Rt Hon Cheke Cha Mbunda National Chairman, Rt Hon Ndandula Libingi franked by the Cheke Cha Mbunda
Cultural Sub-Committee Chairman Rt Hon Musenge Chitumbo (right), addressing the Barotse National Council
Rt Hon Cheke Cha Mbunda
Speech to the Barotse National Council
26 & 27 March 2012
The Right Honourable Ngambela of Barotseland, Minyoluyi, Wanyae Sinyinda,
Royal Highnesses Visiting Chiefs,
Hon. Provincial Minister,
Senior Government Officials,
Hon. Members of Parliament,
Presidents of Political Parties,
Excellencies The Ambassadors
May I Say, All Protocol Observed,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
We are from Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association. We regard this as an honour to be invited to attend the Barotse National Council meeting, and to be accorded this rear privilege to make these submissions from the Mbundas and their Chiefs, with full backing from The Mbunda Monarch in Angola. We believe without doubt that this is a massive step in the right direction for the new dawn.
Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association is a representative organ of the Mbundas in Zambia, Angola, Congo and Namibia. It was formed in 1956 and registered in the Laws of The Republic of Zambia by the Registrar of Societies in 1982 as Cheke Cultural Writers Association and later renamed to what it is now and re-registered for change of name in 2008.
This change was necessitated by shift in the Association’s vision from just writing about the history to also revive, preserve, promote and protect the Culture and affairs of the Mbundas, their Monarch and Chiefs. This entails organizing and holding cultural gatherings, and to this end executing programmes relating to “Official Representation and Custodian of traditional music, makithi (known as makishi in other languages), oracles, myths, oral and written records of the Mbundas.
Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association is non political and non partisan, but support the Government of the day. In other words Government will be supported by the legitimacy of the ballot. We are historians who wrote ‘The History and Cultural Life of the Mbunda Speaking People’ book in English in1994 and translated it in Mbunda language in 1998.
Brief History of the Mbunda Speaking People
Mbundas are a distinct group comprising of seven dialects, and these are Mbunda Manthzi, Mbunda Shamuka, Mbunda Yauma, Mbunda Ndundu, Mbunda Nkangala, Mbunda Mbalango and Mbunda Sango.
These are under the leadership of nine chiefs in Zambia, namely Senior Chief (Mwene) Sikufele, Manyinga – Kabompo; Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele Josiah Nyumbu, Nang’oko – Mongu; Chief (Mwene) Kandala, Mabumbu – Mongu; Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele Chingumbe, Kayombo – Kabompo; Chief (Mwene) Mundu, Liumba –Kalabo; Chief (Mwene) Kandombwe – Luvuji, Lukulu; Chief (Mwene) Kasabi, Lukute – Kaoma; Chief (Mwene) Kasimba, Kalumwange – Kaoma; Chief (Mwene) Lindeho, Chamemba –Kalabo.
In Namibia Mbundas are found in Rundu District under the leadership of Chief (Mwene) Kanyanga.
In Congo (DRC) Mbundas are found in the confluence of Kwilu and Kasai Rivers.
In Angola, Mbundas are found in Moxico and Kuando Kuvango Provinces under the leadership of 55 Chiefs.
All the Mbunda Speaking People and their Chiefs in these four Countries ascribe to the leadership of the Mbunda Monarch in Angola under King Mbandu III, the twenty third (23rd) Monarch on the throne today.
This is a more or less similar situation where the Chewa People of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia have Paramount Chief Gawa Undi in Zambia. It only goes to show that the Mbunda Speaking People are a big tribe that cannot be subjugated by another tribe, and one of the 73 ethnic groups in Zambia.
The Mbundas came into Barotseland from Mbundaland in 1795, almost a Century before the white man divided and shared Africa into political boundaries in the year 1885 The first Mbunda Chief to enter Barotseland was Chief (Mwene) Muundu, followed by Chief (Mwene) Kandala and finally Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele, The three Chiefs came to Barotseland not because they ran away from any war, but due to the warm friendship they enjoyed with the Litunga of Barotseland then, Mulambwa Santulu,
The coming of Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele in Barotseland brought about great changes in the lives of the Aluyi and Mbundas in Barotseland. First, the Mbundas fought the Luvales who troubled the Aluyi by always getting their cattle and halted the Luvale incursions in Barotseland. This resulted in a strengthened friendship between Aluyi and Mbundas, causing Mulambwa to declare Chief Chiyengele as the Senior Chief of the Mbundas in Barotseland and decreed a ten point Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty with the Mbundas as given below:
1) We give you this sharp-pointed pole to replace those poles with rounded tops for your royal palace. It is only your palace which will be built with sharp poles called milombwe.
