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Wim van Binsbergen

State penetration and the Nkoya experience in western Zambia




van Binsbergen, W.M.J., 1986, ‘The post-colonial state, “state penetration?and the Nkoya experience in Central Western Zambia? in: W.M.J. van Binsbergen, F. Reijntjens & G.S.C.M. Hesseling (eds), State and local community in Africa, Brussels: Cahiers du CEDAF, pp. 31-63.

? 1986-2002 Wim van Binsbergen

1. Introduction[1]

Statehood, deriving from either the endogenous dynamics of local political processes, the incorporation of local communities in expanding state systems originating elsewhere, or from a combination of both, is a much more common and much older phenomenon on the African scene than would be suggested by the application of the ‘state penetration?metaphor to political processes at the local level in that continent today. In this chapter I shall contrast two phases in Zambian peasants?attitudes towards the post-colonial Zambian state. One phase, of aloofness and apparent ‘non-penetration? related to the early 1970s; the next phase is that of the much greater ideological and active support for the state state amongst the same people, less than a decade later. At first glance, one might be inclined to interpret the phase of aloofness as a base-line of a process of political incorporation; the changes leading to the next phase would then appear to amount to some sort of increased ‘state penetration? A historical analysis of political structures in Central Western Zambia over a much longer period of time will reveal the spuriousness of such a view, and illuminate contemporary options in the light of collective political experiences that, in this case, have merged with pre-state notions of sacred kingship to articulate a contemporary ethnic identity.

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2. State and local community in Central Western Zambia in the early 1970s[2]

Central Western Zambia, roughly coinciding with the present-day Kaoma (formerly Mankoya) district, is a region the size of Belgium or the Netherlands, and characterized by a considerable ecological, socio-economic and social variety: ranging from the well-watered, wooded and fertile Kafue/Zambezi watershed in the East to the fringes of Kalahari sands in the West; from illiterate fishermen, hunters and subsistence farmers in remote villages to sophisticated managers and civil servants at the district capital and the state-initiated agricultural schemes; from the Nkoya-speakers (with various constituent groups such as the Mashasha, Mbwela, Lukolwe etc.) whose ancestors have inhabited the district from one and a half centuries or more, ?via Lozi (Luyi, Barotse) people who from their homelands along the Zambezi flood-plain have expanded into the district as members of a politically dominant ethnic group since the late 19th century, ?to, finally, Luvale, Luchazi and Chokwe people, mainly first, second or third generation immigrants from Angola, who have flooded Western Zambia since the early decades of this century.

     The district was virtually inaccessible for modern means of transport until, in the 1930s, the Mankoya-Mumbwa all-weather road was built, then reducing the effective distanced to Lusaka (the new colonial capital) to only two or three days or driving. Meanwhile, as an indication of more comprehensive changes, this travelling time has been reduced to scarcely so many hours. Since the early 1970s, an excellent tar road has connected the district capital, also called Kaoma, with Mongu (Western Province’s provincial capital), and with the national capital. In 1973, a proud sign at the Kaoma exit read:

‘Kaoma District ?Granary of Western Province?

And it was true that in terms of cash-crop output the district compared favourably with the other parts of this province, one of the more stagnant provinces in Zambia. This relative agricultural success was largely due to the efforts of peasant and ‘middle?farmers belonging to the newcomer ethnic groups; the Nkoya had, until then, shown less initiative in the way of modern agricultural production.

     In Nkoya villages away from the tar road, the modern state at the time appeared to be rather absent from the surface of rural life. State initiatives in the field of agricultural extension work were viewed with suspicion by the villagers, and met with hardly any positive response. UNIP,[3] the national party, failed to inspire enthusiasm and, with the exception of a few unemployed youths, had little of a local foothold (van Binsbergen 1975). Villagers tended to absent themselves from the 1973 national elections. Ten years after the country gained independence people would still refer to the country’s political centre (Lusaka, the Line of Rail with its towns, industries, mines and large-scale capitalist agriculture) as

‘beyond there, in Zambia?

? thus shockingly reducing the independent state of Zambia to a distant affair of people who were, ethnically, aliens.

     In conversations Nkoya villagers would spontaneously elaborate on the great economic, educational and moral decline their region had seen since independence...: manufactured commodities that has found their way into the village economy (e.g. clothing, blankets, implements, certain foodstuffs) were claimed to have been much cheaper during the colonial period; job opportunities both in Northern Rhodesia (today’s Zambia) and ‘down South? (on the farms, mines and in the urban centres of the then Southern Rhodesia and South Africa) were claimed to have been unlimited, and people would still bitterly complain of the loss of labour migration opportunities due to the closure of the Zambia’s southern border shortly after Independence.

     One could hear people (and not just the elders, but also young adult of both sexes) condemn the modern politics centring on the party and the ballot-box as evil and mercenary: the only politics that seemed to convince them and carry legitimacy in their eyes was that of the neo-traditional chiefs (Nkoya: Mwene, pl. Myene) and their councillors, firmly grounded in the local culture, its symbolism and cosmology. In addition to the state-recognized status of chief (with only a handful of incumbents in the district), a large number of traditional political titles existed, whose incumbents (often headmen at the village or valley level) would likewise be called Mwene, but who beyond the narrow confines of their communities would lack the prestige, let alone the income, that could justify the enormous amount of attention and conflict generated around these traditional titles. As far as the few state-recognized titles were concerned, the villagers could not totally ignore the links between the state and traditional politics: chiefs?royal establishments (Nk.: lukena), consisting of a palace, councillors, retinue, an orchestra[4]) were maintained by means of a 100% state subsidy; moreover, one of the two major Nkoya chiefs, Mwene Kahare, had been a UNIP Trustee for years, and more recently had been appointed in the national House of Chiefs; in the latter context he made frequent trips to the national capital.[5] But however hard people wanted to believe that in this capacity he had a lion’s share in modern government, the miserable state of his palace, his very limited local powers (which since 1966 no longer included judicial powers, for instance), the way he was treated by district officials, and the lack of seizable improvements (roads, clinics, cash income) of their own rural life conditions told them otherwise.

