Zambian Tribes: The Lozi

Figure 1.--African children did not commonly wear sailor suits. As with other western style clothing, they were sometime worn by wealthy families' children. Here some members of the Lozi royal family of Barotseland wear a tunic suit and sailor suit in the early-20th century.

The Lozi/Balozi tribe also constitute over 5 percent of the Zambia’s population, some 0.6 million people. They live in western Zambia, a region known as Barotseland. Small numbers of the tribe is located across the borders in neigboring countries: Namibia (Caprivi Strip), Angola, Botswana, Mozambique (50,000), and Zimbabwe (8,000). The Lozi speak Silozi, a central Bantu language. Unlike the other major trines, the Lozi believe that Barotseland is where they have always lived. The Lozi in pre-colonial times were conquered by a Makololo/kololo army from the south (about 1830). The Lozi egained their independence in an uprisinh (1864). They traded in gold, copper, and food crops. The Lozi are the least developed of the major Zambian tribes. Their culture is centered on the flood cycle of the Zambezi River. They celebrate the Kuomboka festival (February or March). At this time they migrate from the Barotseland lowland flood plain of the Zamezi to higher grounds to avoid the floods. The Makololo people called the, the people of the plain from which their name Lozi was derived. The Lozi spelling originated from German missionaries. The Lozi has been governed by a monarchy. The reigning monarch is known as the Paramount King or Litunga--meaning 'keeper of the earth'. The most famous Litunga was who reigned from 1878 to 1916. He requested requested Queen Victoria to create a Barotseland protectorate. Britain showed little interest. The British South Africa Company tun by Cecil Rhodes acquired Barotseland making promisrs to invest and build infratructure. When gold, copper or other valuable material was not found, the British South Africa Company defaulted on its commitments. [Reader] Barotseland was eventualy incorporated into Northern Rhodesia, but retained substantial autonomy. This continued when Northern Rhodesia achieved independence as Zambia (1964). Lozi leaders wanted to remain a British protectorate. Barotseland today is the least deveoped of the Zambian regions.


Reader, John. Africa: A Biography of the Continent.


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Created: 12:53 AM 10/3/2017
Last updated: 12:53 AM 10/3/2017