As Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda dies, Barotseland remembers nothing but his broken promises, treachery and oppression.
June 20, 2021
3 min read
Kenneth Kaunda’s broken promises to Barotse
Barotseland's King Mwanawina III, KBE (Left) with Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia shortly after joint political independence from Britain (file)
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Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, has died at 97 from an undisclosed short illness at the impoverished country’s premier military hospital.
In Barotseland, however, his death has been received with mixed feelings as the contested territory remembers nothing but Kaunda’s treachery and downright oppression and forced assimilation.
While the rest of the world joins Zambia in mourning her founding president and a man considered to have helped many other nations of southern Africa attain political independence from colonialists, Barotseland would rather not join those hailing the man as a liberator because to Barotseland, he is nothing but a traitor, an oppressor and usurper of the once proud and autonomous Kingdom.
This is because, subservient only to the British, Kenneth Kaunda is regarded as solely responsible for Barotseland’s current pariah status to Zambia.
At the Southern African nation’s independence, Kenneth Kaunda signed a treaty, The Barotseland Agreement 1964, that would guarantee the Kingdom of Barotseland’s continued sovereignty within the Republic of Zambia.
This is the same man who on 6th August 1964 stood before the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Sir Mwanawina III, KBE, his Kuta and the Barotse government, in the presence of many Barotse people (Barotse National Council) and said:
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“….It is the (Zambian) government’s full intention that the Barotseland Agreement  will be honoured fully after independence…. The government has no wish to interfere with the day to day running of the internal affairs of Barotseland.”
“This,” Kaunda continued, “is the responsibility of the Barotse government and the intention of the Central Government will be no more than to give the Barotse Government its maximum assistance and co-operation. …The customary rights in Barotseland will remain with the Litunga, National Council and the District heads of Kutas.”
Kaunda personally made these assurances in affirmation of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which he had just signed a couple of months earlier in May of 1964.
In 1969, however, through Constitution Amendment No.5, and without consulting the people of Barotseland, the same Kaunda and his government enacted the following:
“The Barotseland Agreement 1964 shall cease to have effect and all rights (whether vested or otherwise) and liabilities thereunder shall lapse” - a piece of legislation that the Zambian State claims legally obliterated Barotseland from the face of the earth!
So, while his legacy may be celebrated elsewhere, his treatment of Barotseland will forever taint his legacy.
And because of his dishonest and treacherous behaviour towards the Barotseland Agreement 1964, problems surrounding the agreement persist to this day, with many Barotse people killed, maimed, tortured, and incarcerated arbitrarily without trial, while others presently languish in draconian Zambian prisons.
Consequently, many Barotse nationals will continue to say that Kenneth Kaunda has not died an honourable man because he not only failed to honour the 1964 pre-independence agreement, which he signed in earnest but has sadly died without any public remorse for how he treated the people of Barotseland.
The people of Barotseland will continue to refuse to join those in political grandstanding, singing that Kenneth Kaunda is a great honourable man when the facts and their conscience say otherwise.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda ruled the impoverished country for nearly three decades from 1964 - 1991, largely under a declared state of emergency, as a despot.
He has since been accorded 21 days of national mourning in Zambia and seven days in Botswana and Malawi as other nations join in political grandstanding while his maltreatment of Barotseland remains as buried history!