Accepted Paper:

A critical analysis of trajectories in trans-border ethnic mobilisation: the case of Lozi and Chewa of southern Africa  

Author:

Happy Kayuni (University of the Western Cape and University of Malawi)

Paper short abstract:

The paper compares and contrasts ethnic mobilisation amongst the Chewa (of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia) and Lozi (of Namibia, Zambia and Angola). The paper, inter alia, asks: to what extent are these differences or similarities politically significant to their respective states?

Paper long abstract:

The paper aims at analysing whether there is a unique pattern of trans-border ethnic mobilisation. Furthermore, the paper asks: to what extent are these differences or similarities politically significant to their respective states? In this regard, the focus is on the Lozi and Chewa ethnic groups of southern Africa. The Lozi people comprise of 25 to 40 groups whose commonality is history and the Sotho-influenced language. Due to the process of colonization, the Lozi community was divided into three contemporary states of Namibia, Zambia and Angola but the majority are found in Zambia. At the heart of the Lozi tradition is the annual Kuomboka ceremony in which the Lozi King takes central stage. The contemporary Chewa Kingdom on the other hand is a remnant of the pre-colonial Maravi Kingdom which stretched across Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique (but the majority are in Malawi). Like the Lozi, the Chewa King is also based in Zambia and they hold an annual ceremony known as Kulamba which draws Chewa people from the three countries. Specifically, using secondary and primary data drawn from diverse sources, the paper finds that there are several similarities and differences in the Lozi and Chewa ethnic mobilisation. Among other things, both dwell on the symbol of their King as the central unifying factor; however, the Lozi have developed a more comprehensive political identity as compared to the Chewa. Despite this significant difference, the paper argues that the Chewa seem to be closely following the pattern of Lozi mobilisation.

Panel P027
Territory and community: the scalar dimensions of political authority, identity and conflict in contemporary Africa