Happy 50th Anniversary, Zambia!

Sorrowful that you have taken the chains of the British and used them on your fellow countrymen. Your fellow Zambians, the people of Barotseland, continue to cry out for their own independence. They claim that you are now the colonialists and that they simply the want the same independence that you have. They claim that now President Sata said that he would uphold the Baroste Land Agreement within 90 days of being in office during his campaigning for office. Perhaps then, the quickest solution would be for President Sata to do what he said. But! But! Politicians lie all the time. It’ s just puffery, you say. Just an empty campaign promise. Perhaps. But then, all it shows is that the Zambian government and its leaders are deceitful and care little for the values they endorse.

But aside from that, Zambians wanted freedom from the British and they were allowed to be independent. These people say that they want freedom from the Zambian government. If Zambians believe in independence and self-determination, they must recognize the human rights of the Barotse people, which include independence and self-determination. If not, then it is hypocritical and it means that Zambians don’t value their independence from the British as much as they say.

You respond by saying that secession is not allowed by the constitution of Zambia. Therefore, you say, the Barotse do not have any basis to claim independence. Regrettable rhetoric! A constitution is not the source of human rights; a constitution can only recognize them. Secession issues forth from the right of self-ownership and therefore a constitution is not required to exercise it. The people of the United States didn’t need a constitutional decree to break away from the British Empire, for example. In that same way, the people of Quebec or Scotland don’t need permission from a state to secede, for they are exercising their human rights.

Now you say not all Lozis want to separate. In this case, why not stop oppressing those Lozis and let them secede? Let them make their mini-Barotseland. If it is a good decision, others will join them and it will demonstrate that Zambia is nothing more than a colonizing force. If it is a bad decision, they will fall prey to it and bring themselves to ruin. But to think that the Zambian state knows better than the people themselves just goes to show how little it believes in the ideas it proclaims. Every argument against Barotseland’s formation is an argument against Zambia’s supposed claim to deserving independence.

You say, natural rights? Just an old, archaic idea. We don’t live in nature! This is modern times.  Again, I’m not sure you’re grasping the nature of what a “natural right” is though. Natural rights are not legislative “rights” or government entitlements. Natural rights are inalienable and beyond the state. By failing to truly grasp this, you’re just arguing against yourself. Americans didn’t need a document to support seceding from Britain. Scotland doesn’t need a document to support seceding from Britain. Zambia doesn’t need a document to support seceding from Britain. Barotseland doesn’t need a document seceding from Zambia. Constitutions, documents, whatever, don’t create rights. You don’t just lack a right because you lack a supporting document, in this case a constitution. The way you speak would mean that you need permission or support from the government you’re seceding from in order to validate your rights.

You say that natural law is baseless in modern times and that we cannot expect it to work out now. But natural law doesn’t mean that people need to be in a “state of nature”, i.e. not living in a civilization. All natural law refers to is the ideal that people have rights inherently, as part of their natural state of being; that rights come inherently within people and not from a legislator. So we don’t need to be living in villages or as bands of hunter-gatherers for it to be viable. Natural law theory is the basis of Anglo-Saxon legal systems and governments, and those governments thrived for hundreds of years. And look now at modern America and England, when natural law theory has been thrown into the gutter. At no other time have the Anglo-Saxon countries suffered from so much inflation, cultural degradation,  neo-colonialism, domestic disaster, diminution of currency purchasing power, and other failures of the state. This is the reason why I say to learn from this terrible mistake,  so that Zambia doesn’t end up with more of those same problems.

Taking it back to Zambia, when the British left they didn’t somehow invalidate the rights of the indigenous people. All of the various tribes of Zambia retained their rights going into the union of the new country. Just because the Zambian constitution doesn’t recognize secession as a right, doesn’t mean that Zambians don’t have that right. Like I said before, human rights are inalienable. Just because it is “against the general will of Zambians” doesn’t matter at all. Rights aren’t democratic and they’re not subject to majority rule. The president doesn’t “declare the Lozis independent”, either. As I said, the power of independence is within people already; all you need to do is stop lording over them. By suggesting that they are, you begin going down the road to a place and time without rights and where legislators dictate the lives of the people. Don’t get me started on Mugabe though, that’s a whole other issue.

Learn from the mistakes of history. Look how the British colonialization has messed up and fractured the Irish and Scottish. Look how divided Canada is. Perhaps most clearly, look how absolutely fractured America still is to this day after the North oppressed the South in the War for Southern Independence. Centralization is not the answer. Increasing the power of the legislator to appease the majority is not the answer. Embrace natural law, decentralization, and less regulation, and I could guarantee you that Zambia would only be uplifted. Otherwise Zambia will end up being another joke of a nation of Zimbabwe and Malawi. Learn from our mistakes!

Aha, you say! Aha! I am a lawyer from Zambia. I know every form of law under the sun. I am an expert in all these matters, you say….

And yet, for someone with background in law, it certainly seems you’re making a lot of baseless assumptions, and know nothing of natural law. When you speak of humanitarian law and compare these Lozi people to the terrorists who want an Islamic Nigeria, you operate on the assumption that secession leads to war. This need not be the case, if people respect private property laws. As I said, you don’t need to grant anyone independence or take any active measure; Zambia just needs to take a passive stance. If the Lozi, or some of the Lozi, want to leave then let them. There doesn’t need to be a war for that. So everything you’re saying about enemy combatants vs prisoners of war doesn’t need to come into play, since there doesn’t need to be a war. If we choose the option of peace, rather than force, we don’t need to treat anyone like they belong to a terrorist state or not.

I mention private property law for a reason. In the tradition of classical liberalism, with its adherence to tort law (instead of civil law) and common law (as opposed to arbitrary legislation), we can see a very clear framework for how a secession could be peaceful. Those Lozi who want to secede can do so and maintain their property without need for governmental force. Since they own their own land as Zambians, they will continue to do so as independent Barotse peoples. This is due to the principle of homesteading, which I’m sure you’re aware of so I won’t enumerate it here. The classic liberal tradition is an English product and would be easy to adhere to, as these people were once under the British flag. It will eliminate the need for violence and would ensure a bloodless transition.

It’s clear to me that you take the side of the legislator and not the individual. You put all of this faith into governmental officials and constitutions, and apparently very little in the goodness of your fellow man. And strangest of all, you think that governments grant rights to people. As if a legislator can create rights with the stroke of the pen! Is it any wonder that African nations seem to degrade so quickly after colonial powers leave? You emulate your former rulers instead of learning the errors of their ways. You adhere to laws that are based in tyranny, not independence or people’s god-given rights. All I can say is that if you give liberty a chance, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the peace that will come from it.

Yours,

– M

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