Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende
Malama Katulwende
When Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States of America on November 4th 2008, most Africans were very ecstatic about his election. They thought, rather naively, that since a black man was at the helm of the most powerful country in the world, he would use his privilege to carve out a foreign policy which would advance African interests and promote world peace and justice. This has not happened as expected. Today, Africa is not better off with Obama around, nor have conflict spots in the world reduced. On the contrary, political events unfolding in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt suggest that something is terribly wrong with the present world order – and American imperialism is at the centre of it. The question, though, is this: Why should the world continue to exist by the dictates of American foreign policy? Why should the morality of the world be measured by American correctness?
To demonstrate the absurdities and contradictions in American foreign policy, let us give some examples and urge the world to make a radical shift away from American influences and dictates.
The Ukraine Crisis
The recent crisis in Ukraine can perhaps explain why the change to a new world order is an imperative. Every day, viewers around the globe are swamped with news about the MH17 crash victims in Ukraine, and the social-political-economic fallout of this terrible conflict which has set America, the European Union and Nato, up against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists who have been fighting for independence from Ukraine in the eastern part of their country. Ever since this horrible crash happened, the European Union and America have imposed economic sanctions against Russia for “supporting separatists” who they believe shot down MH17. But why is the West up against Russia?
To present a little background to this, let us go into history. America celebrated the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990, which they interpreted as a triumph of capitalism and democracy over communism. Since then, America has been encouraging all the former USSR countries to ditch Russia and join NATO and the orbit of American influence. This has also been extended to Ukraine. America wants to have her military arsenal, through NATO, to be on the doorsteps of Russia. America wants a weak Russia, not a resurgent Russia with its oil and gas, military high-tech, and economic might. This would be too much a “threat” for America. America wants a Russia that will not control shale gas reserves in Ukraine, or gas supplies in Central Europe. The battle for the control of oil and gas, and the routes, continues to define American attitudes to Russia. America is also controlled by some Jews who passionately hate Russia and want Russia’s influence in global affairs diminished.

And to achieve this, the Americans and Europeans supported a coup d’état against a pro-Russian, democratically, elected president (Yanukovich,) who refused to sign an integration agreement with the European Union last November, but instead opted for a bailout from Moscow. The EU countries and America did not condemn a coup; they welcomed it. However, when some regions in Eastern Ukraine expressed their opposition to the new Ukrainian president, and their desire to join Russia, or declare unilateral independence from Ukraine, the West did not like it. They have instead recognised a coup leader against the norms of democracy – which they pretend to preach.

Other the other hand, Russia has every reason to fear Ukraine which is pro-West, just as the Americans would be horrified by pro-Moscow Mexico, or a Cuba with Russian missiles in Havana. Nor would Obama be smiling if Russia encouraged the secession of American states from the Federal control. Therefore, how can a superpower such as Russia coexist with a Ukrainian regime which is pro-NATO and pro-West? That’s not fair on the Russians, because America would also not like to live with a Cuba that has Russian missiles pointed against American cities. This is just a question of security.
Again, the rule of natural justice tells us that those that are alleged to have committed an offence, be given an opportunity to be heard in the courts of law. This is the cornerstone of western justice systems. Yet contrary to all reason, the US president, Barack Obama and other leading American political figures, have since pointed an accusing finger at Russia for shooting down MH 17. They have pressured the West to impose economic sanctions against Moscow. However, investigations are yet to establish what caused the crash, and who was responsible.

The Middle East
In the recent past, we have witnessed war between Hamas and Israel army in Gaza, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the sectarian violence in Libya and Egypt. Although the forces and historical reasons which have produced and shaped such a bewildering myriad of events in the Middle East are many, varied, and extremely complex, it is correct to suggest that America and the West have played a significant role in the creation of chaos and the human suffering in the region.
In the 1990s, the American government sanctioned a military invasion of Iraq, with Britain, France, Italy and other Nato countries, on the sidelines, on the pretext that the Iraq president Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. A huge military operation was mobilised: Saddam was overthrown and hanged, and the Americans supervised elections in Iraq. As expected, the Americans had lied; Saddam Hussein did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction, nor have such ever been discovered in Iraq. The whole thing was just a smoke screen to destroy a country and access cheap oil. But what benefits has this invasion brought to the people of Iraq? Nothing except death, destruction, political instability and a civil strife that has set ethnic groups such as Sunni, Shia, and Kurds against each other. Today, Iraq cannot be said to be better off without Saddam Hussein.

Again, these same Western countries, supported by the toothless United Nations, invaded Libya, on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi’s forces had shot protestors. They organised militias, invaded Libya and overthrew Gaddafi’s regime. Two years down the line, the Libyans are fighting against each other and the country has become a failed state. Given this sectarian turmoil, Libyans are not better off today without Ghaddafi. Democracy, as promised by the Americans, is again a farfetched dream. Yet the West has gained access to Libyan oil and gas.

In Egypt, America and Western countries supported a coup against Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood in 2013. Why did the West not speak vehemently against the Egyptian military and impose sanctions, if they truly believe in democracy? The answer is that the government of Morsi – which is moslem – threatened their commercial interests in Egypt, and nothing which threaten Western interests survives. But couldn’t they wait for the next elections in Egypt, at least? Again – hell no.

In Gaza, we have witnessed a genocide unfolding right before our eyes. Every day, the Israeli army has carried out sea, air and ground strikes against Hamas. In most instances, the victims of this war have been civilians. In spite of this outrageous, destruction of human life and property, no American and European Union leader has ever lifted a finger against the Jewish State. On the other hand, all blame Hamas and the Palestinian authority for this tragedy of unimaginable proportions. And yet history bears the truth of how the state of Israel was created in 1948. Prior to this date, there was NO Israel, but Palestine, and it beats all imagination that even if Israel has since been created, no sovereign and independent state for Palestinians has since been allowed to exist by America and the West.
The question is – Why? Again, it all comes to the priority of American and Western interests above everything else. For Americans and the West, the world should exist to serve their interests, and what they say is always correct. They have little regard for international law and conventions, as the only interests which they hold dear, as American, is the pathological preservation of Jews and the Israeli state, at the expense of Palestinians, Arabs and world peace. But how can a world be run like this?

A New World Order
Ever since the first black slaves were taken from the coast of Africa and transported to Europe and the Americas, the rapacious habit of Western capitalism to extract human labour, and other resources for the benefit of America and Western countries has continued unabated. The world has watched in horror, how America sponsored wars and regime changes in Africa, South America and the Middle East, to gain commercial privileges and advantage. The West have controlled the financial world and trade for the last 400 years, and the West have used their economic and political muscle to suppress the rights and privileges of other countries and peoples. Yet this world order, in which the only interests and viewpoints that should exist are those of the West, cannot go on forever unchallenged. It is safe to suggest that the larger world is tired of the kind of world order in which only Western interests, values and standards are upheld and promoted as “correct”. This world belongs to everyone, and everyone has the right to live in it without the force of threats and coercion from anyone.

But what does the new world order really mean? Well, to recall the past, the world of Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill, who put forward idealistic proposals for global governance in resolving world conflicts and challenges beyond nation-states, expected that their tools of governance, such as the United Nations and NATO, and the Bretton Woods system and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), were to be used in order to maintain the balance of power in favour of the United States, regularize cooperation between nations, and to promote and preserve capitalism. This arrangement has, however, caused so much suffering around the globe because few nations, led by the United States, have greater access to world oil, water, minerals, food and other critical resources. This privileged position has been man-made.
De-Dollarisation of the World Order
Over 60 percent of the world business and reserves are conducted in US dollars. This means that the USA has a tremendous advantage over any other country in the world. However, the 2008 financial crisis, the aggressive US foreign policy and sanctions against other nations, have taught the world a big lesson: holding assets and reserves in dollars, as well as over exposure to the dollar can be very risky. For example, China owns about 1.3 trillion of US debt; therefore, a number of countries, such as Iran, Russia and China, are already in the process of de-dollarising their economies. “De-dollarisation” simply means transacting with other countries in other currencies except the dollar, and holding wealth in another reserve currency other than the dollar.
The consequences of this action would be immense on the US economy. Since the dollar is held as the reserve currency in the world economy – and it also happens to be a currency that the US central bank – it means the Federal Reserve Board can run any amount of current account deficit on its balance of payments, and simply print notes to pay for it. This applies to whether other countries, who want to earn some interest on dollar assets such as American Treasury Bills or American government bonds, move to holding Treasury Bills or bonds; the US can still run any amount of current account deficit by printing more money.

If, however, “de-dollarisation” takes effect, then the ability of the US to run whatever current deficit it wishes to will be undermined. If the US still runs a current account deficit that is larger than what other countries are willing to hold as extra reserves, then the printing of more dollars than anybody is willing to hold, would cause a collapse in the value of the dollar. It means other nations will hold wealth in other forms such as commodities. On the other hand, if the US reduces its current account deficit to tally what other countries are able to hold as extra reserves, then its ability to absorb goods will shrink, causing a socially-explosive drop in living standards of its population and a loss of its military supremacy. Since it is the leading imperialist power of the world, such a loss of military might has serious consequences.

In each case, de-dollarisation will entail a severe crisis and destabilisation in the entire capitalist world, and will lead to the loss of the US hegemony. The US has not told its citizens the truth – they have been living on borrowed money, on a bubble, on an illusion.
Yet in the recent past months, countries such as China, France and Russia have reportedly been de-dollarising their financial markets: executing plans that will help their economies trade in their currencies. There is something more; India, Russia, South Africa, China and Brazil (BRICS) have formed two $100bn BRICS finance organs for funding new roads, power plants and other schemes in emerging economies.
“BRICS share one common goal in that they have all voiced objections to the dollar as the principal reserve currency and the impact of US Federal Reserve policy on emerging markets, which the Fed pays very little attention to,” they said at a meeting held in Fortaleza, Brazil, between July 15-16 summit.
“By shifting its policies, the Fed massively affects foreign currencies and makes it difficult for them to plan investments. BRICS members share a desire to end dollar hegemony…”
The days of the Dollar have come to an end
The world without the West is possible. The world without the dollar is becoming a reality. This is because unequal trade between the West and the rest of the world has bred poverty and destitution in the majority of the population, while a few – who think they are very clever – live rich lives. However, this scenario has inspired idea of change.
The desire for change has also been aroused by the aggressive foreign policy of the USA. Through lies, hypocrisy, contradictions as well as blatant injustices against others, the Americans have ended up creating a cadre of countries and peoples who have stood up against western hegemony.

Malama Katulwende

By Malama Katulwende

Drama in Heaven

Malama Katulwende
Malama Katulwende

Not so long ago, a renowned pastor from Thorn park Assemblies of God sought God’s immediate intervention in a case  in which some men and women of science were trying to reproduce the “first moments of creation”.  Afraid that this would profane the name of God and consequently befoul the land, Pastor Mtembo sought refuge in his church in order to seek the Lord’s guidance over this matter. Thus, bending on his knees and clutching the Holy Bible in both hands, the Man of God cried out to the vaults of heaven, and immediately heard a voice speak back to him – like an echo:

God: Why are you crying out, my son?

Pastor: [Looking up with tears in his eyes] My God, pardon me for saying this, but why do you aid the wicked? Look at what the Satanists recently discovered, something they have been calling the “God particle”. They have tried to simulate the moment of creation, when you, according to your word in the Holy Bible, created the earth and the heavens in six days, from nothing. Now these infidels, blinded by science and the ingenuity of the devil, have conspired against thee by splitting the atom and blasting electrons at almost the speed of light in a particle accelerator in order to prove the Big Bang. Oh, my God, how can this be? How can you allow the Enemy to triumph over the Cross?

God: [Surprised] My son, I have already received a report of these wretched events from Pentecostal churches across the land. The anointed ones want me to take action. I am also aware that these cosmologists have even constructed a space station above the earth, and they are pondering to launch ships to locations beyond the solar system. Now, since you are my devotee for whom I will do anything, let me now hear what you want me to do about this menace.

Pastor: My God, in order to punish the wicked, let us destroy their Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is their largest and highest energy particle accelerator. We should also target other stations where they attempt to conduct experiments to prove what they call the “Higgs boson”, or the “God particle”.

God: [Looking reflective] The particle accelerator. How do you propose me to destroy it? Can we use a smart bomb like the Americans used in Iraq?

Pastor: No my Lord. Any bomb would be too unpleasant because it would be very devastating in its consequences. Rather, let us use a more subtle method – let us destroy the circle!

God: [Exclaiming] What! The circle? How do we eliminate the particle accelerator by destroying the circle? I can’t quite see the connection here, am afraid.

