Read to the end to learn how Litunga Yeta IV responded to then Zambian President Chiluba’s threats to the Litunga and his interference in Barotse governance.
Article as published on 27th December 2017 by SIBETA MUNDIA, Barotseland Post
This letter is here reproduced for public records only. While the content remains unchanged, an emphasis was added by capitalization in some cases. It is here published to show how Litunga Yeta IV, as king of Barotseland, expounded the Linyungandambo philosophy to confront then president of Zambia, FTJ Chiluba, and his government who had sought to undermine his authority as King of Barotseland.
Barotse Royal Establishment,
Mr. Fredrick T. J. Chiluba,
President of the Republic of Zambia,
Dear Mr. President.
CHIEFS: MUTONDO AND KAHARE – KAOMA.
I refer to your letter dated 20th September 1993. I regret the delay in responding but this was due to customary and traditional need for me to consult the Kuta and, indeed the Barotse Royal Establishment as a whole before a reply is made.
It is unfortunate that the letter under reference, with the threats it contains, should have come from the head of state because it was the first time in the history of this country that the Litunga has been subjected to threats, particularly so in a matter that relates to his own tradition and culture. The only time when the Litunga and his people were subjected to such threats, and actually conquered, though temporarily, was in 1845 when the Makololo invaded and occupied this part of Zambia for a period of nineteen (19) years after which the people re-organized themselves and regained sovereignty. The Barotse Royal Establishment and I have had a good working relationship with and have also enjoyed the respect of the central government. This has been the case even during the period of the abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 by the former president of Zambia.
The approach of the Barotse people to such situations has always been one of dialogue rather than one of confrontation. This will help to explain to you why the former president offered to amicably resolve the issue of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in March 1991, long after the agreement had been breached by successive acts of parliament.
The communication and engagement in dialogue with the former president and now with you should not, in any way, be construed as cowardice on the part of the Barotse people. The Barotse have, and will always have great respect for authority but are not afraid of the authority. LET NO ONE FROM ANY QUARTER WHATSOEVER TAKE THE BAROTSE FOR GRANTED. THEY ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER DETERMINED PEOPLE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD NEVER COMPROMISE THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. As a matter of fact, even their history which is the subject to the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and the struggle for the independence of Zambia in which their children played a leading role will reveal to you that THEY ARE NOT COWARDS. Notwithstanding their principles, however, they are nevertheless prepared TO RAISE THEIR HEADS ABOVE WATER if only to make their point known and to listen to other people’s points of view even if they may not like what they say.
My reason thereof, I wish to advise you, Mr. President, that THREATS AND CONFRONTATIONAL STANCE ARE ALIEN TO OUR CULTURE. Therefore, we do not wish to CONDUCT OUR AFFAIRS EITHER WITH YOU OR ANYBODY ELSE IN A MANNER FOREIGN TO OUR WAY OF LIFE; we believe we are PEACEFUL AND REASONABLE HUMAN BEINGS, WHO WOULD NOT FAIL TO SIT DOWN WITH SOMEONE TO RESOLVE ANYTHING AFFECTING OUR COUNTRY, and our people reacted to the press reports, the press failed to give us adequate coverage. You, yourself, Mr. President, did not approach us either directly or through other government channels to verify the reports of secession. We instructed our lawyer to write you to deny the allegation made against us but we are advised by the lawyer that he received no reply from you.
Firstly, the problem in Kaoma took root after the MMD government took the reins of power particularly after Mr. Leonard Subulwa was appointed deputy minister of our province. The case in point is your recognition of Edward Mbombola Moyo as Chief Mutondo of Kaoma. Mr. Moyo was recognized by you, Mr. President, as Chief Mutondo before we installed him as chief under our customary law and he would have been installed in February 1993 but Moyo refused to return to Lealui to complete the traditional rites which were begun in October 1992 when he was presented to the Kuta. While at Statehouse on 23rd March 1993, your minister without Portfolio, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, wanted to know from the Ngambela and his delegation when Mwene Mutondo would be installed and the Minister was advised that until Moyo returned to Lealui to complete the ceremony, the question of his installation and recognition would not arise.
