By Prof. Edgar Ng’oma Philosopher/Political Scientist/Distinguished Fellow Governance and Peace.



Without fear or favour.


For us to understand how Zambia 🇿🇲 was born, it is important to dig from the archives’ historic events that transpired to get us to where we are today. In this research, I tried to engage my close associates Barotse natives they were not so helpful because history is not their cup of tea subject. I also engaged my traditional cousins from Luapula United to tell me what they know about the history of their Kingdom they too have scanty information about their own history. Then I scratched my bald head and pondered whereelse I could get factual historical facts, I quickly realised there is a place where I can get anything I want. For now let me not reveal my source. In journalism we do not reveal sources. However, I am now ready to share with you factual historic events the way they truly happened without exaggeration.

It’s true Mwata Kazembe was the first British protectorate in 1892 after signing a Sharpe concession in 1890, while Barotseland became a protectorate in 1897.

Here are now the historical records as captured and discovered by me through an investigative journalism modus operandi.


Alfred Sharpe, who turned a British administrative officer, trained as a solicitor but was in turn a planter and a professional hunter before becoming a British colonial administrator. He was a commissioner (a de facto governor) of the British Central Africa Protectorate from 1896 until 1907, and Governor of Nyasaland, after the protectorate, changed its name to Nyasaland1907 until his retirement in 1910. He was involved in some of the events that shaped south-Central Africa at the onset of colonialism.

Background and early career.

Sharpe was born on 19 May 1853 at Lancaster, Lancashire, England. During his childhood, his family moved from Lancaster, first to Wales and then to Switzerland and France as his father was a railway engineer, involved in railway construction in those countries. Sharpe was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, near Hertford, and trained with a private firm of solicitors, qualifying as a solicitor at age twenty-three. In 1883, he travelled with a cousin to Viti Levu, the largest island of Fiji, to start a sugar plantation. Their plantation venture failed within a year, as the cousins had no experience in tropical agriculture and because sugar prices were low. Sharpe started his administrative career in Fiji with a brief period as an acting stipendiary magistrate there in 1885–1886. He was offered the position of a district officer in Fiji, but he refused and then left for Central Africa. Sharpe was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), 1891–1935; RGS Cuthbert Peek Award, 1898; Member of the Council of the RGS, 1913–1917.

Sharpe went to the Shire Highlands, south of Lake Nyasa, in 1887 to hunt elephants and trade in ivory but almost immediately became involved in the war between the African Lakes Company and Arab slave traders, mostly fought around Karonga at the north end of Lake Nyasa. Henry Hamilton Johnston was appointed as British consul to Mozambique and the Interior in early 1889, and was instructed to report on the extent of Portuguese rule in the Zambezi and Shire River valleys, and to prevent local rulers beyond the existing Portuguese jurisdiction from accepting Portuguese protection. Both Johnston and his vice-consul, John Buchanan, exceeded their instructions and declared British protectorates, firstly over the Shire Highlands and then over the area west of Lake Nyasa, both in 1889. The British Central Africa protectorate came into existence in 1891 when Johnston’s actions were endorsed by the British government.

The scramble for Katanga
In 1890 Sharpe was employed jointly by imperialist Cecil Rhodes and the British Consul in Nyasaland, Harry Johnston, on a mission to Msiri, King of Garanganza (mineral- and game-rich Katanga), which Europeans considered very remote. Rhodes wanted a mineral rights concession for his British South Africa Company (BSAC), and Johnston wanted Msiri to accept a treaty creating a British protectorate over his kingdom. The BSAC had already occupied part of North-Western Rhodesia, and this would extend their territory further north. Katanga was known to have copper and was thought to have gold.

Only a handful of Europeans had been to Katanga and the Luapula/Lake Mweru region. The first to live there, Frederick Arnot, had taken up residence at Msiri’s capital only three years previously. There had been no change to the methods and equipment for mounting an expedition since the explorer David Livingstone’s travels twenty years before.

Sharpe reaches Kazembe’s
Rhodes and Johnston also wanted the same agreements with Mwata Kazembe and Chief Nsama, the other strong chiefs in the area, to the east of Msiri. Sharpe was in competition with Belgian King Leopold II’s Congo Free State (CFS), which had already tried sending expeditions to Msiri. Sharpe was successful with Nsama and Mwata Kazembe, but the latter was opposed to him going on to do a deal with his enemy, Msiri, and he delayed Sharpe by trickery and encouraged his porters to abscond Mwata Kazembe’s kingdom bordered what had been Msiri’s on the other side of the Luapula River; originally, that had been Mwata Kazembe’s territory as well, but Msiri had usurped it.


On behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, her heirs and successors, on the one part, and the Undersigned, Kazembe, for his heirs and successors, on the other part. Here below is the verbiage of the said Treaty, which is exactly the same as the one signed by Lozi for the Barotseland Agreement.

From this investigation, let’s understand that the claim by Barotse royal establishment could also be made by the Mwata Kazembe in his own right.

It is now clear that Northern Eastern Rhodesia (NER) which was formed in 1900 with its capital at Fort Jameson now Chipata Eastern Province one year after the formation of Barotse Western Rhodesia in 1899 with its capital at Kalomo.
This simply means that while Barotse was a British protectorate in North Western Rhodesia (NWR), Mwata Kazembe Kingdom was also an integral part of NER, respectively as Barotseland was to Britain
Therefore, the amalgamation of NER and NWR in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia a unitary state which President Hichilema was heard telling his permanent Secretary of Western province at an address to a conference of senior government civil service which I also attended at Mulungushi conference centre Kenneth Kaunda wing on 18th January 2024 where he expressed his feelings on the current state of Barotseland.
It is very unfortunate that historians don’t teach this history in its historic reality. Now, for the benefit of citizens of Zambia to set records and this conversation straight, it is important to publish the verbage of the Sharpe/Mwata treaty/ concession.


*Signed by Mwata Ntemena Kazembe X and Alfred Sharpe on behalf of the British Empire and Mwata Kazembe’s kingdom*

“*I. The Undersigned, Kazembe, do, in the presence of Headmen and people assembled at this place, hereby promise:οΏ½*

“*Article. I. That there shall be peace between the subjects of the Queen of England and my subjects*.

“**II. That British subjects shall have free access to all parts of my country, and shall have the right to build houses and possess property according to the laws in force in this country; that they shall have full liberty to carry on such trade or manufacture as may be approved by Her Majesty; and should any difference arise between the aforesaid British subjects and me, the said Kazembe, as to the duties or customs to lie paid to me, the said Kazembe, or the Headmen of the towns in my country, by such British subjects, or as to any other matter; that the dispute shall be referred to a duly authorized representative of Her Majesty, whose decision in the matter shall be binding and final;*

*III. that I will not extend the rights, thus guaranteed to British subjects to any other persons without the knowledge and consent of such Representative*

This is the treaty between the two parties and later in 1892 Mwata Kazembe Kingdom became a British protectorate while the Barotse became a British protectorate much later in 1897 in October this year by Robert Thorpe Corydon and a capital city for the British colonial office was put in Kalomo. From this research it is now getting clearer that Mwata Kazembe Kingdom was the first of the two British protectorate in Northern Rhodesia that was later to become independent in 1964 and only to change name from Northern Rhodesia to what we now call Zambia.

Let me digress a bit. When Northern Rhodesia was granted independence from Britain, UNIP and ANC needed to change the name before 24th October 1964. Kenneth David Kaunda, the first prime minister, suggested to name the country Zambesia! It was Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe who died in 1990, who nailed the last name in the coffin by suggesting that why not remove “es” from Zambesia and for it to be called ZAMBIA! It was unanimously agreed, and thanks to “Chinsali mafiaso.”
The British government through Sharpe was very happy with Mwata.


On the other hand, Sharpe felt satisfied with the Kazembe and Nsama agreements in his pocket. He wrote to Johnston from Bunkeya on 15 November 1890 saying there was no fear of Msiri giving concessions or treaties to anyone else, and in any case if they sent a well-armed column of perhaps 150 men to Katanga they could take over Msiri’s copper and mineral trade without hindrance. On 26 December 1890, he wrote to Johnston again from Lake Tanganyika, saying that Msiri would not last long and they could then acquire ‘all his country’. Furthermore, he noted that as Kazembe was the rightful owner of Msiri’s country, the Kazembe treaty effectively gave them all the ‘Lunda country’ (by which he included Msiri’s territory comprising the south-east of present-day Katanga).

