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Barotseland is a region in the western part of Zambia, and is the homeland of the Lozi people or Barotse who were previously known as Luyi or Aluyi. Its heartland is the Barotse Floodplain on the upper Zambezi River, also known as Bulozi or Lyondo, but it includes the surrounding higher ground of the plateau comprising all of what is now the Western Province of Zambia. In pre-colonial times, Barotseland included some neighbouring parts of what are now the Northwestern, Central and Southern Province as well as Caprivi in northeastern Namibia and parts of southeastern Angola beyond the Cuando or Mashi River.

Flag of Barotseland

The traditional monarch of Barotseland is called the Litunga meaning 'keeper or guardian of the earth', who is directly descended from the ancient Litunga Mulambwa who ruled at the turn of the nineteenth century and through his grandson, the late great Litunga Lewanika who ruled from 1878-1916, with one break in 1884-5, who restored the traditions of the Lozi political economy in the arena of recent invasion by the Makololo, internal competition, external threats such as that posed by the Matabele and the inexorable onslaught of European colonialism.

Historically, Barotseland's status at the onset of the colonial era differed from the other regions which became Zambia. It was the first territory north of the Zambezi to sign a minerals concession and protectorate agreement with the British South Africa Company (BSAC) of Cecil Rhodes. Later Lewanika protested to London and to Queen Victoria that the BSAC agents had misrepresented the terms of the concession, but his protests fell on deaf ears, and in 1900 Britain formally annexed the territory as a protectorate and governed it as part of North-Western Rhodesia.[1]

Barotseland continued to lobby to be treated as a separate state and was given substantial autonomy within the later states, Northern Rhodesia and independent Zambia. A desire to secede was expressed from time to time, causing some friction with the government of Kenneth Kaunda, reflected in the latter changing its name from Barotseland Province to Western Province. According to Barotse views, the government in Lusaka also starved Barotseland of development — it has only one tarred road into the centre, from Lusaka to the provincial capital of Mongu, and lacks the kind of state infrastructure projects found in other provinces. Electricity supplies are erratic, relying on an aging connection to the hydroelectric plant at Kariba. Consequently secessionist views are still aired from time to time.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b Camerapix: "Spectrum Guide to Zambia." Camerapix International Publishing, Nairobi, 1996.
General references

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