2) Your royal drum (Kenda na Vafwa) and royal xylophone (Kamuyongole) should be played in your palace, when you visit others and whenever you come to this capital.
3) It is only you who will use a royal fly whisk of the eland.
4) You are free to continue to teach your people your language and culture; you will not be forced to take our language and culture.
5) There shall never be a Lozi person who enslaves a Mbunda and no Mbunda shall enslave a Lozi
6) You are not forced to live on the Barotse plain but free to live in the forests.
7) You are free to cultivate cassava, yams and millet in the multitude that you wish.
8) In military and political matters you should be allied with the Aluyi
9) Never fight among one another, but love one another.
10) Finally, respect chieftainship and the elders.
This and other factors earned Mbundas to be represented on the Barotse National Council.
Secondly, the Mbundas fought alongside Aluyi in the Aluyi/Makololo war in 1830, which ousted the Makololo rule on the Aluyi. This led to the establishment of the Mbunda Chieftainship at Lukwakwa under Senior Chief Sikufele now in Kabompo District, being a descendant of Mulambwa and a Mbunda wife.
As you know Your Right Honourable, the Makololo from the south introduced the Thoto language spoken not only in Western Province today but also Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Caprivi Strip .
Thirdly, the Mbunda war machinery of Bows and Arrows, fought alongside the Aluyi to conquer the Tongas, Ilas, and the whole Bantu Botatwe group, which resulted in the Aluyi/Mbunda cousinship with Tongas.
Later the Kaonde/Aluyi war which Aluyi lost in the first battle, but warn with the help of the Mbunda war machinery, where Mbunda Chief Kasimba of Kalumwange played a major role resulting in the Mbunda Chieftainship having firmly been established there at the confluence of the Lalafuta and Kyamenge in 1893, opposite Chief Mushima Njivumina of the Kaonde.
All this proved the fighting supremacy of the Mbundas in fighting alongside the Aluyi and in honoring the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty. Mbundas remained the true allies of the Aluyi both in military and political matters.
This is the main reason why we are participating in this meeting today despite the suppression, otherwise we would have stayed away.
The Relevance of The Mbundas To The Barotseland Agreement 1964
Your Right Honorable, in reference to the summarized Mbunda history referred to earlier, it is without doubt that the Mbundas in Zambia are part of the ‘Barotseland Agreement 1964’, and therefore we believe that:
1) Barotseland Agreement 1964 is real and valid and above all still a legal document, and was signed by affirmation of the Holy Bible before the Holy God in the British Parliament.
2) The Barotseland Agreement 1964 states clearly of the one part namely that ‘Sir Mwanawina Lewanika the third, K.B.E, Litunga of Barotseland, acting on behalf of himself, his heirs and successors, his Council, and the chiefs and people of Barotseland.’
We therefore note with reference to the Mbunda history in Barotseland that, ‘the chiefs and people of Barotseland’ given in the preamble of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 include the Mbunda, and others tribes in Barotseland such as Nkoyas, Totelas, Lenjes, Lambas, Ilas, Tongas, just to mention a few, the archives are there to prove.
3) One of the provisions on Item 2 entitled The Constitution of Zambia in the Barotseland Agreement 1964 state that ‘The Constitution of the Republic of Zambia shall include the provisions agreed upon for inclusion therein at the Constitutional Conference held in London in May, 1964 relating to (a) the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual, and those provisions shall have full force and effect in Barotseland’.
It is without doubt Mbundas are one of the individuals that should enjoy this ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms’ as enshrined in the Barotseland Agreement 1964 of Barotseland. It is clear that the Mbunda/Aluyi relationship is so interwoven that in certain cases it is not possible to distinguish a Mbunda from Aluyi. The Nalikwanda used in the famous Kuomboka Ceremony was made initially by Mbunda Speaking People. Most of the songs and utilities used in Kuomboka are for Mbundas and other tribes in Barotseland such the Nkoyas, Mbukushu, etc. The Nkoya rethym is majestic and befitting royalty. In short the Mbundas of Zambia are qualified to speak on the Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Therefore the position of the Mbundas is that, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is an agreement that ushered in Zambia on 24th October 1964, as a unitary State combining Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia. This therefore makes Barotseland Agreement 1964 a ‘Parent Legal Document’ to the Republic of Zambia. This agreement cannot therefore be annulled by an Act of Parliament because, item 8 under Implementation says: ‘The Government of the Republic of Zambia shall take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that the laws for the time being in force in the Republic are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement’, meaning that the Government of Zambia shall not make any laws inconsistent with this Agreement. Any attempts to do so is inconsistent with the Agreement and may only be done out of malice, ill intent and sheer prejudice.
