POLITICAL HISTORY OF BAROTSELANDby Lubosi Muimui
Lealui is a Luyana word which means, “for the Luyi.” Lealui Village is the traditional administrative capital for Barotseland. It is found in the Zambezi flood plains and lie 17 kilometers southwest of the winter capital of Limulunga; and about 16 kilometers west of political headquarter of Mongu.
Lealui was first identified by King Sipopa around 1864. He camped there briefly. In 1876, King Lubosi Lewanika established Lealui as a permanent capital of the Lozi Kingdom. Formerly, each king chose his own capital; and this entailed that people had to shift to another location whenever the new king was installed.
The Lozi are the dominant tribe of some twenty-five tribes who inhabit the Barotseland. Formerly, the Lozi were known as the Luyana or Luyi up until the early 19th century when they were invaded by the Kololo. The Luyana adopted the language of the conquerors and thus the Sikololo became the lingua franca until 1863 when the Kololo regime was overthrown.
The Lozi then became the modern lingua franca created out of blending the Luyana (Luyi) and the Kololo.
The early Lozi politics depicted an evolution of a concrete rule which branched throughout their own territory and that of the conquered tribes. The whole system stemmed from Lealui, otherwise known as Namuso. At Lealui, the Litunga (the King) had his Kuta (the Council) which was divided into several smaller institutes that consisted of the members of the royal family, the Indunas (councilors, stewards, and judges) at his hand.
The second-in-command capital was established in the south of the flood plain at Nalolo, otherwise known as Lwambi. This set up accorded the system of governance that streamed on a north-south axis. The rulers at Nalolo used to be men before the Kololo interregnum. The women rulers were installed following the Kololo defeat.
The Litunga-la-Mboela (Queen of the South) had all the symbols of the King, the Litunga. Her Kuta was a replica of the one found at Lealui. Thus, she was accorded the respect and royalty which was second only to the Litunga.
The combination of the two councils of Lealui and Nalolo was the final ruling organ of the Barotseland. The arrangement was however reversed by the reforms introduced in 1947.
Ngambela (the Prime Minister or Chief Councilor), was next in secular power to the Litunga of Lealui.The status of Ngambela was believed to be closely bound up with kingship. The Ngambela was deemed to be a representative of the commoners. Hence, he was considered to homogenize and uphold the rights and interests of the commoners against those of members of the royal family and the Litunga.
BAROTSELAND AS A BRITISH PROTECTORATE
It started on the 08th January, 1889 when François Coillard, a Paris Evangelical Missionary who was based in Luatile, a mission station located about 600 meters south-east of Lealui, wrote a letter, on behalf of and as requested by King Lubosi Lewanika, to Sir Sideney Shirppard who was the British Administrator of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). The purpose of the letter was to seek British protection.
King Lewanika needed protection against the threats of the Portuguese who were advancing from the east and west. The German annexation of the South-West Africa (now Namibia) also posed another threat.In April, 1889, Henry Ware arrived in Lealui on the mission of obtaining some mining concessions from King Lewanika. He was sent by King and Nind Consortium from Kimberely.
Ware made great and sweet promises of Queen’s protection. He lavished Litunga Lewanika with several gifts of clothes, blankets, and guns. The Litunga was finally convinced and on the 27th June, 1889, the Ware Concession was signed.
The concession entitled Lewanika to receive the payment of £200 annually and 4% on all minerals and precious stones mined in his territory for a period of twenty years. The concession was surrendered to King and Nind on 11 October 1889 and it was later sold to Rhodes for £900 and ten thousand shares in the British South African Company (BSAC).
The Ware Concession posed some several restrictions which Rhodes saw fit to eliminate. In this respect, he sent Frank Elliot Lochner to carry out some more negotiations with Lewanika for a comprehensive agreement.
In his efforts to persuade the Litunga, Lochner proclaimed he was an ambassador sent by the Queen to offer her protection and alliance between the two nations. The Lochner Concession was finally signed on the 26th June, 1890. The concession promised Litunga Lewanika payment of £2,000 per year, the British Protection, guns, and 3% royalties on minerals.
In order to fulfill the promises, the BSAC recommended Mr. Robert Thorne Coryndon to fill the post of British Resident Commissioner with King Lewanika to the British Government. The Foreign Office for Her Majesty’s Government accepted and approved the appointment. Coryndon arrived in Lealui on 27th September, 1897. He settled and built the office on the mound called Lilondo.
The BSAC sternly instructed Coryndon to obtain a fresh concession that would give out more power to the company than the previous Lochner Concession. To successfully coerce the Litunga, he asked him to travel to the Victoria Falls to meet Captain Lawley, the BSAC Administrator of Matebeleland (Zimbabwe). Lewanika gave in and in June, 1898, the concession was entered.
Unfortunate, however, this concession was not confirmed by the British Government. Another concession which repeated the provisions of Lawley Concession, but this time agreed between Lewanika and the BSAC was confirmed in October, 1900. The final concession was signed by the company and Lewanika in 1909. The concession granted the land rights to company throughout the Barotse territory except the Barotseland Proper.
Under the British rule, the Barotse political system of governance was re-organized on a territorial basis. This entailed that each of the six districts of Mongu– Lealui, Senanga-Nalolo, Kalabo-Libonda, Sesheke-Mwandi, Kaoma-Naliele, and Lukulu-Nawinda; had one Central Kuta installed as a Native Authority with the warrant equivalent to the subordinate council. At Lealui there were two councils, the Mongu-Lealui District (subordinate) council, and the Saa-Sikalo Provincial (high) council.
