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Cheke Cha Mbunda Condemns Unfair Treatment of Mbunda Speaking People in Western Province and Calls For Mutual Respect and Co-existence Between Lozis and Mbundas
The National Chairman for Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association Ndandula Libingi, accompanied by the Cultural Sub-Committee Chairman, Chitumbo Musenge, is currently conducting a Mbunda History Book Launch Tour, in all five districts of Western Province, namely Kalabo, Senanga, Mongu, Kaoma, Lukulu and Kabompo in North Western Province in July 2011.
Speaking at the launch of the 2011 second edition of the Mbunda History Book at Yuka in Kalabo, where 850 people were in attendance, Mr. Libingi called on all the Mbunda Speaking People to stop regarding themselves as strangers in Western Province due to persistence unfair tribal treatment from some of their Lozi Speaking brothers.
He re-emphasized that Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association is the pillar and official representative of the Mbunda Speaking Peoples established in 1956 by Mbundas themselves, demonstrating a concerted effort of strengthening the Mbunda culture in Zambia.
Reminding the crowds that attended the launch meetings, he said, not long ago it was called Cheke Cultural Writers Association. However when the new National Executive Committee was ushered in office in August 2007, it was decided to change the name to Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association. A name he explained, clearly identifying it with its ideologies and principles, thus not only writing the history of the Mbunda Peoples but also to Revive, Preserve, Promote and Protect from Foreign Influences, the Cultural Heritage and Traditions of the Mbunda Speaking Peoples in totality.
Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association is a legal entity having been registered under the Zambian laws at Register of Societies in 1984 and re-registered by way of changing the name on 13th February, 2008 under the same Registration Certificate No. ORS/102/35/279. He therefore then called on all the Mbunda Speaking People not to fear that they might be dealing with an illegal organisation.
He further emphasized that Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association is not Political. Its members should not at any time be seen using the Association to prop up a Political Party or campaign for a candidate of any Political Party. Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association support the Government of the day, and in this case the Government of His Excellency, President, Rupiah Bwezani Banda.
He called on them to recognized further that Mbunda Speaking People are among the 73 ethnic groups of Zambian nationals. The tribe is a distinct group comprising seven dialects which are Mbunda Mathzi, Mbunda Mbalango, Mbunda Shamuka, Mbunda Yauma, Mbunda Nkangala, Mbunda Ndundu and Mbunda Sango. These are settled mainly in Western Province of Zambia in the designated five districts of Kalabo, Kaoma, Lukulu, Mongu and Senanga; and Kabompo District of North Western Province.
He pointed out that the differentiated dialects, are under the traditional leadership of nine Mbunda chiefs that are evenly distributed in the districts of Western Province and one district (Kabompo) of North-Western Province. These royal highnesses are Senior Chief (Mwene) Sikufele at Manyinga in Kabompo; (Mwene) Chiyengele Nyumbu at Mushuwa in Mongu District; Chief (Mwene) Kandala at Mabumbu in Mongu District; Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele Chingumbe at Kayombo in Kabompo; Chief (Mwene) Mundu at Liumba in Kalabo; Chief (Mwene) Lindeho at Chamemba in Kalabo; Chief (Mwene) Kandombwe at Luvuji in Lukulu; Chief (Mwene) Kasabi at Lukute, Kaoma; and Chief (Mwene) Kasimba at Kalumwange, Kaoma.
In Namibia the Mbunda Speaking People are found in Rundu District under the traditional leadership of Chief (Mwene) Kanyanga.
In Congo (DRC) Mbunda Speaking People are found in the confluence of Kwilu and Kasai Rivers.
In Angola, Mbunda Speaking People are found in Moxico and Kuando Kuvango Provinces under traditional leadership of 55 Chiefs.
All the Mbunda Speaking People and their Chiefs in these four Countries ascribe to the traditional leadership of the Mbunda Monarch in Angola under King Mbandu III on the throne today.
He stressed that this only goes to show that the Mbunda Speaking People are a big tribe that cannot be subjugated by another tribe, and one of the 73 ethnic groups in Zambia.
The Cheke Cha Mbunda, National Chairman recalled that: in the 5th National Development Plan (2006-2010), the Zambian Government provided for work plans and resources to support the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of its 73 ethnic groups, each with its own set of traditions and forms of expressions, demonstrating their cultural identity.
He said, it is therefore surprising to note that certain groups of people in this country and Western Province in particular, under the influence of politicians are still made to believe that Mbunda Speaking People are refugees who can be threatened with eviction back to Angola.