Pastor:  My God, the particle accelerator is circular, including almost all the tools which the scientists use. By altering the properties of a circle, we will have put an end to all the works of these evil people.

God: [Beaming with contentment] Very good, pastor. I will act as you have suggested. I will, from this very moment, change the value of Pi so that nothing ever approaches it nor will anything geometrical or otherwise be expressed either as Pi, or in terms of Pi ever again.   Have a good day Pastor, and enjoy the fray as we scamper the depraved souls into the valley of Hell! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

…Now let us take this story at face value, and suppose that indeed God exists. Let us, to wit, also assume that the God whose existence we have so far admitted to be true, has such powers and qualities as the pastor Mtembo has attributed to Him; that is to say: God is uncreated, all-powerful, all-seeing, omnipotent, immortal, and that God alone brought into existence from nothingness all that is in space and time.

Now let us also suppose that God possesses the freedom to do whatever takes to His fancy.  By “freedom” we mean having the ability to act autonomously and without any external influences; that God is a sovereign entity who acts independently and lacks restrictions in any one of His choices. He is, so to speak, absolutely free to do anything He chooses – including, for example, changing the direction of the earth’s rotation on its axis, or suspending gravity to allow his devotees to hop like astronauts in zero-gravity conditions.

Suppose that everything we have so far heard about God’s free-will and His self-determination – from the Churches, especially Pentecostal movements most of whose members are Christian extremists – is held to be true, how would His absolute freedom interact with the structure of the universe?  How would God’s unfettered freedom behave in contexts of the laws of nature as we understand them to be?

In order to test the case of God’s absolute freedom and how that freedom would impact the universe, we have chosen a very curious concept – the value of pi. In particular, we ask two very simple questions: would God really dare intervene in the workings of the physical laws of the universe – whether the universe be one, several or infinite – in order to accommodate all or some of His wishes and fantasies?  Would He, for instance, deploy His absolute freedom and free-will to fiddle with the value of pi?  What would be the metaphysical consequences of playing with pi?

Searching for Pi malama3

The concept of pi ( ) refers to the constant ratio of the diameter to the circumference of any circle irrespective of the number of degrees contained within that circle*. In historical retrospect, the idea of pi had baffled mathematicians for a long time. The challenge was how to attempt to divide the diameter of a circle (which is a straight line) into a circumference of a circle (which is a curved line), and arrive at the exact value of pi.  No matter how hard mathematicians tried, the act of bending either the straight line or the curved line altered the nature of the problem and yielded naught.

To put it simply, as soon as one of the line is bent the results are distorted, whereas the very thickness of the line being measured in length – whether one measures the inner part of the curved line of the circumference or the outer edge – makes a great deal of a difference, especially when one is attempting to achieve an exactness in the concept of pi to hundreds or even thousands of decimal places.

Throughout history, though, the value of pi ( ) has taken on many variations. For example, the Babylonians assumed it was 3 1/8; the Egyptians thought it was 4(8/9)²; for the Chinese, the value of pi was 3.1724; and for Archimedes, it was 3.14084 < < 3.142858 (31/7); for the great Ptolemy, it was 3.14167; for Fibonacci, 3.141818; and finally for Viète, 3.141592635 < < 3.1415926537. The computer language of FORTAN estimated pi to be 3.14159265358979324.

Having said this, however, let us now inquire why the ancient people were so fascinated by the geometry of the circle and consequently interested in knowing the value of pi. What was the significance of pi then, and does this importance still hold true today?

According to a story recounted by Simplicius, the Greek philosopher, Plato, posed the following question for Greek astronomers: “By the assumption of what uniform and orderly motions can the apparent motions of the planets be accounted for?”  Like other thinkers before him, Plato had looked at the motions of the celestial bodies and sought a mathematical description to account for observable phenomena. The philosopher’s proposal was that the apparent erratic motions of the planets could be explained by combinations of uniform circular motions centered on a spherical Earth, an idea that was in vogue in the 4th century BC.

This problem was attempted by one Eudoxos of Knidos , who was born approximately  between 395-390 BCE and lived 53 years.  A great man who made significant contributions to geography, metaphysics, and ethics, Eudoxos was best known for his work in geometry, the theory of proportion, and astronomy. In astronomy, in particular, he was the first to present a general, geometrical model of celestial motion, whose five principles are the following: (1) The earth is the center of the universe. (2) All celestial motion is circular. (3) All celestial motion is regular. (4) The center of the path of any celestial motion is the same as the center of its motion and (4) The center of all celestial motion is the center of the universe.

Eudoxus accepted the Platonic notion of the rotation of the planets around the Earth on crystalline spheres, yet noticed discrepancies with observations. He attempted to adjust Plato’s model by postulating that each crystalline sphere had its poles set to the next sphere. In order for his model to preserve the five basic principles and account for the motions of the planets, Eudoxus needed to construct the apparent motions of celestial bodies as combinations of circular motions, a mathematical description which formed the basis for the theory of concentric spheres – the basic idea of which influenced mathematical astronomy from Ptolemy up to Kepler.

[*For the purposes of this article we will take it for granted that perfect circles exist as physical realities in natural phenomenon.]

Today, however, the Eudoxan mathematical description of the motion of celestial bodies may not hold true. His system has been faulted with serious flaws. Yet in spite of these flaws, Euxodus’ underlying assumption that all planets, apart from being spherical themselves, do actually move in “circular” or “elliptical” orbits is still valid today. In essence, therefore, “circularity,” – thus implying the value of pi – has since permeated non-Euclidean or curved geometries, even though the mathematical description of pi does not depend on the circle: π is twice the smallest positive x for which cos(x) equals 0.

Now circles, ellipses and spheres (which are denoted by pi in flat geometry) are not merely ideal concepts which subsist in the mind of the perceiver. On the contrary, they are part of natural objects and the behavior of those very objects.

In the world around us, for example, we abstract circles, ellipses and spheres every day: the egg, when cut at various angles to the horizontal plane, yields fantastic circles and ellipses or a parabola. The cross section of a tree produces circular rings; the firing of a trajectory from point A to B yields a parabolic curve;   droplets of water are sometimes spherical; the ripples in the pool as they move outwards are sometimes circular; a sunflower head is circular, so that in general, nature herself demonstrates  the fact that circularity and, therefore pi,  do exist in nature itself.

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malama5-earth

Perhaps for this very reason pi is one of the most known mathematical constants found in many formulae in trigonometry and geometry, particularly those concerning circles, ellipses, or spheres. Pi is also found in formulae from other branches of science, such as cosmology, number theory, statistics, fractals, thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism.

Yet perhaps the best demonstration of the application of the concept of circularity (and therefore pi) is the case of the atom. In his planetary model of an atom, Ernest Rutherfold (1911) conceived of the structure of an atom as being made up of constituent parts – electrons, protons, and the nucleus. The central, positively charged core is the nucleus, and the negatively charged particles called electrons are found in orbits around the nucleus.  These orbitals or shells are circular.

Now what is the shape of atoms, you might ask?  Well, a study by Igor Mik­hail­ovskij and his collaborators at the Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology in Ukraine, imaged the shapes of those orbitals in carbon atoms by improving an old imaging technique called field-emission microscopy. They ‘fashioned a chain of carbon atoms, dangled it from a graphite tip, and then placed it in front of a detection screen. When they applied an electric field of thousands of volts between the graphite and the screen, electrons flowed one by one through the graphite and along the carbon chain, until the electric field pulled them off the last atom in the chain. From the places where the electrons landed on the screen, the investigators could trace back the points where they left their orbital on the last atom. The “denser” parts of the probability clouds had a higher chance of emitting an electron, and the information from many electrons combined into an image of the clouds.’ “We really have an image of single atoms,” Mikhailovskij [said]’. This image of single atoms is sphericalhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-shape-of-atoms.

The classical atomic model is, however, inadequate to explain the nature of orbitals. In the natural world electrons normally remain in an uncertain and non-deterministic, orbital path around (or through) the nucleus, defying the mathematical description of classical electromagnetism.  That is to say, unlike planets orbiting a sun, electrons are charged particles which, in losing some of their energy, may spiral toward the nucleus and collide with it in a matter of seconds.  This means the orbits are unstable. Secondly, the planetary model could not explain the highly peaked emission and absorption spectra of atoms that were observed.

On the other hand, quantum models, starting with the Borh model  of an atom,  allow for far more dynamic, chaotic possibilities in explaining the nature of a particle. Using a mathematical function called the wave function, they provide information about the probability amplitude of the position, momentum, and other physical properties of a particle such as an electron. The wave function treats the object as a quantum harmonic oscillator, and the mathematics is similar to that describing acoustic resonance. In a quantum mechanical model, the ground state is a non-zero energy state that is the lowest permitted energy state of a system, unlike the “traditional” systems of classical atomic theory in which the ground state is thought of as simply being at rest, with zero kinetic energy.

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 The result of expressing electrons in terms of waveforms is that mathematically it is impossible to simultaneously derive the position and momentum of an electron at any given time. This is called the Heisenberg uncertainty principle – named after the theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg, who first described it and published it in 1927.   Thus this principle has demolished the Bohr’s model, with its neat, clearly defined circular orbits. The modern atomic model defines the positions of electrons in an atom in terms of probabilities. That is – an electron can potentially be found at any distance from the nucleus, but, depending on its energy level, exists more frequently in certain regions around the nucleus than others; this pattern is referred to as its atomic orbital, which come in a variety of shapes such as sphere, dumbbell, and torus.

Can God erase the value of Pi?

We have stated that for thousands of years, mathematicians have attempted to extend their understanding of π, sometimes by computing its value to a high degree of accuracy. Archimedes and Liu Hui, both of whom used geometrical techniques based on polygons to estimate the value of π, appreciated its relation to physical phenomenon.  Others (such as Madhava of Sangamagrama, Isaac Newton, Leonhard Euler, Carl Friedrich Gauss, and Srinivasa Ramanujan, respectively), used new algorithms based on infinite series and thus revolutionized the computation of π – but were no different.

In general, then, we have discovered that pi is here to stay – it is inseparable from natural events.  The question we should now be addressing is this: Can God erase the value of pi? By “erasure” we mean causing pi to disappear or, at the very least, altering its numerical value.

 

Malama Katulwende

In the recent past Nasa’s Mars rover, Curiosity found clear evidence that its landing site was once awash in water, a key ingredient for life. Based on the shape and size of rocks, the analysis indicates that a fast-moving stream of water once flowed between the Gale crater’s north rim and the base of mount Sharp.

 

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft found this patch of water ice in an unnamed crater on Mars in 2005. Photograph: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

 

Indications of water on the Marsian surface are, however, not new. In 1972 for instance, Mariner 9 returned to Earth with images of rivers on Mars. These images of streams of water on the red planet compelled scientists to speculate that perhaps – just perhaps – there might be, or must have been, some form of life on Mars.

Mariner 9 was an octagonal spacecraft just less than a metre and a half across, with four cross-like solar panels sticking out another two metres from its body, whose mission was to map Mars. Curiosity’s find has since added to the 40 year body of evidence of Marsian water.

Now the recent discovery of water will, without doubt, open up fresh discourses on the red planet’s history. Once upon a time there existed a blue planet within our solar system which had abundant water very early in its history. Snow and rain fell on Mars and created rivers, lakes, and possibly oceans. Because water is very critical to all life forms, there may have been some sort of life – perhaps single cell – into existence there. Today areas of liquid water have disappeared, yet climate changes have frequently deposited large amounts of water-rich materials in mid-latitudes – that will be significant for research.

In general, though, it appears that water is not so rare in the universe, after all. According to http://witcombe.sbc.edu/water/physicsuniverse.html astrophysicists have found evidence of water on the moon, Jupiter’s moons, comets, and in interstellar clouds. The presence of water is detected by analyzing the spectrum of light emitted or absorbed by the elements that compose it.  A spectrum is a display of the intensity of light emitted at each wavelength. Using a spectroscope astronomers split the light into its components, like a prism which shows the different colors (wavelengths) making up white light.

“Only light of specific wavelengths can be emitted by atoms of a given element. Similarly, each type of molecules has a unique spectrum of light. Thus, if the spectrum of water is found to be present in the full spectrum of light that we observe from a given planet, we can infer the existence of water on that planet. Water molecules have been detected in this manner in the atmospheres and the surfaces of some of the planets.”

To take another example, there have been other finds of water such as the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/universe20110722.html. According to this source the water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.”

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that steadily consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust, spewing out huge amounts of energy in the process.

According to the same source the second group of astrophysicists, led by Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, found water in 2010 in APM 8279+5255,  after observing several signatures of the water including its mass.