     All economic benefits and all state power seemed to go to other people, especially to the hated Lozi who for about a century had dominate Western Zambia ?to the extent of lending, during most of that period, their ethnic name to that vast area (it was called Barotseland until 1969). The modern state was further perceived as a collection of ethnically alien officers who (expressing themselves in English or Lozi, but not in Nkoya) would arrogantly confront villagers in need of medical treatment or official documents ?or who (occasionally, and rather ineffectively) would try to enforce government prohibitions on local hunting and trade in dried meat and ivory (redefined as poaching and the sale of its illegal proceeds), the collection of firewood (redefined as the illegal felling of trees), or peddling goods without a license. Only in selected domains did the state get the villager’s full support: police and medical officers from the district capital would meet with their eiger assistance when dealing with cases of stealing, physical assault, manslaughter (if by physical violence and not by magical means), insanity and endemic infectuous diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis. In these areas of public life the modern state was considered to rightly discharge some of the functions that were at the root of Wene: the maintaining of social and moral order, as a source of physical well-being. But for most other dealings with the state the villagers did not deviate far from the example set by the Watchtower minority among them, who in theocratic expectation of the Kingdom of Heaven shunned the educational, medical or political traps of some earthly kingdom, be it headed by Blacks of by Whites.[6]

     It would not be difficult to identify, in that situation of the early 1970s, a number of factors explaining this not too a-typical form of ‘imperfect state penetration in the African countryside? On a synchronic plane, and with emphasis on individual perceptions and motivations, one could try to explain the predicament of Nkoya villagers in terms of the forces determining contemporary markets of labour, agricultural produce and bureaucratic support ?all of them perceived to be virtually closed to Nkoya villagers by a combination of geographical distance, lack of education and skills (particularly agricultural and entrepreneurial skills), and lack of access to mass media and decision-making bodies.[7]

Failing to mobilize state power in order to manipulate these market forces for their own interest, the villagers had turned away, playing at ‘uncaptured peasantry?(cf. Hyden 1980; Geschiere 1984), and trying to scratch from their subsistence farming, illegal hunting and rich musical and ritual life such a livelihood and self respect as is denied them in the context of modern life. Or, turn away? Would not the very notion of state penetration suggest that they had never yet really been part of the state, and were they lingering in some limbo of pre-statehood in which the colonial state had found them three quarters of a century earlier...? Such a view could even lead to the hopeful thought that, even if the modern state had as yet failed to penetrate these villages, the time might come when (perhaps as a result of the turning tide of market forces; or, failing these, more determined and stern state action; or, again, as a result of the villagers?own increasing Verelendung) the people would finally ‘see the light and come out of their hiding places??to use a formula of the type cherished by senior Zambian politicians and civil servants. Whereas their situation in the early 1970s seemed to be characterized by the absence of the modern state (which apparently failed to reach out that far), they might one day wholeheartedly partake of its blessings... From their naive statal virginity, through the perhaps painful but necessary defloration of state penetration, the Nkoya peasant communities might yet graduate to the adult delights of state participation. Or, in a more radical version, the state might appear not as a subtle and experienced lover but as a raping satyr, and the image of conjugal bliss of civil participation would distort into the state’s pimping on the local community’s encroachment by capitalism; however, the penetration metaphor (and its implicit complement of statal virginity

     The change was not brought about by factors of a primarily economic nature. In the district itself, the material rewards of civil participation had yet to be reaped ?as they have to this day. And along the Line of Rail employment opportunities for Nkoya migrants were diminishing if anything; in fact, many urban dwellers saw themselves forced to retreat to their rural homes as they could no longer maintain an urban livelihood. The new Nkeyema Tobacco Scheme near the district’s eastern border further boosted the district’s agricultural output as from 1971; but while tenants were recruited from all over Western Zambia, opportunities for Nkoya participation therein remained very limited ?confined, in fact, to a handful of ‘middle? farmers belonging to royal families. Outside the schemes, peasant production did not increase dramatically. The misery of rural life continued as before: lack of transport, of cash, of medical care, occasionally even of food. But now it was tinged with hope and optimism.

     The only real changes that had taken place were of a political and ideological nature. They formed the aftermath of the effective diminishing of Lozi domination (see below), and the corresponding dramatic increase of Nkoya access to modern representative bodies at the district, provincial and particularly (with the election of the first Nkoya Member of Parliament in 1973) the national level. Significantly, in a district that for years had been the distant constituency of the Southern Province politician Mwainza Chona (then Vice-President of Zambia), certain Nkoya candidates for the Kaoma District Council did not have to run for office but were nominated directly by the State President. Their office came to carry real power, also at the grass-roots level, where they became involved in Ward Development Committees (through which the state allocated for instance agricultural credit), Village Productivity Committees, and party branches. This handful of political New Men (several of whom were Women) became powerful organizers of UNIP, and the first effective brokers between the modern state and Nkoya villagers ?a role the Myene had been expected to play but never did in a more than half-hearted and ineffective manner.

     But their relation to the Myene was more complex than one of simple substitution. Mobilization along regional lines has been a dominant feature of Zambian post-Independence politics, and the peculiar ethnic composition and ethnic history of Kaoma district (with Lozi and particularly Luvale dominating the party at the district level), left the New Men no choice but to narrow down their regional appeal in terms of Nkoya ethnicity. Thus in the 1973 general elections, that were to be a turning point in Nkoya attitudes to the national state, the successful candidate identified as Nkoya, as against his two contenders, one Luvale and one Mbunda. But what is more: very close association with traditional chiefs appeared, in all cases, a condition for success. Little of the antagonism that has so often characterized the relations between chiefs and local New Men elsewhere in the Zambian context, could be detected here. The former counted Myene and prominent chief’s councillors among their closest kin. They conducted their local campaigns from the lukenas, and towards these traditional office-bearers meticulously observed the many rules of court etiquette that come natural to any Nkoya but that had never before been put to practice by any representative of the central state. Not only in front of villagers, but also in the representative bodies of district and provincial government they advocated an increase of Nkoya chiefs?subsidies, and the restoration of certain Nkoya chiefly titles (foremost the Shakalongo title) that had failed to receive state recognition in the colonial period.[8]

     In other words, the New Men seemed to realize that they could only aspire to successful brokerage between Nkoya peasants and the state, if they narrowed their ethnic claims further down to a point where they virtually became the modern, junior representatives of the chiefs. They were versed in modern state structures, and on that side their legitimation consisted in such bureaucratic authority as derives from modern constitutional and administrative procedures. But at the same time, towards the villagers they had to be legitimated by the only source of political authority that Nkoya society recognizes: the institution of chieftainship (Wene). For close to a century, the political history of the humiliation and powerlessness of Nkoya villagers has centred on the humiliation and powerlessness of their traditional rulers, under conditions both precolonial and colonial. A revival of Nkoya society was to find a political expression, since locally its downfall was primarily perceived in political terms. It was not as if the modern state could not penetrate before, but as if now for the first time relations with that state offered spoils that so far had seemed to be utterly out of reach: a restoration of local political forms in which the Nkoya had invested not only their total conception of social order, but also their self respect. The modern state could be accepted and positively embraced, if that process included an affirmation of a much older, local form of political organization, of which the latterday Myene were the focus and the heirs. This break-through in the mid-1970s could bring the Nkoya to revise their attitude towards the modern state, because it finally allowed them to take a distance from, and to redress, their experiences with earlier situations of statehood. Thus the changes that took place in the course of the 1970s did not consist in a transition from pre-statehood to modernity through ‘state penetration? but constituted a gradual transformation (lagging a few years behind the more tangible political events that enabled it in the first place), allowing the Nkoya villagers to review their earlier denunciation of the modern state, to re-establish continuity with a traditional form of statehood that formed the essence of their historical identity, and to strike a new balance (through the New Men) between their own old state structures, and the new Zambian one.

