• December 6th, 2019

The Yeyi ancestral land claims – A response to Prof. Makala Lilemba (Part 2.)


Dr VN Sazita and Dr SB Lwendo 

We wish to inform the reader that where Prof. Makala Lilemba mentioned that Caprivi was known as German Barotseland, Zambezi Region, German Bechuanaland or just Caprivi Zipfel and citing Kruger 1984 is information misleading the reader. 

The truth is that: 
On 1 September 1929 the Caprivi Strip, as in the case of German period was included in the ambit of the South West African administration. In 1939, which is ten years later from 1929, a new regulation was put in place which mandated that Western Caprivi should remain the responsibility of the authorities in Windhoek, while the eastern Caprivi should now fall under the control of the Minister of Bantu Affairs in Pretoria, South Africa. The purpose for this was that Caprivi was still under the colonizing power, Britain. 

At the defeat of Germany in 1918 at the end of the First World War, the Caprivi was not cut from the rest of South West Africa, but rather remained part of South West Africa / Namibia. A decision would have been made there by Britain since it was still under their control to cut it from the rest of South West Africa and subjugate it to Bechuanaland (present Botswana) or Northern Rhodesia (present Zambia) according to the suggestions by Goold-Adams and we quote: “A referendum could have decided whether a union of the eastern Caprivi with Northern Rhodesia or the Bechuanaland Protectorate was desired, possibly in exchange for land in northern Ngamiland, Botswana, but the British political powers at the time resisted and insisted that the Caprivi Strip remains part of South West Africa, Namibia” (Fisch, 1999:144).

Further debates relating to the geographical miscalculation came to the fore in 1905 far back from the scholar’s quotation of Kruger’s letter of 1984. As a matter of fact, Captain Füsslein of the German General Staff and the German Consul in Cape Town met with Goold-Adams to exchange views in Bloemfontein, South Africa, regarding this matter. Previously, Goold-Adams had made some good proposals about the exchange of the territory, which were in fact rejected by the British government. The major issue was that the wording of the Treaty signed on 1 July 1890 was to be changed and it was understood by both governments, but to that effect nothing transpired (Fisch, 1999:35-37).

From the time that Northern Rhodesia (present Zambia), sought independence from Britain in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Barotse Native Government were solely in need of an independent statehood. A petition was therefore forwarded to the British Government in September 1961 by the Barotse Native Government. The British opposed subdividing the future Zambia. What the Barotse people wanted was that Barotseland be dismembered from the rest of Zambia, which dismembering was rejected by the British colonizing powers. The interest of the British Government was that the independence of Zambia should include Barotseland (Grotpeter, 1979:21). 

On 1 July 1890, Germany persisted that the land Lyiyeyi (Caprivi Strip), which is the strip of land between the Okavango and the Zambezi be conceded to her. The reason being that Germany might get access from the German colony of South West Africa across the Zambezi to her other colonies in East Africa.

Germany in return gave away her rights in the Sultanate of Zanzibar as well as small territories on the east coast of Africa that belong to Germany in favour of Great Britain. Heligoland was a small militarily strategic island that lied in the German coastal area (Article 11 and 12 of the Treaty of 1890 which became known as the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty) that was ceded to Great Britain in exchange for the Caprivi Strip. 

Immediately after the 1 July 1890 Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty was completed and handed over to Germany; the Lyiyeyi (Caprivi Strip) was now renamed after Count Georg Leo von Caprivi, who was the German Imperial Chancellor from 20 March 1890 to 27 October 1894. He, von Caprivi, in his capacity as Chancellor concluded the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty. Count von Caprivi was born in Berlin on 24 February 1831. He was from a noble family and had a brilliant military career and later held the rank of General. In the war that broke between 1870 and 1871, he was Chief of the General Staff of the 10th Corps and on 20th March 1890, the German Emperor appointed him successor to Imperial Chancellor Bismarck and Prime Minister of Prussia in Europe. 

“The first detailed written description of the boundaries of Bulozi was by the missionary, Francois Coillard, in June 1890, when Lewanika was signing a treaty with Frank Lochner, a representative of the British South Africa Company. Coillard, claiming to define the boundary as described to him by the king and the Indunas, gave the general boundary lines as: “The Mayeye (Mayei) along the Zambezi between that river and the Chobe (present Caprivi); to which we attest.

Prof. Makala Lilemba also argued that the whole region was named Lyiyeyi to which he is contrary by reason of his contemporary history, we wish to point it out to the reader that the whole area as mentioned by C. Tlou, 1980, 1983, and 2002 on the same reading the reader should read together the works of Mainga, 1973:159. The academic is further advised to recall the names of Kazungula (a border between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana and furthermore, Kawedumu (Kaudumu) (a rocky stream), and Ncaude south of Ndonga Linena if these names are not applicable to the Yeyi and the San as the first tribes who earlier came and occupied these areas. The academic should also know that there is no way he can state that the Yeyi are not some of the earlier inhabitants of Africa like the San. The Yeyi and the San are one of the frontrunners of the discovery of the African continent, proof which we have (Stow, 1960: 404). The scholar is making a mistake if history writes itself and not to be rewritten by those who wish to distort its factual representation. No one writes history, but history writes itself. 

* Dr VN Sazita is a senior lecturer at the International University of Management, while Dr SB Lwendo is senior lecturer at the University of Namibia.


Staff Reporter
2019-08-30 08:14:56 | 3 months ago

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