Zambian prisons are hardly ever free of Barotse political prisoners since independence- Akashambatwa

Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika
Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika

In Zambia, political detentions were carried out under a State of Emergency, which allowed for colonialist style preventative detentions by the state. This State of Emergency lasted throughout the first 27 years of the independence era, under President Kenneth Kaunda. This was in place on the self-government eve of independence, under the Prime Ministership of Kenneth Kaunda. It was resorted to in the violent suppression of the uprising by members of the Lumpa Church of Alice Lenshina. This continuous State of Emergency was retained until the end of the One Party State in 1991. It was reverted to after the 1991 re-introduction of multi-party politics, but only for a limited period.

However, even without a State of Emergency there has been regular political imprisoning of Barotse people. A Barotse national, who was a District official of the opposition United Party, Timothy Kalimbwe Lupasa, holds the record for enduring the longest period of political imprisonment in Zambia, from 1973 to 1990. This is more than six times more than any political actor was imprisoned under British Colonialism in Northern Rhodesia.

Earlier, immediately after the imposition of the One Party system on 30th December 1972, at least eight Barotse traditional leaders and prominent citizens were subjected to violence and terrorizing post mid-night bundling out of homes to far distance detention centres, after a couple of days of being denied food. This was under the colonial preservation of public security regulations, backed up by a permanent State of Emergency.

Some detainees in this dragnet sweep are Lisulo Muchanza, Pumulo Mulope, Kuwabo Kaunda, Musialela Mupatu, Sitamlaho Musole, Kaluwe Mukena, Zeko Mulundumina and Welesani Mulele. They were detained without trial under falsified charges of seeking the secession of Barotseland, when, in fact, they were demanding the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement.

This was neither the first nor the last time the Zambian Government used politically motivated police brutality as well as detentions and imprisonment to suppress freedom of expression over the status of Barotseland. Some have been visited by the Zambia law for pleading for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement, while other have faced the same for accepting the Agreement’s abrogation, and interpreting it as act of divorce. On both these score, hundreds of Barotse people have been detained, brutalized and killed under Zambian authorities, since independence to date.

This Agreement is the basis under which it was mutually and formally agreed for Barotseland Protectorate and Northern Rhodesia Protectorate to jointly constitute one independent new nation state called Zambia. Even earlier than this, in 1969, after Zambia’s unilateral and un-discussed abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement, the Zambian government arrested and detained other Barotse people, including Luyanga (Induna Imukondo), Biemba Muteto (one time holder of the traditional leadership position of Mwene Kandala), Namumba Katenekwa, Namuyamba Mushala and Nasando as well as Mufaya Mumbuna, among many others.

These draconian measures have continued throughout the period of the fifty years of Zambia’s independence up to and including to date. The Zambian prisons are hardly ever free of Barotse political prisons, including right now, in 2015.

In short, in the handing over of state power from British Colonial governance to African rule after independence there has been change, but with continuity with the preceding regimes’ undemocratic and non-libertarian underpinning. The same continues with the change from the One Party State systems to multi-party governance, as well as from military back to civilian administration.

Half a century after independence, Zambia remains with unaddressed challenge of managing contradictions and conflicts in a just and democratic manner.

It is not yet uhuru!

By Dr. Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika


  1. +1

    Zambian prisons are hardly ever free of ZAMBIAN political prisoners since independence- Ba Folosho

    AK Careful what you wish for. You just might be next.

  2. +3

    Some Zambians deny the circumstances of their own birth by forgetting the simple equation Barotseland + Northern Rhodesia = Zambia. So your dad cheated on your mom and spends the rest of his life lying to you about it and the best you can do is yell daddy’s slogans. Dad lied and cheated and now he locks up mom’s relations while keeping silent about why he created the Copperbelt province AFTER marriage. Funny Zed…

  3. +4

    One man’s terrorist is another man’s Freedom Fighter. In the mind of Zambians, they can’t be oppressors. They think oppressors are White, Arab or Chinese. When confronted with the Barotse question they are quick to discard it as an illusion that the borders include parts of Lusaka, C/Belt etc.