But why is water so fascinating, anyway? To be sure, water, taken as the ultimate substance from which everything ensued was debated by Thales of Miletus (c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC). In his attempt to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology and conjecture, Thales explained that the ultimate substance, change, or physis, and the existence of the universe was derived from or reduced to water.

Another Greek philosopher, Empedocles, held that water, air, earth, and fire (the four “roots”) mixed together in right proportions created existence. Water, along with the three elements, was in a constant state of flux that was governed by love and strife. Love attracted the roots while strife forced them apart. Through a four phase process, the four elements combined together and tore each apart only to be mixed again in a different way. It was only when love and strife fought against each other could humans perceive existence.

In a philosophical sense, then, water (insofar as it is present in other parts of the universe) raises a number of questions about whether extraterrestrial life could possibly be existent elsewhere beyond the Earth. The answer to the question, “Is anyone out there?” has therefore some special meaning.

This is so because, in the first place, human beings should not be as special as we presume them to be in the universe. There could be other beings – bacteria, or whatever life forms – elsewhere. Second, given the high probability of the existence of other forms of life, our religious beliefs especially those drawn from the Bible and other “sacred” texts would need to be restructured.

But Christian cosmological explanations have dismissed stories of aliens (UFOs) and the existence of alien civilizations as farfetched.  According to the drama of the creation of the universe documented in the Bible’s book of Genesis, God, taken as author of the cosmos, merely uttered a word and all phenomena was made from nothingness. This process took six Earth days. Bible theologians and Christians have also scoffed at the search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI), arguing that it is not possible for life to evolve anywhere in the universe other than the Earth. They suggest that  for life to be possible on any planet there had to be several conditions such as the availability of water, the planet’s right distance from its sun so that it is neither too hot nor too cold, and the right gravitational pull or specific gravity.

They have also cited great distances between bodies in the universe as inhibitive to visitation from UFO. The closest star to the Earth, Poxima Centauri, is some 40.7 million kilometers away from the Earth. If a space ship were to be used at the same speed as Apollo got to the moon, humans would need 870,000 years to go to the nearest star. Even at of one-tenth the speed of light, the trip would take 43 years. Apart from that, the flight would be fraught with serious problems such as energy for acceleration, and collision with 100,000 dust particle which are present in every cubic kilometer of space. Given this high velocity, collision with even one-tenth of a gram of these dust particles would damage the spacecraft.

Yet despite these criticisms, there is still a nagging suspicion that something is not just right with the divine creation story. Here are some reasons. First of all, the quantity of matter with which God created the universe is unbelievably huge. Where did all this matter come from?  If it is assumed that it came from nothing, then how could nothing create something? Or should we admit the principle of sufficient reason, in which we will take matter as given and not question the cause of the cause of the cause of the created universe?

Thomas Aquinas, who borrowed heavily from Aristotle, demonstrated the argument of efficient causes thus:

“In the world of sensible things we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or one only. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there’ll be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, not any intermediate efficient causes, all of which is plainly false…It is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.”——— Summa Theologica.

This proof of God’s existence still doesn’t hold water: For who created God, who created the universe? Our interest, however, is to show that the Biblical creation story is false. It is, indeed, highly unlikely that God, assuming he authored the entire cosmos, executed this work in six Earth days. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe#Matter_content  “the observable universe contains between 1022 and 1024 stars (between 10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars). To be slightly more precise, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, suggests that ‘[by] a conservative estimate…the currently observable universe is home to of order 6 x 1022 stars’. These stars are organized in more than 80 billion galaxies, which themselves form clusters and super clusters. Two approximate calculations give the number of atoms in the observable universe to be close to 1080.”

This incredibly huge amount of matter in the universe raises very serious questions about the divine intention in creating the order of 6 x 1022 stars. Was this grand plan meant to serve this tiny speck we call the Earth and its inhabitants? If the answer is “yes”, then what would be the significance of planet Earth to deserve such a privileged position?  How could one tiny part of the universe – which is almost negligible – be the only body in space which is flourishing with trees, animals, bacteria and other kinds of species whereas the rest of the cosmos is habitat of extremely hostile environments?

The other criticism of the divine creation story is the time frame it took God to make the universe from nothing. In terms of the biblical account, the book of Genesis suggests that creation took six Earth days to be completed. This would be a phenomenal record, considering the magnitude of work that had to be done. However, can it work out in practice? We have already stated that the current estimates of stars in the universe are in the region of 6 x 1022.  This means that per day God created some 1022   stars (dividing 6x 1022      by 6x 10). Now this amount (1022 ) is extremely huge to have to be created per day, even if it were a God!

Yet perhaps it might be objected that at the time the universe was being created, the laws of physics as we understand them today did not apply. God organized his materials and – suddenly – the universe was there. Yet this story is farfetched. It is too easy to believe and too inadequate to resolve pertinent questions about the origin of matter. Yet from the point of view of science, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue torch paper and set the universe going, “  renown physicist, Stephen Hawking writes in the ‘The Grand Design’. The Big Bang was simply a natural event which happened without the help and participation of God. The universe was a high energy regime which did not require God to come into existence. That is to say, following relativity theory’s cosmological arrow of time, the cosmos had shrunk to a tiny but hot and extremely dense mass, in contrast to the expanding universe at the present moment. Thus the Big Bang model explains the origin of the universe from a singularity some 13.75 billion years ago.  After its initial expansion the universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Although these protons and neutrons combined to form the first atomic nuclei only a few minutes after the Big Bang, it would take thousands of years for electrons to combine with them and create electrically neutral atoms. In this cosmic soup the first element produced was hydrogen, along with traces of helium and lithium. Gigantic clouds of these primordial elements would coalesce through gravity to form stars and galaxies, and the heavier elements would be synthesized either within stars or during supernovae. These observations assume that the universe had a beginning in time – that matter is not eternal.

This view of the universe, however, has its harshest critics – the religious. Yet, like we said, the Christian story of creation doesn’t just add up.  Did God create the universe in six Earth days or did he not? As we have indicated earlier, our broader view is that the timeline for the divine creation is inaccurate:  six days is too short for such a huge amount of work. God could not have worked outside the confines of the laws of physics; however, physical events in the universe do not take place at the rate which is beyond the speed of light – 300,000 km per second. The rapidity with which God could have created the universe, in terms of the Biblical narrative, therefore, cannot stand up to physical facts as we understand them today.

The above discussion brings us back to the question of water and the possibility of life forms in the universe. Water, as we have indicated, is everywhere in the cosmos. Now if this is the case, it might also be possible that life could evolve elsewhere in the universe. After all, the basic elements of which matter was made was dispersed into spaces which were filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density and huge temperatures and pressures.

Now there have been attempts to suggest that human beings are not alone in the universe. In 1961, for example, Dr Frank Drake, while working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, thought of an approach to link the terms involved in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy. The Drake Equation, as it has become known, identifies specific factors which were thought to play a role in the development of such civilizations.

The Drake equation states that:

 

where:

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy

fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets

ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets

f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point

fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life

fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space, and

L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

 

In the recent times, the original Drake Equation has been extended to a more realistic model, where the equation uses not the number of stars that are forming now, but those that were forming several billion years ago. In terms of the number of stars in the galaxy, the alternate formulation is easier to explain and understand, though it implicitly assumes that the rate at which the stars are formed is constant over the life of the galaxy.

Thus:

The number of stars in the galaxy now, N*, is related to the star formation rate R* by

 

where Tg = the age of the galaxy. Assuming for simplicity that R* is constant, then   and the Drake equation can be rewritten into an alternate form phrased in terms of the more easily observable value, N*.

 

  • R* = 1/year (1 stars formed per year, on the average over the life of the galaxy; this was regarded as conservative)
  • fp = 0.2-0.5 (one fifth to one half of all stars formed will have planets)
  • ne = 1-5 (stars with planets will have between 1 and 5 planets capable of developing life)
  • fl = 1 (100% of these planets will develop life)
  • fi = 1 (100% of which will develop intelligent life)
  • fc = 0.1-0.2 (10-20% of which will be able to communicate)
  • L = 1000-100,000,000 years (which will last somewhere between 1000 and 100,000,000 years)

According to Drake given the uncertainties, the original meeting concluded that N ≈ L, and there were probably between 1000 and 100,000,000 civilizations in the galaxy.

Have these civilizations been found? Well, as the reader will know, the answer is no. The major criticism of the equation has been that several terms in the equation are largely or entirely based on conjecture. The equation deals with unmeasured parameters. Also, the Drake equation can give a very wide range of values, depending on the assumptions. Thus the equation cannot be used to draw firm conclusions of any kind. It would not be possible to proceed experimentally with the equation.

Secondly, the very structure of the Drake equation supposes that civilizations arise and then die out within their original solar systems. If interstellar colonization is possible, then this assumption is not valid, and the equations of population dynamics would then have to be used.

Having said this, however, the planet searches are still going on for conditions which might be suitable for the evolution of life. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation, it is estimated that at least 40% of sun-like stars have planets, and the true proportion may be much higher, since only planets considerably larger than Earth can be detected with current technology.

“Infra-red surveys of dust discs around young stars imply that 20-60% of sun-like stars may form terrestrial planets.Microlensing surveys, sensitive to planets further from their star, see planets in about 1/3 of systems examined–a lower limit since not all planets are seen. The Kepler mission, from its initial data, estimates that about 34% of stars host at least one planet. However, a new studysuggests that fp may approach 1 — that is, that virtually every star has at least one planet.

“Although some scientists believe that most of the observed planets have very eccentric orbits, or orbit very close to the sun where the temperature is too high for earth-like life, several planetary systems that look more solar-system-like are known, such as HD 70642, HD 154345, Gliese 849 or Gliese 581 and some of these like Gliese 581 d may be habitable. Furthermore, there may well be other, as yet unseen, earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of these stars.

 

“Also, the variety of solar systems that might have habitable zones is not just limited to solar-type stars and earth-sized planets; but also tidally locked planets close to red dwarfs might have habitable zones, and some of the large planets detected so far could potentially support life. Some estimates indicate that at least the fraction of stars with Earth-like planets is between 10-20% that are hospitable to life.”

 

In November 2012, an Angro-German team of astronomers discovered a new planet orbiting a nearby sun at just the right distance for an Earth-like climate that could support life. Out of the three new planets found orbiting the star 44 light years away from the Earth, only one of them is in the Goldilocks Zone, the band around a sun where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist. Again – water!!

 

“The star HD 40307 is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate”

 

This new planet also rotates, as our Earth does, to create a day-time and night-time, which increases the chance of an Earth-like environment. Other planets don’t spin – and are called “tidally locked” with one half of the planet in constant darkness.

 

In his paper – “Life in the Universe” – which studies the probability of life existing elsewhere in the universe, Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist states that the existence of life anywhere in the universe is essentially based on a chain of carbon atoms:

 

“That carbon atoms should exist at all, with the properties that they have, requires a fine adjustment of physical constants, such as the QCD scale, the electric charge, and even the dimension of space-time. If these constants had significantly different values, either the nucleus of the carbon atom would not be stable, or the electrons would collapse in on the nucleus.”

It is this “fine adjustment of physical constants” which is at the core of this debate. “Is anybody out there?” we have asked.  The answer is, well, life – which Hawking defines as a system that has a program of instructions (DNA) to reproduce itself, and the physical materials with which to realize these instructions – indeed appears to be extremely rare in the universe.

On the contrary, what  would be the use of  having  this totality of existence which includes billions of planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, and all matter and energy?  Were these created to please human beings alone? As we have stated before, the answer is no. “[T]he coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,” writes Stephen Hawking and  Leonard Mlodinow in  their latest book, “The Grand Design”.

On the contrary, let us take the notions of M-Theory and Multiverse  hypotheses. If these are empirically correct, then we have  not  just one universe but a large set of disconnected universes, collectively denoted as the multi-verse, which is an entirety of space fields, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants which define them.  In terms of quantum mechanics – which allows that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely – the wide range of possible observations, each with a different probability, would therefore correspond to different universes.  The implications are that –again – the Christian creation model is rendered precarious and erroneous.  We have to restructure our reality!

“Is anybody out there?”  That is the question. We have answered in the affirmative, that the discovery of water on Mars and, indeed, other steller systems in the universe indicates the probability of the existence of life forms in suitable conditions.  These life forms may be simple or intelligent.  It is highly unlikely that in a universe with a very large, or infinite, number of stars there is no trace of intelligent life anywhere except the Earth.  However, it is our hope that despite enormous challenges facing astronomers and scientists in understanding our place in the universe, they will soon find fossil evidence of DNA based life on Mars, or another location.