However, Mbundas in Western Province have serious observations concerning their interaction with their Lozi brothers, as follows:
1) Unfair Treatment of Mbundas in Western Province and Need For Mutual Respect and Co-existence Between Lozis and Mbundas.
Your Right Honorable, Mbundas in Western Province live in serious suppression and tribalistic scorn from their perceived Lozi brothers despite the historical background we alluded to in our preamble. It is surprising to note that certain groups of people are still made to believe that Mbundas are refugees who can be threatened with eviction back to Angola. This is as follows:
i) In June 2005 there was another call by Mr. and Mrs. Mukamba and Mulele
Mumpisho when they were interviewed by Aketata Batunda on Radio Liseli, insinuating that Mbundas are finishing forests in Western Province and that they must go back to Angola, warning that one day you will be ruled by a Mukanda initiate (a circumcised). This disturbed Mbundas, thanks to interventions by the Barotse Royal Establishment, the situation was calmed down.
ii) In the submission to The Government of The Republic of Zambia by The Barotse
National Council on the matter of The National Constitutional Conference and The Barotseland Agreement 1964, dated 25th August 2009, commented on page 8, paragraph 6 that “As to tribal conflicts, this is an issue blown out of proportion by detractors and that Barotseland, being a nation of 32 tribes, is bound to experience friction among some sections of its people. It should also be noted that some of the tribes of Barotseland came to the kingdom as refugees escaping civil strife in their original countries. Barotseland did not confine these people to refugee camps as is the practice in modern times but received and accorded them due recognition as tribes under their own chiefs in the same way that the other tribes of the kingdom were organized. What is expected from these tribes is to accept the way the kingdom is structured as a nation.
iii) In January 2011 during the run up to the Mongu Riots, we received disturbing
reports and fliers from Mongu, authored by a group of Barotseland Activists calling themselves ‘Linyungandambo”. In these fliers, they warned: “This serves to warn the following: Mbundas, Ma Luvales and other tribes that they should start preparing to leave Barotseland by 14th January, 2011 when we shall secede from Zambia. It has been observed that this period around when we have been fighting for this cause, they have not been supportive and we feel its high time they went back to Angola where they came from, failure to comply will lead to loss of lives”.
iv) On 8th January 2011 one of the Mbunda entrepreneurs had windows to his shop broken by a group of the ‘Linyungandambo’ boys who cowardly ran way after the incident at the harbour.
v) Not long ago, the now Honourable Mubukwanu warned of not to allow to be ruled by a Mukanda initiate.
It will be very difficult to convince the Mbundas that all these sentiments are the work of some Government machinery, as they continue to surface from within our brothers the Lozis.
2) Mbunda Chiefs in Western Province are not being accorded the recognition and respect they deserve. Following are cases in point Your Right Honourable:
a) All Senior Chiefs in Western Province are Lozi and never has the BRE ever thought of recommending a Mbunda Chief to a Senior position as agreed in the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Agreement, and despite their assertion in their submission to The National Constitutional Conference of 25th August 2009 that ‘the other tribes were received and accorded them due recognition as tribes under their own chiefs in the same way that the other tribes of the kingdom were organized. What is expected from these tribes is to accept the way the kingdom is structured as a nation”.
b) All Mbunda Chiefs in Western Province including the first Mbunda Chief to migrate to Barotseland in 1795, Chief (Mwene) Muundu of Kalabo are not recognized but regarded as Indunas or traditional Counsellors serving under Lozi chiefs.
c) Not long ago after the installation of Chief Kasimba, the chieftainship was accused of having constructed a Royal Palace Fence with a Mboma. What does that mean? Are some chiefs of more royal blood than others?
d) Two Mbunda Chiefs, Mwene Chiyengele and Mwene Kandala are the only ones recognized, but as Lozi Chiefs due to their intermarriage roots with the Lozis.
e) Currently Mwana Mulena Mumpisho is drugging Chief Chiyengele Nyumbu, through his Ngambela Kabalana to court over a piece of land in the midst of Chief Chiyengele’s jurisdiction. Where is the “Muliu” law instituted in 1925 by the Barotse Royal Establishment, or is it out of malice?
