Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Some background History of the Zumata-Mbote war of 1974

While ficking through some old reference books I came across this piece on the Zumatan-Mbote war in the 70s

(above President Bon T'luse)

History of the Zumatan-Mbote war 1974 - Part 1 background - by the Cambridge university press

The area of land that constitutes the present day countries of Zumata, Lumata and Mbote was incorporated in to the British empire in the 1880s and formed into the Npungweland protectorate. The protectorate was split into three provinces based on loosely related tribal groups and roughly conforming to the three countries present day borders. However the borders between the provinces were poorly defined and in many cases resulted in ethnic groups being isolated from their homelands. While under British ruled this wasn't a major issue however, as we will discover, it stored up problems for the future.

After the end of world war two the peoples of Npungweland agitated for independence. The people of Zumata and Lumata through peaceful protest and civil disobedience while in Mbote this agitation took the form of armed insurrection under a man called Bon T'luse. In 1950 the British government agreed to independence in principal and proposed a staged withdraw to put infrastructure and government into place in three provinces before full Independence in 1960. This offer was readily excepted by the peoples of Zumata and Lumata in M'bote however things were different.

Bon T'luse and his followers demanded an immediate withdraw by the British and stepped uptheir insurgence. The British brought in extra troops and for six months a bloody guerrilla war took place before the two sides meet for ceasefire talks. The British didn't have the political will to fight a war in Mbote so despite winning the military struggle they gave into Bon T'luse's demands and withdrew from Mbote six months latter. In Mbotes first free elections Bon T'luse became Mbote's first president.

It didn't take President T'luse long to realise that his policy to drive out the British had backfired. While in Zumata and Lumata the British built roads, dams, airports and other infrastructure in preparation to independence Mbote got nothing from it's former colonial masters. Worse the majority of British and Asian settlers in Mbote, those that had most of the wealth and ran most of the economy, fled to Zumata and Lumata as the British pulled out leaving Mbote in a serious economic mess.

Having burnt his bridges with the British President T'luse looked around for new friends. At this time he came into contact with an organization run by a number of wealthy German businessmen who for various reasons had to leave Germany after the war. These men had money and contacts which soon saw new white settlers coming to Mbote mostly Germans but also some Italians and men from eastern Europe. President T'luse's new friends helped to build up Mbote's economy, train a new army and set up internal state security forces.

By 1961 Mbote, from the outside at least, looked like the success story of Africa. Prosperous, well run, with several modern cities. The truth was somewhat different outside of the cities, where the political elite lived an idyllic life style, many country dwelling people lived a life of near servitude forced to work on large estates of government officials or for European run mining companies. Those Mboten's that spoke out found themselves targets of the state secret police and interned in camps that President T'luse's German friends had help him set up.

Slowly but surely resistance to the government of Mbote grew first in civil disobedience and then to armed conflict. Among the largest of the armed resistance groups was the Mbote Marxist party and it was this group that with help from the soviet union (via North Korea) that opened conventional warfare against the M'bote government in 1965. within two years with the aid of other armed resistance groups the communist forces had overrun most of the countryside and the government was reduced to holding major population centres . The end came swiftly in early 1966 an offensive by communists saw the forces of President T'luse collapse in a matter of weeks. President T'luse, many members of his government and several hundred of his security personnel fled north into Zumata where they were interned.

Meanwhile in Mbote the various resistance groups found themselves in charge of the country. Sadly the only thing that had brought these groups together was a desire to remove President T'luse with that objective achieved the alliance fell apart and two years of bloody civil war ensued. In 1968 the Communists emerged victorious and started rebuilding the shattered country of M'bote with soviet help.

Independence had gone much more smoothly in both Zumata and Lumata with Britain presiding over free elections in both countries before withdrawing. In both Zumata and Lumata Britain had left constitutional monarchies, it must be pointed out though that the Royalty of both countries was far more influential on government policy than that of the British royal family, based on the British model.

In 1965 Zumata elected a new prime minster Dr Kenko Gold young and ambitious he was the toast of Zumatan politics. Dr Gold's political capital rose to new levels after he was forced to deal with the aftermath of a tragic accident in 1968 when the entire Zumatan royal family where wiped save for infant prince Ina l'toftruble. Prime minster Gold lead the country in mourning before selfless declaring himself regent for the baby prince vowing to rule Zumata until the young prince was old enough to rule himself.

During the two years of civil war in Mbote following the over throw of President T'luse Zumata had taken the opportunity to occupy several disputed areas on the Zumatan-Mbote border. After the communists in Mbote had finally established themselves in power and felt secure enough they lobbed the UN for the return of these areas. The UN was unable to resolve these issues which weren't helped by several colonial era British maps and treaties none of which agreed on the correct boundaries between the two countries. in 1970 several armed clashes took place along the border resulting in the deployment of UN peace keepers to the area.

In 1972 a communist inspired uprising took place in Lumata resulting a bloody civil war (one that the communists would finally win in 1976). Prime minister Gold of Zumata was concerned about the communist threat to his country as well as the on going border disputes with Mbote decided to act. His first act was to appeal to Britain, with whom Zumata had continued to enjoy a good relationship with post independence, for military aid in the form of modern military hardware and training.

Secondly he visited former president T'luse who had been under house arrest in Zumata since 1968 and struck a deal. Zumata would help to reinstate Bon T'luse as President of Mbote in exchange for recognition of Zumata's rights to the disputed border regions. The two men also agreed to the raising of a Mboten military force The Mbote Occupation Brigade (M.O.B.).

Due to the history between Bon T'luse and the British Britain refused to supply training and equipment for M.O.B. so Prime minister Gold turned to the USA. Fresh from their failed intervention in Vietnam the US weren't keen on getting directly involved in Mbote but desperate to get some sort of victory against communism the CIA were given the go head to give clandestine support to Bon T'luse. Within weeks a large amount of old US military kit (much of it WWII vintage) plus modern small arms were finding it's way to M.O.B. followed shortly there after by a number of mercenaries in the pay of the CIA to act as instructors. A new company called Air Mbote also started trading in Zumata and included several Huey helicopters and DC10 aircraft crewed by pilots with strangely American accents.

Early in 1974 Mbote found large natural gas supplies in disputed region of Mjuba bay this was the final catalyst for war. A war of words between Mbote and Zumata soon developed in to armed skirmishers, air strikes and artillery bombardments. In November of 74 Zumatan armed forces launched a full scale invasion across the Mbote border. While the main Zumatan attack was down the west side of Mbote with the intention of securing Mjuba bay and port Tchumba.

Bon T'luse's M.O.B. attacked from Zumata down the east side of the country to capture Mpongoville and then move west to link up with Zumatan forces around Zambuzi.

For a Map of the region see here

Basically all the above waffle is my way of saying I'm building a new army for AK-47 hopefully to be revealed on this Blog very soon.

Cheers Jon

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting read that.

    Of course, it's not what the History Faculty of the University of Wanga Wanga would deem to be an 'objective historical analysis'.

    In fact Emeritus Professor of History and Politics, Milton Mango PhD Mphil AA RAC LOL, has recently published a far more accurate account of the conflict entitled 'Why the Zumatans were thrashed in '74!