the Central Committee or MCC during the time when UNIP was in power and Dr. Kaunda at the helm of all things. This made the Litunga, who was only meant to be seen in public occasionally becoming a public spectacle or a commoner. Dr. Kaunda’s hatrage for the Lozis is not a secret. Although Dr. Kaunda was abusive in his language to all Zambians regardless of their origin and tribe, people would still remember during one of his press conferences where he angrily stated that he would not allow his Cabinet Minister dressed in a suit to go and showelela to the Litunga. Dr. Kaunda described this process of Kushowelela with malice afore thought and in a despicable manner. Dr. Kaunda was able to say this because he knew he had devalued the face of the Litunga and their cultural pride.
In the olden days it was not difficult the peoples of Barotseland to get information through their children on how Bembas would instruct their children to hate the Lozis. And these children who grew up with such hatrage for the Lozis are now in charge of the nation’s affairs, an environment that has resulted into many Lozis being discriminated against in every area of their life whether it is in education, economic, social or politics. And today the hatrage for the Lozis is no longer a secret, but it has been professionalized. While on the other side, the Lozis who have been known to be a secretive society have been open to tell off their rivalries as thieves. The rivalry between the two has never been resolved despite Dr. Kaunda‘s social scheme of tribal intermarriages. Despite this social scheme, there is still open rivalry between the Lozis and Bembas as regarding intermarriages between the two tribes. Even in today’s modern Zambia, this friction still exists on a very large scale, although in some isolated cases, intermarriages between the two tribes have worked.
The poverty experienced in Barotseland today is not as a result of the Barotseland MPs’ failure to represent their people adequately, but it was due to government policies that were crafted out hatrage for the Lozis.
The mantle of hatrage was passed from Dr. Kaunda to Dr. FTJ Chiluba. Dr. Chiluba’s hatrage for the Lozis is also not a secret. When Dr. Chiluba became President in 1991 and introduced the new culture, a lot of elite and prominent Lozis that were employed either by government or State Owned companies or Parastatal, lost their jobs, most of which have migrated abroad. The Authar Wina factor cannot be ruled out as to have contributed to the hatrage Dr. Chiluba has for the Lozis. This stems from their political quest to become MMD Party President. It is a well known fact that Dr. Chiluba took a bit of time to announce his bid for the MMD Presidency while his colleague Authar Wina had already indicated his intentions. It is also a well known fact that at the time when Dr. Kaunda and his UNIP were breathing fire in 1990, it took the likes of the late Mr. Authar Wina to provide leadership to the MMD. It is also a well known fact that Dr. Chiluba joined MMD when Dr. Kaunda and his UNIP had lost their political steam. It is also a well known fact that Dr. Chiluba had dribbled Mr. Authar Wina during their Presidential election at the MMD convention in 1990 where Dr. Chiluba was elected MMD Party President. Therefore, the political rivalry that ensued between Dr. FTJ Chiluba and Mr. Authar Wina during their MMD Party Presidential bid could have intensified his hatrage for the Lozis to the extent that when Dr. FTJ Chiluba became President, many elite Lozis of profound standing that were employed either by government or State owned companies or Parastatal, lost their jobs. It is difficult to count how many times Dr. FTJ Chiluba has been to Western Province during and after his tenure of Presidency. Even today, Dr. FTJ is comfortable to visit any Province apart from the Barotseland. It should not forgotten, that it was during Dr. Chiluba’s reign as President of Zambia that the Nkoyas were pitted against their brothers from the BRE. This conflict is still ragging even up to now. Unfortunately, this conflict is being waged and perpetuated by some of the people who hail from Barotseland who have sold their birth rights that is their cultural identity for a piece of bread or silver. It is difficult to identify them unless you are a close associate. They have even assumed surnames like Musonda, Mulenga, Mwansa, Phiri, Banda, and Zulu not because of intermarriages, no, but in order for them not only to avoid discrimination and abuse and but also to have unconditioned privileged access to quality education and jobs. This is also common among the peoples of North Western Province. Many Barotse people have instead turned to deed polling their names to English names for fear of discrimination and abuse in their own country. They are very few Barotse people with such names living in Zambia as most of them have migrated to different countries throughout the world. You must know also that the Lozis will never forget the terror that was unleashed by state police during Dr. FTJ Chiluba’s reign as President when there was resistance in the installation of the current Litunga Lubosi Imwiko who was believed to be an MMD cadre. We should also remember that it was during Dr. FTJ Chiluba’s reign, that Western Province’s poverty climbed to 80%.
So when the late President Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa became the President of Zambia in 2001, he came with fresh air to the people of Western Province in every sphere of human endeavour. The late President recognized their educational capabilities, intelligence and skill as well as their law abiding abilities. As a result, he employed them in every sector of the country. It did not take long before economic results were beginning to be seen. The late President apparently seemed to have worked well with Lozis because of his hatrage for people who have no regard for public property or simply thieves. A principle many Lozis hold dear. This is the same principle you find in Namibia and Botswana. No wonder why they are more organized and developed than Zambia.