We were, however, surprised to note that on the 2nd of April 1993, you disregarded our tradition and custom and recognized Moyo as chief Mutondo of Kaoma. MR. PRESIDENT, THE GOVERNMENT DECISION TO RECOGNIZE MOYO WAS AN OUTRIGHT INTERFERENCE IN OUR TRADITION AND CUSTOM and we reserve our right to seek redress in the court of law if the situation is not reversed soon.
Secondly, the two Kaoma chiefs, namely Mutondo and late Kahare, had set themselves on a course to undermine the authority of Senior Chief Litia of Kaoma and our authority as well, apparently with the blessing of the government. The said chiefs called for the removal of Senior Chief Litia from Kaoma and their calls were made publicly and carried by the government media.
On learning about their calls, the Ngambela invited the chiefs to Lealui to discuss the matter with the Kuta and the council of all other chiefs, Indunas and Princes, but, they both refused to come. Not only did the duo refuse to come here in Lealui to discuss the matter, but they also threatened to remove Senior Chief Litia by force, threatened violence on all Lozi people in Kaoma and threatened to cause bloodshed throughout Kaoma if Litia was not removed, and notwithstanding the knowledge of these threats, your government, Mr. President, failed to arrest the agitators, even to investigate the threats after complaints had been made to the police by our people. I enclose herewith press cuttings from the Zambia Daily Mail and the Sunday Mail of the 15th and 21st of March, and 5th April 1993 in which allegations of bloodshed in Kaoma were made.
We did not react to the threats of violence and bloodshed until 17th July 1993. Now may I ask you, Mr. President, who was heightening ‘ethnic tension’ in Kaoma between those who were calling for our blood and us, the threatened victims of bloodshed?
What makes the government believe that Chiefs Mutondo and Kahare were more chiefs than Senior Chief Litia? Are we to abandon our culture and tradition? Are we to reasonably assume that the government stands by while the authority of lawfully constituted Senior Chief Litia was being undermined?
Thirdly, not only did Chiefs Mutondo and Kahare and their subjects call for the removal of Senior Chief Litia but they also called for the removal of Kaoma district from Barotseland to create a tenth (10th) province called Kafue comprising of Kaoma district itself, Lukulu, Mumbwa, Itezhitezhi, and Kalomo.
I enclose herewith cutting from the Sunday Mail of the 4th April and 20th June 1993 in respect of the said demands. The demands by the said chiefs were clearly a secession of Kaoma district from our customary law. We have not heard any action taken against the agitators by the government and we have been left wondering whether the government was up to something to destroy our culture by using the two Kaoma chiefs as fronts.
How could we be blamed, accused and threatened by the government for lightening the tension in Kaoma, for merely acting in our self-defense to attacks by Kahare and Mwene Mutondo. Mr. President, you will excuse me for being so frank and honest with you but this has been forced on us by your government.
Having said all that I had to say for a moment, I request you to consider the following:
Firstly, to urgently address the question of the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 because it is the root cause of all this difference between you and ourselves.
We were disappointed by the outcome of the last meeting at Statehouse on 17th August 1993 when your government refused to discuss the subject but only agreed to discuss such subjects like “land issues, grants, and welfare of chiefs” politically.
MR. PRESIDENT, HOW COULD THE GOVERNMENT DIVORCE LAND FROM THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT 1964 AND DEAL WITH THE LAND AS A SEPARATE ISSUE WHEN THE AGREEMENT ITSELF WAS ABOUT LAND?
THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT 1964 WILL NOT DISAPPEAR BY MERELY IGNORING IT. The subject needs urgent attention now and to ignore the subject is like ignoring medical treatment when it ought to be taken in the early stages of the illness. The Barotseland agreement 1964 issue must be resolved by the present government as to do otherwise would be to SOW THE SEEDS OF DISASTER FOR THE FUTURE AND YOUR OWN GRANDCHILDREN WILL SOON HAVE NO KIND WORDS TO YOU FOR FAILING TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM WHEN TIME WAS STILL THERE.
Secondly, the government should avoid getting involved in our traditional matters and in this respect I request the government to reverse whatever has been done in respect of the new chief Kahare until all the installation rites have been completed. THE CHIEFS ACT DOES NOT EMPOWER YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, TO IMPOSE CHIEFS ON US EVEN WHEN SUCH CHIEFS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO BE CHIEFS UNDER OUR CUSTOM OR CONTINUE IN OFFICE EVEN IF THEY HAVE CEASED TO BE CHIEFS UNDER OUR CUSTOMARY LAW.
