Design a site like this with
Get started


King Lubosi Lewanika the first (Imutakwandu) Mawaniketwa Nakandambo Lubosi wa Nyambe, was a son of prince Litia Mulambwa. His mother was Inonge, and their marriage was arranged by Mando, his elder brother. He was born in 1842 in Nyengo. The Lozi nobles proclaimed him as the next Litunga soon after the death of his cousin, Mwanawina II.

Lubosi had a twin sister Matauka. Even though princess Matauka came first, the Luyana people like to believe that Lubosi, or Mushondwa being Mulena yo muhulu as Litunga, was older. Hence it is held and believed that between any twins born in Barotseland, one who comes second is older, because he or she is sending her or his younger sibling ahead of him or her, saying; I will find you, I am coming. His younger brother was Wamungungo.

King Lewanika had 44 children altogether, Litia Malikana Yeta III, Yeta twa mona, Muilula being the first male, and his mother was a Subiya woman from across the Zambezi in Sesheke named Ntelamo, or usually known as Ma Litia.

Lubosi twice became the eighteenth king of Barotseland between 1878 and 1884, and then between 1885 and February 1916. Lubosi was dethroned temporarily in a civil war by Ngambela Mataa in September, 1884 who installed Tatila Akufuna. He fled to Mashi and reorganized himself and a year later, in November 1885, he overthrew Tatila Akufuna and regained his kingship. The action of overthrowing Lubosi was rejected by many, especially the Matoka elements of the Naluya clan in the Senanga area. Lubosi also had great support among members of the Mambunda, Masubia, and some other communities. As a result, Lubosi was returned to the throne. Upon regaining the throne, he was given the name Lewanika. This name was given to signify and symbolise his position as a force of unity among all communities. His regiment was Imutakela. His Ngambela was Silumbu Akapelwa. Others who served as his Ngambela included Mwauluka Nasibebo, Mukamba Njekwa, and Mataa-wa-Ndiku.

During his reign, he attended the Coronation Ceremonies of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Westminster Abbey in London in 1902. He was decorated with the medals of King Edward VII in 1902, and King George V in 1911.

He abolished slavery on 16th July, 1906. His other achievements as compiled by Francis Pelekelo;

1. Promoting diplomacy in his Kingdom: Lewanika who was Litunga during the period 1878-1916, rose to prominence not only because of his influential administrative initiatives, but also through the usage of diplomacy applying wealth derived from cattle. To illustrate that the Litunga used cattle wealth in diplomacy to consolidate friendship with the British during the First World War, Gerald L. Caplan observed that the Lozi accumulated some wealth from cattle sales and the same enabled them to raise two hundred pounds Sterling as support to the British government during the First World War.

2. His contribution to the scrabble for Africa: The story of the Barotse nation is a story of an African people and government skilfully addressing the sweeping changes and threats of nineteenth century Africa, on the eve of direct European colonization. This was a challenge faced by Barotseland, even before fully recovering from three decades of Basotho (Makololo) occupation, which the Barotse survived by patience and underground scheming, in wait for the appropriate conditions for striking for freedom. King Lewanika the First successfully addressed the multiple threats at the turn of the eighteenth/nineteenth century. The threats were several. The Portuguese had long been terrorising and destroying Africans on the western borders of Barotseland. Germans, Afrikaners, British, and Amandebele had been bringing wars and colonialism closer and closer to Barotseland. Under his leadership, the Barotse government made a second best option to ally with the British. This was for the protection of Barotseland, and its preservation as an African country and its internal stability, after decades of foreign threats and local in-fighting. This move prevented Barotseland, and, by extension, Zambia, from the European land grabbing that took place south of the Zambezi.

