It was difficult to imagine that things
could move and degenerate so fast. Everyone now seems to realise that we have
a big problem, a big challenge which requires very good leadership skills to
address. The problem that has arisen over the Barotse Agreement
1964 is not a small one, it is a big and complicated
When people in a certain part of the country call for
self-determination, invoking the African Charter on Human and People's Rights,
Article 20, which states that: “All peoples have the right to existence; They
shall have unquestionable and inalienable rights to self-determination,” we have
a challenge, we have a problem. This right to self-determination was affirmed
with a purpose of promoting a quick end to
Colonialism entailed an oppression and exploitation
of one group by an alien group. Such an oppression and exploitation was pursued
at two levels: the level of politics and the level of economics.
alien group had the monopoly of the political power and the economic power,
resulting in exploitation, manipulation, suppression and oppression of the
original owners of the land. The right to self-determination therefore entailed
political liberation and economic liberation.
Such a two-fold liberation
implied the right to political independence and the right to economic
independence. These two rights formed the backbone of the right to
self-determination and were often enshrined in the pursuit of
When a country assumed political independence and became
self-governing, there was a need for the participation of all the people in the
governance of the country. Hence, the citizens of an independent nation had the
right to participate in the decision-making process of a country directly or
through their representatives.
This called for democratic structures and
democratic spirit in the independent nations. In such a democratic climate, the
freely expressed will of the peoples was supposed to be a major determinant in
the decision-making process.
The right to self-determination has been a
subject of controversy all over the continent. This occurs when an independent
nation is confronted by separatists, secessionists.
independence from colonial rule, the sectional groupings in a country, defined
along regional or ethnic lines, can assume a nationalistic stance and call for
independence and autonomy from the sovereign state.
This right has both
external and internal dimensions; and, as we can see in our own case here over
the Barotseland issue, has been the subject of some controversy in recent years,
as it is increasingly asserted by groups within countries, as distinct from
ex-colonies and occupied territories.
But the authentic journey towards
the realisation of self-determination as a nation requires the acknowledgement
of the centrality of the place of God in such a journey. A human being is,
through family, born in a clan, tribe, nation or state.
In the distant
past, families grouped themselves into these larger communities to defend
themselves and their goods against hostile persons and also to provide better
and more abundant food; in other words, to raise their standard of living. The
state is, therefore, a community of families.
And just as the family
exists to help the members who compose the family, so the state exists to help
the families which compose the state. And like in the family, problems and
differences will always be there in a state, in a nation requiring dialogue at
Dialogue, listening to others and sharing our own beliefs with
others, is not a choice for us. It is a must. Dialogue is an essential path for
the promotion of peace and unity among all our people.
And dialogue is
rooted in the nature and dignity of human beings because in dialogue, one can
compare different points of view and examine disagreements. We are reminded in
Galatians 3:28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all
Yes, there are differences, there are disagreements—gigantic ones
for that matter. But they must be pursued with civility and respect for each
other. We have heard the leadership of the Barotse Royal Establishment commit
itself to a peaceful approach in the pursuance of their objectives.
have also heard the Zambian government express its desire to pursue this issue
in a peaceful manner. And this calls for talking, for discussions, for
negotiations whichever way things go. But it’s not possible to have meaningful
negotiations among people denouncing each other, calling each other names and
all sorts of things.
If you want to talk or negotiate with someone, you
have to accept the integrity of the other. If you are not prepared to respect
and listen to your opponents in any issue and you are not prepared to
compromise, then you are also not prepared to negotiate.
We say this
because respect, ability and willingness to listen and concessions are inherent
in any serious talks or negotiations. And negotiations only deliver positive
results when people are willing to listen and respect each other, when they are
concerned and seem to be keen to resolve their differences peacefully or
Even parting, undesirable as it may be, should be carried out
in peace and in a dignified manner. And as we have stated before, negotiated
solutions can be found even to conflicts that have come to seem intractable and
solutions emerge when those who have been divided reach out to find a common
If you are not prepared to compromise, then you must not enter
into or think about the process of negotiating at all. That is the nature of
compromising: you can compromise on fundamental issues. Insignificant things,
peripheral issues, don't need any compromise at all. But of course, compromise
must not undermine your own position.
There is no need for tough talk.
Where things have reached, they are high enough for all to see and admit that
there is a big problem that needs a different approach. All that tough talking
that was there before things got to where they are now should be put aside
because this is no time for posturing.
We have a people that have to live
together in peace whether they stay in the same country or they go separate
ways, they still have to live together in peace. This is a people that has been
bound together by destiny and no border that is drawn by anyone can separate
But there is a problem between them or among them that needs to be
addressed and a solution found without a single soul being lost, without a
single limb being lost. Fumes and smoke appear before flames do; insults come
If you stick something in your eye, tears will flow; and
if you hurt a person deeply, you will discover his true feelings. If you throw
rocks at birds, you will scare them away; and if you insult a friend, you will
break up the friendship.
Whichever way, this problem can be resolved
peacefully and it must be resolved peacefully. And we therefore urge both the
Barotse Royal Establishment and the political leadership in Lusaka to respect
each other and quickly open dialogue.
We say this because whichever way
things may go, they can only do so peacefully if there is meaningful dialogue.
Mistakes have been made. Who doesn't make mistakes? Who has never made
Who has never offended anyone? Let us accept our mistakes and
realise truthfully where things stand and move to make amends, to correct that
which is wrong. That's the reality of life—it's about making mistakes and
correcting them; and the quicker and more thorough, the better.
need to pay attention to sentiments. For as long as legitimate bodies of opinion
feel stifled, vile minds will take advantage of justifiable grievances to
destroy, to kill and to maim.
For as long as some people feel their
grievances are being ignored, are being belittled, there will always be tension
and conflict. Social and political problems don't just change because you have
made a law—it takes a great deal of effort and time.
initiatives are taken to deal with this difference, with this problem, they have
to be underpinned by the uplifting of the most downtrodden sections of our
population and all-round transformation of our society. What this is showing us
is that our nation is not well-organised and managed and it needs to redeem and
reconstruct itself. And reconstruction goes hand in hand with
And as we have stated before, the hallmark of great
leaders is the ability to understand the context in which they are operating and
act accordingly. A leader who relies on authority to solve problems is bound to
come to grief. The important thing is to give happiness to people.
the dictate of history to bring to the fore the kind of leaders who seize the
moment, who cohere the wishes and aspirations of the people. And more often than
not, an epoch creates and nurtures the individuals who are associated with his
twists and turns.
The problem before us needs no single genius. It calls
for the collective wisdom of all our people. Those who are ready to join hands
can overcome the greatest challenges. In the situation we are in, our strongest
weapon is not an AK47; it is dialogue.
And no meaningful dialogue can
take place on the shifting sands of evasions, illusions, lies, half-truths,
cheap propaganda and opportunism. A tragedy of unprecedented proportion is
unfolding in our country.
The challenge is to move from rhetoric to
dialogue, and dialogue at an unprecedented intensity and scale, trusting in the
belief that no man is an island, and those dealing with this issue are not men
of stone who are unmoved by the noble passions of love, friendship and human
This conflict, this disagreement threatens not only the gains
we have collectively made so far but also our collective future. And we should
treat the question of peace and stability in our country as a common challenge
for all our people.