     Two issues are, then, at the back of this political process we might only most superficially describe as ‘state penetration? First, we ought to take a closer look at Nkoya precolonial states in their endogenous dynamics. Secondly, we have to consider a process of political incorporation that, far from starting in the 1970s, in fact has a history of at least a century; of this sustained and complex process, both the apparent rejection in the early 1970s, and the more positive state participation of the late 1970s, are but temporary options realized in the course of the prolonged and cumulative Nkoya experience with statehood.

3. Nkoya Precolonial States

Precolonial Nkoya states emerged as a transformation of a pre-state pattern of sacred kingship (Wene). In an early wave of migration from Southern Zaire, perhaps around the middle of the present millennium, Wene was established on the Upper Zambezi by members of a matrilineage which much later, probably in the late eighteenth century, was to produce the Nkoya heads of states. The pre-state Myene were not political leaders but land priests, whose special links with the natural environment ?as central figures in an all-encompassing cosmological and symbolic system ?allowed them to assume coordinating and redistributive tasks in the local relations of production, which hinged on hunting, fishing, collecting and some limited agriculture, and which were largely structured by clanship. (cf. van Binsbergen 1985b and in press).

     Likota lya Bankoya, a large collection of Nkoya oral traditions (Shimunika, in press), tells us how Wene was put to a decisive test at the time of the Humbu[9] war:

The Humbu war was the first war the Nkoya fought against other tribes. This war started when the Humbu wanted the Nkoya Mwene and his people to be circumcised. When the Nkoya people refused this the war started. (...) The Humbu came from Mwantiyavwa and they wanted to kill all the Nkoya Myene. The Humbu invaded Nkoyaland and killed most Nkoya people from the Kasheta clan, including female Mwene Shilayi Mashiku and many other Myene, both male and female. When the war became very fierce Mwana Mwene [Prince] Luhamba and his sister Katete Mashiku ran away and went to hide in the village of the Kambunze clan. (...) The war went on and the Nkoya defeated the Humbu. The latter declared that they had not wanted to fight against all the Nkoya but only against the Kasheta of Luhamba lya [the son of] Shilayi.

It is very unlikely that by this time the group under Humbu attack already identified as Nkoya as it does today (cf. van Binsbergen 1985a); probably they were still known as Mbwela.

     Although the ‘Nkoya?are claimed to have come out victorious, the Humbu war brought home the great vulnerability of their underdeveloped socio-political system in the face of military attack. Also, many Myene (apparently not all of them female: circumcision in this part of Africa is an exclusively male affair) are said to have been killed. The Humbu war is a watershed in Nkoya history: it marks the emergence of fully-fledged states. For whereas Wene is already described for an earlier period, it is only with reference to periods after that war that all the characteristics of Nkoya states appear in the traditions.

     They trace the emergence of male leadership, and its taking on secular and military overtones, to this dramatic event. For the early decades of the nineteenth century, female leaders are still reported, male rulers?close ties of descent and affinity with the female leaders of an earlier stage are still emphasized, and these men’s sisters (likewise called Mwene), occupy such prominence in the accounts that one gets the impression that the brothers can only rule on their sisters?behalf (and sometimes hardly with the latter’s blessing).[10] Whereas this lack of clarity in the definition of political competence between siblings in one generation was subsequently to be decided to the advantage of males, a more lasting vagueness attended the transfer of political office. In principle, an adelphic system was followed: all siblings of a generation succeeding each other until that generation is exhausted and the eldest sibling of a new generation takes over. The ramifications of classificatory and (with regard to joking relationships between clans) fictitious kinship spread so widely that succession amounted to the selection, by a council of elders, of a suitable candidate from among a rather numerous pool of possible incumbents ?members of a predecessor’s consanguinean kindred in the widest sense of the word.[11]

     With reference to the period after the Humbu war, the traditions being to make mention of what until today constitutes the central characteristics of a Nkoya royal court: the royal village, distinguished from other villages by a generic name (lukena), a peculiar appearance and spatial arrangement (a reed fence supported by pointed poles), and regalia reserved to Myene: the mpande ?a shell ornament ? and besides primarily musical instruments: xylophones, iron bells, and various types of drums. So much did the lukena become the spatial expression of this apparently new style of leadership, that upon a ruler’s death the lukena became the royal grave: it was deserted and left to be swallowed by the forest, while the successor (who could not risk contamination with the predecessor’s death) sets out to construct a new, specifically named lukena elsewhere, typically at a distance of scores of kilometers.

     As a verbal emblem of a ruler’s individual identity, the lukena was complemented by a ruler’s praise-name (lizina lya litanga), many of which have been well preserved by tradition; their archaic and dense language contains in a nutshell a wealth of historical information.[12]

     The movable regalia were symbols not so much of an individual ruler, but of a royal name, a dynasty, and the state as a whole. As such these paraphernalia inspired awe and fear in subjects and enemies, and human sacrifices were made to them; their capture by enemies spelled doom for the dynasty involved and is a cause of ethnic shame to this very day.

     The lukena was in the first place the dwelling of the immediate royal kin. Gradually, however, the lukenas became peopled with other functionaries. The offices of royal musician and praise-singer (with connotations of low status, if not slavery) can be taken for granted from as soon as the royal instruments appear on the scene. The office of Mwanashihemi (Principal Councillor, the Mwene’s spokesmen in front of the people, and emphatically a non-royal) is first mentioned in a context referring to the mid-19th century. Moreover, throughout that century selected male rulers are reported to have divided up their territory over their male kinsmen, who served them as councillors and territorial representatives (silolo). These offices, of an obvious political and military nature, were complemented by those of the court priests (banga), and the ruler’s much-feared secret executioners (tupondwa).

     The set-up is reminiscent of Lunda court arrangements (cf. Vansina 1966; Hoover 1980; Papstein 1978), although the principal structural features of these courts according to Schecter (1980: vi-vii), were hardly developed among the Nkoya: perpetual kinship, and positional succession. It is very likely that the virtual absence of these features had a negative influence on the political survival of the Nkoya states: their structure remained brittle and fragmented. Moreover their emphasis on consensual democratic procedures repeatedly checked such autocratic tendencies as certain Nkoya Myene displayed in the course of the nineteenth century, and which, if they had been allowed to persist, might have given rise to more enduring state structures or a wider geographical scope. Instead, the nineteenth-century history of the lukenas is full of cases of regicide, impeachment, abdication, of Myene who had lost their subjects? support.