3. His contribution to stopping the Portuguese invasion and making Barotseland a British protectorate: The Barotse nation has played a critical role in the way that history played out in Central South Africa. Some believe that if it was not for the way that Barotse authorities, under King Lewanika the First, handled the influx of white men into the region, Zambia might have become a Portuguese or German or even an Afrikaner colony. In seeking the improvement of the military protection and with the intention to sign a treaty with the British Government, King Lewanika signed on 26 June 1890 the Lochner concession putting Barotseland under the protection of the British South Africa Company. This action alone served Zambia from having political challenges after Independence, which faced many countries which were colonized by the Portuguese such as Angola and Mozambique in 1975.

4. His contribution to building international relations: King Lewanika was one of the Africa Leaders to visit England in 1902 amidst resistance from his Indunas and people. Where he had gone to attend the coronation of King Edward VII. This visit strengthened relations between Barotseland and England.

5. His contributions to African Politics: King Lewanika the First was one of the seven Southern African kings appointed to the political position of honorary presidents of the African Native National Congress of South Africa, at its founding in 1912. The other kings, who made up the Upper House of the Congress, were Dalindyebo of the Thembus (part of AmaXhosa, South Africa), Montsioa of Barolong (Botswana and South Africa), Litsie of Basotho (Lesotho), Khama of BaMangwato (Botswana), Marclane of Amapondo (part of AmaXhosaland, South Africa), Moepi of Bakgatla (Botswana and South Africa), Dinizulu (Kwazulu, South Africa). The Church of Barotseland and Barotse people have long dedicated the last verse of the Barotse National Anthem to him, with the words, Imutakwandu Mulena Muhulu, Mpo ye ne lu ketezwi ki Muhauheli, Ha lu punyuhile, ha lu iketile, Ki Lewanika (Our dear departed grand King, The gift received from the divine giver, That we are saved, that we are at peace, It is due to Lewanika!).

6. His contribution to international treaties: King Lewanika signed a number of treaties for example, on 26 June 1889 he signed a treaty to provide the kingdom international recognition as a State with the British South African Company [BSACo]. After the discovery of diamonds, King Lewanika began trading with Europe. The first trade concession was signed on 27 June 1889 with Harry Ware, in return King Lewanika and his kingdom were to be protected. Ware transferred his concession to Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company. Seeking the improvement of the military protection and with the intention to sign a treaty with the British Government, King Lewanika signed on 26 June 1890 the Lochner concession putting Barotseland under the protection of the British South Africa Company. At that time, there was European administration in Southern Rhodesia, in Nyasaland further East, and the beginnings of European administration in what was then called North-Eastern Rhodesia (centred on Fort Jameson, now Chipata) and also North-Western Rhodesia – basically Barotseland. Later, these two were administratively combined as simply “Northern Rhodesia”, later divided up in five Provinces and Barotseland, which was treated slightly differently from the rest. Later Lewanika protested to London and to Queen Victoria that the BSAC agents had misrepresented the terms of the concession, but his protests fell on deaf ears, and in 1899 the United Kingdom proclaimed a protectorate and governed it as part of Barotziland-North-Western Rhodesia.

7. Digging of canals: Lewanika dug many canals through an assembly called Pizo. Such a ‘Pizo” produced a good number of Canals dug by King Lewanika with his subjects, Canals such as Lyabwa la 12 a canal that was dug for 12 hours, with each man who is assigned to a portion. The Canal is in the South of Lealui Royal Village, Ibolokwa Canal a Canal that was dug by whoever would pass by and he find the King busy at work, he is told to join in hence Ibolokwa means a place that you cannot just by pass where there is a royal activity taking place. Join the men and work then continue your journey later. Mwayowamo Canal the canal dug from Lealui to Mafulo at Limulunga where King Lewanika would move during the flood times. Mwayowamo means who ever swim in the canal once he comes out from the water ‘Kuomboka’ he is spotless clean. Other canals includes Sifula and Namitome.

