The Republic of Zambia, in central Africa, resulted from the amagamation of a number of independent and semi-independent kingdoms into the British Colony and Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia during the closing years of the nineteentch century. The most important of these is Barotseland, homeland of the Lozi people, in the Western Province. The others being the Bemba, Kazembe, and Chewa.

During colonial rule most of the tribes were pasified and a system of dual rule established. Under the latter, a considerable degree of autonomy under the traditional rulers, their customary traditions and laws, continued and were recognised in law. During the approach to independence in the early 1960's new agreements were forged with the democratically elected government which had been elected to lead the country to independence in 1964. However, within a few years, the central government moved towards the establishment of a centralised one-party state. As part of the process of eliminating opposition, increasing encraochments on the powers of the traditional instaitutions followed. By 1970's most of the agreements made in 1964 had been abbrogated.

Following the pro-democracy movements of the 1990's, the removal of the Kaunda government from power, and the establishment of pluralism, moves towards greater autonomy have been resumed. However, disputes over control of the land continue to simmer and sporadic controntations emerge from time to time. Nevertheless, the national government and government agencies have come to recognise the benefits of working through traditional rulers on a number of fronts, often using their continuing moral and cultural influence to promote development and health policies. The economic benefits of attracting tourism to the country have also been recognised and various levels of support are disbursed towards this purpose. A House of Chiefs continues to function at national level as a consultative and official governmental body.
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CopyrightęChristopher Buyers, November 2004 - July 2008