Portuguese Major Serpa Pinto, who having arrived in Lealui (the later Luyana capital) from Angola in 1878, was prevented from continuing his intended journey due east to Kayingu, and instead was confined by Lubosi Lewanika I,4 Sipopa’s successor, to the southeastern route along the Zambezi (Serpa Pinto 1881).After a successful expedition from Angola to Yakaland, Zaire in 1877-80, the two Portuguese naval officers H. Capello and R. Ivens undertook another, more southerly expedition in 1884, which took them across eastern Angola to the Zambezi, then along an untracked route northeast along the Kabompo, to Katanga and from there back southeast through central Zambia and on to the Cape (Capello & Ivens 1881, 1886).5 Thus they traversed the western and northern fringes of the Nkoya region, but their published account throws regrettably little light on the detailed historical issues discussed in the present book. The late nineteenth-century travelogue was a literary genre where ample introspection on the explorer’s communion with the African landscape, historical retrospect, and mineralogical, botanical and zoological impressions, left room for only the most fragmentary and superficial ethnographic and political data; and the latter tended to be clad in evaluative terms. Therefore, while accidental reference to a specific ethnic group in a travelogue may yield significant information, the lack of such reference does not mean that the phenomena the travellers could have observed (considering other evidence) were not there. We are already lucky that at least Capello and Ivens’s map (1886, i: opposite 333) of the relevant part of their itinerary shows, in the correct places, many hydronyms and other toponyms still in use in the Nkoya region today.6To the same travelogue genre belong the works of the hunter F.C. Selous, who in 1877-78 with his companion L.M. Owen reached the Lukanga swamps from the southeast, and in 1888 returned for a trip due north to the Kafue/Mwembeshi confluence, on both occasions skirting the extreme easterly extension of Nkoya presence, on which topic however he has very little to say (Selous 1893). A few relevant observations are found in the notes of the trader G. Westbeech, who traversed Barotseland and surrounding areas intensively until his death in 1888 (cf. Tabler 1963; Sampson 1972).A transition from the travelogue to a more professional ethnographic genre we find in the works of the Czech Emile Holub, who on an ill-fated expedition to the Kafue in 1885-86 visited the fringes of
Tears of Rain: The contemporary point of departure
Nkoyaland. Both the narrative of his expedition (Holy 1975) and his earlier Ethnographic sketch of the Marutse-Mambunda empire (Holub 1879) contain some information pertinent to the Nkoya. However, the reliability of that information is negatively affected not only by Holub’s limited exposure in both time and place (his account of Loziland is mainly based on hurried observations in Sesheke), and by the fact that he was one of the pioneers of ethnographic method, but also by his personality; as Prins (1980: 253, n. 10) points out, Coillard and Westbeech both had a low opinion of Holub’s abilities and good sense. But how else could these members of established professions have regarded an anthropologist avant la lettrelAgainst this minimal background of precolonial documentary sources, it is little wonder that the Nkoya area became a fertile ground for the study of oral history — which started already with the publication of Clay’s History of the Mankoya district (1945), under conditions which we shall consider in chapter 2.However, let us first present the outlines of twentieth-century Nkoya social and political organization. The Nkoya people are primarily found in what today is Kaoma district, in the eastern part of Zambia’s Western Province, the former Barotse-land Protectorate which at Independence (1964) — when Northern Rhodesia became Zambia — remained incorporated in Zambia under special conditions stipulated by the Barotseland Agreement (Mulford 1967). When the boma (colonial administrative headquarters at district level) was established in 1906 (Clay 1945: 16), the district was named Mankoya — a name deriving from the word ‘Nkoya’, but with a plural prefix derived from the Lozi language. In 1969 President Kaunda revised the special status of Barotseland and, in an attempt to excise all ethnic connotations from toponyms in western Zambia, the district was renamed Kaoma, at the same time as Barotseland changed its name to Western Province (a name until then reserved for what then became Copperbelt Province), and Balovale became Zambezi district (cf. Cap-lan 1970).In addition to those in Kaoma district, there are minorities of Nkoya-speakers and people identifying as Nkoya in all the adjacent districts and even provinces.The Nkoya-speaking peoples number about 30,000 members. Estimates are rendered difficult by a number of factors: the frequent occurrence of bilingualism among Nkoya speakers particularly outside Kaoma district (so that perhaps a few thousand of speakers of Lozi, Kaonde, Lamba, Lenje, Totela and Subiya might also be classified as Nkoya speakers); and on the other hand the excessive claim by contemporary partisans of Nkoya ethnicity, who would insist that extensive portions of Zambia’s Western, Northwestern, Central and Southern Provinces were ‘originally’ Nkoya. The linguistic data derived from the 1969 census (Kashoki 1978: 20) give a total of 31,000 Nkoya speakers or 0.8% of the Zambian African population.