Aug 20, 2020

UNPO Welcomes New Member: Meet Zambesia!

The XV General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization saw the UNPO welcome five new members. The fifth new member to be welcomed was the Movement for the Survival of the River Races of Zambesia. The Zambesi people are very diverse and spread across a number of countries in southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe) between the north of the Kalahari Desert and south of the Zambesi River.

The peoples of Zambesia were first ruled by the Barotse Kingdom. During the colonial period, the peoples of Zambesia came under the British sphere of influence, although they never became a British colony and we largely left to govern themselves. However, after the colonial territories were divided and became independent states, the Zambesi peoples found themselves divided over a number of countries and the peoples are now fragmented, struggling to maintain their own culture. Because the territory of the Zambesi peoples was only a protectorate, the region was never industrially or administratively developed. As a result, the Zambesi peoples never had their own parliament, courts, institutions of higher learning, or even railway tracks, and today the region is poor and underdeveloped.

Cut off from each other, the Zambesi peoples’ identities remain obscure and their culture is slowly being eradicated. They want their fundamental human rights to be respected by the countries they live in. In Namibia, a number of Zambesi people are languishing in prison for “treasonable offences”, which the Movement for the Survival of the River Races of Zambesia considers to be highly unjust.

The UNPO welcomes the membership of the Movement for the Survival of the River Races of Zambesia and looks forward to helping them in their quest for greater recognition and the preservation of their culture.

Watch the welcome speech by leader Ben Sitwala Siyambango