As it turned out, although Sharpe was right on the first point βˆ’ a small force could take over Msiri’s mineral wealth βˆ’ he was wrong on the next two points. On 18 April 1891, a Belgian expedition arrived led by Paul Le Marinel. He obtained a letter signed by Msiri and witnessed by Swan that Msiri would accept CFS personnel in his territory.

Later that year, a large, well-equipped, and well-armed Congo Free State ‘Pacification’ Force arrived led by a Canadian mercenary, Captain W. E. Stairs, with orders to take Katanga under its control. On 20 December 1891, the CFS expedition shot Msiri, massacred his people, and took possession of the country, which became part of the Congo.
Later, in 1897, the Mwata became funny, he denied the British colonial office authority acting totally against the treaty of 1890 and Mwata could not allow the British local government from collection of taxation in the Kingdom. This act by the Mwata infuriated the British who unleashed an army on him and defeated his troops. The mwata ran away across the Luapula River in Katanga region only to return later after the clergy interceded on his behalf to the British local authority and he safely returned to his throne. After his return he played ball and respected the terms and conditions of the treaty he had signed with the British government colonial office through Alfred Sharpe.


From this historic account, it’s very clear now that in order for the British colonial government to operate smoothly in Northern Rhodesia, it needed to assemble the bits of colonial offices NER & NWR into one entity. In order to do that Mwata Kazembe Kingdom was constituted into Northern Eastern Rhodesia (NER) and Mwata became an integral part of North Eastern Rhodesia while Barotseland equally became an integral part of Northern Western Rhodesia at an equal footing with Mwata Kazembe in 1899 and 1892 respectively.

Therefore, in 1911 when when the British government colonial office decided to merge NER and NWR to form Northern Rhodesia, Kazembe Kingdom and Barotse were still benefiting from concessions signed with BSAC However, Barotse Native Government was being run by the Ngambela Linyungandambo under Barotse native government. They also had native police and taxation system and their own treasury called the Barotse native treasury. This is the difference between Mwata Kazembe Kingdom British protectorate with the Barotse Kingdom. The Barotse had a government in place Mwata Kazembe relinquished and governance to the British colonial government.

My advice to government is to engage the Litunga and the Ngambela of the Barotse royal establishment to explain to the royal confederacy how the BA of 1964 was technically and constitutionally overtaken by events where the agreement was terminated by an act of Parliament ACT.33 of 1969 and also ACT.69 local government act of 1965 one year after independence.

Remember that the BA agreement was signed by Litunga and Kenneth David Kaunda as Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia. But later in 1969 when Parliament was in session they reviewed the Barotse agreement and it was floated as a bill which passed two stages until the President signed it into law to change the name of Barotseland to Western province and also through a press conference President of the Republic of Zambia then Kenneth David Kaunda in 1969 stated these three points.

1. Changed the name Barotseland to be called Western Province and administered exactly like the other 8 provinces of Zambia 🇿🇲.

2. That Barotseland stopped to be a nation within a nation. Why? According to the BA 1964 agreement, the Litunga was allowed to make laws, had its own taxation system, and could collect money and had its own native treasury and native local government authority. To administer land, etc. All this was a pain in the neck of the unitary state Zambia and Parliament had to revisit the Barotse agreement of 1964 to terminate it and subsequently revoke the powers of Litunga to an equal status with the other.

3 paramount chiefs in the country, which are Paramount Chief Mpezeni, Kalonga Gawa Undi, and Mwene Lubemba Chitimukulu. Remember that King title for the Litunga was stripped in 1924 by the British government colonial office at Livingstone and reduced it Paramount Chief.

4. Traditional hunting permits and fishing right for native government were revoked, and all the responsibilities were taken to the central government.

5. By 1965, the Barotse native local authority was revoked by an Act. No. 69 and replaced by local government authority in Lusaka.

Now you see what has been a source of a problem not to the people of Western province but the Litunga and the Linyungandamba? They lost total control of revenue. Let those who have joined me in understanding this problem offer themselves to the resolution of this stand-off, which keeps popping up whenever there is a change of government. Now, with the help of this investigative journalism, we have known the facts.
With Mwata Kazembe, he accepted like all the other chiefdoms in the country to remain silent, to let the by gones be by gones and in one unitary state with the spirit of one Zambia one Nation.

I submit.

Without fear or favour.

By: Prof. Edgar Ng’oma Philosopher/Political Analyst/Distinguished governance fellow.

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