8. His contribution to Christianity in Zambia: The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) was created in 1965 when churches from several mission and church backgrounds came together. Among them was the Church of Barotseland, which had its origins in the work of the “Paris Evangelical Mission” (PEM) with its mainly French and Swiss missionaries. This mission had been in Lesotho for many years and by the 1870s saw possibilities in working north of the Zambezi with people who, because the population shifts of the 19th century, were familiar with the Sotho language. After expeditions by famous pioneer missionary Francois Coillard to Barotseland, a mission station was established about 80 miles upriver from the Victoria Falls at Old Sesheke (now Mwandi) in 1885. In the following year, Sefula mission was started a further 200 miles upstream near Lealui, the headquarters of Lewanika the Lozi King. In 1892 Lealui Mission Station was opened and most of the PEM’s work was in that general area.

9. His contribution to formal education in Zambia: The earliest school was established at Sefula, Mongu, in the Western Province of the then Northern Rhodesia, in 1887 by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS). From 1886 until 1891 Coillard worked to establish strong mission stations at various locations in Barotseland: Sesheke, Lealui, and Sefula. In an attempt to strengthen his grip on the kingship, Lewanika enlisted Coillard’s assistance in negotiating for a British protectorate to be declared over Barotseland, similar to the one that had recently been extended over neighbouring Bechuanaland.
It should be realized that in seeking B.S.A company protection, Lewanika was also explicitly seeking company assistance in the education of Malozi. Lewanika was anxious to educate and to civilize his people. The BSA Company’s main interest was mineral exploitation though they also succeeded in establishing the first primary school in Northern Rhodesia in 1907 called the Barotse National School [BNS] in Kanyonyo area. This marked the beginning of the recognition, with hindsight, of Primary Education. The colonial office’s aim was to provide education that was relevant, adaptive and responsive to the needs of the people (Kelly, 1999). The school has since produced a number of graduate who contributed to Northern Rhodesia and Zambia’s development agendas.

10. Formalizing dowry [Lobola/Sionda] payment in Barotseland: Around 1900 to 1905 going by the decrees passed by King Lewanika, and his Kuta, it was a standard practice that a young unmarried lady would fetch three [03] heads of cattle, whose composition would be two [02] heifers and a young bull. For a woman who was married before or divorced, a single beast was the standard. Where animals were not available, the equivalent of the specified animals in money terms was acceptable. This is still standard practice up to this day in Barotseland. Except, for a woman who was married before or divorced, the standard now is two [02] beasts.

11. His contribution to promotion of cattle acquisition: The rule of Mawaniketwa Lubosi Lewanika had a lot to do with cattle acquisition and distribution through tribal wars and other social economic functions. The observation was made in England in 1902, when Lewanika saw how organized the British livestock industry was. This was very useful since the Litunga seemed impressed by the livestock practices in Britain. Mutumba Mainga Bull writing on the achievements of Lewanika highlighted the raids in Tongaland and Ila land. The 1882 and 1888 raids were highly successful in terms of cattle brought. Bull noted as follows: In 1888 Lewanika carried another raid (campaign) which lasted five (05) months and advanced as far as Chisekesi in chief Monze’s area in present day Southern Province. That raid yielded 80,000 cattle.

12. His contribution to Kuomboka ceremony: Initially, no Litunga had a permanent capital. It was Lubosi Lewanika I in the colonial period who introduced permanent capitals at Lealui and Lubaci. In the 1930s, Litia Yeta III surveyed the present site of Limulunga and established it as a permanent summer capital of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in 1933. Under the reign of King Lewanika the First, the Ku-Omboka Pageantry became even more formalized and elaborated, exciting part of the Barotse royal and social calendar. Under Yeta the Third, the Ku-Omboka procession started landing at Limulunga, where it continues to land.

