HISTORY OF THE CAPRIVI STRIP
| CAPRIVI STRIP
CAPITAL CITY: Katima Mulilo
AREA:Lower Zambezi valley region, mostly comprising of woodlands and other rivers like; Linyanti, Chobe, Kwandu, Mashi, and Kavango.
LANGUAGES: Silozi, English.
RELIGION: Christianity and traditional beliefs.
Caprivi Strip currently falls under Namibia, but it is a territory that has demarcated borders. It lies about half way between the equator and the Southern tip of Africa and mid way between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The Caprivi Zipfel commonly known as Caprivi Strip shares boarders with Angola in the North West, Botswana in the South, Namibia in the West, and Zambia in the north. Caprivi Zipfel (Strip) and its neighboring countries have natural boundaries such as the river Zambezi, Chobe, Linyanti and Okavango. Katima Mulilo is the Capital of the Caprivi Strip.
Caprivians are traditionally a diverse people who share a common culture. The Caprivi nation comprises of different tribes such as; Mafwe and Masubia. The Mafwe tribe is the largest in the Caprivi Strip as it comprises of the Mafwe,Masubia, Mambukushu, Matotela, Mayeyi, and the Barakwena (Sun people). Originally Caprivians were migrants from Barotseland. The size of Caprivi is about 20 009 km2 and its population is estimated to 250,000 people.
In the Caprivi Strip each ethnic group has its own dialect or language; however, the common and first language is Silozi, also known as Lozi. It is spoken by nearly all the people and is taught in primary and secondary schools.around the territory. English as a second language is also spoken by many people and used for official purposes.The Caprivi nation comprises of two main ethnic groups the Mafwe and Masubia, but under the Mafwe there are dialects like; Mbukushu, Totela, Yeyi, Subia, and Barakwena (Sun people).
The lower Zambezi valley is a floodplain, providing the people of the Caprivi Strip with fertile land. As such, their livelihoods are mostly reliant on wetland and dry land resources. The Caprivi Strip economy is mostly based on combined crop farming, livestock rearing, fishing (there is a belief that if you don’t fish you are not a Caprivian), and natural resource exploitation. The territory remains to be one of the few African countries with many different species of wildlife still found in their natural habitats. Species such as the different antelopes, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, hippopotamus, rhinos, crocodiles etc are to be found in the different woodlands and rivers of the Caprivi Strip. The majority of these animals are found in the three National Parks namely, Mamili, Mudumu and the Western Caprivi.
All these coupled with an abundance of bird life of different species and the country's natural beauty of tall subtropical forests, swamps and rivers which form the territory's natural boundaries will attract more tourists and thus promote tourism industry of the country. The road network in both rural and urban is of poor and bad conditions. In some other areas of the Caprivi there are virtually no roads, where roads do exist they are difficult to drive on. If these roads and air services are properly developed they will play a vital role in the economy of the Caprivi Strip, as they would connect the Caprivi to the entire SADC region.
Owing to the high rainfall and fertile soils, the Caprivi has a high potential for crop production. Currently the only type of farming taking place in the Caprivi is predominantly rural and subsistence in nature, while modern technology has not been employed on a large scale. The potentiality on sectors such as stock farming, poultry, timber, etc, need to be seriously developed. Crops such as maize, millets, sorghum, groundnuts, beans, are produced on a small scale. Animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses etc are reared by subsistence farmers.
Despite the fact that Caprivi is surrounded by perennial rivers only those near rivers have access to river water. The majority of the population in the interior of the country depend on boreholes that are either saline or dried up when the people are still in need of water. This means that farmers have to entirely depend on rainfall for their crops to grow. Also natural resources include timber, oil, diamonds, emeralds, gold, coal, copper, iron and salt.