     Neither can the central Nkoya regalia be characterized as Lunda in the narrower sense. Nkoya Myene did and do possess some of the more strictly Lunda paraphernalia (cf. Papstein 1978: 91, 104, 137), such as the chimbuya (a miniature battle-axe), the mukwale (the double broadsword) and the muchamo (crown), but they have lacked the central Lunda symbol of kingship: the lukano (a bracelet of human penises and sinews). However, it is the mpande and the musical instruments, much more than the Lunda paraphernalia, that dominate Nkoya royal symbolism and ceremonial, and as such the Nkoya paraphernalia largely belong to a series that has a much wider distribution over South Central Africa than have the Lunda items.

     However, Lunda connotations can be detected in the pattern of ritual separation between ruler and subjects among the Nkoya, which to this day is reflected in a great many taboos and observances surrounding Wene. For instance, Myene are reported to have tried cases in their lukenas; the Mwene would remain in the inner recesses of the palace, and the councillors, with the Mwanashihemi in the chair, would try the case up to the final verdict, which was to be the Mwene’s, but communicated to the public by Mwanashihemi.

     The court priests were in charge of the royal medicine without which no Mwene could hope to survive the attacks (through both physical and magical means) that rivals and enemies would level against the ruler, the latter’s life and fertility . The priests would also be in charge of the shrine inside the royal village (the place where a new incumbent would be enthroned upon selection), and would make regular offerings at the more distant burial shrines of the dynastic ancestors. Powers over the natural environment were claimed for the latter shrines, in such a way that the earlier, pre-state cult of the land, at the clan level, was supplanted by a royal cult venerating deceased members of the one royal clan.[13]

     The new style of Wene (male, violent, dynastic, formally organized: Wene in a context of statehood) sought to find ideological support by such ‘ecological?claims, but even more so by the terror and violence, both manifest (as through the actions of the tupondwa) and symbolic, that surrounded Wene: human sacrifices to the lukena’s fence, to the drums, and at the occasion of a Mwene’s burial; royal medicine procured from hideous magical substances including human brains; head-hunting, so that the Mwene and his courtiers could drink from human skulls; notions of Myene’s incomparable skills of trickery and magic (malele), including invisibility and travelling through the air... Although still the incarnation of the cosmological order of the pre-state period, and as such the embodiment of all that is positive and ideal in Humanity, a Janus image seems to have been added to this ideal: the Mwene, guardian of morality and sociability, at the same time became the greatest sorcerer, the greatest evildoer, of all. The institution of Wene developed from an idiom of ecological concern into an idiom of societal power. It is this redefinition that allowed the older institu­tion of Wene to become the focus of states.[14]

     Along with these male-centred ideological props for statehood, we see the political and ideological discrediting of women. From the second half of the nineteenth century onwards the sources portray female royals no longer as protagonists but[15] as mere pawns in male exploits of war and diplomacy, causing trouble and creating divisiveness between individual men and between peoples. The movable regalia develop into objects of an exclusively male connotation.

     Also slaves begin to be mentioned, not only in a context of pawnship for the indemnity of manslaughter, but (perhaps as a perversion of this well-known institution throughout South Central Africa (cf Douglas 1964; Roberts 1976) particularly as commodities to be traded for beads, bangles, chief’s ornamental shells, cloth, cooking pots, and (more typically towards the end of the nineteenth century) guns and ammunition. While the contemporary stigma of slave descent led to a repression of this topic in the area’s formal court traditions, less official family histories I collected make it clear that slaves made up a considerable proportion of the lukena population. Along with tribute (ntupu) in the form of foodstuffs, skins and ivory brought in by subject peasant communities, slaves resident at the lukena produced a large proportion of the court’s day-to-day material requirements. Female royals would often marry slaves; the issue of such a marriage would be irrevocably be tied to the maternal lukena, with none of the residential optionality between matrilateral and patrilateral relatives that has been such a dominant feature in the area’s social organization. Through their matrilateral ties with the Mwene-ship slaves could occasionally accede to a senior political position themselves; this, however, does not seem to have redeemed the connotations of low status that have clinged to both slaves and their offspring.

     Did this socio-political system amount to statehood? Students of the ‘Early State?in Africa would not hesitate to answer this question affirmatively: many of the recurrent themes of African precolonial states are manifest here, from prominent female royals to the ecological connotations of the royal cult, from ritual separation between ruler and subjects to slavery (cf. Claessen 1981, 1984).

     But how many Nkoya states were there? As soon as one lukena has been reported, there have been more than one simultaneously (cf. diagram 1). Female royals, Royal Escorts, and other prominent members of the royal families built their own lukenas, which were centres of factional conflict. While this could still be seen as antagonistic elements with in basically the same state, really distinct states emerged as the area’s original dynastic stock (all tracing descent to the legendary Mwene Libupe) split up, in the early nineteenth century, into four main branches, which in the course of that century came to be associated with the royal titles of Mutondo, Kahare, Momba and Kabulwebulwe, respectively. Of these, the Mutondo dynastic line mainly occupied the present-day Kaoma district during most of the nineteenth century. The Kahare line was initially associated with the present-day Mongu and Lukulu districts, from there moved to the present-day Kasempa district during the reign of Shihoka Nalinanga, only to move south again, to the Kafue-Zambezi watershed near the headwaters of the Lwena River, in c. 1880. The Kabulwebulwe line is associated with the Kafue River and the Western part of Mumbwa district, and the Momba line settled far south (see diagram 1). Between these four main courts relations of diplomacy, marriage, sanctuary, extradition, dynastic arbitration and occasionally[16] succession existed. No tributary relations nor instances of military assistance between these courts are recorded, although nineteenth century accounts are full of military exploits. Thus when the Mutondo lukena (whose system of marital law was, incidentally, for some time very different from that of the other Nkoya states ?another indication of autonomy) was ransacked by the Kololo,[17] and its royal members led away in captivity, the Kahare lukena of Mwene Shikanda did not rush to their assistance. Likewise, when Mwene Kahare Kabimba was chased by invading Yeke, his wanderings brought him within earshot of the royal drums of Mwene Mutondo Shinkisha; but rather than invoking this kinsman’s support, Kabimba turned back and allowed himself to be killed and flayed by his pursuers. The four polities centring on the four royal titles appear to have acted as independent states vis-a-vis one another and the outside world.

