By Henry Kanyanta Sosala
Many people on the copper-belt who hail from Chief Mumpolokoso’s chiefdom in Northern Province, including some other non-Bemba chiefs have constantly queried me as to why the Bemba Royal Establishment took such drastic measures of going so far as to dismiss Mubanga Albert Mumbi, Chileshe Yulaya Mumba (ex- Chief Chewe) and Grimson Mwila (ex-Chief Chimbuka) as Bemba chiefs.
Unity and competition are the cornerstones of the Bemba’s successful political system. Our unity lies in that the seventeen gazetted chiefs and fifteen non-gazetted sub-chiefs are linked to another, nor primarily through subordination, but through a complex and flexible kinship between chiefs and sub-chiefs themselves and then with a total allegiance to a common Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu.
Dr. Audrey wrote in Political System of the Bemba Tribe: ‘’Authority, power and prerogatives depend upon descent and kinship and all branches of the royal clan can claim connection with the original family of which a traditional Chitimukulu was head. The Chitimukulu is the oldest name of a royal chief. It is the name carried by the most senior members of the crocodile totem and as such it demands the most respect. The sway of the Chitimukulu is as much moral and spiritual as temporal. His temporal power too is the greatest of the chiefs. He lives in and rules Ulubemba, the stronghold of the tribe and all appointments of chiefs to help him hold the widening sphere of Bemba rule comes from him.’’
All those who want to destroy the Bemba chieftaincy and tribe aim to break up the unity and allegiance to Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu and create a weak Bemba multi-chiefdoms tribe that could easily be scrapped. The Chiluba administration gave motor vehicles to some subordinate Bemba chiefs so that they could sever their allegiance from Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu and thus weaken Bemba power and influence.
The Nkandu-Luo Cartel
The Michael Chilufya Sata’s reign was the darkest epoch in Bemba history because Bemba chieftaincy was at the brink of complete and total ruin. This was a time when the Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs publicly defamed, antagonized, humiliated and dishonoured me and Bashilubemba (the hereditary councilors).
That was the time I became a tourist centre for disgrace and a cabbage bag for the powers-that-were.
President Sata censured Honourable Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba for having visited me since there was a national policy drawn up after I was de-gazetted as Senior Chief Mwamba of the Bemba people by cabinet at the instigation of President Sata to ‘’totally hate and isolate me.’’
Honourable Mwamba being a member of the Bemba royal family failed to betray his tribe unlike Mubanga Albert Mumbi or Dr. Xaviour Chishimba for the sake of money and position. In fact before Honourable Mwamba had paid a courtesy call on me in Kasama, he even took a precaution measure by inviting two officers from the Office of the President to monitor our meeting. And yet President Sata rebuked him ‘’for failing to show collective responsibility on his part as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for the ruling party.’’ (The Post 24th December 2013).
The Micro-Biologist and Immunologist Professor Nkandu Luo suddenly became the expert in Bemba traditional affairs. President Sata stated: ‘’Professor Luo should have a better understanding of the Bemba succession process since she hails from the royal family.’’ (The Post 9th May 2013). (She is actually a Bisa and not from the Bemba royal family). In fact, the President was adamant that Professor Luo ‘’ had a better understanding of the Bemba succession process, which had been in existence for over 200 years than Bashilubemba.’’ And on the other hand, what was amazing was that when President Sata entered State House in 2011, Chileshe Yulaya Mumba, suddenly and automatically became the most senior Bemba royal family expert and champion.
On 21st June 2013,the Honourable Minister, misled Parliament ‘’…..we have a chief who was nominated without following a proper transfer system and was not initiated……….The withdrawal of Chief Mwamba from his position is based on the fact that he never served as Chief Nkolemfumu and also refused to be initiated traditionally…Mr. Speaker, Chief Mwamba refused to be initiated traditionally. Unsolicited, he went to Radio Mano to say he would not be initiated because that would conflict with his religious principles.’’
And to the contrary, W.V. Brelsford in Succession of Bemba Chiefs wrote: ‘’Another guiding line is that there is no sequence of chiefly names leading to the Paramountcy, only relationships and a new Paramount may step up from being Mwamba or Nkula or from being a man with no earlier post. The sequence of Chitimukulu, Mwamba, Nkolemfumu, Mpepo need not necessarily be a permanent order of names to the Paramountcy.’’
The greatest problem in Africa is that the ‘’educated’’ believe that they have acquired knowledge in all spheres of life. And to them ‘’education’’ is the master key that can open all doors of life. However, the truth is that you cannot think a traditional muddle clear: you have only to obey it clear. As Alexander Goldenweiser put it in his book, Anthropology: An Introduction to Primitive Culture: ‘’What the anthropologist really deals with, then, is not the past but the present…people in general, and primitive in particular, do not think or analyze their culture they live it. It never occurs to them to synthesize what they live or reduce it to a common denominator, as it were.’’ (ibid., p.43).
In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in customary matters you think yourself into cotton wool. The point is that in cultural norms, intellect or reason is not sufficient to explain strong elements of ritual nature. This is because ritual deals with objective realities and definite contents and demands. And in this respect, the mystical nature of chieftainship is an extraordinarily eclectic dissertation particularly valuable in that it allows western culture to view itself from the outside, thereby permitting the objectivity impossible for the ignoramuses puffed up with western accumulated book knowledge whose opinions and axioms are perverted.
W.V. Brelsford in ‘’Succession of Bemba Chiefs: A Guide for District Officers’’ wrote: ‘’The appointment of chiefs lies primarily with the Paramount-in-council, which is the Superior Native Authority.’’