 

The burning of Chanda is remiscemt of the necklace Xenophobic attacks that came to the attention of world in South Africa

Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende
Malama Katulwende
The death of Derrick Chanda, a Zambian truck driver who was burnt to death in his vehicle at Kasumbalesa border post by some mob of Democratic Republic of Congo nationals has had a very profound effect on me. I feel a deep sense of moral outrage at the senseless murder of a foreign nation in that country.

The Post newspaper reports that a group of Congolese citizens blocked the road at a sloppy area in Kasumbalesa, “demanding that the truck allows them to pass as they were going for a burial. And when the truck tried to swerve, it overturned in the process and spilt the cement which was looted by the same people, including suspected police officers. When they looted the cement, the story changed from going to the burial and now they accused him of hitting one mourner and they pushed him back inside the truck and burnt him beyond recognition.”

Mercedes Benz truck registration number ACP1329 belonging to Orodere Transport of Lusaka and transporting cement into the Congo DR.
Mercedes Benz truck registration number ACP1329 belonging to Orodere Transport of Lusaka and transporting cement into the Congo DR.

According to the same source over 700 truck drivers from SADC region countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique have refused to cross the border into Dr. Congo because of security concerns. They are demanding an immediate stop to their mistreatment by the Congolese. They said this during a meeting with Chililabombwe acting district commissioner Stephen Chishiko at Kasumbalesa border post:
“Sir, we appreciate your efforts as the government of Zambia in resolving this crisis but we cannot return to work until we are addressed by a Congolese official at the highest level, not the mayor of Kasumbalesa,” said a driver from Zimbabwe.

“Look, this is the only opportunity we have to change the mindset of the Congolese people, they have to assure us that they have stopped harassing us, too many bribes along the way, anyone can do anything to you in Congo. In Zambia systems work very well but in Congo individuals matter and we told the immigration officer on the Congo side that when you come to Zambia, you operate freely without any inconveniences and he shocked us with his response, he called us fools. We will not go into Congo until they address these issues especially security, it’s an open prison. http://www.postzambia.com/post-read_article.php?articleId=28509.

The burning of Chanda is remiscemt of the necklace Xenophobic attacks that came to the attention of world in South Africa

The sentiments expressed by the driver from Zimbabwe are a true reflection of the situation in Dr. Congo – it is an open prison where anyone can do anything to a foreigner. This unbridled impunity to mistreat, abuse, rape, and even murder foreigners in the Congo DR. has been going on since the 1960s. Because of the harassment of Zambians at the hands of the Congolese “Ba Kaboke”, for instance, the former president of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, constructed the Tuta road with the help of the Chinese, as an alternative route away from the Pedicle Road in the Congo. Kaunda urged Zambians – especially fro Luapula and the Copperbelt provinces – to use the Tuta road to avoid skirmishes with the Congolese.
Imagine being harassed because you have a flat nose, bald head, rounded cheeks, or because you were skinny or fat! Many a Zambian people paid huge sums of money to the Congolese immigration officers ( Ba Soda) for petty “offences” which beat reason and common sense. Other Zambians, unfortunately, especially traders, have lost money and goods through extortion of brides and favors at every corner in the Congo DR. Yet others languish in Congolese prisons, or have died in silence.
In spite of its huge resources and great potential the Democratic Republic of Congo is a tragedy. Its earliest inhabitants, believed to have been Pygmy tribes who lived by hunting and gathering food and using stone tools, were driven into the forests by waves of Bantu-speaking migrants who entered from the west by 150 AD, while non-Bantu-speakers penetrated the area from the north. These peoples brought with them agriculture and developed iron tools. Later, the country received Europeans – the first being the Portuguese in 1482. Other non-African contacts were the Arabs who traded in slaves and ivory in the Luba country from the east in the late 1850s or early 1860s.
King Leopold II of Belgium commissioned the explorer, Stanley to undertake explorations into the Congo and to make treaties with the tribal chiefs. In 1878, the monarch formed the International Association of the Congo, a development company, with himself as the chief stockholder. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 recognized the Independent State of the Congo, set up by Leopold II under his personal rule, and its ultimate boundaries were established by treaties with other colonial powers.
The rise of nationalism in the various African territories following World War II saw the creation of an independent Republic of the Congo on 30 June 1960, with Joseph Kasavubu as its first head of state and Patrice Lumumba its first premier. The country was immediately confronted by massive economic, political, and social problems: the armed forces mutinied, and separatist movements and intertribal conflict threatened to split the territory.
Ever since then, the DR Congo has become a very unstable country that has seen coups, assassinations of its leaders and civil wars. Part of the reason has been due to military interventions from foreign powers such as the United States, France, Belgium, Rwanda, and Uganda in their quest to gain control of the country’s huge resources like gold, emeralds, copper, diamonds, cobalt, and uranium. http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Congo-Democratic-Republic-of-the-DROC-HISTORY.html,
http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Congo-Democratic-Republic-of-the-DROC-HISTORY.html#ixzz201iUItRj
To date the DR Congo is – politically speaking – a failed state, a country where public officers such as the police and immigration officials unashamedly wrest money and other kinds of bribes from foreigners, and also where bands of militia and the army rape women and kill children, as millions of its people wallow in abject poverty.
The death of Derrik Chanda, the Zambian truck driver in Kasumbalesa, therefore demands an immediate action from our government in Lusaka to compel the Congolese authorities to respect the rule of law and the rights and privileges of foreigners. The Congolese should also be made to compensate for the death of Derrik, the damaged truck and looted goods on the truck.

The Congolese should also arrest and try all those people who were involved in the murder of Derrick Chanda. Zambian police should be involved in the investigations. Lastly, the Congolese government should guarantee to respect the security, rights, privileges and freedoms of every foreigner who comes to their country as stipulated under international laws and covenants.
Yet in order to force the government in DR. Congo to act, the Sata-led government in Lusaka should, unlike in the past when the Zambian officials used quiet diplomacy, now show teeth and publicly denounce the killing of their citizen and demand for an immediate apology from the Joseph Kabila government in Kinshasa.
For the time being, the Zambian authorities should also close all borders between DR. Congo and the Zambia, and halt any movement of goods across the border areas. Since this tragedy also involves other SADC countries as well, Zambia should immediately brief these countries of our program of action and table a plan to combat future occurrences of these atrocities by Congolese nationals and public officials.
May the soul of Derrick Chanda rest in peace!

By Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende
In an incident which can safely be described as most bizarre and fantastic, Kayula, 40, and his wife, Bwalya Maggie Chintakwa, 35, of Kasenga resettlement in chief Luchembe in the Mpika district of northern Zambia, starved their child to death as they prayed and fasted for days in the belief that the world would come to an end.
This was after the couple saw an eclipse of the moon last year in October.
The two formed a family church called “Busesemo”. In the iciBemba language, “Busesemo” means “prophesy”. The doctrine of this church was based on the idea that a dead person should not be buried because God would bring the deceased back to life.
The event of the eclipse of the moon made the “Busesemo” church absolutely certain of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. For this reason, therefore, the church members, who were eight in number, fasted and prayed for many days – often sleeping in the cold night because they fervently believed that the earth was coming to an end and that Jesus Christ would make His Coming a reality.
The church treated non-“Busesemo” as “unclean,”. They discouraged their children from going to school and eating other people’s food. Members of the family were not involved in any gainful activity such as farming but simply prayed and fasted. They believed that God would give them food.
Now during these fits of prayer and fasting one of their children, Kingsley Kayula, whom they starved to death, was wrapped in a blanket and the body was kept in the house. In fact, the couple shared their matrimonial bed with the body of their dead child for over a month despite the stench of the decomposed body.
This incident, surreal as it is, gives an indication of the depravity of some extreme form of Christianity in Zambia. Not very long ago, a German couple attracted media attention by going around the city of Lusaka and preaching that Jesus Christ was coming soon. They urged Zambians to sell their houses and other property and prepare for the coming of the Son of Man.
Now in the case of Kayula and Bwalya, their ‘’sect’’ reminds us of the Lumpa Church of Alice Lenshina, also of northern Zambia, whose beliefs were unorthodox.
Established in 1953 by Alice Lenshina Mulenga in the village of Kasoma, in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) the Lumpa Church [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumpa_Church] was an independent Christian church which promoted a mix of Christian and traditional religious values and practices, including a belief in the role of women as spiritual mediums.
Strongly opposed to polygamy but rumoured to have drunk urine and believed that bullets could not harm them, or that they could fly if they jumped from rooftops – the Lumpa church members rejected all earthly authority. The church set up its own courts and refused to pay taxes or be registered with the state. This led to a showdown with the state prior to Zambia’s independence, in which over 1000 members of the Lumpa church were killed by the Zambian soldiers. Alice Lenshina was arrested. Over 25000 of her flock fled into the Congo. Ironically, though, much of what Alice Lenshina and the Lumpa Church espoused – such as music and dance – have since been incorporated in Christian Churches such as the Catholic church.
This incident, however, is not peculiar to Zambia. In 2008, for example, the world was shocked to learn of a mass suicide of Christians in Uganda who could not wait any longer for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Such mass suicides were often encouraged by other suicides elsewhere – such as the deaths of the Solar Temple sect, a Vietnamese fake artist, an injudicious Mexican pastor, David Koresh, and of course the People’s Temple, led by paranoid U.S. pastor Jim Jones in Guyana, 1978.
Ever since the beginning of the 19th Century, the Christian world has been flooded with pseudo-science, Eastern religion, prophecy, faith healing, speaking in tongues, and all kinds of other occult beliefs. Scores of new cults, pseudo-Christian cults, New Age cults, and all types of apocalypse gibberish which had infested many older Protestant denominations – including much of what makes up the religious right and New Age religion today (including Satanism cults) – have since sprung up.
In another wacky sort of behaviour some groups of Christians have been gathering to await — or perhaps escape to — the next world since before the advent of mass Christian suicides. To be sure, Christianity has never been far removed from error in apocalyptic teachings that have continually made a fool of Christian expectations and turned Jesus Christ into some crude joke. You might ask: when will Jesus Christ come again? Like the Mpika couple, much of the answer to this question has roots in the confusion over the interpretation of real biblical Christianity.
Let us take some more examples. Elesha Coffman , in an article called “Heaven Can’t Wait” writes that in the second century A.D., when it was clear Christ’s coming had not gestured to the pending end of the world, early theologians started speculating about concepts like the Millennium, the Antichrist, and the Second Coming. Most, like Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), acknowledged the theories were just theories: “I and many others are of this opinion, and believe that such will take place … but, on the other hand, many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.”
In the early 200s, a church leader in northern Asia Minor predicted Christ would come again within a year and told his followers to prepare. When this did not come to pass, “The virgins got married; the men withdrew to their farms; and those who had recklessly sold all their possessions were eventually to be found begging.”
According to Elesha, thoughts of the end resurfaced in 303 AD, when the Roman Emperor Diocletian (believed by some to be the first beast of Revelation 13) began the Great Persecution of the church, but the thoughts largely subsided when Emperor Constantine began restoring the church in 312.
“The year 1000 seems to have passed with relatively little millennial fever, probably because anno Domini dating was fairly new and most people didn’t know what year it was. However, all manner of events during the Middle Ages were assigned apocalyptic significance: attempts at church reform, plagues, wars, martyrdoms, and the ascendency of a new ruler. All of this turbulence, roiled even more by the Reformation, set the stage for one of history’s most gruesome failed kingdoms, initiated in 1530 by the fiery Anabaptist Melchoir Hoffman.
“Hoffman declared Strasbourg to be the New Jerusalem, and though he never advocated violence, he was deemed a threat to society and imprisoned. But his ideas had already spread, and they were soon taken up by a Dutch baker named Jan Matthys. Matthys, proclaiming himself to be Enoch (the second witness in Revelation) adjusted the New Jerusalem site to Munster and declared it a “city of refuge” from the coming destruction. As Anabaptists filled the city, Matthys took despotic control, fortified the city heavily, and prepared for battle with Munster’s Roman Catholic bishop. When the battle finally came, on May 25, 1535, the bishop’s army slaughtered the Anabaptists. After two days, the pile of bodies filled the cathedral square.”
In the nineteenth century, reports Elesha, a New England farmer William Miller, relying on prophecies from the book of Daniel and cosmic chronology supplied by James Ussher, predicted the end of the world between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. Miller’s preaching drew enormous crowds, and more than 50,000 people believed him. As 1844 began, he wrote to the “second advent believers,” asking, “Does your heart begin to quail? Or are you waiting for your blessed hope in the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ?” When March 21 came and went, Miller confessed his error, but one of his followers found in other verses a predicted “tarrying time” that adjusted the date to October 22. This, too, came and went, prompting a “great disappointment.” Many people became bitter and disillusioned with Miller, who died a forgotten man. A small group reinterpreted his prophecy and organized themselves as the Seventh-Day Adventists.
Ever since this time, there has been a number of apocalypse predictions about the end of the world. Notable among these was by the Christian doomsday prophet Harold Camping.
The 89-year-old Californian preacher and radio host had prophesied that the Rapture would begin at 6pm May 21st 2011 in each of the world’s time zones, with non-believers wiped out by rolling earthquakes, as the saved ascended into heaven.
Like his earlier doomsday prediction of 1994, this “rapture” did not take place.