     But if they were independent states with only a common cultural and linguistic background,[18] they were very weak ones, lacking, as we have seen, the organizational arrangements that cemented the more successful states surrounding them, including the Lozi state. The plurality of Nkoya lukenas points to a fundamental problem: the Mwene’s monopoly to royal status had only a weak constitutional, institutional and ritual basis, and had to find additional support in such social power as derived from military exploits, a political following, diplomatic links with neighbouring states. Rivalry and fissiparous tendencies were at the heart of the royal families, as is the case throughout South Central Africa; but among the Nkoya they were less effectively counterbalanced by ideological and organizational means. The four royal titles were soon nothing but emblems chosen by a particular incumbent when defining his or her praise-name at the moment of accession. All incumbents would select such an emblem, and all sought to establish, by their deeds, a new title that would become permanent through the generations. Within the seed-bed of the four dynastic clusters ?each roughly associated with a well-described part of Western Zambia ? many royal kinsmen tried to build titles, lukenas, in short a royal status, for themselves: on the basis of a common socio-political culture, yet aspiring to autonomy. The economic basis for this was partly offered by the exploitative nature of the tributary relation between a lukena and village communities in the wider environment ?but an additional basis was offered by opportunities for raiding (for cattle and slaves) and the long-distance trade: the region formed a meeting ground where the trade routes to the Atlantic Ocean faded into that to the Indian Ocean, and especially as from c. 1800 long-distance trade had a considerable impact. These economic relations allowed for the emergence of entrepreneurs who aspired to convert their economic success into the more lasting and honourable achievement of a royal title, with all the trimmings (in the way of a lukena, regalia, a royal orchestra, royal rights over Nature) of the local political culture. Thus ascription, on the basis of the ancient but recently transformed model of Wene, was not the only side of political leadership: entrepreneurial Big Man (only occasionally female) was the other side, and just as Big Men aspired to be rulers, rulers sought to use their ascriptitious political status for economic activities.[19]

     Out of this turmoil of waxing and waning political and economic power positions, the four main dynastic titles, emerged in a much more accidental fashion than the latterday stability of and permanence of this fourfold partition in the colonial period would suggest.

A good illustration of the vicissitudes involved would be the history of the Kahare title after Mwene Kabimba. When he had been killed, his lukena destroyed and his people dispersed all over the southern part of the region, his son Muyani and sister’s son Kalumpiteka settled in the present-day Namwala district (at Isalama), among Lubanda (i.e. Ila) people with whom their family had kinship ties. Muyani apparently gave up all aspirations to ruler status. Kalumpiteka however tried to impose himself as a ruler over the local population, but failed and got killed in the process ?significantly in an incident in which he claimed the habitual royal rights over local fishing pools. Kalumpiteka’s sister’s sons, headed by Shambanjo, then sought sanctuary at the lukena of their kinswoman Mwene Luwimbo Shakalongo, about hundred kilometers to the South West of their residence. From here Shambanjo sought to revenge his mother’s brother Kalumpiteka. The attempt brought him in conflict with Mwene Kayingu, whose lukena in the Hook of the Kafue River was then a major connection between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean trade route. Shambanjo’s successful participation in the trade circuit is clear from the fact that he was redeemed with Mwene Kayingu by the payment of a gun and a slave. Still without Mwene status, Shambanjo offered his military support to the Lozi Litunga (ruler) Lewanika (1878-84, 1886-1916) in the latter’s great cattle-raiding campaigns against the Ila (1878, 1882, 1888). With an atrocity for which he is still well-known in local traditions, Shambanjo took his revenge. And it was only on the strength of Lewanika’s protection (part of the raided Ila cattle was entrusted to Shamamano) that the latter managed to have Mwene Shakalongo install him as Mwene Kahare Shamamano, after the Kahare title had been dormant for several decades. He built his lukena at the Yange river near the Kafue/Zambezi watershed. And it was with the title of Mwene Kahare that he became incorporated in the Lozi state and thus in the colonial administration at the turn of the century.

5. The Nkoya Experience of External Political Incorporation, 1860-1978

Shambanjo’s exploits are not an exception in an otherwise stable and well-defined political arena, but are rather typical of the fact that the state-like political structure of the region was still very much going through a formative period. There is no telling where this process would have led had it been allowed to settle on its own impetus. However, for the development of these states only a short time span was available: the process was effectively checked by the expansion of other, more successful states outside the region, ultimately including the colonial state. This is already clear from the repeated reference, above, to these other states ?that of the Lunda to the North (with various offshoots on the Upper Zambezi), Kololo/Lozi to the West and South, Kaonde states to the North West, and Mwengwa Msidi’s Yeke state to the North. Another powerful influence was that of raids from Lobengula’s Ndebele state to the South ?a rival of the Lozi in the competition over Ila cattle, and thus an important cause of Lozi eastward expansion across and beyond the Nkoya region. Ndebele influence did make itself feel in the eastern fringe of that region (the Hook of the Kafue), and so did the Chikunda states that emerged on the Lower Zambezi as a result of Portuguese activities. Documentary evidence describes the Hook in the later nineteenth century as a refuge where a fragmented and ethnically heterogeneous immigrant population has stranded on the run for Ndebele, Chikunda and Yeke violence, and where trading lords in inaccessible lukenas (including the well-known Lenje ruler Chitanda, but also Mwene Kabulwebulwe and his senior councillors, e.g. Mwene Kapandula) tried to exploit the slave trade and shape political power out of it. It is difficult to make out whether here we still witness phases of the original process of state formation in the region (as I would suggest), or already[20] the reverse process of statal decline. Whatever the case, the combined effects of the encroachment of precolonial states and the colonial state from outside the region checked the local formation of Nkoya states entirely, and reduced existing political structures to incapsulated, neo-traditional fossils. Dynastic processes, hitherto based on a combination of ascription and achievement, became frozen as a result of this incorporation, and the titles of Kahare, Mutondo, Momba and Kabulwebulwe (rather accidental and ephemeral condensation points of a political system in flux) came to represent fixed administrative arrangements within a wider state apparatus, reducing the bearers of these titles to dependent office-bearers, whose powers were static and limited when viewed in the totality of the encroaching wider state, but who nevertheless far surpassed the other Nkoya titles who even lacked such formal incapsulation.

     The major incorporating agent prior to the colonial state was the Lozi state. As we have seen, already during the Kololo occupation the Mutondo lukena had been ransacked c. 1860; after the eviction of the Kololo and the restoration of the Lozi dynasty, Lozi-Nkoya patterns of overlordship were perpetuated, and further extended to other titles such as Kahare’s. Although the extent and the nature of precolonial Lozi control over the Nkoya states remains an issue of heated debate among Nkoya today, it is abundantly clear from the combined evidence of oral and documentary sources that by the last decade of the nineteenth century the Lozi state effectively controlled constitutional and economic processes in the Nkoya states and that the two most prominent Nkoya titles, Kahare and Mutondo, had become incorporated into the Lozi state apparatus.