3) In 1964 after independence, Mbunda and Nkoya educational book were burnt by some overzealous Lozi Government officials to prevent Mbunda and Nkoya languages to be taught in Western Province.
Your Right Honourable, our appeal to the Barotse Royal Establishment and indeed questions lingering on the minds of the Mbunda Speaking People are:
i) Mbunda is a second largest tribe and found in all districts of Western Province, why is Mbunda language not taught in Western Province?
ii) Lozi/Mbunda Interacting for 216 years since the year 1795, most Lozi brothers still refuse to learn and speak Mbunda language, but are easily conversing in Nyanja, Bemba and even Luvale. It is unbelievable that mbunda is difficult to learn or is it deliberate.
iii) Why are Mbunda Speaking People not represented on Radio Liambayi and Liseli, community radios within our community?
iv) Despite the long historical background of the Mbundas in Western Province, only two Mbunda Chiefs, Chief (Mwene) Kandala and Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele Nyumbu are gazetted, even then they are recognised as Lozi Chiefs.
v) Why should Mbunda Chiefs in Western Province be gazetted as Lozi Chiefs when the Mulambwa Agreement is clear about the relationship between Lozis and Mbundas?
Why should Mbundas in Western Province be grouped as Lozis when the Mulabwa/Chiyengele Treaty clearly states that “You are free to continue to teach your people your language and culture; you will not be forced to take our language and culture”. We have heard arguments that Lozi is not a tribe, but a lingua franca language, we leave you to interpret your history, but who are the Rwozis mentioned in your history after leaving Kola, and long before the Makololo imposition of the Thoto language being spoken in Western Province today? And I quote:
“By locating their origin and claiming both primogeniture and preponderance in Bulozi, the Lozi effectively eliminate the possibility of any other group claiming that land as their ‘national’ homeland. Langworthy suggests also that this helps to maintain a hierarchical distinction between the original Lozi and the various sub-groups, between 25 and 35 in total that have been absorbed since earliest known times. Yet whilst many Lozis try to insist that their ancestors have always lived in Bulozi, there have been one or two attempts to locate their beginnings with the Rozwi or, those that Coillard called the Banyai south east of present-day Barotseland. The most commonly offered explanation for their origin, however, is a stepped migration from the north, specifically from the Lunda-Luba empires of the Katanga region of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)”.
After all said, Your Right Honourable we would like to recommend the following:
1) We call upon the Barotse Royal Establishment and Lozis in general to honor the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty and give the Mbunda Chiefs in Western Province the recognition and respect they deserve, if we have to continue living together as allies in military and political matters.
2) Mongu has no Senior Chief. We call upon Barotse Royal Establishment and the Government to upgrade Chief Chiyengele in Nang’oko as Senior Chief in accordance with the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty, and correct his gazette recognition notice with Chief Kandala of Mabumbu as Mbunda Chiefs and not Lozi Chiefs.
3) Western Province has only 11 Chiefs including The Litunga. Lewanika controlled Barotseland using Silalo Indunas because people were less then, but areas in Western Province have more people now making it difficult to administer the people adequately. Depending on Silalo Indunas or Traditional Counsellors is no longer feasible due demotivation of working without a salary, resulting in their people giving less respect now. Namwala District has 12 Chiefs in Southern Province, how can the whole province have only 11 chiefs? One Province has 58 Chiefs, thus 58 vehicles and Salaries bought and paid by the Central Government respectively. Is this not one development factor lost?
4) We call upon the Barotse Royal Establishment and the Government to recognize Chief Muundu, Liumba Palace Kalabo District; Chief Kasimba, Kalumwange Palace, Kaoma District; Chief Kandombwe, Luvuji Palace, Lukulu, Chief Kasabi, Lukute Palace, Kaoma and Chief Lindeho, Chamemba Palace, Kalabo as Mbunda Chiefs. These are not Indunas but Mbunda Royal Blood Chiefs with flywhisks, who came from Angola as Mbunda Chiefs.
5) We call upon the Barotse Royal Establishment to reconstitute the Barotse National Council to its original form and representative off all chiefs in Western Province, unlike the way it is now where Indunas sign submissions to the Government, in direct reference to the submissions to the national Constitutional Conference dated 25th August 2009. The highlighted sentiments in this submission clearly show that Mbunda chiefs were not represented.