Judgment Day Believers Proclaim May 21 Is Day Of Armageddon
Indeed, the world has known a chronicle of foolishness and folly in the past. To take a quick glance at the events:
• 1654: Archbishop Ussher of Armagh fixes the date of Creation as 4004 BC (26th October at 9 AM), and the End as 1997 AD (6000 AM of the Great Week) when the Millennium begins. He claimed to know when the earth was created (4004 BC) and is still quoted by fundamentalists today.
• 1774: Ann Lee (tongues-speaking Quaker) founds the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers) as the Millennial church in America (promoting celibacy). She declares herself to be the reincarnation of Christ and female aspect of God’s dual nature. The Shakers win the admiration of many for their inventiveness (the circular saw, screw propeller, rotary harrow, etc.), model farms and their orderly prosperous communities.
• 1800: The Millennium does not arrive. New prophecy nuts come out in droves.
• 1802: Prophetess Joanna Southcott in England begins ‘sealing’ the ‘144 000′ elect for the End. Her thousands of followers include some Anglican clergy.
• 1825: Britain’s Rev Edward Irving predicts that Christ will return in 1864 (the Irvingites are the origin of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and today’s New Apostolic Church. The Old Apostolic Church is a South African break-away from this group).
• 1835: Latter Day Saints Founder, Joseph Smith of America, prophesies that Jesus Christ will not come until he is 85 years old. Joseph died (1844) without Jesus coming.
• 1845: The ‘Seventh-day’ Adventist movement, helped by Mrs Ellen G White as prophetess, develops the doctrine of the ‘mark of the Beast’ as Sunday-worship by a papal Antichrist in explanation of Christ’s so-called ‘delayed’ Return.
• 1914: Jehovah’s Witnesses’ predicted return of Christ fails, but they now change their teaching to an invisible Coming known only to true believers.
• 1965: July: self-styled prophet, William Branham, declares in response to California earthquake: “The Scripture reader or even a–a believer knows that we are now at the end of the history of the world. There will be no use of writing it, because there won’t be anybody to read it. It’s at the end of the time. …”
• 1992: The Tami Church based in Seoul, South Korea, under pastor Lee Jang Rim, distributes the visions and prophecies of its world-wide membership indicating the Rapture will happen 28th October 1992. (The Millennium will begin 7 years later in 2000 AD).
October 28th: 20 000 members of the ‘Mission for the Coming Days’ (Tami Church), spend the afternoon waiting for the Rapture, resulting in great public humiliation to Christians and the amusement of the world.
In short, there are thousands of such examples of failed prophesies and predictions of Jesus Christ Second Coming.
We, however, leave it to you to decide whether it is still sensible to ask whether Jesus Christ will come back into this world or not? If your answer is yes, what will He come to do here and what will become of our airports, governments, industries and trade?/

By Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende

I first made my public opinion on the Barotseland Agreement 1964 known when, in 2005, I published my second book, Bitterness in New York. I had decided, as I researched the book that was partly set at the University of Zambia, to include a political discourse on this subject because I had seen, with some historical hindsight, the possibility that the question of the Barotseland Agreement would explode in our face at some point- as it has done now.

In my work, Bitterness, I asked some philosophical questions which, although admitting of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 as a fact of history, nonetheless interrogated the elitist and royal version of the history of Western Zambia and its official intent to distort and appropriate into oblivion the social narratives of the indigenous, ethnic peoples in the region.

In today’s column, then, I wish to go back to the memory sites of the indigenous people of Central Western Zambia. In particular, I want to test whether, in the context of the demands for the restoration of Barotseland Agreement 1964, or indeed secession from Zambia, it makes historical sense to ignore the concerns and fears of an indigenous people such as the Nkoya, who had settled in Central Western Zambia much earlier than the Luyana (Lozi) had done. Secondly, I want to provide a viable solution to the problem over the demands for either the restoration of the Agreement or the secession of Barotseland from the rest of Zambia.

As I indicated earlier, I published my views on the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in my second book titled, Bitterness seven years ago. Since then I have followed this up with two articles on the same subject – namely, “Should Barotseland Secede from Zambia?” and “Barotseland: The Law and the Politics of Secession – A Missing Link in the Natural flow of Zambia’s Political Discourse”, respectively. In all my previous writings I have never put the Nkoya people at the centre of my historical narrative.

The present discussion, however, has been necessitated by the need to recast history in a manner which takes into account various perspectives. In our attempt to explain the causes of the conflict over the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and the desire of a group of Barotse people to threaten the Zambian government with hoisting the “Barotseland flag” over Western province, we need first to interrogate the official historical accounts of Western Zambia.

Our first approach will be to quiz the methodology of constructing history itself. To quote Jan Vanshina in “Tears of Rain: Likota Lya Bankoya as Cosmology and as History” by Wim vom Binsbegen:

“All history as reconstruction of the past is of course mythical. Myths are held to be ‘true’.

De Heusch is to be faulted for not using all the traditions about the past, however recent that past, and considering them myth. But, conversely, historical accounts reflect the past. The well-known problem is to find exactly how a set of data reflects the past as well as how it expresses the present. The succeeding problem, then, is how to reconstruct the past most

objectively, and in doing so create a new myth. Not because the account is not true, but because it will be held to be true.

 

The history of Western Zambia has, I am afraid, not been presented most objectively by the majority of historians. This is so because most of these accounts – whether those of Max Gluckman, Gerald L. Caplan, L.H Gann, Richard Hall, A.D Jalla, Mutumba Mainga, David C. Mulford, and Robert Rotberg, respectively –  have tended to frame the content of the perennial myths, cosmologies, ethnic-consciousness, ideologies and identities of Western Zambia solely in terms of the conquerors (who in this case are the Barotse)  and not in terms of the Nkoya, Kwangwa, Mbunda, Mbowe, Luchazi, Totela, Shanjo, Lovale, Lukolwe, Lushange, Simaa, Mashi and more than 30 other ethnic groups in the same geographical area.

I specifically dealt with this problem of constructing history in an article in which I reviewed Pierre Nora and David Gordon’s concept of social memories: “Narrating Our Past: Memories and The Politics of Our Time-Space”.

Therefore the challenge for historians, as Binsbegen has indicated  in Tears of Rain, has been “How  to negotiate between (1) a traditional mythical content as shared throughout a culture or even an extended cultural region, (2) the myths (in the way of idiosyncratic restructuring) that latter-day transmitters of that content (informants and narrators) impose upon (1) on the basis of their own particular intellectual, artistic, moral and political interests and pursuits, and (3) the scholarly myths which we create as academic historians on the basis of both (1) and (2).”

 

Yet the Likota Lya Bankoya , as a “first extensive and more or less coherent statement of ‘Nkoya’ history, [and] a necessary element in the building of a ‘Nkoya’ ethnic consciousness in recent decades,” [Papstein] presents an opportunity to contest the official Lozi version of the social memory of Western Zambia.

 

In their petition to the late president of Zambia, Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa dated 30th December, 2005, the Nkoya Royal Council sought the indulgence of the government to create a separate province called Kafue Province for them: http://www.barotseland.com/nkoya-hist9.htm.

Let us quote at length:

During those years [early 1800 A.D] and before the Lozis were forced into the present day Barotse Plains by the Sebitwane army from across the Zambezi, there were only four Chiefs in the present day Batotse Plains. These are: 1. Shihoka Nalinanga – Paramount Chief of the Nkoya People 2. Mange – Chief of the Kwangwa tribe 3. Libebe – Chief of the Mashi tribe 4. Imenda – Sub Chief of the Mbowe tribe.
Smarting from his defeat of the Kololo under Sebitwane, the New Lozi Chief Sipopa started encouraging his warriors to systematically eliminate the native tribes who were refusing to accept his self-appointed Chieftainship.

 

“Among the tribes that fell victim to this criminal and cruel project by Sipopa were the defenceless elderly Nkoya men – because the Nkoya people were the only tribe that refused to submit to the authority of these new settlers in their native territory. Over a period of time, the Nkoyas were increasingly growing uncomfortable sharing Mungulula (Mongu) with the hostile Sipopa. So Nkoyas of that area slowly but surely started migrating towards to the uninhabited lands and to join their other Nkoya relatives on the eastern side of the present day Mongu District.

“This is the area which eventually became known as Mankoya District. This area was not assigned to the Nkoya people by another tribe but it was the Nkoyas who on their own volition chose to settle there if only this move would help reduce hostilities between the Nkoyas and the Lozis in the then Mungulula ( Mongu) District originally inhabited by the Nkoya people and the Kwangwa people.
This and the chronology of events between 1936 and to date are some of the true historical facts which some of the current generation of Lozis will never admit.

 

“This is because this type of history would sound malicious and demeaning to the Lozis current status and image which they have fraudulently built for themselves over a period of time. Secondly, the records that the Lozis thought would work against their tribal project of dominance over other tribes were systematically removed from public eye especially those concerning Kaoma (Mankoya) District.

“This destruction of vital history was done soon after Independence and the Lozis taking advantage of their numerical superiority in the field of European education which they obtained by selling Zambia through the redundant Barotse Agreement 1964 (sic) which they obtained from a private company BSAC and using the plundered money and agreements to send to school only members of the Lozi Royal Family at the expense of other tribes and their God given heritage, they have quickly moved to rewrite the history of the Western Part of Zambia to suit their ego.”

This description of Nkoya social memory is, to the best of my knowledge, a correct reflection of the content of events as they happened. The history of the Barotse people as an ethnic group in Ngululand (which is the true and original historical name of Western Zambia) is a very recent phenomenon in historical time. Having migrated into the area from the Congo Basin or the Luba-Lunda of Mwata Yamvo the Luyana or Luyi (which meant “foreigners” to the indigenous people in the area), moved south down the Kabombo river in the latter part of the 18th century, and found other Bantu such as the Nkoya, Sotho, Shona and Nguni already living in the land we now call Western Zambia.  The new settlers conquered and subdued the locals through the use of arms. The Twa or Kwengo were driven south. By the 1800 AD the migrants had founded the “Barotse nation” with their greatest chief known as Mulambwa, who imposed himself on the locals and ruled from 1812 – 1830.

However, it is worth noting that the conquered tribes of early Bantu had settled in the Zambezi plains even as early as the 1500AD, and these existing inhabitants such as the Nkoya were subsequently displaced. They also lost the control of much of their natural resources such as land and the Zambezi plain.  Among the major dialects in Western Zambia are the Nkoya, Mashasha, Mbowela (Mbwela, Mbwera), Lushange, Lukolwe, Shikalu, and Lubanda, respectively.

In assessing whether or not the Barotseland Agreement 1964 should be restored or not, or indeed whether Western Zambia (Barotseland) should secede from Zambia or not, it is important to cast the net wider and take into account the Nkoya narratives of history, or indeed the narratives of other ethnic groups in the region.  In the opinion of the Barotse people, though, Western Zambia belongs to them “historically”. They also contend that the existence of their right to have an ‘autonomous nation’ was prior to the formation of Zambia as a state. That is to say, their right to exist as an independent country cannot be bestowed upon them by Zambia – whose polity is more recent.

Now let us suppose that this position is correct. When we look at the history of Central-western Zambia, as we have done, we learn that the migration of a Barotse people who were later referred to as Luyana, or Luyu (to denote “foreigners”) is a more recent phenomenon in historical time than the indigenous peoples such as the Nkoya, Kwangwa and Twa who had lived in Western province and surrounding region since 1500AD. Although these local people were conquered by the Lozi in the early 1800AD through the use of force and diplomacy, it is a fact of history that the land which is now called Barotseland was theirs. It did not belong to the Luyana.