He recalled that, in June 2005 there was a call by Mr. and Mrs. Mukamba and Mulele Mumpisho when they were interviewed by Aketata Batunda on Radio Liseli, insinuating that Mbundas are finishing forests in Western Province and that they must go back to Angola, warning that one day you will be ruled by a Mukanda initiate (a circumcised). This disturbed Mbundas, thanks to interventions by the Barotse Royal Establishment, the situation was calmed down. Same calls are still continuing today.
To brush it off that this is the work of Government agents is not convincing because this notion has been surfacing repeatedly in Western Province.
He called to remind those that entertain this idea briefly that, Mbunda Speaking People came into Barotseland from Mbundaland in 1795, almost a Century before the white man divided and shared Africa into political boundaries in the year 1885 The first Mbunda Chief to enter Barotseland was Chief (Mwene) Mundu, followed by Chief (Mwene) Kandala and finally Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele, The three Chiefs came to Barotseland not because they ran away from any war, but due to the warm friendship they enjoyed with the Litunga of Barotseland then, Mulambwa Santulu.
The coming of Chief (Mwene) Chiyengele in Barotseland he said, brought about great changes in the lives of the Aluyi and Mbundas in Barotseland. First, the Mbunda war machinery of Bows and Arrows fought wars for and alongside the Aluyi, one of which resulted in the Aluyi/Mbunda cousinship with Tongas.
This resulted in a strengthened friendship between Aluyi and Mbundas, causing Mulambwa to declare Chief Chiyengele as the Senior Chief of the Mbundas in Barotseland and decreed a ten point Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty with the Mbundas as follows:
1) We give you this sharp-pointed pole to replace those poles with rounded tops for your royal palace. It is only your palace which will be built with sharp poles called milombwe.
2) Your royal drum (Kenda na Vafwa) and royal xylophone (Kamuyongole) should be played in your palace, when you visit others and whenever you come to this capital.
3) It is only you who will use a royal flyswitch of the eland.
4) You are free to continue to teach your people your language and culture; you will not be forced to take our language and culture.
5) There shall never be a Lozi person who enslaves a Mbunda and no Mbunda shall enslave a Lozi
6) You are not forced to live on the Barotse plain but free to live in the forests.
7) You are free to cultivate cassava, yams and millet in the multitude that you wish.
8) In military and political matters you should be allied with the Aluyi
9) Never fight among one another, but love one another.
10) Finally, respect chieftainship and the elders.
This and other factors earned Mbundas to be represented on the Barotse Royal Establishment Council.
It is without doubt Mbundas are one of the individuals that enjoy ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms’ as enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
It is also clear that the Mbunda/Aluyi relationship is so interwoven that in certain cases it is not possible to distinguish a Mbundas from Aluyi. The Nalikwanda used in the famous Kuomboka Ceremony was made initially by Mbunda Speaking People during the reign of Mulambwa. Most of the songs and utilities used in Kuomboka are for Mbunda Speaking People and other tribes in Barotseland such the Nkoyas, Mbukushu, etc.
In short Mbunda Speaking People in Western Province are free to stay and that they will go nowhere, they are in Western Province to stay and protect the interests of the King Litunga Imwiko.
Mbunda Speaking People he said, refuse to be subjugated by another tribe and they don’t believe in subjugating anyone despite the weaknesses.
This being an election year, he urged the Mbunda Speaking People who vote, to turn out in numbers and vote for candidates of their choice as they always did without intimidation from desperate Politicians and their sponsors whom he claimed Cheke Cha Mbunda have come to know by way of their independent investigations. He claimed they avoided the Cheke Cha Mbunda Press Conference in Lusaka on 11th January 2011, so that its position on their insinuations remain hidden from the rest of the Mbunda Speaking people in Western Province.
The Cheke Cha Mbunda National Chairman, reiterated that Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association are not Political. Its members should not at any time be seen using the Association to prop up a Political Party or campaign for a candidate of any Political Party. However, they support the Government of the day, and in this case the Government of the President, His Excellency, Rupiah Bwezani Banda. He said, they refuse the use of Mbunda Speaking People as porn in the political arena, to always be called upon to help others achieve their goals.
He asked the audience: How many Mbundas have been in the political hierarchy since independence? Mbunda is a second largest tribe in Western Province, why is Mbunda language not taught in Western Province schools? Why are Mbundas for the least not even represented on Radio Liseli, or radio Liambai, community radios within their community? How many politicians are at least mentioning Mbundas in their rally speeches? Do they have their interests at heart?