During the British South African company’s rule, Lubosi Lewanika I was the Litunga of Barotseland. Throughout Kuomboka, he needed not only to display the familiar symbols of royalty, but also to present new ones which would symbolize his ability to accommodate change and his mastery over it. To this end, Lewanika I welcomed the missionaries in his Kingdom and after 1891, he arranged to learn European boat building techniques. After 1897, he had one Nalikwanda built in the Lozi style of sewn together sections of tree trunks and another in the European style of planks nailed together. This decision was sparked by an incident in which Lewanika I had sought to impress Coillard, one of the missionaries, by inviting him to view the first journey of a new Nalikwanda.

Furthermore, Lewanika I introduced certain kinds of European dress for the Paramount Chief (Litunga) and these, too, became traditional. Today, at the beginning of Kuomboka journey, the Litunga wears a morning suit complete with tails and top hat, while his principal wife wears a dress. The Litunga’s principal wife wears a suit and the Litunga. The Litunga himself wears a British admiral’s uniform which was given to Lewanika I by King Edward VII when he visited England in 1902. This was in recognition of treaties signed between the Lozi people and Queen Victoria of Great Britain. After his visit to England in 1902 where he had gone to attend the coronation of King Edward VII, Lewanika I introduced the liziba and misisi as attire during Kuomboka. Paddlers of royal barges throughout Kuomboka wore the liziba and were stripped to the waist. The misisi which were a colourful version of the French Victorian dresses worn by the wives of the early missionaries were worn especially during Kuomboka by the crowds of royal women who gathered at the harbor to welcome Lewanika I. Thus, misisi became the traditional dress of Lozi women on festive occasions.

13. His contribution to the Barotse throne: Four [04] of King Lewanika the First’s sons and two [02] grandsons became kings of Barotseland.
Four of King Lewanika the First’s sons became kings of Barotseland:

– Yeta the Third: The first son of King Lewanika on the throne was Litia (Yeta III), who was born in 1871 was on the throne between March 1916 and June 1945, and died 1952.
– Imwiko the First: The second son of King Lewanika on the throne was Imasiku Mwanang’ono (Imwiko the First), who was born about 1884, reigned from 1945 to June, 1948.
– Mwanawina the Third: The third son of King Lewanikas was Mwanawina (Mwanawina the Third, Sir Mwanawina Lewanika), who was born in 1890 and reigned from 1948 to 13 November 1968.
– Lewanika the Second: The fourth and last son of King Lewanika on the throne was Mbikusita (King Lewanika the Second, founder president general of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress) who was born in 1905, and ruled from 15th December 1968.
– Furthermore, two of King Lewanika’s grandsons have succeeded to the Barotse throne.
– Yeta the Fourth: The first grandson of King Lewanika on the throne was Ilute Litia Yeta Lewanika. He was the son of Litia Lewanika (Yeta the Third). He was enthroned as Yeta the Fourth in 1977. He passed away on 7 July 2000.
– Imwiko the Second: The second grandson of King Lewanika on the throne is Lubosi Imwiko. He is the son of Mwanan’ono Imasiku Lewanika (Imwiko the First). He was enthroned as Imwiko the Second on 13 October 2000.



Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika (2018). Kuomboka Pageantry Of Barotseland: Barotse People’s Story, Land, And Culture. Barotse National Library, Documentary and Research Service.
Carmody, B. P (1992). Conversion and Jesuit Schooling in Zambia. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Carmody, B (2004). The Evolution of Education in Zambia. Lusaka: Bookworld Publishers.
Kelly, M.J. (1999). The Origins and Development of Education in Zambia: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1996: Lusaka: Image Publishers Ltd.
Mainga, M (1965). ‘The Origin of the Lozi; Some Oral Traditions,’ In E. Stokes and R. Brown
(eds.). The Zambesian Past; Studies in Central African History. London: Manchester University Press.
Mainga, M (1973). Bulozi under the Luyana Kings: Political Evolution and State Formation in
Pre-Colonial Zambia. London: Longman Group Limited.
Sikayomya P. (2013). From A Crisis to a Ceremony: A History of the Kuomboka to 2010: A Dissertation Submitted to the University of Zambia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History. The University Of Zambia.


Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: