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It's about the 1939-41 Commission to settle the Balovale Dispute.


What is now called the Western Province of the country now known as Zambia was, from about 1900 until the late 1960s, known as Barotseland. It is the land of the Ba-Rotse people, though the people are now more usually known as "Ba-Lozi" (same word, different phonetic spelling) or simply "Lozi".  This WebSite is concerned with an historical interlude; the words used here, such as "Barotse", are the words used then. 

"Balovale" strictly is Ba-Lovale, the people of the Lovale tribe.  However, at the time of this incident, the district was known as Balovale, and the "capital" was a village / Boma called also Balovale (pronounced ballow-varley).  With Independence in 1964, both the District and the (now) town were re-named "Zambezi", possibly equally confusing.  

Similarly, Mankoya is mentioned. Again, this is "Ma-Nkoya" a man from the Nkoya tribe, but was again used as the name of the District and of its capital; both renamed at Independence as Kaoma.

Rural life

Before the advent of European explorers, the Lozi, under their Litunga or Paramount Chief, lived a simple pastoral life.  There were no roads, no running water, no power.  The huts were built of "wattle and daub", and when the gound became worked out, the village would simply move.  There were no fixed borders, and the Barotse territory extended well to the East of the Victoria Falls, and South, West and North across the Zambezi into what is now Namibia, Angola and the Congo. Villages on the fringe of the Chief's domain would pay him tribute in exchange for his protection from their neighbours.  These were vassal tribes, under their own chief or induna (a term describing a minor chief), and these would have been appointed - or at least approved - by the Paramount Chief. 

Sometimes, however, a subordinate tribe might decide that they did not wish to be a vassal tribe.  The Lovale and the Lunda tribes living in the Northern part of Barotseland, rather felt that way, and relations bwetween the Barotse and those two tribes became more and more difficult, eventually resulting in the appointement of a Royal Commission by the Northern Rhodesiaon Government, to investigate and adjudicate.  



In the Nguni languages, "Ba-" means Men, "Ma-" means Man, and "Si-" or "Chi-" means "the language of".   Before the advent of the European explorers, the tribes in Central Africa had no written language.  Transcription varied from person to person, and some sounds are easily transcribed differently.

On this WebSite you will find the terms Barotse, Malozi, Lozi, etc., all refering to people of the Lozi tribe, who speak Silozi.  You will also find many names spelt in different ways, e.g. Lufize, Lufiji; Mambowe, Mbui;  Shindi, Shinde.

This WebSite is concerned with an historical interlude; the words used here, such as "Barotse", are the words used then. 


Most of the content posted here has been scanned and OCRed from a rather faint carbon copy.  There will therefore be transcription errors.  Please tell us of any you may spot.

You might also be interested in this "Monograph" that came out in 1941:-

Economy of the Central Barotse Plain. 
By Max Gluckman.  
1941. Livingstone: 
Rhodes-Livingstone Institute 
(Rhodes-Livingstone Papers, no. 7). 
Pp. xii+130. Illus. 4s.

Abstract: This work is concerned with historical and sociological backgrounds to economic behavior in Loziland. The monograph is useful for the analysis of sociocultural trends with the introduction of money and the colonial administration. Very useful charts on regional and tribal and seasonal variations in productive activities are included.

Here is part of a Review:-

The "Barotse" are one of the most interesting groups of Bantu peoples, and we know far too little about them. Barotseland is a British * Protected State', and its people enjoy an independence that is quite unusual among the African peoples of to-day. Their geographical position and swampy country have isolated them to some extent from European contacts, and it is still something of an expedition for the white man to travel to the Barotse Plain. Lozi culture is therefore still almost a closed book, and the most recent monograph on the1 Barotse 1 dates from 1899.
By ethnic composition these people are also of exceptional interest. The Territory was first conquered by a people of North-eastern origin, who invaded the country from 1600 to 1880 and established their rule over it. These Lui, later called Lozi, were in turn conquered by the Kololo, a Sotho tribe from Basutoland, which fled from Chaka's invading hordes in 1836, and made an extraordinary trek northwards to settle in this rich plain.
This small patrilineal warrior tribe conquered the original matrilineal Lozi and ruled over them for 40 years or so, but were in turn reconquered and absorbed by them. To-day the mixed tribes of the Plain keep the name of the original Lozi, but speak the language of the ruling minority which has disappeared as a social group.


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