    Continued oppression without negotiation/discussion only breeds armed conflict. Arms are easy to find these days.

    • +2

      Indeed. Most think Copperbelt province existed in 1964 and others seem to think Lozi is a tribe. No wonder the capital speaks “Nyanja” which refers to people of the Lake. Um so which Lake would that be folks? We need to learn our history without the political UNIPist slant. It’s more interesting…

    • +2

      Please people learn to move on. The Bemba spoken in many parts of Zambia is not the same as what one would correctly call Bemba, the lingo in most urban areas is very different from the rural areas. This cannot be a point of departure for the definition of who is who in Zambia, no matter what history says. in fact if we follow history most of Zambia – including most of Barotseland – should break away from itself and become part of the Congo, where most of us originate. It is just nonsensical to use history as a basis of self determination. Where do you draw the line of who is who. The logical and right thing to do is to look at the present deal with the really beneficial issues, trash any form of tribal inclination and built Zambia forward, just like the UPND purports to do. No need to…

  4. +2

    For me this issue will never die and people should not think people have forgotten about it. Lungu is pretending , because he thinks he appointed Mrs Wina as his Vice President, forget it. In fact us in the Barotseland we are just waiting for the coming constitution to be enacted and see whether there shall be realisation from LUNGU’s hetchmen that the close Northern Rhodesia + Barotseland =Zambia. I can only warn people that this time around it will be a big one. One need not to be afraid of death, for death is meant for living creatures of the world. LUNGU as a man we have known to some degree must lead the way to put this issue to an end once and for all, we beg.

  5. +1

    Bo AKA Lozi’s are Zambians just like everyone who is Zambian, so it is not special that they are imprisoned for various offences political or not…please end traibalism

    • +4

      I have been campaigning against all governments that hold political prisoner all my adult life.
      As a student I campaigned for the release of Angela Davis, Huey P Newton, Bobby Seale, and other Black Liberation and Civil Rights advocates and activist. Just because they are Black, it does not make me a Racist or anti-White

      At the Garden meeting that founded MMD, WE demanded the release of Criston Tembo, Nkumila, Shumba, Edward Shamwana, Yoru Mumba, as well as the Timothy Kalimbwe mentioned in above wrote up, which by the way was just picked from my facebook page without my permission, … was I a tribalist!? Some of these were UPP prisoners, but I was never UPP!
      I have campaigned for the release of President Kaunda, Mulena Inyambo, Rupiah Banda, and other UNIP members. I wasn’t and I…

  6. +5

    @The Lozis, please stop accusing Aka of tribalism without backing up your claims. Why don’t you respond to Aka’s well articulated article with equally intelligent arguments of your own. What Aka has stated are facts that deserve sober reflection.

    The contradiction of arresting those who are advocating for the restoration of the abrogated Agreement and those accepting the abrogation is remarkable. I keep hearing people arguing that “but we are all Zambians”; but when reminded of how we came into being Zambians, they don’t want to accept the issue. As someone has already stated, it’s a simple equation.

    It’s about time prominent Barotse natives rendered their voices to the issue like what Aka is doing here.

  7. vote

    Someone from afar brought a paper someone could not understand or read and was told where to scratch like a chicken and someone promised someone some money and going abroad somewhere for education forever at the expense everybody else and someone who presumes to be educated does not understand someone’s motto of divide and conquer! Anyone in prison must be from Western Province and must be in there only because like you they don’t get it!

  8. vote

    I thought I knew my country very well. KK was a tribalist kanshi. I always wonder way in Lusaka we speak Nyanja and in living stone we speak Lozi. Almost all the nurses that attended to me be it in Lusaka or we’re ever spoke in Bemba. Police men have Tonga accents, Para military personnel have Bloodshot red eyes…..

  9. vote

    mr aka u pipo from the royal family u ar the one who make us to sufer what can say u ar just quite and enjoy but u kno that yo pipo ar in prison totured like criminal uu ar just liar politician not care of pipo barotse

  10. vote

    aka stop pretending what can you say after all what happened in barotse now you know that its campaigning time you start saying of barotse stop it because we are fadeup of you liars,crooks,criminal politician stupid.

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