The whole administration of Barotseland was operated by the Katengo which was the Supreme Council made up of the Saa-Sikalo Kuta (the Provincial Council) and representatives from the six subordinate District Councils. The Katengo met once or twice a year. The Katengo was regarded as the Lower House.
The 1889 Barotseland/North-Western Rhodesia Order-in-Council was adopted to delineate the territorial boundaries. It provided for the territory’s administration by the BSAC. The North-Eastern Rhodesia Order-in-Council was enacted in 1900 and provided for the territory’s administration by the company.
The two territories were administered separately from 1900 up until 04th May, 1911 when they were amalgamated by the Northern Rhodesia Order-in Council which also repealed the former Barotseland/North-Western and North-Eastern Orders-in-Council; but became operational on 17th August, 1911 — its provisions contained in the Northern Rhodesia Proclamation No. 1 of 1911.
This Order-in-Council empowered the High Commissioner based in South Africa the power to make laws, administer peace and justice; and to
“… respect any native laws or customs by which the civil relations of any native Chiefs, tribes or populations under Her Majesty’s Protection are now regulated, except so far as the same may be incompatible with the exercise of Her Majesty’s power and jurisdiction.”
The BSAC rule was terminated on 18th April, 1924 and Her Majesty’ Government assumed responsibilities. In this vein, Northern Rhodesia became a protectorate headed by the Governor as the British representative. The Northern Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1924 further provided that:
“it shall not be lawful for any purpose whatever to alienate from the Chief or peoples of Barotse the territory reserved from prospecting by virtue of Concessions from Lewanika to the British South Africa Company dated 17th October, 1900 and 11th day of August, 1909.”
The Colonial Secretary, Henry Hopkins visited the 1953 Katengo (the National Council) which convened in Lealui to proclaim that
“Barotse Province would become Barotseland Protectorate and the Provincial Commissioner would become the Resident Commissioner.”
This arrangement called for a Special Order-in-Council enacted in 1953 which declared Barotseland to be a British Protectorate within the Northern Rhodesia. In the same year, on 01st August, Northern Rhodesia became part of the British Central African Federation which was terminated in December, 1963.
The autonomy of Barotseland was further acknowledged in the Northern Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1962. The self-governing Northern Rhodesia Constitution (Order-in-Council) passed in 1963 still provided for the separate administration of the Northern Rhodesia under Her Majesty whose power was exercised through the Governor (Article 68), and Barotseland under the Litunga whose authority was preserved by the earlier treaties and concessions as stipulated under Articles 58, 59 and 112 of the said constitution.
The Northern Rhodesia proved to be one of the richest regions due to the discovery of the minerals’ especially copper. The Copper Belt gave rise to an increased European administration of the region. Although the Europeans represented only 2% of the population, the political system perched them on the topmost level.
The legislative council that existed since 1948 reserved only two seats for the African members.
Despite that the economic benefits induced by the rise of copper prices on the world market gave a promise, the political unrest equally sprung up as other British colonies in Africa attained independence with Ghana (1957) in the lead.
The pressure grew as African politicians massively won seats in the legislative councils. Their grip on power tightened. And eventually, the federation ruptured, and it was dissolved on the 31st December, 1963.
The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1948 by some members of welfare societies in the mining communities and rural districts. During the period of federation, the demands of ANC which was led by a radical younger generation were quite timid in all its efforts.
This prompted Kenneth Kaunda to lead a sprinter group that formed the Zambia African National Congress in 1958 (ZANC).
Kaunda mobilized ZANC to campaign for civil disobedience against the existing policy of federation.
His activities landed him in jail. The United National Independence Party (UNIP) was formed while Kaunda was in prison. He was elected as president of UNIP upon his release in 1960. UNIP mobilized about 300,000 members, an initiative which compelled the British authorities to recognize it as the main political voice of the African population.
THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT OF 1964
The Barotseland Agreement, 1964 was a legal contract that was signed at the Commonwealth Relations Office in London on the 18th May 1964. It was a mutual agreement which was entered into as means of integrating the Barotseland with Northern Rhodesia that was later to be named Zambia. To this end, the Agreement instilled Zambianness of Barotseland within the new republic.
Without the Agreement, Barotseland would remain as a different country with different political set up; a monarch apparently. The third paragraph of the Agreement reads:
“And whereas it is the wish of the Government of Northern Rhodesia and of the Litunga of the Barotseland, his Council and the chiefs and people of Barotseland that Northern Rhodesia should proceed to independence as one country and that all its people should be one nation.
The signatories to the Agreement were Litunga Sir Mwanawina III who undertook this task on behalf of himself, his heirs, successors, the Barotse Native Government, the chiefs and people of Barotseland; Prime Minster Kenneth Kaunda; and the British Principal Secretary of State of Commonwealth Relations.Prominent among several provisions of the Agreement are:
“2. The Constitution of ZambiaThe 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 the fundamental freedoms of the individual ;
(b) the judiciary ; and
(c) the public service, and those provisions shall have full force and effect in Barotseland.
“4. The Litunga and his Council(2) The Litunga of Barotseland, acting after consultation with his Council as constituted for the time being under the customary law of Barotseland shall be the principal local authority for the government and administration of Barotseland.
“5. LandIn particular, the Litunga of Barotseland and his Council shall continue to have the powers hitherto enjoyed by them in respect of land matters under customary law and practice …”
Rt Hon Mwangelwa
Clerk of the Executive Council
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