He called on the Mbunda Speaking People to open their eyes. "‘You will reap what you saw.’ If you will be driven by mob psychology and involve yourself in things you do not understand, you will remain Globe trotters, always running away from conflicts". He reminded the Mbundas that:
1) They ran away from conflict with Portuguese in 1914, after the abduction of their King Mbandu and consequently losing the war in 1929. At least they understood what they were fighting for.
2) They ran away during the liberation of Angola. They understood what you were fighting for.
3) They ran away from the civil war in Angola from 1975 – 2005. A war in which some were used by Savimbi without full comprehension.
He asked the Mbundas if they have not been used enough? A bird at hand is better than ten in the bush that might turn out to be bats, he warned.
He called on the Mbundas to ask themselves where the Government in power has failed them! Is it not that they have ourselves to blame for having no representative voice, mainly caused by their lack of identifying themselves as an entity but helping others?
He reported that he has just come back from Angola where he launched the Mbunda History Book. He said, he was interviewed on Angola National Radio in Luanda and Luena Community Radio all in Mbunda language, and the message he carried from King Mbandu III is that Mbunda Speaking People in Angola, Congo (DRC), Namibia and Zambia should support and work with Governments of the day. He said, Mbundas need to settle and reflect on their interests like others.
For the Mbundas Speaking People in Zambia, he called on the Government in power to check the red tape in Western Province and balance up the representative levels there.
Referring to 5th National Development Plan (2006-2010) he alluded to earlier, in which the government provided for work plans and resources to support the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of its 73 ethnic groups, each with its own set of traditions and forms of expressions, demonstrating their cultural identity. He asked the audience, how the Government in power fared in this case for their sake?
He elaborated that: in November 2005 Director General of UNESCO proclaimed Makishi as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This was followed by an ‘Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Makishi Masquerade, a project designed to ensure the safeguarding and promotion of the Makishi Masquerade of this cultural expression.
The project was meant to be managed by The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development. It was meant to provide sustainable foundations for the transmission of skills to the younger generations and to promote awareness of the value and of the importance to safeguard this cultural expression among the Mukanda/Makishi Practicing communities. Therefore, the action plan included capacity building for Zambian staff in the field of research and project management, advanced training workshops for dancers, training of teachers, documentation of knowledge and skills of Makishi masters to prevent its loss, improvement of expertise and facilities, and increasing public awareness through a national information campaign.
How did it fail? he asked! We have ourselves to blame not the Government in power, he stressed. Due to misrepresentation, ignorance and selfishness amongst ourselves the Luvales, Chokwes, Luchazis and Mbundas that compose the Mukanda/Makishi Practising Community, the project collapsed.
He went on to explain that; In recognizing the importance of rehabilitating the history and culture of the Mbunda Speaking Peoples in Zambia and beyond, Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association have committed themselves to innovative strategies to strengthen the Mbunda cultural values. The development of the Constitution for the Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association (CCWA) endorsed by the Zambian Government is one of such initial historical innovative strategies to link the Mbunda Speaking Peoples of Zambia and beyond to their cultural roots of heritage.
He continued to say that, in Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association they have developed series of activities that aim at sustaining the cultural traditions of the Mbunda Speaking peoples in Angola, Congo (DRC), Namibia and Zambia. Among such activities, two major successes so far achieved by the association have been the production of first, the Mbunda historical book, “Cheke” in English and Mbunda Languages to rehabilitate the cultural life of the Mbundas. Second, the “Bible”, for spiritual growth of its people. Third is the provision of humane and material support to its chiefs and formation of cultural groups to enhance traditional activities, including the “Makithi” (known in other tribes as “makishi) for cultural pride of the Mbunda people and country as a whole. These main achievements have demonstrated the commitment of the Cheke Cha Mbunda to create awareness of cultural heritage to its Mbunda population.
He further explained that the history and cultural life of the Mbunda Speaking peoples are outstanding examples of what can be achieved by the local communities supported by professional editorial and research skills alongside the international corporate partners. Mbunda historical profile has been a product of nearly 35 years of a longitudinal study and commitment of the Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association in collaboration with the Government. The Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association therefore still continues a tradition of community based research which begun in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, in 1940s and has, in recent years, enriched not only the history of Zambia, but also the history of Southern Africa more generally. It is therefore envisioned that the Mbunda Speaking Peoples, through the capacity of their association will serve as a stimulus to other communities to gather their historical and cultural traditions to prepare us for publications to enrich cultural heritage identity of the Zambian people. Until all societies of Zambia do so, it will remain impossible to prepare a comprehensive and representative national historical profile for the country. H said in Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association they have viewed their Mbunda cultural history not only as a contribution to knowledge of their own society, but equally to the history of the Zambian national profile.
