HENRY SINYANGWE, Mungwi
THIS year’s Ukusefya pa Ng’wena traditional ceremony was the first in Zambia’s history that a senior traditional leader has officiated at the event.
In the previous years, government leaders, especially the Head of State, have officiated. This year, the honour went to Paramount Chief Mpezeni.
When he officiated at the ceremony last year, President Lungu declared that he will not attend traditional ceremonies any more.
One would understand that the Head of State cannot manage to attend all the traditional ceremonies which are celebrated all year round across the country, considering other pressing national issues he has to attend to.
It was then that he said he would send representatives.
This year, the Bemba Royal establishment, which had earlier invited Patrick Motsepe, a South African businessman who said he was not available, settled for their tribal cousins, the Ngonis, to grace the event.
It was a move that gave the tribal cousinship a chance to ‘celebrate’ their bond.
The Ngoni warriors, Impis, took over the security and later entertained the gathering through their war dance, making it a semblance of the Nc’wala ceremony.
The gathering could not miss the opportunity to dance with the Ngoni warriors alongside one of Zambia’s only three Paramount chiefs, Mpezeni, when the time came for the Ngonis to entertain their cousins.
The performance was made more regal when the ‘Commander’ Paramount Chief Mpezeni’ joined to exhibit his dancing skills to the amusement of the Chitimukulu and the rest of the gathering at Ng’wena Village.
The Chitimukulu made his grand entry into the main arena around 09:30 hours, greeting the crowd while he was being carried on a hammock.
The Bembas also showcased their history through various performances such as the renowned ‘Imbeni’ throughout the event.
As one entered the Ng’wena village main arena, they were scrutinised by the Ngoni warriors who jokingly displayed their spears as though they were ready to stab.
But it was the entrance of the Nkosi yama kosi that marked the climax of the event as the paramount chief and his soldiers arrived in posh cars.
During the speeches, Senior Chief Nzamane, who spoke on behalf of Paramount Chief Mpezeni, continuously teased the Bembas that the Ngonis had come to invade the area.
“We have come to take over what belongs to us as Ngonis,” he jokingly said, sending the entire crowd into laughter.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni called for more collaboration among traditional leaders to ensure unity and national development.
He encouraged traditional leaders to continue working together and supporting each other to ensure culture preservation and national development.
He said traditional leaders are Government’s partners in development and should therefore contribute effectively to national affairs as they affect their subjects.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni further added that African culture is similar and therefore the need to celebrate ceremonies together.
“Traditional ceremonies play an important role in the development of various states as the chiefs are incorporated. Our origins are common and therefore we should celebrate traditional ceremonies together. The traditional ceremonies play an important role in uniting the nation,” he says.
And on his part, Paramount Chief Chitimukulu bemoaned moral decay which he said negatively impacted on the people’s livelihoods and has hindered national development.
Speaking through his principle advisor Pius Kasutu, the Chitimukulu said there is need for concerted efforts to ensure that some vices such as the abuse of alcohol especially among the youths are curbed.
And the Chitimukulu said he is happy with the various development programmes the Government is undertaking in his area.
Other notable people who attended the ceremony included the Presidential Affairs Minister Freedom Sikazwe, Health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya, Home Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo and his counterpart from Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma as well as Provincial Minister Brian Mundubile.
Others were the Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba, local members of Parliament from both Northern and Muchinga province as well as a number of the Mwine Lubemba’s special guests from Western New Mexico, in the United States of America.
To wrap up the ceremony, the Ngonis and Bembas engaged in a golf tournament where they interacted as tribal cousins.
The Ngonis won by 369 to 358 points, much to the jubilation of the host team.
According to history, Bembas trace their origin from Kola, present day Congo in the 17th Century.
From Kola, they later crossed Luapula, Chambeshi, and Kalungu rivers.
When they reached the banks of Milando, they came across a dead crocodile hence they adopted the name Abena Ngandu (the crocodile clan).
Since then, Bemba rulers belong to the crocodile clan.
A village named Ng’wena was set up and this is the place where the Bembas celebrate their history until today.
According to succession, the political structure of the Bemba Kingdom remains more or less the same: Chitimukulu is the Mwine Lubemba (owner of the Bemba Kingdom); Ulubemba is divided into semi-autonomous ‘kingdoms’ under the reign of Chitimukulu’s brothers, sons, and nephews.
Nkula and Mwamba are the senior brothers of Chitimukulu and are usually the heirs to the Chitimukulu throne.
Nkole Mfumu and Mpepo are the junior brothers of Chitimukulu. Nkole Mfumu will go on to succeed the Mwamba throne while Mpepo usually ascends the Nkole Mfumu throne.
Occasionally, Mpepo and Nkole Mfumu have ascended directly to the Chitimukulu throne.
HENRY SINYANGWE, Mungwi