Caprivi Strip was part of Baroseland even before the colonial influences. Being part of Baroseland Caprivi was obviously under the Lozi Kingdom until the time when the Lozi Empire got involved in a war with the Kololo. When the Kololo defeated the Lozi, the Lozi became part of the Kololo and so was the Caprivi Strip. When the Lozi rebelled against the Kololo, Caprivi became part of the rebellion which overthrew the Kololo Kingdom and the Lozi Kingdom was once again re-established. It was during this time that King Lewanika appointed and mandated Imataa, a member of the Royal family to become his representative as chief of (Linyandi) Caprivi Zipfel (Strip). This is where the Mamili chieftainship started as from 1864 to date. In summary from: 1600-1700 First Lozi Empire; 1820 - 1890 Kololo Empire; 1864-1890 Second Lozi Empire.
The Caprivi had undergone a multitude of administration changes as the summary below indicates: The first change came when the Caprivi which was then part of Baroseland and under the British was exchanged with Hegoland in the Pacific and Zanzibar in the Indian ocean which were then Germany positions and that the Caprivi was named after a German known as Cort Von Caprivi as the Germans wanted Caprivi to have access to the Zambezi as well.
From 1890 Caprivi was annexed to Germany South West Africa; 1914 - 1918 Along with the rest of Germany South West Africa, Caprivi Strip was placed under the British Military Rule. In 1921 - 1929 Administered as part of British Bechuanaland Protectorate. In 1940 - 1981 it was administered by South Africa from Pretoria. In 1981 - 1989 it was under Administration for Caprivians as part of South West Africa Administration. In 1989 – 1990 it was in a transitional period following the Namibian Independence. All these administrative rotation was only applicable to Caprivi Zipfel since it didn't fit in the South West Africa map.
It should be depicted here that, the territory being referred to as Caprivi Strip was formally known as Linyandi. The name Caprivi Zipfel started when the German resident by the name of Hoptiman Streitwolf came to Linyanti in January 1909 and he named the country (Caprivi) after the German Chancellor Von Caprivi.
The political transformation in the Caprivi Strip started as earlier as 1961 by Caprivian Chiefs who wanted to decide their own destiny according to their own vision, after being deprived of their rights, privileges and powers by the colonialists. When South Africa which was illegally occupying Caprivi Strip walked out of the common wealth conference of 1961, South Africa became a Republic on its own on the 31st of May 1961.
The situation in South Africa influenced the people of the Caprivi Strip who eventually latter formed their own political party “the Caprivi African Nation Union (CANU)”in 1963. But the pressure at home in the Caprivi Zipfel forced the CANU leadership to flee into exile in Zambia where they merged with OPO to form SWAPO which was led by Mr. Sam Nujoma to prosecute a common struggle against a common enemy. This political merger took place on the 5th of November 1964 and the conditions were: (1) To fight for the independence of South West Africa and Caprivi to remove the Colonial apartheid regime that was administering both countries. (2) For the people of Caprivi at the attainment of independence to be allowed to decide whether they join Namibia or remain independent.
The signatories to the merger were Mr. Sam Nujoma on behalf of SWAPO and Mr. Mishake Muyongo on behalf of CANU. A new party was inaugurated on the 5th of August 1985, the United Democratic Party (UDP) of Caprivi, which has a constitution, as it was in the former CANU constitution. Its first congress was held in Katima Mulilo on the 26th of August 1985 and every six years thereafter.
THE CURRENT REGIME IN NAMIBIA
The people of Caprivi in the name of United Democratic Party (UDP), in the name of their tradition began to experience problems which up to this moment are sources of the present crisis in the Caprivi. That is Caprivi is a separate entity with its own peculiar characteristics.
In 1990 when independence was proclaimed in Namibia, Caprivians instead of being participants began to be spectators of what was to come. In the same year a Unitary State Constitution was adopted despite our opposition.
In 1991 a resolution was taken by the present regime in Namibia to reduce the number of secondary schools in Caprivi from 23 to 8 Senior Secondary Schools. That laid the foundation for discrimination and marginalization of Caprivians not only in education but all spheres of National life. A program of political resettlement was started in the entire country with the sole purpose of resettling only the Ovambo speaking people in areas like the Caprivi where the government had less support in order to boost its political power and dominate people in both employment opportunities and the elections.