These historical facts force us to ask this question: What is the origin of land ownership in Western Zambia and why? Should later settlers (Barotse) be allowed to possess land which did not historically belong to them, or should there be need to establish a platform to correct the wrongs of history? If the Barotse acquisition of land through force can be justified, then why should they resist other alternative discourses which attempt to rewrite the historical accounts of Western province in terms of the Nkoya, for example, as the true owners of that land?
In the recent past the Nkoya Royal Council (NRC) presented a petition to the Republican President, Mr. Michael Chilufya  Sata, in which they reiterated – again –  their opposition to the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 or the secession of Western Zambia from the rest of the country.

They have argued that contrary to attempts by Barotse intellectuals and members of the Barotse Royal Establishment to falsify history, Nkoyas are not part of the Barotse-speaking people. According to a Nkoya traditionalist, Robert Litungu at http://www.ukzambians.co.uk/home/2010/12/27/zambia-mankoya-part-barotseland/:

The Mankoya people do not want to belong to a feudalistic and tribal grouping that does not provide them with the right to exercise their right to self-governance and reinforces the colonial legacy of tribal subjugation of weaker tribes. They want to be part of a democratic society, that is, the Republic of Zambia, which espouses the freedom of speech and association.

 

‘The argument that the Nkoya had invited the Lozi to protect them against the Kaonde and thus should continue to accept Lozi hegemony does not hold water in this day and era.
Surely, can the Marotse accept to be ruled by the British since they offered them protection from the Ndebele and Portuguese?

 

‘The Government should set up a commission of enquiry to examine the Lozi claims of hegemony over the Mankoya just like the government of Northern Rhodesia did in 1938 when they freed the Lunda and Luvale.
The Nkoya were denied educational opportunities as part of the scheme to subjugate them.

 

‘In this regard, the Government should not be seen to be giving privileges to one tribal chief whose establishment has subjugated other tribes.
If the worst comes to the worst, the Government should call for a referendum in Western Province on whether the people of that region should be granted the right to govern themselves.
Having been victims of the autocratic Barotse system of governance, the Nkoyas and many other tribes in the province will certainly vote against such self-governance and elect to continue being part of a democratic and unitary Zambia.’

In historical truth the Nkoya are, indeed, a distinct ethnic group who do not speak Silozi, the resultant language which arose after the assimilation of the Aaluyi (conquered) tribe and the Makololo–Sotho (conqueror) tribe from South Africa.

The Nkoya live in the Mankoya area of Central-Western Zambia, an area which spans the Lyambai (Zambezi) River in the west, the Machile in the south and the Luenge (Kafue) River in the east, and the Congo watershed in the north. Once a victim of slave raids from the Mambari from the west coast and the Yeke of Msidi from the north-east of Africa in the 17th century, the Makoya had other tribes such as the Mambowe and the Kwangwa on the west, the Matotela and Subiya in the south, the Ila in the east, and Kaonde and Lunda in the north.
Recent migrants from Angola such as the Luchazi and Chokwe have since settled amongst them.

After the creation of Barotseland protectorate in 1905, the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) set up parallel administrative structures in Mankoya district and sent indunas to live amongst the Nkoya, notwithstanding the fact the Nkoya had their own tribal chiefs. In present-day Lukulu, for example, the Nkoya have their own chiefs such as Mwene Nyati, Mwene Njungu, Mwene Pumpola, Mwene Yaboka and Mwene Kangombe, respectively. All these, however, have since 1968 been made to pay tribute to the Lozi chieftaincy at Namayula.

I have argued before, as I am doing so now, that the Barotse hegemony over ethnic groups in Western Zambia is a historical fallacy that can be contested. In the context of the Barotse demands for secession from Zambia or the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, it would be a very grave mistake on the part of the government of the Republic of Zambia to restore the agreement in its entirety without taking into consideration the fears and concerns of the Nkoya and other ethnic groups in Western province.

For the sake of the reader, let me summarise the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) submissions to the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) in Lusaka, in 2010, which were rejected. To start with, the BRE demanded the acknowledgment of some provisions in the “Barotseland Agreement 1964” in the new Draft Constitution – which is again under review by the Michael Sata government.

The BRE had noted that the Draft Constitution 2010 did not consider the provisions of the “Barotseland Agreement of 1964” and proposed that Articles of the Constitution which define Zambia as a unitary state should acknowledge the “Barotseland Agreement 1964” to be the instrument by which the unitary state was constituted.

They argued that Clause 3 of Article 4 which reads, ‘the Republic of Zambia shall not be ceded, in whole or in part, to another country’ was unnecessary because it underlined the overprotection of the indivisibility of the unitary state. They also said Article 4(5), was targeted at the Barotseland which, according to the BRE, was the only region of Zambia that had a clear right to establish a regional government. They contended that the right of forming a regional government preceded the birth of the Republic of Zambia and was, therefore, not bestowed on Barotseland by Zambia.

The BRE also submitted that Article 213 (1) of Part XII of the Draft Constitution was inadequate as far as legislation for provincial, districts and local authorities’ administration was concerned. Instead they proposed that the aspect of government administration had to be placed under the Litunga (King of the Lozi people) and the Council as per Barotseland Agreement of 1964.

Under Clause 8 of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 it says that “The Government of the Republic of Zambia shall take steps as may be necessary to ensure the laws for the time being in force in the Republic are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement”.

Furthermore, the BRE also condemned Article 290 (2) of Part XIX of the Draft Constitution, saying it had failed to include land vested in the Litunga within the definition of customary land. They therefore proposed that Clause II of Article 290, which defines customary land, should be amended by inserting land vested in the Litunga as part of the customary land.

“Under Article 293 (1), the powers of the President over minerals and petroleum should not be so sweeping as to override the existing powers of the Litunga over land in Barotseland,” read the submissions.

The BRE further suggested that this article should therefore be re-aligned with the provisions relating to the control of land in Barotseland.

Now the demands, either for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 or the secession of Western province from Zambia, are founded on a belief that the region belongs to the Barotse people who had signed agreements with the British South Africa (BSAC) Company and the British Colonial Office.  While the some agreements might have been signed, the historical context in which Barotse hegemony was wielded over other ethnic groups such as the Nkoya compels us to rewrite and demand the correction of history.

How could claims of mineral and land rights ceded to the BSAC by Chief Lewanika have extended all the way to the Copperbelt province – an area traditionally inhabited by the Lamba people? In 1964 the Northern Rhodesian nationalist government (of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda) successfully disputed the BSA’s claims to mineral royalties in Northern Rhodesia.

The Government demonstrated that Lewanika’s territory in 1890 and after did not include the Copperbelt area and therefore the Company could not lay claims to mineral royalties in that area on the basis of the Lochner Concession of 1890 and later agreements with the Barotse Paramount Chief, Lewanika, who had lost sovereignty as King to the Queen and Her Majesty’s Government, by virtue of the 1899 Order in Council. He was simply a paramount chief.

Secondly, assuming that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was restored in its current form, where would the boundaries of Barotseland be drawn since the text of the agreement does not, directly or remotely, make reference to Western Province whose physical boundaries are well known? According to the boundaries of the Barotse Kingdom as reported in Francois Coillard’s work, The Frontiers of the Barotse Kingdom, however, the Litunga’s territory was demarcated as follows: ‘On the south, the Zambezi and the Chobe Rivers, on the west the 20th degree longitude east, on the north, the watershed of the Congo and the Zambezi rivers, on the east the Kafue river’.

This included, later on, claims to areas as far as Lake Nyasa and the Tanganyika plateau, which were however, criticised for their distortion and exaggeration of the extent and influence of the Lozi kingdom. Some of the tribes listed as subjects of the Litunga such as the Lunda and Luvale respectively have since disputed such claims as farfetched. The Administrator of North-Eastern Rhodesia, Cadrington, for example, also agreed in an answer to Wilson Fox, Secretary of the British South Africa Chartered Company (BSAC) in March 1904, that such claims of land and territorial rights by Lewanika were ridiculous.

Furthermore, Roy Welensky, who was to become governor of Northern Rhodesia, in address to the Northern Rhodesian Parliament on March 22nd 1948, echoed the same sentiments. The authenticity and authority of treaties and concessions between African chiefs and mineral hunters and companies were not only vulnerable to doubt but were also deceptive. In some cases, these concessions and certificates of claims were later repudiated.

In essence, then, the boundaries of Barotseland as defined in 1900 did not include the Copperbelt, Central, Southern, Northern and parts of Western provinces. It is also important to state here that during the colonial period from 1924 to 1964 the British government granted semi-autonomous status to Barotseland and made it a protectorate within a protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and administered as part of Northern Rhodesia. However, this protectorate status was not was not at the same level as that bestowed upon Lesotho and Swaziland who were recognised as independent. The Barotseland status was similar to that of Zululand in South Africa and the Baganda in Uganda. It was like a charter colony.

Thirdly, even assuming the above observations were taken to be in favour of the BRE, the fact remains that the indigenous people of Western province who, in my view, have better claims over the region than the Barotse are still existent today. Why, then, should non-Barotse ethnic groups be forced to accept Barotse hegemony when they are, in fact, the majority?

Let us also recall that when, in 1963, the Litunga of Barotseland presented the Barotse case for secession to the British government – on the basis of three records, namely (1) Barotseland’s existence as a nation prior to the creation of Northern Rhodesia; failure of the colonial government to develop Barotseland; unsuitability for Western democratic institutions to thrive in local conditions; and the benefits of being an independent state of Barotseland (2) Barotseland case becoming a state along the line of Swaziland, Lesotholand, Basutoland and (3) a recall of guarantees as set out in various concessions and affirmed by constitutions of 1911, 1924 and 1953 in respect of Barotseland – the British government rejected such a case.

Further, the UNIP delegation in London refused to include rights, privileges and the special status that the Barotse demanded in the Zambian constitution. Instead, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was concluded and became an annex to the Independent Constitution of Zambia.  Since then, all successful governments of Zambia have ignored the agreement.

For my part, therefore, the solution to the debate on Western Zambia does not merely lie in taking cognizance of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 but also the concerns and fears of more than thirty ethnic groups such as the Nkoya, Mbunda, who have been victims of Lozi domination for a long time. The agreement cannot be restored in its current form. It has to be renegotiated and established in the legal framework which allows for the devolution of power through the creation of a federation of semi-autonomous states. When this is done, then each state would have an assembly in which local chiefs, such as the Litunga, would be permanently represented, including elected representatives.

If, however, the contrary were the case, there would be disastrous consequences to follow. Firstly, other chiefs in the country would demand secession.  The facts of history demonstrate that all traditional chiefs in Zambia did not welcome colonialism with open arms: they resisted it through wars and other forms of passive resistance. Although the chiefs did not sign agreements to become part of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia,) they might also argue convincingly that their kingdoms existed before colonialism. Therefore, their right to organise their own regional governments preceded the creation of the state of Zambia.

Secondly, the impact of this might spread to other nations such as Botswana, Angola and Namibia, respectively, whose small, minority populations may perhaps want to annex their traditional territories to Barotseland. Ultimately, this would lead to the redefinition of boundaries.

Thirdly, it may be argued that demands for the “restoration” of the “Barotseland Agreement 1964” are not supported by the majority of ordinary Lozi but by the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and some power hungry “radical” groups such as the BFM who have failed to influence events at the national level.

However, ordinary citizens and non-Lozi ethnic groups who would have an illusion of “freedom” would have a lot to fear from the absolute powers of the Paramount Chief. Like a closed polity such as Mswati’s Swaziland where the citizens live in fear of the King who does not respect human rights, abuses the treasury and is not answerable to anyone, Barotseland would be a continuation of the legacy of Lozi colonialism over indigenous peoples.

Fourth point, the restoration of the “Barotseland Agreement 1964” could have serious repercussions in the administration of local government in Barotseland. As things stand now, Zambia is not a federal state in which the provinces exercise powers of local administration. The policy framework and implementation strategies come from the top to the bottom.

That is to say, the Central Government makes decisions and passes on everything to line-ministries for implementation and monitoring in the provinces. Given that scenario, then, it would be a nightmare to align the Central Government’s development policies and strategies to that of the Litunga and his Council. Where public resources were in question, for example, it would be difficult for the Paramount Chief to allow auditors to scrutinise the books of accounts to ascertain whether funds were prudently managed or not.

Given that some funds were either misappropriated or misapplied, how would the Litunga be subject to the “abuse of office” clause and stand trial?

Fifthly, the constitutional differences which exist between the Central Government and the Paramount Chief of Barotseland would make the relationship between the two parties very difficult to manage. The Litunga rules by decree, or so we understand, whereas the government of the Republic of Zambia is a democracy whose leaders renewed their mandate to govern after elections. Their tenure is subject to their performance in office. Suppose the Litunga made a law which stood in conflict with the Republican Constitution and the culture of democracy in general, would the Central Government repudiate that law?

