Lozi Kingdom

Lozi Kingdom was an african kingdom located in the Zambezi floodplain, in present day western Zambia. The kingdom was originally known as Luyana.


The Luyana organized themselves under a kingship system around the 1600s. They were ruled by the litunga or king, assisted by a Lozi aristocracy. It is not certain whether the kingship system originated from the Lunda system or sacred shrines of the kalabo at the Luanginga tributaries. During the mid 1800s, the Lozi Kingdom was invaded by the Kololo, a Sotho speaking people, fleeing the turmoil of southern Africa, the dificane. Under the leadership of Sebetwane, the Kololo were able to bring the southern Lozi Kingdom under their control, with the Lozi leadership fleeing north. Under his succesor Sekeletu, the Lozi was treated as a farming slave class, serving the needs and wants of the Kololo. They were taxed excessively and sometimes sold to Ovimbundu slavers. In 1864, the Lozi aristocracy in the north was able to overthrow the Kololo and regain power.


The society consisted of slaves and commoners. It is estimated that 1/3 of Lozi society in the latter part of the 1800s were slaves. Lozi society was never stationary, due to flooding of the Zambezi. In the winter time, the populace moved to the drier uplands and journeyed back to the fertile flood plains. All was organized by the litunga. This movement took on a royal function lead by the litunga, in his large royal barge. Cattle herding was a major activity. Cattle raiding was also undertaken by the army. Cattle raids of the Ila of the Kafue Valley was periodically undertaken. The army would also engaged in elephant hunts, for the ivory trade. Ivory was sold to Africans and Europeans for guns. Lozi society in the latter 1800s prospered. A mark of the aristocracy was to grow their fingernails, to indicate they did not do manual labor. The Shona language was introduced to the society after the Kololo conquest. Lozi society became more militaristic, after the conquest.

Related Articles: Lozi Pantheon ,

Works Cited

Shillington, Kevin (2005). History of Africa. Revised 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 242-244. ISBN 0-333-59957-8

tags: zambia