Also due to the abolishment of these schools a demonstration was organized by the people of the Caprivi to protest against the degrading of the education system in the Caprivi Strip, including the appointment of a director of education who was a preacher by training leaving educationalists. The demonstration was violently suppressed by the current regime using the army and paramilitary forces. As a result of the demonstration and to try and pacify the people in Caprivi a commission of enquiry was appointed to report on the grievances concerning the protest and demonstration. The report was prepared and handed to the president of Namibia who never made the report public up to today.
Regional elections took place in 1992 that were organized, run and supervised by the current regime giving the opposition no room to maneuver and the results were obvious at the end of the day. Now since the United Democratic Party was well organized in the Caprivi, the opposition won the control of the Caprivi Strip. It was after elections that serious discrimination in terms of political regions as they are called and political marginalization of tradition in the Caprivi. They withdrew all the benefits and privileges the Chiefs used to get, their renumeration were reduced from N$3000.00 to N$600.00/ vehicles and houses that were allocated to them were withdrawn, privileges of wild game that were allowed per year were totally abolished.
In 1993 because the regime had lost control of the Caprivi Strip, it then introduced a system of divide and rule by forcefully imposing their own appointed traditional leaders who in actual fact were political organizers. They concentrated on trying to destroy the chieftainship of Chief Mamili who is the chief of more than 90% of the population of Caprivi, and where the United Democratic Party derived its majority support. Still the same year 1993 given the political and traditional problems that were created by the current regime, a conference from May 22 to 25 that year was organized to bring about unity of the people in the Caprivi, and a declaration was never respected and still remains just ideas on paper. On the 2nd of August 1993 the government using the Namibian Defense Force, the police, and paramilitary forcefully appointed their own political chief at a place called Sangwali in Chief Mamili's area of jurisdiction. This was before the ink of the declaration dried up.
Also, still in 1993 a very important issue came to the fore and that land was to be grabbed by force from its rightful owners who happened to be people of the Caprivi Strip in the name of their traditional rulers. This land was to be given to a private Egyptian Company then known as Pedico. Caprivian Chiefs and politicians protested strongly against giving away land to this so-called private Egyptian Company. The government believed in forcing matters and a crisis was only averted when the high priest of this company was found wanting in terms of finance.
In 1994 there were parliamentary and presidential elections which were also organized, run and supervised by the government of the day, so much so that, irregularities were experienced and a court case was instituted in the high court by the opposition and eventually the Supreme Court which up to this moment the final decision on this case remains unknown. It should be understood that in present Namibia there is no independent electoral commission to organize, run and supervise elections.
1998 was the year of action, the people of the Caprivi Strip having been marginalized in all spheres of life, decided that the Caprivi has become a colonial hiccup of Namibia and had to be removed in order to provide for the citizens of Caprivi. Firstly a debate was started as to the historical road the Caprivi and its people had taken from time immemorial to the present day and it was found that Caprivi has been a territory, a place, and an entity on its own, with its own people who have their own culture and tradition.
This debate unleashed violet suppression by the present government in Namibia. The San people commonly known as Bushmen were victimized, harassed and some were killed and those who managed to run with their bear lives into Botswana many have scars on their bodies from torture and beatings. They were even refused the so-called drought aid, instead animal fodder was given to them as food. Their cattle have been confiscated and taken to Owamboland in total, so much so that, those San people, few as they may be, had nothing they call their own. Rapping of their women and burning their houses by the Namibian Defense Force and Paramilitary become the order of the day in the western part of Caprivi Strip. The leaders of the party and traditional leaders who championed the cause of the people were to be arrested and possibly to be killed only the quick action on their part to flee into Botswana saved their lives and their supporters, where they are currently living since the end of October 1998.