Would the laws crafted by the Litunga and his Council be always subject to the Laws of Zambia and the Jurisdiction of the Courts of Zambia, or would the monarch be allowed to frame whichever laws he liked?

I have taken stock of the Nkoya history, mythology, symbolism, truth and its bearing on the demands for the secession of Barotseland from Zambia.

While, in its current format, the “Barotseland Agreement 1964” does not grant any disgruntled party the right to secede, nor indeed the right to riot, the document is not tenable in its  current form. This is because the agreement poses more challenges than benefits to the unitary state of the Republic of Zambia. In the context of Nkoya memory sites, for instance, it would be absurd for anyone to recognize and implement the agreement in its entirety when it is a fact of history that the real owners of Western Zambia are, after all, the Nkoyas and other marginalised, ethnic groups who settled in the area much earlier than the Lozi did. In this sense it is an affront to the truth of the Nkoya historicity.

Lastly, the boundaries of Barotseland as suggested by colonial authorities were much exaggerated and suspicious. In this sense it would be a terrible mistake to place under the jurisdiction of the Barotse chief, the Litunga, territories which he never traditionally held nor influenced. This would be a betrayal of the ethnic groups who might have preferred to belong to the democratic Republic of Zambia.

By Malama Katulwende

Malama Katulwende

The Zambian media reports horrific scenes of domestic violence against women and girl children almost on a daily basis. Although this abuse differs widely in form and severity, cause and context, the trauma which women and girl-children generally endure renders them emotionally, sexually, physically and psychologically scarred for life. In some cases, the violence leaves the victims dead.

In a case which has baffled some human rights activists Ngenda Mutolo 31, a known television personality and Muvi Television News reader recently withdrew her civil case against her husband, Ngenda Mwanangombe 50, who allegedly beat her and occasioned bodily harm. In a similar incident which shocked the entire nation Musonda Manda, of Lusaka, was severely battered by her husband over her refusal to let him read ‘suspicious’ text messages from her mobile phone. On 14th July 2007 she was reported to have withdrawn the case from the court and, like Ngenda, “reconciled” with her husband.

The issue here is not whether forgiveness and reconciliation ought to be discouraged, but whether men who are quick to use the fist and brute force against women and children ought to go unpunished. How does the withdrawal of civil cases from the courts offer a holistic approach to violence against women and children and provide a wide range of remedies for victims and penalties for perpetrators? How does this withdrawal help the fight against gender based violence?

To be sure, occurrences of domestic gender-based violence against women and girl-children are on the increase in Zambia. The violence takes the form of emotional, sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Where this battery is especially physical, the victims are prone to suffering very serious injuries which sometimes lead to death.

There are a number of sources which have collected primary data of women killed by men from the 1970s to the present, as well as quantitative data on cases of violence against women in general. The Central Statistical Office (CSO), the Police Victim Support Unit, and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), for example, suggest that there’s no doubt that violence against women is a very serious problem in Zambia.

To take a historic look at the tragic scenario, the CSO’s survey indicates that at least 53% of  the 5, 029 women interviewed reported having experienced some form of gender-based violence at one time or the other   since they were fifteen. Of these the most vulnerable groups were married women in general, and also rural or uneducated women who, according to the “Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report 2004″ , bore higher incidences of poverty as education and poverty were found to be correlates.

 

Similar studies conducted by Sarah Longwe, Linah Mpundu Musukuma, M.C Milimo, Engiwe Mzyece, et al, suggest that violence against women and girl children (which cuts across age, religion, ethnic grouping, education status and location), ought to be understood in the context of the poor social-economic status of women in general and strong patriarchal beliefs which reinforce men’s dominance over women and girls in everything.

 

In respect of marriage, domestic violence and its perpetuation is more likely to thrive in cases where women have fewer economic and financial opportunities to make decisions to leave abusive relationships. The situation has been further complicated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic as women, whenever they are HIV- positive, are being divorced or abused by their male spouses.

 

The case of Ngenda Mutolo, the Muvi television presenter who counsels married women on Spit it Out program is puzzling. How does an educated woman who earns a living by working at a television station withdraw a case of abuse against her by her husband? As a public figure and marriage counsellor one would have expected Ngenda to proceed with the case and let the judge mete out whatever punishment he or she saw fit. By withdrawing the case, however, Ngenda Mutolo has betrayed the fight against wife battery and gender based violence against women and girls.

Yet there are thousands of abused women and girls across the breadth and width of our country – who are being raped, killed and abused every second. Their voices are not heard, and their tears are never dry, and they are looking up to someone to free them from the tyranny of some men. Behind every smile and face of a Zambian woman there’s a heart that fervently beats for justice. But the struggle for gender equality – which Ngenda has betrayed – is not about women and girl-children alone – it is a national fight, it is everyone’s fight.  It is about standing up for the rights of our fellow human-beings who have carried the burden and weight of oppression for too long…It is about taking an affirmative action to better the lot of the marginalized.

Had Mutolo gone ahead with the case, she might have saved and liberated thousands of abused women, some of whom are public figures like her, who might have drawn courage from her action and fought the terror to come out in the open and demand justice in their marriages. But, nay, she instead chose to be beaten – as a submissive wife, perhaps, for the sake of material comfort and keeping the status of “being married”.

In order to understand this better, consider the “wise counsel” of the alangizi, the marriage counsellors who counsel brides-to-be on marriage:

Women should be subordinated to their husbands at all times…If a wife is beaten, it is because her husband loves her and wants to correct her wrong and instil discipline…If a man has not slapped you, then he doesn’t love you …’

Such cultural nonsense is the teaching which has been handed over to us from our forefathers. On the other hand, are these precepts justifiable  in the context of justice and human rights? The answer is, “Hell no.” We therefore need to challenge the institution of marriage itself.

But this is not all . We also have schools and curricula ( as laboratories of human capital ) which usually assign roles to girls as  house wives . And when it comes to study most teachers would say:

“Girls are not good at the sciences such as physics, mathematics, chemistry and the like. They are perhaps better at languages and the arts.”

In consequence, the educator would not be concerned if girl-children performed badly in sciences. In fact, girls are not generally expected to do as well as boys. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education also expects girl children to score fewer points in their examinations than boy children because girls (implicitly), can’t compete against boys.

The question is: does this not help create negative stereo-types against women and girl children? It does.

Yet we should also challenge the courts.  Almost all the local court rooms in Zambia which have continued the use of the ‘customary law’ do not recognize women as independent people and shapers of their own destiny. The local judge is often ignorant of international conventions and protocols on women’s rights.  And how easily accessible are the courts by women? Well, the answer is: it’s tough for women to seek legal counsel, or face male judges who look at them with a look that says: “What do you want against us, men?”

Moreover, women are generally poor and can’t afford legal fees or sustain a legal process for long. We’ve heard women say when domestic violence has been reported, most male police officers are not sympathetic to their plight – they just don’t care. In fact, these officers torture women with questions and attitudes which suggest that the women are either lying, or that the police officers believe that it’s alright to beat up women in a home. Most women are therefore reluctant to report cases of domestic violence because “the law will not protect them”.

Then the relatives, friends and church people who are close to abused women would ask: “If you take your husband to court and he’s jailed, who’ll look after you and take care of the kids? How will you start over again?” The prospect of an uncertain future terrifies most abused women. Thus they fall back into a state of learned helplessness in which they choose to stay in an abusive relationship because they feel ‘there’s no better alternative’.

We need, therefore, to empower women so that they become economically independent and less vulnerable to abuse. Is the new Patriotic front government helping in this direction, you’d ask? Our response is – Something is being done but, unfortunately, not enough. The guys in politics are more interested in power and their personal interests. The womenfolk are quite alone.

For now, though, the key question to ask is: “How can I, as an individual, help change the lot of an abused woman in Zambia? How can I put a smile on her face so that her life would be worth living?”

Malama Katulwende

The killing of Muammar Gaddafi by the NTC rebels has left some observers flabbergasted by the manner in which the former Libyan head of state met his end.

According to reports from Sirte, courtesy of Aljazeerah, “Gaddafi and an escort of bodyguards had attempted to break out of the siege of the city, which had lasted for more than a month. Their convoy was struck by French fighter jets and a US Predator drone, and a wounded Gaddafi took cover in a drainage pipe with his surviving entourage. NATO… had struck 11 vehicles that were among 75 vehicles attempting to force their way out of Sirte, but said it was unaware that Gaddafi was travelling in the convoy. ‘The vehicles were carrying a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition posing a significant threat to the local civilian population,’ NATO said.

The report further said that, “Pursuing NTC fighters fired at the group as they fled, then fought and killed some of the men guarding Gaddafi and took him captive”.

Mahmoud Jibril, the NTC’s de facto prime minister, initially said Gaddafi had been killed in a “crossfire” and that it was of no consequence what happened to Gaddafi’s body “as long as he disappears”.

On the contrary, footage shows Gaddafi alive after his capture, though bleeding from the left side of his head. He also seems to have been beaten, taunted and his body dragged in the street. Gaddafi’s remains are being kept in a meat fridge in Mesrata.

A similar fate befell Abu Bakr Younus, Gaddafi’s defence minister, and Mutassim, one of Gaddafi’s sons and former national security adviser, who were summarily killed in Sirte.

The United Nations has, however, called for an international investigation into the death of Muammar Gaddafi. This is because under the Geneva Conventions, persons captured and held prisoners may not be executed willfully but should be accorded the dues process of a fair trial. If the contrary happened – that is, if they were executed, then this would be treated as a war crime, and the culprits be held responsible and tried.

In terms of a fundamental principle of international law, therefore, persons accused of serious crimes should, if possible, be tried first and not executed summarily. Summary executions are strictly forbidden and illegal. Truth and justice require that even those who have been accused of having committed certain crimes – no matter how grave – be granted the right to be heard.

Yet the drama in which Gaddafi’s capture and eventual end has played out raises serious questions about the ability of the rebel-government to be accountable to the illegal actions by some of their militias, the fear of reprisals of those who were associated with the old, Gaddafi regime, and casts a cloud of doubt over the very ideals of justice and democracy for which the Libyan uprising was first started.

The murder of Gaddafi also brings the hypocrisy of the Western countries into sharp relief. When was NATO, or indeed any European country, ever interested in the plight of civilians in Africa on moral grounds? The involvement of NATO in Libya “to protect civilians from the tyranny of Gaddafi” was, in our view, simply an excuse to worm their way into the acquisition of commercial contracts in the oil, gas, construction and tourism sectors in Libya.

France, Britain, Italy and NATO countries used their military might to topple an African government outside the confluence and jurisdiction of NATO and Europe, to gain access to the vast natural resources of the North Africa country.  Just as the Americans used Saddam Hussein to gain access to oil in Iraq, so have these European countries used Gaddafi to wage a war on an African country for economic gain.

If, on the other hand, Europeans were very concerned about human rights and good governance on the planet, we have not seen any NATO military missions in the civil uprisings in Yemen, Syria and Iran where soldiers and the police loyal to the government kill civilian protestors in the streets almost every day. Why haven’t Europeans acted with the same zeal as they did in Libya to topple these regimes?

Now suppose some African governments decided to overthrow the governments of some Western countries on account of the manner in which the nationals of African descent are treated? Would that be wrong? If so, why?

In November 2005, for example, there were widespread riots in France. The disturbances were variously called the intifada of the suburbs, the revolt of the immigrants, the youth movement, the uprising of the underclass, or the jihad of Muslims against Europe.

The riots were geographically and socially circumscribed: they affected more than a hundred and fifty suburbs, or more precisely destitute neighborhoods known as “cités” or “quartiers difficiles.” In these estates, rioters who were mostly boys operating in groups of 20 to 200, consisted of  second generation migrants who were mainly Africans. The causes of the riots were racial discrimination, unemployment, and the deep feeling of social, political and economic exclusion from their French society. Thus the riots of the underclass, despised, excluded and ignored is not only a classic phenomenon in France, but also in the rest of Western Europe.

To take another example, there were widespread riots which erupted in London neighborhoods when youths protested against the police shooting of Tottenham resident, 29 year old Mark Duggan , black, on 4 August 2011, during an attempt to arrest him, on the Ferry Lane bridge, next to Tottenham Hale station.  Though the police said Duggan opened fire, it was discovered that he was, in fact, unarmed.  The shooting led friends and relatives of Duggan to call for a peaceful protest march to demand justice for the family. That was on 6th August. When the police failed to address these concerns of anxious crowds, rioting and looting, first in Tottenham and later in Tottenham Hale retail park. The spread of news and rumours about the previous evening’s disturbances in Tottenham sparked riots during the night of 7 August in the London districts of Brixton, Enfield, Islington and Wood Green and in Oxford Circus in the centre of London.

