Zambezian Wars

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

The Zambezian Wars, encompassing both the First Zambezian War (1965-1973) and the Second Zambezian War (1978-198x), was a series of conflicts in the Zambezian region of Africa, particularly involving former colonies and protectorates of Portugal. These were multi-sided wars, with several national republican factions and the post-colonial governments of the Zambezian nations each competing for influence in the Zambezian Region.


Zambezia as shown on an 1895 map, and the independent states by 1965

With the Zambezian Accords of 1964, Portugal granted independence to its Zambezian protectorates. These newly independent states were established as pro-Portuguese monarchies. However, their legitimacy was widely questioned due to their perceived artificial nature, leading to various factions rising up and vying for control.

Emergence of national republican factions

During this time, the ideology of national republicanism began to take root in these former protectorates. This ideology, however, did not represent a monolithic movement. Instead, it fragmented into several factions, each advocating different interpretations of national republican principles.

One of the prominent factions was the Zambezian Liberation Front (ZLF), established in 1959. The ZLF aimed to unify the Zambezian protectorates into a single nation, grounded in national republican ideals. Their approach to national republicanism closely aligned with the model practiced in Russia (prior to the Russian Lustrum), characterized by traditional principles and a strong emphasis on national unity.

Contrasting with the ZLF were various smaller national republican groups, which proliferated throughout the region, most notably in Columbemba and Urunda. These anti-ZLF factions were supported by the neighboring national republican state of Kirignaga-Loloue, which opposed the concept of a unified Zambezia.

Portugal and the United Kingdom offered limited support to the monarchies of the former protectorates to counter the growth of national republicanism, but this support was largely ineffective.

First Zambezian War (1965-1973)

After gaining independence, underlying tensions within the nations eventually escalated into a full-scale civil war by 1965. By 1969, the National Republicans had successfully consolidated control in Urunda and Columbemba, leading to the dismantling of the monarchies in these territories. Despite this, the ZLF remained an active and influential faction within the region. The continued presence and activities of the ZLF in the 1970s were limited to small-scale skirmishes with the new national republican government, which, over time, resulted in an unofficial truce by 1973. This truce was largely due to both sides seeking to recuperate from the hostilities.

The period following the truce saw a reduction in open conflict, but underlying tensions remained. The National Republican governments of Urunda and Columbemba focused their efforts on suppressing ZLF activities, aiming to stabilize their control over the region.

Interwar Period (1973-1978)

Formation of the National African Pact (1976)

In response to conflicts, the National African Pact (NAP) was formed in Mavouria, capital of Kirignaga-Loloue, in 1976. This alliance comprised of Kirignaga-Loloue, the Malagasy National Republic, Columbemba, Rukwa, and Unyamwezi, aiming to defend their collective interests on the African continent.

Decolonization and shifting alliances

1976 also marked the complete decolonization of the remaining Portuguese African colonies, including Cape Verde, the Biafra Federation, Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique. At the same time, the Russian Lustrum, a period of significant reform in Russia, led to a reduction in Russian support for African national republican movements, particularly the ZLF. This shift allowed the newly independent nations, particularly Mozambique, to assert greater influence in the region. Mozambique, aligning with national republicanism, sought to expand its influence in Zambezia, counterbalancing Kirignaga-Loloue's dominance.

Angola's position

Angola, emerging as a state governed by its local white elite, adopted a wary stance. The nation focused on protecting the remaining former Portuguese protectorates, particularly those that had not yet embraced national republicanism and were still under monarchical governance.

Second Zambezian War (1978-198x)

Magazine map from 1976 depicting the 2nd Zambezian War (art by u/JVFreitas)

The Second Zambezian War began on April 11, 1978, following an incursion by Angolan forces into Urunda. This military action was in response to repeated raids along their border by the ZLF rebels. The National African Pact (NAP) interpreted Angola's actions as an attempt to extend its influence in Zambezia, prompting them to resume support to the Zambezian nations and back pro-NAP insurgents in Urunda.

Simultaneously, Mozambique, seeking to prevent the Zambezian nations from falling under either Angolan or NAP sway, began funneling arms and recruits into Zambezian nations to support the ZLF. This intervention created a complex three-way conflict in the Zambezian nations. International response included concern from the Organization of Democratic Nations, Portugal, and Britain, leading them to support Angola and the non-national-republican Zambezian nations in the conflict.

By 1980-1981, the conflict had expanded into Barotseland. Insurgents crossed the border, prompting Angolan forces to respond in a strained alliance with the monarchical state of Barotseland. The conflict also spilled over into Butua during this time.

The Organization of Democratic Nations (ODN) conducted airstrikes against targets in Zambezia and some regions in Mozambique.

See also