By reason of the matters mentioned above, therefore, we respectfully wish to advise you, Mr. President, that WE THE BAROTSE PEOPLE, ARE A PEOPLE WITH AN IDENTITY IN THIS COUNTRY, RECOGNIZABLE BY LAW SO THAT ANY LAW ABIDING CITIZENS SHOULD NOT FAIL TO TAKE COGNIZANCE OF OUR LEGAL EXISTENCE EVEN IF THAT PERSON MAY NOT PERSONALLY LIKE OUR FACES AND CULTURE.
As regards the status of the so-called Kaoma chiefs and their relationship to us, the important thing to note is that BAROTSELAND IS A KINGDOM EVEN AS OF NOW and that should explain to you the CHIEFS ACT CAP 479 OF THE LAW OF ZAMBIA RECOGNIZED THE CUSTOMARY LAW JURISDICTION OF THE LITUNGA THROUGHOUT BAROTSELAND, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT BAROTSELAND IS NOT STRICTLY ‘LOZI’.
IN A KINGDOM, ONE CANNOT FIND A CHIEF WHO WAS INDEPENDENT AND SEPARATE FROM THE KING BECAUSE SUCH A SITUATION WAS UNTENABLE. The chiefs in Barotseland, unlike elsewhere in Zambia, are INSTALLED BY US AND THEY HOLD OFFICE BY STRICTLY FOLLOWING OUR TRADITION AND CUSTOM, and any given chief who ceases to respect our custom and tradition ceases to hold office under our customary law.
The current Chief Mutondo and the late Chief Kahare of Kaoma refused to adhere to the customary norms and practices as chiefs under our customary law.
Since the two chiefs wanted to exercise the ‘Nkoya’ jurisdiction in a Barotse customary law jurisdiction under the Litunga of Barotseland, then we decided to withdraw our customary law from them so that they may go elsewhere, away from Barotseland, where they would exercise their newfound jurisdiction. WE CANNOT FORCE THE MWEENE MUTONDO AND MWEENE KAHARE TO BE CHIEFS UNDER OUR JURISDICTION; then there is no way they could continue to claim chieftainship which they have disowned.
Mr. President, this matter is simple and straightforward. It is like your own child refusing to use your surname. EQUALLY, IN OUR CULTURE ONE HAS NO RIGHT TO BENEFIT FROM THE CULTURE WHICH THEY HAVE REJECTED.
As regards the ethnic tension in Kaoma, I regret to advise you that we have no hand in what is happening there. In fact, the problem, as we see it from our point of view, is being fueled by the MMD government and some local politicians who have something to gain from the current tension, and our belief is based on the foregoing facts.
Under these circumstances, we have been left wondering what it is that the Barotse Royal Establishment has done to you, which you do not wish to settle with them by discussing. MR. PRESIDENT, WE ARE NOT ACCUSTOMED TO WHAT APPEARS TO US AS YOUR ‘NEW CULTURE’ OF DOING THINGS and we would respectfully request you to respect our culture as well because we too are a people with a long history and culture of our own, which we shall not abandon merely because some people in your government may not like us.
AS YOU ARE AWARE, THE BAROTSE PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN RULED BY OTHER PEOPLE AND FOR SEVERAL CENTURIES WE HAVE BEEN MANAGING OUR OWN AFFAIRS WITHOUT INTERFERENCE FROM ANYONE EXCEPT FOR A BRIEF PERIOD UNDER THE MAKALOLO.
The periods from 1900 to 1964 was the time we ruled ourselves with the assistance of Her Majesty’s government whom we called the “Babusisi” meaning THOSE HELPING US TO RULE OURSELVES.
The activities of Her Majesty’s government in our country were regulated by agreements with us and the most notable of these agreements were those of 1900 and 1954 which, as you are aware, featured prominently in the subsequent orders in council and remained in force until the independence of Zambia in 1964 when the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was to have taken effect.
I enclose here with a copy of CIRCULAR NO. 82 OF 1944 FROM SECRETARY TO CABINET DATED THE 18TH OF JULY 1964, TO ALL PERMANENT SECRETARIES, WHICH SHOULD EXPLAIN TO YOU THE NATURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT IN LUSAKA (see paragraph 4 of the circular).
The objectives and effect of the Barotseland agreement 1964 WAS NOT THAT WE WERE SURRENDERING OUR SOVEREIGNTY TO THE NEW STATE, on the contrary, our understanding of the agreement was that it was MERELY AN AGREEMENT TO TRANSFER THE OBLIGATIONS WHICH, HITHERTO, WERE OBLIGATIONS OF HER MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT OF NORTHERN RHODESIA TO THE STATE OF ZAMBIA, AND THESE OBLIGATIONS RELATED TO AREA OF DEVELOPMENT, FINANCE, AND THE EXTERNAL RELATIONS; OTHERWISE WE WERE, WITHIN BAROTSELAND, TO REMAIN FREE TO CONDUCT OUR OWN AFFAIRS AS WE DEEMED FIT.
I refer you to clause 4 and 5 of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and the Zambia independence order 1964, (which) were repealed by section 3 of the President’s Orders, section 20 of the Zambia Independence Order of 1964 (which) were preserved by sections 11  and 12 of the constitution of Zambia of 1973; and these rights and obligations were further confirmed by section 11  and 12 of the constitution of Zambia act no. 1 of 1991, therefore, are of no effect because the CONSTITUTION STILL CONTINUED TO CONFIRM THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT TO BAROTSELAND.
Even the abrogating ACTS which were to be construed as amending the Zambia Independence Order of 1964, it is our considered view that SUCH AMENDMENTS DISCRIMINATED AGAINST US IN RELATION TO OTHER PEOPLE to whom the president had similar obligations arising from section 20, legislating against one’s own contractual obligations, because that, in itself, is merely THE BREACH OF THE AGREEMENT WHICH DOES BRING THE AGREEMENT TO AN END.
Thirdly, the government should seriously consider all the best possible means of re-establishing the broken lines of communication between you and the Barotse Royal Establishment. Some of the MMD and government officials in the province only fuel and heighten tension not only in Kaoma district but other districts as well. The consequently broken lines of communication cannot be re-established with such people in the office.
The government needs our co-operation, as traditional leaders are close to the people, to effectively carry out development in Barotseland.
We were there before the advent of Europeans, UNIP and certainly before you took office and we shall continue to be more open even after your term of office has come to an end. Accordingly, you need our co-operation and we equally need your help as the government to develop this part of the country.
Fourthly, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD RECOGNIZE US AS EQUAL PARTNERS OF THE UNITARY NATURE OF OUR COUNTRY AND, IN THIS RESPECT, WE EXPECT THE GOVERNMENT TO END THIS APPARENT HOSTILITY AGAINST US ARISING FROM THE ANXIETY AND NEEDLESS FEAR OF SECESSION.
We are not seceding and we shall not secede from Zambia.
HOWEVER, WE FEEL THAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD RESPECT AND HONOR THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT 1964.[[[
Fifthly, the government SHOULD AVOID THE PRACTICE OF ENCOURAGING PEOPLE IN THE PROVINCE TO BREAK UP INTO EVEN MORE ETHIC GROUPS. The twenty-four tribes that occur in Barotseland is a number large enough.
The unfortunate sermon about equality can have an adverse effect if not put in proper perspective.
Sixth, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE AWARE OF OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE RIGHT TO SECEDE.
(The Barotse) RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REVERT TO THEIR ORIGINAL STATUS IF THE AGREEMENT UNDER WHICH THEY INTENDED TO ACHIEVE UNITY CAN NO LONGER WORK.
THE REST OF ZAMBIA CANNOT HOLD US IN PERPETUAL ENSLAVEMENT ON ACCOUNT OF AN AGREEMENT WHICH WE ENTERED INTO VOLUNTARILY.
In other words, we cannot be EXPECTED TO ADHERE TO THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT WHICH THE OTHER PARTY TO THE AGREEMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE. THERE IS NO TREASON (here).
Mr. President, anyone wishing to exercise his right over anything belonging to him, particularly so in a situation where another party to the contract is no longer prepared to respect that contract, should have a right to decide.
If there is anything stated in this letter which needs explanation, Saa-Sikalo Kuta, and our lawyer will only be too pleased to furnish you with more information.
As you will be aware, the chiefs, the Kuta, Silalo indunas, village headmen and all the people are anxiously waiting to hear from you.