In 1999 after Caprivians fled into Botswana fighting to liberate themselves from the Namibian oppression and colonialism, the government of Namibia perused into the laws of South West Africa and repealed section 38(5) of the South-West Africa Constitution Act, 1968 (Act No. 39 of 1968) which provided that no Act of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and no Ordinance of the Legislative Assembly of the then Territory of South/West Africa passed on or after the first day of November 1951 would apply in that part of the said Territory that was demarcated and known as the Eastern Caprivi Zipfel (Strip). Later in the years they grabbed Western Caprivi and changed the Caprivi Strip name to Zambezi without the consent of the people, just for political expediency.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS VIOLATED IN THE CAPRIVI
Namibia has a democratic constitution which was adopted and accepted by all Namibians in 1990. For the past twenty five years of independence the constitution of Namibia became a white elephant. This is particularly true of undemocratic government whose constitution is clearly more than "a show case" designed to reassure the outside world that the country is democratically ruled, while in reality it is a democratic constitution on paper and an instrument for attracting foreign donor countries, investors and tourists. The Namibian constitution chapter 3 articles 1 to 25 states clearly of the fundamental human rights and freedoms that need to be respected and protected. Instead the Caprivian people received political humiliation, marginalization, degradation and oppression from the government of Namibia.
Traditionally Chiefs are the custodians of all communal land in the Caprivi, but the Nujoma regime started using the system of divide and rule by trying to divide the people of Caprivi into smaller clans. In all effort to try and grab land from the Caprivian people, in the name of their traditional leaders, the government of Namibia stripped off the powers, privileges and rights of chiefs in the Caprivi as elucidated above.
From 1990 to February 1999 Caprivi was illegally governed by the Namibian government because the laws that were enacted by the Namibian parliament were not applicable to Caprivi as was recently proved by the act of parliament to seek legal powers over the Caprivians. Namibian government knew that laws enacted by their parliament did not apply to Caprivi but still they did not allow Caprivians to exercise their right to decide whether they wanted to be part of Namibia or remain separate as was stated in the merger between CANU of the Caprivi Strip and SWAPO of South West Africa on the 5th of November 1964 in Lusaka, Zambia.
a) LAND OWNERSHIP AND RIGHT TO SELF GOVERNANCE.
Up until 1999, the Caprivi Strip territory was considered an entity on its own with a rich cultural heritage derived from centuries of co-existence and traditions among the many ethnic groups comprising the nation of the Caprivi Strip. However, from 1990 when Namibia attained its independence, the territory has been illegally occupied by Namibia who illegitimatelycontinues to govern the Caprivi Strip as an integral part of the Republic of Namibia. Meanwhile, the people of the Caprivi Strip do not consider themselves as Namibians and wish to enforce their right to self-determination and self-governance.
b) THE CURRENT STAND POINT.
The people of Caprivi after examining the political, social and development situation visa vie they have now resolved that Caprivi Strip was and is an independent territory and that independence will have to be achieved using the political, diplomatic and if necessary, the military option. It is a matter of life and death for the people of the Caprivi Strip, it is them alone that can change the history or re-write their own history and borders. We are appealing to all those peaceful loving people to join us as Caprivians to inform the un-informed and those who know about the Caprivi Strip territory. Our plea is we are our own liberators.
Article: Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge of the Mafwe in a Post –colonial Namibian Curriculum. Dr. Yonah Matemba, John Lilemba. Retrieved 06/12/2015 from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/267449065_Reclaiming_Indigenous_Knowledge_of_Mafwe_in_a_Post-colonial_Namibian_Curriculum
Government of the Republic of South Africa. 1971. “Constitution of the Legislative Council of the Caprivi”, Proclamation R261. Dated 3 December 1971. Government Gazette. South Africa.
Government of the Republic of South Africa. 1976. Constitution of the Legislative Council of the Caprivi – amendment”. Proclamation dated 19 March 1976. Government Gazette. South Africa.
Resume of Events in the Caprivi Strip. Retrieved 06/12/2015 from: http://www.caprivifreedom.com/
Statues of the Republic of South Africa. 1968. Section 38(5) of the South-West Africa Constitution Act, 1968 (Act No. 39 of 1968). Retrieved 06/12/2015 from: http://blogs.loc.gov/law/files/2015/03/Self-Government-for-Natives-Act-of-1968-No.-54.pdf
Source: United Democratic Party (U.D.P.)
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