By 8th August areas across London were affected by widespread looting, arson and violence, with pockets of violence in parts of Battersea, Brixton, Bromley, Camden, Chingford Mount, Croydon, Ealing, East Ham, Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham, Stratford, Waltham Forest and Woolwich. There were casualties – a man was found shot and killed in Croydon, another who had been assaulted in Ealing died in hospital on 11 August. Localized outbreaks of copycat actions were reported outside London – notably in Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, Gillingham and Nottingham.

Commenting on the riots which were characterized by general rioting and opportunistic looting, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the riots were “criminality pure and simple.”  This, though, is a very superficial explanation of the causes of the riots. Let us quote Stafford Scott, who published in the Guardian – “The Voices of Tottenham are being marginalized” – and said:

“Those who are able to speak about the real reasons Tottenham was set ablaze are now finding themselves ignored by the local authority. One well-known reverend, who used to virtually eat, drink and sleep with the council, is no longer invited into the same room after he had the temerity to state publicly that he believed an injustice was being done. The local authority should be listening to him: he has had a glimpse into the lives of those blighted by their policies.

These actions only add to the sense of isolation and marginalisations that some in Tottenham’s black community have endured for decades. It seems that these politicians have learned little from the expensive public inquiries that they paid for, such as Scarman, Gifford and Macpherson…Martin Luther King once said that riots gave a voice to the voiceless; but the voices of those who felt moved to take to the streets in August are still very much unheard. The lessons from the 80s should tell us that ignoring them will come at a cost. These people are the “already marginalised”, or the offspring of the “already marginalised”: the ones who were excluded from school in disproportionate numbers; who were arrested and convicted under “sus” laws in disproportionate numbers; who are being stopped and searched in disproportionate numbers. They see themselves as victims too: to further marginalise them will only make them feel squeezed between a rock and an even harder place. As far as they are concerned, they are being left with no alternative but to lash out. So telling them that sentences are going to increase is akin to telling someone strapped with a bomb, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”…Equality, fairness and justice must be on the table, for without this the regeneration of Tottenham High Road will be meaningless to many of its inhabitants, and the likelihood of another riot erupting will remain a distinct possibility.”

We have digressed a little to draw attention to the social problems in Europe in order to pause a question: Should African governments, therefore, use the force of arms to intervene in cases of injustice in Europe or, should we say, wield arms to “protect civilians of African origin” who run battles with the police for social equality, justice and freedom? Is this the world we should create?

These arguments do not, by any means, suggest that EU countries and America may not take interest in what’s happening in other parts of the world.  Nor do we propose that dictatorships should be tolerated. On the contrary, we feel that the issue of Libya should, in the first place, have been left to African countries to resolve peacefully.

We found it tragic and ironic that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO,) which was first constituted to combat a military threat from the USSR during the Cold War, and not against Africans or an African government, has now become a tool in the service of the United Nations against an African government.  We may not be surprised that African countries, for reasons of their natural resources, will now fall victim to military incursions by Western powers thanks to the blessing of some UN resolution authorizing the use of force.

To sum up, the murder of Gaddafi raises a number of questions.  If the NTC and their militia were driven by the thirst for justice and democracy in Libya in their uprising against the rule of Muammah Gaddafi, why did they kill him without according him the right to be heard in the courts of law? It seem s to us that France, Italy, Britain and other NATO countries used the pretext of protecting civilians against forces loyal to Gaddafi, to gain access to the natural resources of Libya – namely oil and gas. On the other hand, the Western intervention in Libya presents an ethical dilemma for Europe and America: should Africa countries intervene militarily in European affairs?/END

Malama Katulwende

The age of revolution has finally struck the continent of Africa. Discontented by poverty, unemployment, bad laws, corruption, political repression and the status quo whose only desire is to perpetuate their hold on power forever, the citizens, once thought to be crippled by docility and the fear of their despotic rulers, have now taken politics into the streets of their capitals and other cities to demand immediate radical reforms.

In Tunisia anti-government protestors recently toppled the dictator,  Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali who ‘s now believed to be in hiding in Saudi Arabia.  They have demanded, among other things, a complete break with the past. In Egypt the demonstrators, in their millions, have been clashing with pro-Mubarak thugs in the streets of Alexandria, Cairo and other cities. In spite of police brutality and intimidation by pro-government factions tens of thousands of protestors have vowed to remain in Tahrir Square and other places until Hosni Mubarak, whose despotic regime has presided over Egypt for nearly thirty years, resigns.

The marchers have said: “ We demand that Mubarak and his regime quit immediately.”

Curiously, the wave of change and the rise of the protest movement are fast spreading across the African continent and the Arab world. Algeria, Yemen and Jordan are affected. Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia might be next.

In Sub-Saharan Africa the protest movements  in Algeria, Gabon, Ivory Coast,  Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi and even here in Zambia are looking up to Tunisia and Egypt for inspiration.  Already, political commentators and critics are reminding their leaders that the reins of power ultimately derive from the people.

In terms of what lessons could be learnt from these civil unrests, the most important one, perhaps, is that all states should exist for the sake of the citizens, and not the citizens for the sake of the states.  This proposition can be philosophically demonstrated. When the citizens, for whom all governments exist, feel that their leaders are not responsive to their needs, the citizens have a right to withdrawal the legitimacy and authority of their leaders and institute another government. The right to bestow legitimacy and authority upon political leaders is ultimately a preserve of the people – and not dictators and a few members of their inner circle.

Secondly, although political space may be geographically confined to a particular country, it is no longer possible to arrest events and stop them from spilling over into another country. This, of course,  has been the case in the past. However, more than ever before social networks such as Facebook, Twitter , Skype and the Internet in general have become important rallying platforms for political agitation, mobilization and discourse. In a virtual world there are no limits. The protestors have used the IT platform to champion their causes beyond their political and geographical confines.

In point of fact, agitators themselves have assumed dual roles. They  are participants in initiating change and, secondly,  the social  media  – sending photos and other types of news to news outlets  such as the BBC, Al jazeera, CNN and some social networks around the world. This explosion of information about the unrests from all directions has stunned and moved the world.

Thirdly, most African leaders, in particular, have taken their people for granted too long. In most cases, these charlatans have become so intoxicated with authority and power that they have ended up forgetting who their real masters are.  To take a few examples, the Ivory Coast is on the edge of sliding into another civil war simply because Laurent Gbagbo had stolen an election from the opposition leader, Quattarra. Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, is partly in a mess because the dictator, Robert Mugabe stole the election. The situation is the same in Kenya where the unity government of Raila Odinga and Emilio Mwai Kibaki has failed to hold. Again – all because the incumbent leader, Kibaki, had refused to recognize the results of the 1998 presidential elections.

Yoweri Musoveni of Uganda, Jose dos Santos of Angola  and other despots in West Africa who have held the reins of power for decades, have resisted demands for constitutional reforms and political change. Instead, they have destroyed the media, slowed their economies, persecuted critics and reformers and stashed public funds in billions of U.S dollars into overseas personal accounts.  Unfortunately, poverty and underdevelopment dog the African continent.  More than anyone else Africans, despite being blessed with abundant resources such as oil, water, land, minerals and a vibrant people, are a laughing stock amongst all the races of the world.

What should be done when the demands for constitutional changes by ordinary citizens have been rebuffed for decades by their leaders?  What should people do when those who reside over their affairs fail to resolve unemployment, poverty, poor infrastructure and implement popular constitutional changes  which guarantee equal opportunities, rights and privileges for all?

The upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt have, indeed, given hope, courage and inspiration to the oppressed people around the world. The age of revolution has come to Africa.

Malama Katulwende

I have always believed that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was a missing link in the natural flow of Zambia’s political discourse.  Why has there been silence and secrecy over an issue which should have been in the public domain in the first place?

Recognizing how important this subject was, however, I decided to incorporate the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in my book titled “Bitterness” (New York: 2005) in order to share with ordinary Zambians the pertinent issues around the Agreement. With some historical hindsight I was very sure that unless the Agreement was resolved urgently, it would resurface and explode in our face the way it has now done.

Having said this, though, let me express my profound disappointed with the manner in which the ruling MMD party has, since 1991 when it assumed office, had to let this problem degenerate into turmoil.  Officials in the Banda-led government have, no doubt, patted themselves on their backs for having the arrested over 123 “secessionists” who had allegedly plotted to separate Western province from the rest of Zambia “by the use of force.”

They have captured the “culprits” and charged them with treason and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace. The government has sent the armed forces into Western province to quell any possible insurrection.  The question is: has the problem been mopped up?

I indicated in my article, “Should Barotseland secede from Zambia?” that on the balance of probabilities, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 posed more challenges than solutions. I suggested that the best course of action would be to arrive at a negotiated settlement which took into account the concerns of the Barotseland Royal Establishment (BRE), government, separatists, Lozis, chiefs and ordinary non-Lozi Zambians.

All these elements have a stake in the outcome of the discussion.  What needs to be appreciated from the outset, though, is the fact that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 cannot be restored in its current form without disconcerting the political economy of what constitutes Zambia today.

What would prevent Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people of Luapula province, for example, from telling the government of Zambia that he also wanted to secede and become part of the Katanga province in the Congo? After all, some of his subjects are still in the Congo – and the Mwata visits them even today.

Kazembe might not have engaged the British South Africa Company (BSA) and British Colonial office for protection, but the fact remains that he did not invite British colonialism. Since his kingdom has a prior existence over colonial domination, he might argue that he were therefore just coerced into being part of the state we call now “Zambia” and therefore reserved the right to secede.

I have attended discussions about the Barotseland Agreement 1964 on at least two occasions. What baffles me, however, is the amount of historical distortion with which such debates are associated. There was a Zambian professor (resident in South Africa) who said at a meeting held at the Chrismar hotel last year – “We just want to ask the government of Zambia to give us what naturally belong to us. We have been quiet for a long time but now we just want to part ways peacefully. Barotseland existed as an independent nation since time immemorial and so we want to revert back to our previous status.”

What “naturally” belong to the Lozi people? Western province? Regrettably, this argument is flawed because Barotseland has not always existed as a nation. The Barotse plains were inhabited by other people whom the Aluyi (foreigners) conquered to set up the Barotse nation in the nineteenth century. Like most tribes in Zambia, the “Lozi” have origins in the Congo. So, what do secessionists mean by that which “naturally belong to us”? For my part, history does not start at the creation of the Barotse nation.

It goes all the way down when the plains were populated by the Twa, Khoisan, Kwengo, Shona, and so on. These people are still there today. Should they claim Barotseland?

Sadly, the argument was supported and elaborated on by a lecturer from the University of Zambia, a Mr. Austin Mbozi who teaches ethics and philosophy of governance at the institution. To be sure, I was very disappointed by the organizers of the discussion for having invited panelists who had scant knowledge of Zambian history. Mr. Mbozi was, in my view, the least qualified to discuss the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in historical context because he is not a trained historian. He should have hesitated to appear on that panel and saved his face.  On the other hand, he probably might have made an impression on me if he had discussed the origin of land rights and claims in the context of the Agreement.  On what score should the rhetoric of secession be justified?

What came out of the discussion were slogans for the separation of Western province. This, as I have already said, has absolutely nothing to do with the Barotseland Agreement 1964. Unfortunately, some youths in Mongu who have been rioting have been fed on this diet of deceit – that there’s a connection between the Agreement and secession.  If, on the other hand, the reasons for secession have to do with underdevelopment, then I am afraid almost all the provinces in Zambia could claim to be so. The hunger, shame and destitution which our people in Barotseland feel are the same that is felt in Luapula, Northwestern, Eastern and Southern province.

Someone told me at the discussion: What these guys are planning to do is use the Litunga to endorse the separation of Western province from Zambia, and then they shall depose him and create a system where the he (if he is lucky) shall be the ceremonious figure much like the British system today.  Considering what has happened now, it looks to me that this might have been the grand plan.

I am not sympathetic to the separatists because these people, who are staunch tribalists, would mistreat Zambians if Barotseland were to become an independent nation. I heard some of them speak of Zambia in the most despicable manner, as if they were citizens of another country. I found them extremely insolent  and cynical – I am afraid to say.

Having said this, nonetheless, I disagree with the harsh measures that the government has used to suppress the separatists’ right to assemble and express themselves. Zambia is a democracy and should embrace diversity of views and interests.  The government should have granted these people the right to assemble and be heard.  After all, the state has an obligation to respect dissenting views no matter how absurd. Repression does not work.