     However, the Lozi state’s influence among the Nkoya was still to increase when that state was redefined in neo-traditional terms with the advent of the colonial state.

     Colonial policy strove to consolidate and streamline the many-sided pre-existing forms of political authority, forcing them in a rather uniform strait-jacket, with such elements as state recognition, subsidies, fixed territorial ‘chief’s areas?of jurisdiction and authority, fixed (if not undisputed) lines of seniority and succession between ‘chiefs?(as the incapsulated neo-traditional rulers were invariably called), and subservience to the colonial state (cf. Apthorpe 1959). For decades, colonial officers throughout Northern Rhodesia spent much of their time on the often highly artificial codification and formalization of these patterns of traditional political organization, and time and again intervened in succession disputes, conflicts over chiefly seniority etc., as for instance the District Notebooks and District correspondence files in the Zambia National Archives amply demonstrate. Clay’s (1946) History of the Mankoya district resulted from such an exercise. Nor was the exercise wholly limited to bureaucrats, as Gluckman’s (1943) early work on the Lozi indigenous administration shows.

     This process of colonial incorporation raised some precolonial rulers to positions of unprecedented splendour ?with Litunga Lewanika, and his successors, as the most obvious case, even long before Indirect Rule became the general British policy. Lewanika’s state had been described in many books and articles prior to the imposition of colonial rule. In the final quarter of the nineteenth century it was a centre of precolonial missionary and European trading activities. It provided an apt condensation point for the European illusion of the splendid ‘Sudanic kingdom?in British Central Africa. Lewanika not only fitted European imagination, but European administrative, political and economic interests. He was one of the very few Zambian rulers with whom formal agreements and concessions had been signed, and these formal justifications of colonial expansion in this part of Africa would stretch all the further, the more Lewanika was depicted as eminently powerful and effectively ruling over an impossibly large kingdom ?particularly over those distant areas (hundreds of kilometers away from his capital, and clearly outside his sphere of influence) where rich mineral deposits were being discovered: the basis of Zambia’s relative industrial wealth in later years. While the Lozi precolonial state and its ruler was thus raised to artificial heights, other political structures in the neighbourhood of Barotseland had to pass under the yoke. Various shades of statelessness, independence, diplomacy, occasional raiding activities, trading networks, tributary relations and internal colonization were all forced into the formula of ‘Barotse subject tribes? extending all over the Western lob of Zambia. This story has often been told and re-assessed.[21]

     In the process of accommodation to the colonial state the Lozi state gradually had to give up part of its initial privileges, both territorially and in terms of revenue; and many peripheral groups, such as the Tonga, Ila, Kaonde and Luvale, in the 1910s-1940s managed to escape from Lozi overlordship as reinforced by the colonial state. The Nkoya however did not, and in fact each time the powers of the Litunga and his aristocracy suffered a blow, Lozi overlordship on the Nkoya if anything became more articulate. For the Nkoya, the coup-de-grace was the establishment, in the mid-1930s, of the Mankoya Native Authority at Naliele (near the Mankoya boma [22]), by which move both the newly created Mankoya Native Treasure and the Mankoya Appeal Court came under the direction of a Lozi prince, a senior member of the Lozi royal family and (in the Lozi system of positional succession) only a few steps away from succession to the Lozi paramountcy.

     Throughout the colonial period, the colonial state allowed the Lozi ‘indigenous administration?a fair measure of autonomy in dealing with the ‘subject tribes? including the Nkoya. Thus the Lozi, more than the colonial administration, became the Nkoya’s main perceived enemies, who humiliated (particularly through the actions of Lozi representative chiefs ?indunas ? in the Nkoya region), dethroned, exiled, and allegedly even poisoned, the various major Nkoya Myene at the time. These events distressed the Nkoya much more than the continuing immigration of both Lozi and Angolans into their region: in this sparsely population region, with its culture of hunters and shifting cultivators, territorial notions were and are little developed, and it was considered beneath a person’s dignity to quarrel over land. Colonial officers at the district level could keep up appearances of neutrality ?to the extent that time and again Nkoya Myene solicited the support of these officers when seeking redress for grievances suffered at the hands of the Litunga. For instance, in 1933 Mwene Kahare Timuna (who a decade earlier had had serious trouble with the Litunga; cf. Gluckman 1968) implored the District Commissioner, Mankoya, to intervene on his behave with the Litunga to return the Nkoya royal drums, i.e. the main regalia and central symbols of political autonomy, which the Kololo had taken to the Lozi capital and had never been returned. Of course, the request was in vain. A further indication of the neutral attitude vis-a-vis the colonial state may be that, in the 1930s, the same chief under the aegis of the colonial state made a tour along the urban places of work of Nkoya labour migrants, exhorting their continuing support of both colonial and traditional authorities. While strictly political expressions of discontent were rare during most of the colonial period, it is significant that Watchtower preaching in the district in the 1930s and 1940s, with its emphasis on witchcraft eradication and the establishment of a totally new, millenarian social order, was very vocally anti-Lozi and anti-Litunga, and for that reason was effectively squashed not so much by the colonial state but by the Lozi administration; Nkoya chiefs initially sympathizing with the Watchtower activists were threatened with demotion, and backed out. The extent to which strictly political expression of local political grievance was blocked by the combined effects of both Lozi and colonial domination can also be gauged from a new wave of witchcraft cases that struck the district in the 1950s: a self-destructive retreat into obscurantism that was excessive even for late-colonial Northern Rhodesia as a whole (cf. Reynolds 1963).

     The rising tide of Independence politics throughout the Northern Rhodesian territory in the late 1950s kindled, among the Nkoya, hopes not so much of shaking off a colonial yoke they little perceived as such, but of putting an end to Lozi domination. In the late 1950s, the creation of an ANC branch in Mankoya was still prohibited by reference to the threat of Nkoya separatism that it might pose ?for the Lozi administration, and not of course for the national state, whose borders were nowhere near the Nkoya region (Mulford 1967). The prohibition failed to check nationalist politics in the region. However, soon a dilemma posed itself that was to keep the Nkoya divided for fifteen years or more:[23] on the national level, UNIP soon turned out to be the political force of the future, leaving far behind the ANC from which it had sprung; but then, Lozi politicians like the Wina brothers occupied such conspicuous positions within UNIP that this party could not form a likely steppingstone for the political aspirations of the Nkoya people. The personal ceremonial prices that some individuals, like Mwene Kahare Kabambi, gained in the general rallying process around UNIP, could not prevent that many Nkoya came to support the ANC minority option, and that, with the increasing defeat of ANC in the post-colonial political arena (e.g. a Nkoya parliamentary candidate was defeated on an ANC ticket in the 1968 general elections), the hopes they had initially derived from the nationalist movement more and more gave way to disenchantment vis-a-vis the independent state and its political process. A crucial factor in this respect was the fact that the central government of Zambia curbed opportunities of labour migration to the South in such a way as to cut off a vital source of cash for the whole of rural Western Zambia, Lozi and Nkoya alike.

