Understanding the Barotseland genealogy

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Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

Last week an attempt was made, through this column, to elucidate on the pervasiveness of programmed thinking within our society, and the dangers of the failure to evaluate and regulate our knowledge, reasoning, and learning. This confident ignorance and ignorant idiocy is comical, amusing and often irritating.

To argue that because Ian Smith was British, therefore it is wrong to record in history that he was once a Prime Minister of Rhodesia after the imposition of Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on November 11, 1965 would be misleading because that would be distorting and misrepresenting the history of Zimbabwe.

Similarly, to hold the view that Sebetuane (sometimes written Sebetwane by Bathos – pronounced and commonly written as Sibitwane in SiLozi) – never ruled Barotseland, because he was not a Lozi, but a Kololo from Bosotholand is disingenuous.

Such an argument is not only a failure to comprehend history, but a desire to prolong an argument unnecessarily. Who is a Lozi, and what determines one to be a Lozi, bearing in mind that Lozi is not a single tribe?

For the sake of those who may be misled by false history and a deliberate refusal to correctly contextualise the history of our forefathers, handed down to us by our ancestors, the Aluyi, Kwangwa, Kwandi, Mbowe, Mbume, Wiko, Mbowela, Shanjo, Nkoya (the tribes that collectively make up what is known as Lozi).

Below is an account of the Litungas of Barotseland and the role played by Sibitwani (“e” is not pronounced or written as “i” in any of the tribes that make up Lozi).

Firstly, it should be appreciated that the Aluyi (ancestors of the various tribes that make up Lozi) came from a tradition of female rulers.

They were led by a woman, called Mwambwa, during their trek from the Congo to Sifuluti village in the district of Kalabo.
Upon her death, Mwambwa was succeeded by her daughter Mbuyu, known as Mbuyuwamwambwa (Mbuyu of Mwambwa), who, at the time of her mother’s death was far away in a village called Kaumbu in the Lunda territory, in present day DRC.

Upon her return from Kaumbu, Mbuyuwamwambwa requested the Kuta (the traditional Council) to install a male Litunga. Her firstborn son, Mboo Muyunda Mwanasilundu became the first male Litungua and Mbuyuwamwambwa remained as the Makoshi (Natambumu) – the mother and prime feminine advisor to the Litunga.

He was succeeded by his brother Inyambo, followed by another brother, Yeta (known officially as Yeta I Ya Musa).
After Yeta came Ngalama wa Ingalamwa, then Yeta II Nalute Muchabatu, Ngombala, Yubya Ikandanda, Mwanawina I, Mwananyanda Liwale, Mulambwa Santulu, Silumelume Muimui, and Mubukwanu.

The reign of Mubukwanu, who ascended to the throne after the death of his younger brother, Silumelume, is remembered for two things. Firstly, it was shrouded in succession controversy between the two brothers. Secondly, it was at this time that the Kololo, a warrior tribe from Lesotho, led by Sibitwane, invaded the kingdom, overran and ruled the Aluyi for 34 years.

Mubukwanu sought refuge at Lipu Island and died at Lukulu. During this time, the kingdom was ruled by Sibitwane, a Kololo, as king of Barotseland.

Upon his death he was succeeded by his daughter Mamochisane, who, after a short period handed over to Liswani (sometimes called Liswaniso), then Sekeletu, and Sibitwane’s brother Mbololo (also spelled Mpololo by the Basothos) took over. These were the rulers of Barotseland during the Makololo interregnum.

The Kololo could not pronounce the word “Aluyi” and therefore called their subjects ‘Arozwi’ or ‘Marozwi’.
The conquered Aluyi on the other hand do not have an ‘r’ in their vocabulary and corrupted these new terms to ‘Alozi’ and ‘Malozi’. After the overthrow of the Kololo and re-establishment of Aluyi rule in 1864, the people continued to refer to themselves as ‘Malozi’.

In 1864 the Lozi, under the leadership of Sipopa Lutangu rebelled against Kololo rule and overthrew it. Sipopa was succeded by Mwanawina II, followed by Lubosi Liwanika who was deposed by Ngambela Mataa who installed Tatila Akufuna as Litunga.

After a year Tatila was overthrown in an uprising, which saw Lubosi reinstalled. Lubosi is credited with signing a Protectorate treaty and several concessions with the British between 1890 and 1910. After Lubosi came Litia Yeta III, Mwanang’ono Imwiko I, Mwanawina III, Mbikusita Liwanika II, Ilute Yeta, and the current Litunga Lubosi Imwiko.

Note that the correct name is Liwanika (Liwanika la mafuci,) a Luyana and Luvale term, meaning ‘gatherer or conqueror of lands (nations)’. The name has since been corrupted by the British to “Lewanika”, which has no meaning whatsoever in any of the Lozi tribes.

It is important to note that the Kololo language had taken root among the Aluyi during the occupation period, to the extent that they adopted it as their lingua franca and merely changed its name from Sikololo to SiLozi.

Therefore, none of the Lozi tribes can claim to be the originators or owners of the SiLozi language, as it was imposed from outside.
Furthermore, it should be stated that Lozi does not refer to a tribe. It is the common language of the people of Barotseland. The Aluyi, Kwangwa, Kwandi, Nkoya, Shanjo, Lucaze, Wiko and Mbowela do speak their own languages, in addition to SiLozi, in the same manner that some Namibian tribes, such as the Mafwe, Masubia, Mayeyi, Mambukushu, Matotela, MaKwamashi, Mambalangwe, etc. speak their own languages, in addition to the common SiLozi language.

* Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

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