While the rivalry between the Lozis and Bembas has been open and a well known fact, the rivalry between the Lozis and Nyanjas has not only been very secretive, but also very destructive. And these are the same characteristics the current President Mr. RB is exhibiting towards the Lozis. It is not difficult to discover the basis for this hatrage. While Dr. Kaunda was known to lean towards the Bembas, his wife Betty Kaunda is an Easterner. It is an open secret that wives normally have great influences over their husbands. RB’s behaviour towards the peoples of Western Province or Lozis today can be understood. This is not a surprise at all. When Lozis speak their language, they are called names. But when Bembas and Nyangas speak their language no one calls them names. It is very common among the Lozis to use English as their medium of communication when they meet despite their ability to speak Lozi fluently. This is neither a crime nor a sin. But today in Zambia, most of the Private radio and television stations located in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia which is also a cosmopolitan city and they are licensed to broadcast in English, as the official English language of Zambia, have now resorted to using only two native languages, that is Bemba and Nyanja in addition to English except when it is time for news in local languages. Even the national’s Public Broadcaster ZNBC, despite English being the official language of Zambia, their DJs and TV presenters have also resorted to only using two native languages in addition to English to the displeasure of well meaning Zambians. On one hand while Radio 1 was designed for local languages, and this is where all those criminals masquerading as journalist and yet they are cultural identity mafias and mercenaries, who are fond of using their native languages on official English channels should be dumped, while on the other radio 2 and radio 4 as well as ZNBC TV and TV2 where meant as English channels not for Bemba and Nyanja. These are not official languages please. For MOBI and MUVI TVs, I can understand their agenda, but not ZNBC. What is the Broadcasting policy at ZNBC? For once ZNBC should not be used as mercenary or mafia media organization to kill or eliminate other people’s cultural identity by promoting only two local languages on official English channels. This also questions the employment policy at ZNBC whether the only tribes that can work at ZNBC are Bembas and Nyanjas. Today it is not a surprise to bump into some without any courtesy or remorse speaks to you in Bemba as if it is an official language. Is it because most of the past and current Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have been hailing from Eastern Province that is why there has been culturalcide on other languages?
It is this unpalatable hatrage against the Lozis that today in this so called modern Zambia that you can still find sane and so called graduates of either UNZA or CBU standing on either tribal or political podiums in broad day light and vow that a Lozi will never become the President of Zambia. How traumatizing can such a statement be to a Lozi parent listening to 19:00 hrs news bulletin in his living together with his family? Most Zambians have underestimated the effects of the social, economic, religious and political traumas the Lozis have undergone to the extent that the younger generations can no longer take this nonsense anymore. Even the Lozi sell outs have been affected even if they will never display, expose or manifest their traumas either in public or to their close friends of different tribes. Does this explain why many Lozis are now advocating for secession instead of restoration of the Barotseland Agreement?
During a Parliamentary debate, when one of the MPs from Barotseland began to talk about the poverty in Western Province he was humiliated but it had to take the late MP Mr. Tondo Chindoloma to come to the aid of the MP and told his fellow MPs an angry tone that if the MPs from Barotseland were not free to discuss issues that affected their people who was going to speak on the matters of development on their behave. I thought that was rare Bemba trait. Even today as regards the talk on Barotseland Agreement, it has only taken the likes of PF Leader Michael Sata, Mr. Elias Chipimo JR President of NAREP and Dr. Rodger Chongwe to speak on behalf of Lozis and their concerns regarding the Barotseland Agreement while most of the elite and prominent Lozis of profound standing except Mr. William Harrington, seem to exhibit the philosophical statement of a coward hyena lives longer. I would implore such people to read the story of Esther in the Bible.
It is also this unpalatable hatrage that RB has conceived against Lozis for him to instruct his vuvuzela Dora Siliya, the Blind Association of Zambia President had once described, to ban the discussion of the Barotseland Agreement on radio stations. Hon. Dora Siliya, what else are you going to ban, the use of Barotseland to refer to Western Province or actually the Lozi language itself? The document is not an illegal one. Banning such discussions is infringing on the basic human rights as regards freedom of speech. What is happening to the government of these Easterners? People must be respected and their rights upheld. Criminalizing the document is outlawing Zambia as a nation. If the time for the Lozi people has come for them to determine their self destiny, why should a person who does not hail from Barotse stop them in the first place? The people are tired of discrimination, segregation, poverty and disease. The curse of poverty that has been slapped on Barotseland for the past 46 years has not only affected the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE), Linyungandambo, Barotseland Freedom Movement (BFM), Barotseland Patriotic Front (BPF), Movement for the Restoration of Barotseland Agreement (MOREBA), but also all the peoples of Barotseland such the Mbundas, the Nkoyas, the Nyengos, the Luvales, the Tokas, the Kwengos, the Totelas, the Subiyas, the Makwamashis, the Mbowes, the kwandis, the Kwangwas or Luyanas, and every ethnic group that I have not mentioned, but was present in Barotseland prior to 1964 Barotseland Agreement and had helped to overpower and defeat the Makololo domination and shared Silozi as their language of communication in Barotseland in addition to their native languages. This is the social fiber and cultural pride of the peoples of Barotseland that Dr. Kaunda and Dr. Chiluba because of their hatrage for the Lozis tried to destroy and the current President Mr. Banda is trying to destroy. What do you expect RB to do on the issue of Barotseland if is following the advice of his political consultant? Does this make you heart bleed? The do what is right and what you are expected to do for the people of Barotseland as well as Zambia.