     In this disenchantment, traditionalist political and cultural notions offered a regressive retreat that could easily be mistaken for an unadulterated persistence of precolonial socio-political structures. But at the time, most adult male Nkoya had had, as labour migrants, years of experience with modern political and economic conditions; modern education and Christianity had made significant inroads. Aloofness vis-a-vis the modern state could not have been an unadulterated persistence of ancient structures (a case of non-penetration) ?it is an option within a modern framework (a case of rejection).

     The great break-through was to come not from any specific development of Lozi-Nkoya relations at the district or provincial level, but from a shift in political relations at the national level. In the late 1960s, UNIP politics had condensed around four major regional factions, very roughly coinciding with the ‘neo?ethnic labels of Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi and Tonga (cf. Molteno 1974). The Lozi element continued to lean heavily on such substantial remains of the Lozi indigenous administration as the Barotse Agreement of 1964 had left intact ?to the increasing irritation of President Kaunda, whose conception of the modern Zambian state proved irreconcilable with the royal presumptions of Litunga ship and its ethnic if not secessionist connotations, and who besides found himself challenged by new alternatives to UNIP and international threats. In the years 1967-1971, the Lozi faction was neutralized at the national level; meanwhile, in 1969 in a dramatic action well described by Caplan (1970), its ethnico-regional basis was assaulted by Kaunda dismantling the Litunga ship, depriving its of most of its remaining privileges, and, to boot, altering major Western Zambian place names with ethnic connotations, such as Barotseland (and, ironically, Mankoya).

     While thus an essential reason for Nkoya non-participation in the national Zambian state was removed, the episode also constituted a significant step towards the ‘one-party participatory democracy? After a brief transitory period of distrust and limited violence between UNIP and ANC, the latter amalgamated into its much stronger offshoot, UNIP, so effectively (after a short conflictive transitory period) that certain earlier contenders for political office on a ANC ticket, now became fully acceptable UNIP candidates ?and occasionally saw their earlier hopes come true, as was the case with the first Nkoya Member of Parliament, finally victorious in the 1973 general elections.

     Because the successful Nkoya candidates could and did associate with the Myene, they managed, for the first time, to create a direct and vital linkage between the incapsulated Nkoya states and the modern state. The energy that had hitherto been invested in ethnic and traditionalist retreat and entrenchment (and the above summary of Nkoya political history makes it clear why such entrenchment would have to focus on the institution of Wene), could now begin to flow through state and party lines.

     What we have here is a case of attempted self-reconstruction of a rural society in which a modern political idiom, via brokers, manages to link up with the local socio-political system as supported by the local symbolism and cosmology. In the light of my analysis of the Lumpa rising (a case of societal reconstruction where such linkage proved impossible) one would wonder if, among the contemporary Nkoya, Watchtower did not offer an alternative solution, besides party politics. Watchtower retreatism has meant that local adherents have kept, for reasons of Christian purity, a distance from central institutions in Nkoya rural society, not only chieftainship but also girl’s puberty ceremonies, name inheritance ceremonies, cults of affliction ?in short, with everything involving beer drinks, nocturnal musical sessions, medicine and spirits. Watchtower could not emulate the Lumpa example and attempt a total, theocratic transformation of local village society (cf. van Binsbergen 1981: ch. 1, 8), neither in the 1930s nor in the 1970s, because in the 1930s repression (mainly at the hands of the Barotse indigenous administration) was too effective, while in the 1970s a politically meek Watchtower ideology could no longer accommodate the villagers?desire of a form of societal reconstruction that left intact and enhanced, rather than denounced as pagan and evil,[24] their central institution of Wene.

     Such a linkage between Wene and the modern Zambian state needed the brokerage of the Newer Man, and could no longer be achieved by the Myene themselves. Some measure of participation of traditional rulers in the modern state has always been taken for granted in post-Independence Zambia. State recognition of chiefs, and state subsidies, continued much as in the colonial period. By the creation of the House of Chiefs it was hoped to bridge modern and traditional principles of government at least in so far as advice and information were concerned. The chiefs were to develop into foci of political and developmental mobilization in the countryside, and to lend, to the modern state, such self-evident legitimation as they themselves derive from their rural cultures. However, as the state entered upon more and more ambitious and complex administrative and political tasks, most chiefs lacked the education and dedication to participate in this process in any meaningful way. Moreover, the modern state did not give them the necessary power and status, feared them as foci of rural and ethnic protest and secessionism (the Litunga is a case in point), and ultimately had only use for them as ornaments of its own secular, populist and bureaucratic conception of statehood. Shortly after Independence, chief’s areas ceased to be units of local government, and the chief’s judicial powers were taken over by Local Courts in the interests of a more efficient, sophisticated and uniform administration of justice. Although most of the deliberations of the House of Chiefs could be shown to revolve on the issue of traditional leaders seeking to define and enhance their roles in a modern state, the solution could not come from this point. Chiefs could only continue to ‘rule? their peoples, to anchor the symbolic and cosmological structures of their cultures and to focus their historical experience, to the extent to which some boundary between local chiefly structures and the modern state was both maintained and crossed at the same time. The New Men have done just that.

5. Conclusion

Nkoya villagers rejecting or embracing the modern Zambian state in the course of the 1970s were not tabulae rasae, defining their attitude towards the state for the very first time, but people who had been political subjects and participants for a very long time, and whose contemporary political responses (even when they would at first glance seem to fit the metaphor of ‘state penetration?, reflect the accumulated political experiences, hopes and humiliation throughout their history.

     A historical perspective was needed to bring out this accumulated experience (the essence of being Nkoya), but at the same time allowed us to interpret as a modern, temporary option a phase of retreat and of rejection of the state which we might otherwise have misinterpreted as ‘traditional?and ‘non-penetration? The concept of state penetration, as commonly applied in a rather synchronic approach, cannot throw light upon these relations. For while some basic Nkoya notions of socio-political order date back to a pre-state phase of sacred kingship, the dialectic of historical grandeur and humiliation that has accrued to these notions stems from historical experiences with other states, precolonial and colonial, a century or more. My analysis also brings out the importance of the selection of the appropriate social-structural level: often studies of political penetration contrast small peasant communities with the modern state, and thus are bound to come up with clear-cut and partly artificial findings. It is not merely, or primarily, at the level of the village, the household or the individual peasant that Nkoya define and redefine their relation to the modern state, but as members of more extensive and permanent social units at a supra-local level: ethnic groups and subgroups which cluster on precolonial polities, and whose main distinctive feature is the awareness of a collective history of statehood.


