Saturday, 29 December 2012

On the Post-colonial Zambian state and Barotseland

Since 1964, successive Zambian governments have tried in vain to completely erase the question of Barotseland, from the post-colonial Zambian discourse. On the contrary, this issue has constantly re-emerged time after time, more so, after the return of multi-politics in Zambia after 1991. After draconian measures were employed to obliterate the Barotse issue, the question remains: is it one of secession or one of self-determination? This paper casts light on Barotseland’s quest to “liberate” itself from Zambia.  The paper further posits the following questions:  is Barotseland not about a people’s legitimate cause or right to self-determination?  Has it been erroneously interpreted by Zambian politicians and citizens alike as akin to secession? The former are posed in so far as the historical narrative and current realities point to a different scenario, which show that  Barotseland existed as a country long before Zambia and Northern Rhodesia, with its own institutions, political systems, economic activities, national anthem, flag and coat of arms, among others. Whilst Europe has allowed many “sub-countries” to become independent nation-states, especially after the fall of the Berlin War in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union thereafter, with minimal bloodshed, Africa is extremely nervous about such a prospect. Many African states seem to treat the boundaries which their colonial masters bequeathed them as sacrosanct. Is this a realistic stance in the twenty-first century? Can the African post-colonial state, in its current form - with vast powers vested in presidents and highly centralised governments in place, which in some cases negate national development – realistic?  

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