By Prince Gilbert M. Mutwa Moraliswani
WINDHOEK – People should not wonder when we resist the recent name change of our region to Zambezi, as it is not the appropriate name for our region.
Prior to the arrival of both the Barotse and the Makololo kingdoms, the area was called Itenge ruled by King Mafwila son of Sanjo in Lunchindo. The Barotse called the area Bashubea country, while the Makololo called it their kingdom following king Sebetwane’s conquests. Since time immemorial the Basubia have occupied both banks of the Zambezi River. Our ancestors have known and lived along the Zambezi River for a long time, but they did not name the region Zambezi, therefore it is unacceptable that a few privileged politicians should now give us a new identity. The Itenge country was partitioned following British occupation, which they called the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland although there were no Tswana tribes living in that country, which stretched from the Zouga River right up to the Zambezi River.
They apportioned it following their differences on the island of Zanzibar and the dispute was temporarily resolved through the infamous Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty of 1st July 1890. It should be borne in mind that Itenge lost some parts to the Tswana tribes of the south, to the Lozis of the western province of what is today Zambia, as well as to the former German South West Africa, now Namibia. We find it rather difficult to accept another partition by our elected leaders without proper and effective consultation with the people. Otherwise what is the difference between what has been done now and the decisions of our former colonisers?
Annexing a chunk of the region
To cut a piece of land stretching one hundred kilometres from the Zambezi Region in favour of the Kavango Region is another partition, and this is done twenty years into our independence. It is the desire of the inhabitants that the borders left by the colonialists are maintained. The colonialists imposed names on areas and not on villages, but our elected leaders have gone too far to impose the name Luhonono a Lozi or Kololo name in an area inhabited by the Basubia since the early 16th century. We feel the people who have done this have used their powers where they are not needed thereby “killing a fly with an AK-47 rifle.” Luhonono is not a Subia name as in Chisubia/Chikuhane it is called Iguba (singular) or Maguba (plural) and therefore there must be another name for this area in Chisubia. According to historian Dr Bennet Kangumu the name Zambezi was proposed already by the Germans around 1900 so it makes no difference whether it is Caprivi strip or Zambezi, because they are all German names. The people who have quickly embraced the name change are either people on the government payroll or people who are not original to the area and who can doubt what song they should sing for us?
It is sadly known that among the Caprivians, there are tribes who have never fought for their land. They have never been known to fight and indeed, have a tradition that their forefathers in their first essay at war, made their bows out of tree branches and when these broke down they gave up fighting altogether. They have invariably submitted to the rule of every horde, which has overrun the countries adjacent to the rivers, which they especially love. They are thus the Quakers of the body politic in Africa. A long time ago, the chief of the lake wanted to make these people soldiers and took the trouble to furnish them with shields. They said they never had shields before and that’s why they could never fight and then promised to fight. But a marauding party came from the Makololo, and through cowardice they paddled quickly, night and day, down the Zouga River, never daring to look behind them until they reached the end of the river. The name Liyeyi probably belongs to an area between the Zouga and river Tamunakle where chief Palane resided in 1850.
Prince Gilbert M. Mutwa Moraliswani is the son of the late Chief Joshua Moraliswani and a member of the Munitenge royal establishment.