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Book Overview

This book expands into the neglected history of Pan African Cross-Border and African traditional leadership in the Southern African liberation struggle.  It pays homage the seven African Kings appointed as Honorary Presidents of Congress, at its founding at Bloemfontein on January 8, 1912.  These were Dalindyebo of the Thembus; Montsioa of the Barolong; Lewanika of Barotseland; Letsie II of Lesotho Khama of Mangwato of Botswana; Marclane of Pondoland and Mopei of the Bakgatla.  King Lewanika of Barotseland is the subject of the memorial lecture. Nelson Mandela, named his second son, Makgatho Lewanika, in honour of Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, the second President of the ANC and King Lewanika of Barotseland.


In his biography of Barotseland’s sovereign ruler from 1878 to 1916, King Lewanika the First, Gervas Clay writes that:

 “His life began in exile while his heritage lay under alien rule.  He had seen the usurper defeated and annihilated and some of his royal relatives in turn enthroned in triumph and overthrown into despair and death.

He had seen the country he loved torn by internecine wars and had himself barely escaped with his life into further exile. His triumphant return he knew would be without permanency of stability unless he discovered a new way to rule. … He had learnt a better way, and become popular with his people whom he had led to treaties with the dominant colonial power of the age. He died full of honour, loved and respected by his people…


Leaving the heart of his country reserved to the Barotse by treaty rights and his own family secure on the throne. No African ruler of his time achieved more, and none was more regretted by all who had known him”

In SiLozi, the hybrid SeSotho-based national lingua franca commonly shared language of Barotseland the head of the national state, the King, goes by the title Mulena Yo Muhulu – meaning Supreme Ruler.  In the Siluyana language, which is the language of the founding leadership of Barotseland, the King goes by the title Mbumu-wa-Litunga, or simply Litunga.  Following the 1884 outbreak of civil war and after the 1885 triump of being re-instated on the throne, Lubosi was referred to as Mbumu-wa-Litunga, Lewanika la Matunga Mwana Kokoma Milonga! – meaning the Supreme Lord of the Land, Unifier of Realms and Great Conqueror! …


From the first communications, encounters and treaties, the British Government and its colonial authorities and agents acknowledged Litunga Lewanika as King Lewanika of Barotseland.   Words of the last stanza of the Barotse National Anthem say it all:

“Imutakwandu Mulena Muhulu/ Oh, our late long serving Great King

Yo lu mu fiwe ki Muhauheli/ Given to us by the grace of God

Ha lu punyuhile, ha lu iketile / That we have survived, that we are at peace.

Ki Lewanika/ It’s (due to) Lewanika!”