Utilizing these chiefs in National Development will result in development trickling to their subjects who are the grassroots.
6) We call upon Mbunda Speaking People to stop regarding themselves as strangers in Western Province due to persistence unfair tribal treatment from some of their Lozi Speaking brothers. We refuse to be subjugated by another tribe and we don’t believe in subjugating anyone despite the weaknesses.
7) We call for the encouragement of the spirit of brotherhood among the 32 ethnic groups in Western Province. For example by elevating some Mbunda chiefs to Senior positions and recognizing the Mbunda Chiefs who have been humiliated to Indunas or Traditional Counsellor positions under other chief, when they are also of the Royal families. Well qualified Zambians of Western Province among the 32 ethnic groups should be appointed to Senior Government positions irrespective of their ethnic affiliation. The idea of identifying everyone in Western Province to be Lozi is very discriminatory.
8) We should not be made to believe that consultations were done to Mbundas in general in District meetings, or for example, a Mbunda from Shangombo, tied from his field, under duress and knowing nothing about Barotseland Protectorate or indeed Barotseland Agreement 1964. We believe such consultations should be done with professional bodies like ours, who have researched these issues very well and represent all Mbundas. Leave it to us to sensitize our people as we consult them.
9) In accordance with the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty, Mbundas should have their own traditional structure of Chiefs, with a Senior Mbunda Chief in Zambia, leading the other Mbunda Chiefs in ascribing to the Mbunda Monarch in Angola, while giving unreserved respect to the Barotse Monarch. We have no problem in submitting ourselves to His Majesty, King Litunga of Barotseland.
To conclude Your Right Honourable, when we refer to Barotseland which was a Barotse Protectorate and Barotseland Agreement 1964, it should be understood that it is beyond Western Province as may be taken today. It goes beyond the line of rail, North Western Province and Copperbelt Province, involving five Provinces of Zambia today. And so the Barotseland Agreement 1964 should be understood in its right context.
Yesterday during the first session, you confirmed that the Barotseland boundary starts from the tip of Bangweulu tip to the south , in a straight line down to Luangwa river. This now involves seven Provinces; part of Luapula Province, North Western Province, Copperbelt Province, Central Province, Lusaka Province, Southern Province and Western Province. Therefore, there are a lot of stakeholders who should be involved. Barotseland Agreement 1964 was not only meant for a few Aluyi in the plains of Zambezi River and Mongu. We believe the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is real and a valid legal document.
This document Your Right Honourable, as you know, is a one way root and does not call for secession. Some arguments advanced are that, marriage is an agreement and that when there is a seriously breach of such an agreement, end result is a divorce. Yes, this is so because in the Bible, the institutor of that marriage Jehovah God, put a condition of divorce as adultery. Most thought out legal agreements have a way out clause, but the Barotseland Agreement 1964 has no such a clause of secession.
Mbundas strongly feel they have no future in a secession, when they are suppressed now. Already overzealous people have designed Government structures without consultation with Mbundas as one of the major stakeholder.
Mbundas have been used to fight wars for the Lozis, but what have we gotten out of it? Suppression! Mbundas are therefore saying, this is a “make or break”, “first and last” meeting. If our concerns are not considered, then let the Lozis do their own thing, and we will do our own thing.
Against this backdrop of events, we wish to caution that, let us not be emotional because this is a very serious issue, the decision we will make today will affect our lives and the life of our children, and therefore posterity will charge us harshly. Such issues follow a sequence of procedural steps.
Of all the resolutions passed at this Council, we only concur with the one passed by Kaoma District which called for consultations with international organisations.
Therefore the questions we would like to ask, and which you should consider in your minds are as follows:
1) Have we exhausted all steps and declared a dispute with the Government of Zambia?
2) Since the Barotse Protectorate covers seven Provinces, have we consulted all stakeholders like,
i) His Royal Highness, Senior Chief Mukuni who is seated amongst us here?
ii) Have we consulted Senior Chief Ndungu?
iii) Have we consulted Chief Kasempa and others?
3) Have you declared a dispute with the Zambian Government to the United Nations Charter?
4) Have you appealed to the United States and other International Organisations for help?
5) And if not, can we declare independence today?
How Mbundas would have loved me to address this August House in Mbunda as a local language to be understood without interpretation in Western Province! But alas I have to speak in Nyanja, Bemba or Lozi, alas Thoto to be understood.
Your Right Honourable, we close our submission.
Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association
The Executive Council
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