The Cheke Cha Mbunda National Chairman pointed out that: in line with the declaration by UNESCO of a ‘Mother language day’ this year, promoting the non extinction of mother languages, Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association has embarked on an ambitious programme that answers to that declaration. This programme will also help National Governments where Mbundas are found to have literature for teaching Mbunda language in schools.
He therefore disclosed that: for the year 2011 the Association has planned following activities in reducing the illiteracy of the Mbunda Speaking People:
1. A Portuguese version of the Mbundas History book has been translated in Angola, awaiting funds for printing.
2. A Mbunda-English Chishete/Encyclopedia has been developed and awaiting printing. This is a store house or a research module for all Mbunda school literature to be developed starting from primary to secondary school levels. Out of this the Mbunda-Portuguese Chishete/Encyclopedia will be translated.
3. The Mbunda-English Dictionary has been developed awaiting printing and out of this the Mbunda-Portuguese Dictionary will be translated.
4. The English version of the Mbunda History Book is being revised as a second edition in line with the 2nd edition of the Mbunda version that has been printed.
He therefore then conclude that: It is on this basis that functions such as this one being officiated today, as means of mobilizing human and material resources be supported to achieve the various cultural events planned for short and long term activity implementation which include:
(a) Meeting with all Mbunda Chiefs at a convenient location.
(b) Supporting various annual cultural events at various palaces for Mbunda Chiefs.
(c) Continuity of community based research approaches to promote culture and national identity.
(d) Tourism and shows for the cultural life of the Mbunda people to promote culture.
He said, with these ambitions in mind, it should be noted that their contribution should be seen to fulfil implementation of these planned activities for better achievements.
He further cautioned them that, the occasion further demonstrated efforts being made through economic empowerment or initiatives by the local people to enhance sustainable development in our country to improve the quality of lives of our people in Zambia. With these elaborative ethnic historical background and projected goals of Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association, he assured them that their effort and money used to buy the Mbunda history book will not go in vain but to help achieve these goals.
Referring to the 2nd Edition of the Mbunda History Book he was launching in Mbunda language, he said it was one of the products of nearly 35 years of a longitudinal study and commitment by the Cheke Cha Mbunda Cultural and Writers Association. It is a 325 page book of an updated 2nd Edition of 1998, covering the History and culture of the Mbunda Speaking People from 15th Century to the year 2008. Its first print was 1,700 copies which have all been taken to Angola at a price of K 75,000.00 each. The second reprint is 500 copies for Zambia at a price of K 50,000.00.
He informed the audience that: this book is a true archive, giving you the origin of the Mbunda Speaking people trekking all the way from Sudan in the 14th Century, passing through Kola, in the now Democratic Republic of Congo and trekking southwards to Angola, Zambia and Namibia. It gives you the chronology of the Mbunda Monarch from their first King Nkuungu in Kola to King Mbandu III, the 22nd Monarch in Angola today.
He further informed them that: they will also be privileged to learn about all the nine Mbunda Chiefs in Zambia, dispelling the insinuations being received from certain quarters, misleading people that certain Chiefs are Lozis.
He also disclosed that: the origin and ceremony of the Mbunda Mukanda for males and their 56 Makithi with their names is fully covered, not forgetting the Mbunda Inamusho Litungu ceremony for female initiates.
On the religious side, he said, the history of the Mbunda Bible translation and printing, which started in Angola in 1914 to the year 2008 when it was launched is well documented, including the conflicts Mbundas had with Missionaries in this regard.
He urged all the Mbunda Speaking People to acquire the Mbunda History Book, as they will indeed find joy and deep understanding of their origin and the position of the Mbunda Speaking People in society, which turns out to be a rich reservoir of knowledge for our future generations.
The Mbunda History Book was offered for sale at K 50,000.00. Also offered for sale at the launch was the 2011 Mbunda Calender which is in three languages; Mbunda, English and Portuguese sold at K 5,000.00.
Earlier launch meetings were convened in Mongu at Nang'oko, Chief Chiyengele Nyumbu's Palace, Mabumbu at Chief Kandala's Palace and Senanga at YWCA premises. The launches will continue up until end of July in Liumba and Chamemba at Chief Lindeho's Palace all in Kalabo, and other remaining districts.
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