Features In focus

Chibombo: An agro-based district

WHAT is Chibombo known for apart from the famous roadside market called John Chinena? Could it be the traditional ceremony Kulamba Kubwalo, the virtual flagship of the district?

Or maybe Zambeef’s Huntley Farm or, better still, the exquisite Protea Hotel buried in the mopani woodlands?
Well, it is all these wrapped into one and perhaps a few more such as its agricultural prowess, the economic mainstay of the district, where people have largely lived on the fringes of society for ages.
The district, located in Central Province and sandwiched by Kabwe and Lusaka, was the hub for Kabwe rural under the UNIP government’s decentralisation policy, but development is only beckoning after 40 years of its existence as a district.
Chibombo, which starts at Kabangwe (about 10 kilometres north of Lusaka) and ends at 17 Miles (45 kilometres south of Kabwe) at Mukalashi School, has evolved – from Mukuni Native Authority to Lenje Native Authority, then Kabwe Rural District Council before being declared a district in 1976.
District authorities are proud that Chibombo has produced three districts – Kapiri Mposhi, which was a sub-township, Mumbwa and, most recently, Chisamba.
“The construction of the Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA) and other developments meant that its [Kapiri Mposhi] administration was remote,” Chibombo district commissioner Felix Mang’wato said, justifying the creation of Kapiri Mposhi as a district in 1993.
After being part of Chibombo for a very long time, Chisamba broke away in November 2012 when President Sata gazetted it into a district.
Weaning off Chisamba also entailed sharing the wards, with some remaining in Chibombo while others have gone to the newly-created district.
Keembe, Chaloshi, Chikabo, Chibombo, Kakoma, Kalola, Mashiki, Lunjofwa, Chitanda and Ipongo wards have remained under Chibombo district while Katuba, Chonga, Kabile, Michenje, Mungule, Chilo and Chabalenje have been annexed to Chisamba.
Chisamba constituency has also been struck off from Chibombo, which has remained with two constituencies – Katuba and Keembe.
Geographically, Chibombo covered 13,670 square kilometres before Chisamba was declared a district.
Traditional rulers
Chief Chitanda, Chief Liteta and Chieftainess Mungule are the three traditional authorities in Chibombo, a predominantly Lenje land.
Chibombo shares boundaries with Chisamba, Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka, Mumbwa, Ngabwe and Shibuyunji districts.
Chibombo, which sits between 27 and 29 degrees GMT, receives between 800 and 1,200 millimetres of rainfall every rainy season.
Water bodies
Chibombo is the source of the Mwembeshi River, but the main water catchment is Lunjofwa River, which lies on the western side of the district. The Lunjofwa, which divides chiefs Chitambo and Liteta, drains into the Lukanga Swamps.
The Chashinama Stream forms the boundary between Chieftainess Mungule and Chief Liteta.
Chibombo also has four major dams: Chinyongola and Muntemba in Chief Liteta, Lukata in Chieftainess Mungule and Kafushi Dam near Malambanyama.
Economic activities
Chibombo is largely a farming district with a mixture of commercial and peasant farmers where cotton, maize and wheat are grown on a large scale with fishing in the Lukanga Swamps and livestock rearing being the mainstay of the local people’s livelihoods.
Mr Mang’wato said keeping cattle in Chibombo has been motivated by the presence of the country’s biggest beef processor, Huntley, which is owned by Zambeef.
Other big farms in the district are Lendor Burton and Okley, which produce wheat and vegetables.
Chibombo is also home to John Chinena, an agricultural hub where the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission is planning to set up an agro-processing project as part of value addition.
Most of the vegetables sold at various markets in Lusaka come from John Chinena.
Mr Mang’wato said Government has invested heavily to support the agricultural sector in Chibombo, including the construction of a veterinary clinic and laboratory to deal with livestock diseases.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has finished construction of an artificial insemination centre at Chibombo Centre for Dairy Animals as well as the building of piggeries at Keembe Farm Institute to supply pigs.
An office block to house the veterinary and fisheries departments which will also accommodate a state-of-the art animal diagnostic laboratory to service commercial farmers in the district has been built.
“Construction of a police post at Liteta with 15 housing units has started while works on the first ever police station with 23 housing units have also commenced.
“You may wish to know that 50 years after independence, the district has never had a police station. It was operating as a post under Prospect Police Station near Kabwe,” Mr Mang’wato said.
He said Chibombo will also have nine rural health posts from the 650 that Government has started constructing in various parts of the country.
“Zesco has also extended to the district the access to electricity programme funded by the World Bank that will see growth points at John Chinena, Chibombo, Kasukwe, Liteta, Mwachisompola, Keembe and Chiyuni benefit.
“This is where customers pay only K150 to have electricity connected. In addition, Zesco is also putting a 60MVA substation near Ibis Gardens that will help mitigate the problem of low voltages and power outages currently being experienced,” Mr Mang’wato said.
Traditional ceremonies
The famous Kulamba Kubwala traditional ceremony of the Lenje is held in Chibombo at Likonde Lyabankanga shrine, where Nkanga, the queen mother of Lenje chiefs Chamuka, Chitanda, Mukubwe and Chipepo, was buried.
The Kulamba Kubwalo ceremony is about paying homage to Nkanga at Likonde, where the queen mother gave her sons land to administer.
Chibombo’s vegetation is open savannah, being more plain towards the Lukanga Swamps on the Kafue River.

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