By Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post, 10th May 2019.
The territorial integrity of Barotseland is indisputable as can be seen from these colonial maps of Southern Africa, period 1880 – 1905 when the boundaries of African countries were drawn by the colonial masters.
Internationally recognised boundaries do not expire, whether those territories have independent statehood or exist as constituent territories of mother states, they simply endure or inure respectively!
So, disputing the existence of the territory of Barotseland as a ‘fake’ creation of the colonialists is denying the very existence of the rest of modern Africa.
As a matter of fact, Barotseland actually existed as a sovereign country way before the advent of colonialism. Therefore, it was not an arbitrary creation of the colonialists. The colonialists only recognised the Barotse country and drew its borders to include all those inhabitants who claimed to be subjects of the great 19th century King of Barotseland, Lewanika I.
In fact, some other subjects of the King of Barotseland were excluded from the entire territory and were instead assigned to Angola and now countries of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana!
Later, in 1911 – 1924, the British Protectorate of Barotseland was amalgamated with another British colonial territory to form what became known as the British Protectorate or British Colony of Northern Rhodesia, with Barotseland existing as a ‘Protectorate within a Protectorate’!
This territorial status was re-affirmed and consolidated in the last known official treaties signed between Great Britain and Barotseland, The Northern-Rhodesia-Barotseland Order-in-Council of 1953.
At the independence of Northern Rhodesia in 1964, Barotseland was not granted political independence but was made to enter into a pre-independence agreement with Northern Rhodesia to join what would be the new state of Zambia, for Barotseland to exist as a self-governing territory within the sovereign Republic of Zambia.
The treaty which Barotseland signed with the British and Northern Rhodesian government to achieve this was known as The Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Unfortunately, due to treachery and dishonesty, the new Zambian government unilaterally abrogated the 1964 Barotseland Agreement through some legislative amendments, more especially the Constitutional Amendment Act No. 5 of 1969 which legislated that, “The Barotseland Agreement 1964 shall cease to have effect and all rights (whether vested or otherwise) and liabilities thereunder shall lapse” – all this without consulting the people of Barotseland!
The 1964 Agreement spelt out and established Barotseland’s position within Zambia in place of the earlier agreements between Barotseland and the British government. This agreement was based on long social and political interactions between the British territory of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland. It grunted and sought to perpetuate Barotseland’s autonomy within the borders of Zambia.
From the abrogation of the 1964 agreement, however, any Barotse national who has expressed dissent or dissatisfaction in the unilateral abrogation of the pre-independence treaty or indeed called for its honouring has suffered the full wrath of the Zambian law, with repeated calls for the agreement’s reinstatement by the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) rejected out-rightly by the Zambian state!
By 2012, however, the people of Barotseland had gotten fed-up, and acting together with all the traditional leadership in the Royal Establishment,they constituted the supreme Barotse National Council (BNC) which unanimously resolved that Barotseland would now seek to pursue its own sovereignty as an independent state from the state of Zambia using peaceful means to achieve this, arguing that since the only legal instrument that had put Barotseland within the sovereign state of Zambia had been irretrievably revoked, the Zambian state had effectively disinherited itself of any administrative rights over Barotseland !
Consequently, the 2012 BNC culminated in the arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of Barotse people, with the conviction and sentencing of Afumba Mombotwa and two others to 15 years imprisonment and hard labour, since December 2014, for constituting a shadow Barotseland government which would help implement the actualization of the 2012 BNC Barotseland independence resolutions in the transitional period before democratic elections could be organized in Barotseland to elect a substantive Royal Barotseland Government.
With the trio’s arrest, however, the peaceful struggle for the actualization of Barotseland independence has continued, being spearheaded by various interest groups particularly by the Afumba Mombotwa led Linyungandambo independence movement with its sponsored Barotseland Transitional Government (BTG), Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) under the leadership of Clement Wainyae Sinyinda who presided over the 2012 BNC as Ngambela (Traditional Prime Minister) under the Barotse Royal Establishment and some youth and women movements aligned to the two groupings!
Today, Barotseland is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), the Federation of Free States of Africa (FFSA) – which is the Commonwealth of emerging states of Africa, the Union of Free States (UNFS), to mention but a few, as the nation-state continues to seek international recognition of its statehood!
FILE: The territorial integrity of Barotseland 1880 – 1905