This report appeared in the 16th February, 1916 edition of the New York Times, a popular publication in the United States of America, announcing the death of King Lewanika I of Barotseland who had died eleven days earlier on 4th February, 1916. In fact, Lewanika’s passing was also headline news in other world media in Europe and Africa.
King Lewanika was such a great ruler and his reputation went beyond his kingdom to other boundaries of Africa and across the entire known civilization of Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Americas as well as the entire British Empire.
In 1902, King Lewanika traveled via Cape Town, South Africa, to England and was a royal guest at the coronation of King Edward VII where Lewanika is reported to have impressed his hosts at Westminster Abbey with his ‘fine’ and imposing figure and ‘most charming and courteous manners’ according to Sir Harry Johnston, G.C.M.G, K.C.B, at one time H.M Commissioner &c., for Northern Zambezia.
What is disheartening, however, is that Zambian history and historians would rather ignore the great legacy of this great African king altogether on account of petty jealousy and political expediency.
We, however, have often emphasized here and elsewhere that it will be impossible for any knowledgeable person, lawyer or judge on earth to be oblivious of Barotseland’s rights to self-determination because even her very boundaries are well known globally and recorded in major world libraries of many powerful nations of the world, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations.
It is now entirely up to the Barotse to assert and claim their rights and the people of Barotseland alone must decide how they wish to exercise their self-determination.
Many thanks to Dr. Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika for ‘fishing’ this New York Times newspaper extract out of the archives.
By Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post