POLITICAL HISTORY OF BAROTSELAND
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.