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[1]     This chapter is based on an oral presentation at the Workshop on State Penetration at the Local Level in Africa, Antwerp, December 1984; later versions were presented at the Institut fur Entwicklungssoziologie, Freie Universitat, Berlin (West), 12 May, 1986, and published in W.M.J. van Binsbergen, F. Reijntjens & G, Hesseling (eds.), State and local community in Africa, Brussels: CEDAF, Cahiers du CEDAF, 1986. 56t7y8u9

[2]         Anthropological and oral-historical field-work was carried out in Kaoma district and among urban migrants in Lusaka hailing from that area, in February 1972 ?April 1974; September ?November 1977; August ?September 1978. In the course of the field-work, a considerable collection of local texts was made available to me, mainly in the Nkoya language; here the piece-de-resistance is Shimunika, in press. Archival data were collected in the Zambia National Archives, 1974, and the Kaoma District Secretary’s Office, 1978. For a full description and presentation of these data, and extensive acknowledgements, see van Binsbergen, in preparation, and my other publications cited in the list of references.

[3]     The United National Independence Party, which in the late 1950s under the leadership of K. Kaunda c.s. broke away from H. Nkumbula’s original African National Congress (ANC), soon came to dominate the struggle for Independence (which was to be successful in 1964), and after a turbulent post-colonial phase in 1971 founded Zambia’s Second Republic, characterised by one-party participatory democracy.

[4]     For a description of a Nkoya lukena from an economic point of view, see van Binsbergen & Geschiere 1985: 261-70.

[5]     In fact the House of Chiefs is an advisory body that only meets once in several years, for a few days, ?but, admittedly, in the Parliament building —and whose deliberations (tightly-controlled by the government executive), to judge by its published detailed minutes, concentrate on chiefs?subsidies, chiefs?hunting rights, chiefs?abhorrence of scanty women’s dress, etc. Even so, Zambian modern politicians are aware of the House’s importance in legitimating the post-colonial state by linking the latter with pre-colonial format of power.

[6]     Imported from North America via South Africa, the Watchtower faith (and syncretistic derivations from it) has formed a major religious expression in the rural areas of South Central Africa as from the 1920s. Its confrontations with the colonial and post-colonial state form, next to the Lumpa rising of 1964, a major instance of the conflict between church and state in Zambia (cf. Cross 1973); for Kaoma district, where since the 1940s Watchtower has been characterised by religious and social retreatism and an absence of political militancy, cf. Cross 1969; van Binsbergen 1981 and in preparation.

[7]     For a general analysis of Zambian rural life in such terms, cf. Bates 1976, and my critique in van Binsbergen 1977.

[8]     In this they foreshadowed in fact a development that would lead to the greater and more effective participation of chiefs in modern political and representative bodies elsewhere in Zambia in the 1980s.

[9]     The Humbu or Amahumbu constitute an ethnic group in Northwestern Zambia and Eastern Angola. It is remarkable that in that environment, where historical links with the empire of the Lunda ruler Mwaat Yaamv in what is now Southern Zaire are stressed as a source of political and cultural prestige, the Humbu, more than any other group, have Mbwela connotations; the Mbwela, locally the predecessors of the Ndembu Lunda, are considered the ancestors of today's Nkoya in Kaoma district. Nkoya oral sources put the Humbu in a very different position: that of the most conspicuous exponents of a Lunda expansion that went at the expense of Mbwela autonomy on the Upper Zambezi. Cf. Verhulpen 1936; McCulloch 1951: 6 and appendix map; Schecter 1980: 293f; Papstein 1978:78, and references cited there.

[10]  ? Of course, the special ritual and political roles of female royal kin is a recurrent feature in African ‘Early States? cf. Claessen 1981, 1984; for a Zambian example, cf. Shimwaayi Muntemba 1970 (on the Mukuni Leya of Livingstone District, incidentally close neighbours of the southernmost Nkoya, those of Mwene Momba).

[11]  ? For extensive genealogies of nineteenth-century rulers see van Binsbergen, in press.

[12]  ? It is in one such praise-name, of the female Mwene Komoka who succeeded to the Mutondo title c. 1840, that the name ‘Nkoya?appears for the first time: as the name for the subjects of the Mutondo lukena. Only in the second half of the twentieth century did ‘Nkoya?become an ethnic label for all people under Myene claiming descent from Libupe.

[13]  ? Cf. van Binsbergen 1981: ch. 3 for parallels all over Zambia. However, among the Nkoya the cult of royal graves, and its ecological connotations, remained rather limited, as compared with other, larger states in South Central Africa, including that of the Lozi.

[14]  ? Meanwhile it would be likely that the dual nature (benevolence/terror) as found among the later Myene as political rulers, could build upon a dialectical contradiction already inherent in pre-state Wene, as is suggested by de Heusch (1972, 1984) , whose distinction between sacred kingship and statehood is very much to the point here.

[15]  ? With few notable exceptions, such as Mwene Liwumbo Shakalongo and Mwene Shikanda.

[16]  ? Only with regard to the most recent offshoots: Momba and Kabulwebulwe.

[17]  ? A Sotho offshoot from what came to be called South Africa, which in the nineteenth century occupied the Zambezi flood-plain, and the Lozi state, for several decades.

[18]  ? Which did not preclude a certain heterogeneity on this point: between rulers as against subjects, whose linguistic and cultural features often appears to have been be more akin to present-day Ila, Totela, Kaonde, than present-day Nkoya; between Nkoya clans as against earlier inhabitants of the areas they moved into when leaving the Upper Zambezi; and between local subjects as against individual slaves hailing from distant ethnic groups, including Lenje, Lamba, etc.

[19]  ? Not surprisingly, this side of nineteenth century state formation in the region is little documented in the Nkoya official oral sources; it is not only there that entrepreneurship and nobility are ideally incompatible but in fact in collusion. However, documentary and especially archival sources on the region are quite specific on this point; cf. Gann 1958, 1964; Smith & Dale 1920; Macpherson 1981; and the accounts of the Gielgud-Anderson expedition to the Hook of the Kafue in 1900-1901, Zambia National Archives.

[20]  ? As it appeared in the eyes of European observers at the time ? whose ethnocentrism and need of imperialist self-justification did not allow them so see, in the area, anything nothing but misery and decay anyway; cf. Macpherson 1981.

[21]  ? E.g. Caplan 1970; Gann 1958, 1964; Mutumba Mainga 1973; Prins 1980; Stokes 1966.

[22]  ? In Zambian English, this is the term for the modern administrative district centre.

[23]  ? And through which many local factional, inter-generational and kinship conflicts were to find expression, in ways that fall outside our present scope.

[24]  ? Incidentally, the rejection of chieftainship was also an important element in Lumpa.



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