In the Supreme Court Judgement No. 25 of 2008 between Chief Mpepo (Ackson Chilufya Mwamba), appellant and Senior Chief Mwamba (Paison Chilekwa Yambayamba), respondent reads on J18__ 623:’’In the case of the Bemba customary law of succession, it is generally agreed by the parties that a chief below Chitimukulu, it can be Senior Chief Mwamba, Senior Chief Nkula or indeed any other, is chosen or appointed by the Paramount Chief-in-council. When the choice of a Chitimukulu is an issue, the body mandated to make the appointment is known as Bashilubemba. The composition of the two bodies, including the necessary quorum for transaction of business, was not part of the evidence. Besides, what the evidence failed to establish is the role of Chandamukulu, the Queen Mother (including Mukukamfumu, the Queen for Chinsali side), in the selection process of Chitimukulu and the chiefs below Chitimukulu.’’
The greatest problem with Professor Nkandu Luo was her inconsistency or short memory because according to The Post newspaper of 1st May 2013, she was quoted as having said that it was Queen mother Chandamukulu who appoints Chitimukulu and she wondered what would happen since Chandamukulu had just died.
And to the contrary, she was again quoted in The Post of 3rd October 2013 as having said that it was Queen mother Ngoshe Mukote who appoints Chitimukulu. The already quoted Supreme Court’s judgement in part reads:’’…. Besides, what the evidence failed to establish is the role of Chandamukulu, the Queen Mother (including Mukukamfumu, the Queen for Chinsali side), in the selection process of Chitimukulu and the chiefs below Chitimukulu.’’
After meeting the members of Ngoshe Mukote family on 9th November 1924 who were claiming the Nkula throne, the colonial District Commissioner, H.G. Willis wrote to the Secretary for Native Affairs on 18th December 1924: ‘’..I agree that Ngoshe Mukote branch of the family has no good claim, they had been driven away many years before the Government came and to revive such claims is impossible.’’ One normally wonders how the Honourable Minister managed to decipher what was ‘’impossible’’ after one hundred years!
The Supreme Court judges only mentioned ‘’…Mukukamfumu for Chinsali side,’’ because there was absolutely no evidence of any trace of the existence of Queen Ngoshe Mukote in Chinsali District since that lineage became extinct at about 1867. The two questions are: what are the sources from which the Minister obtained such false historic information. And second, who has since been appointing Chitimukulus for the past one hundred years? It would certainly be hard to find in the Zambian political history, a more tragic case study on abuse of positional power than the story in the case of Honourable Professor Nkandu Luo. It is really a question mark on her integrity that such a supposed prominent professional could be involved in deceit and falsehood.
And as already alluded to the Chiluba regime in its quest to destroy Bemba chieftaincy, ignored Chitimukulu-in-council as the only legitimate appointing authority of Bemba chiefs and recognized Mr. Paison Chilekwa Yambayamba as ‘’Senior Chief Mwamba’’ under Statutory Instrument 102 of 2000 dated 3rd October 2000. However, the Supreme Court Judgement No. 25 of 2008 between Chief Mpepo (also known as Ackson Chilufya Mwamba) Appellant And Senior Chief Mwamba (also known as Paison Chilekwa Yambayamba) respondent ruled that ‘’It was wrong for former President Chiluba to recognize the plaintiful as Senior Chief Mwamba because that was against the wishes and decision of the Paramount Chief-in-council and therefore a contravention of Section 3 of the Chiefs’ Act. It was pointed out that there was no dispute at trial that the appointing authority of chiefs subordinate to Chitimukulu was the Paramount Chief-in-council and not the President of Zambia or indeed the High Court of Zambia. In this view, the President should have referred the matter to the Paramount Chief-in-council for review and hence customary law was not followed.’’ (p. J 11- 616).
However, deliberately wielding his wild powers over the Bemba traditional system and the Supreme Court ruling, President Michael Sata gazetted Chileshe Yulaya Mumba as Chief Chewe (SI 126 of 2011 of 11th November 2011) and Grimson Mwila as Chimbuka(SI 24 of 2013 of 28th February 2013).
It’s here where one realizes the undeniable reality that the entire nation, including all institutions are held on the presidential hook! For example, the Attorney –General, who is supposed to be the government’s legal expert could do not advise the President about this terrible and shameless abuse of office. Why should the government’s legal advisor let the President misuse his Executive powers and sink so low as to interfere with a tribal arrangement that has been in existence for more than 200 years!
The family tree is of crucial importance as far as claims to the royal heritage is concerned. For example, the gospel of Matthew in the Bible begins with the genealogy f our Lord Jesus Christ. And by showing Christ as descended from King David, Matthew wants to explicate that Jesus is the royal heir to the throne. However, these PF cadres have no family trees in their files and Grimson Mwila had in fact merely written a letter to the President applying to be appointed a chief and President Sata wrote to the Clerk of the House of Chiefs to have him gazetted. And there was not even the slightest courtesy of notifying the Bemba Royal Establishment.
On the other hand, President Sata claimed that he had de-gazetted me on 8th May 2013 because I had not undergone initiation. But again and again Bashilubemba had been stating that: ‘’I could not go through the rituals because my superior had only gone through the process almost at the end of his life and after his demise the rituals could only be performed after the burial.’’
In Parliament on 21st June 2013, when in answer to Honourable Dr. Chituwo on the reasons for my de-gazetting, Honourable Luo said: ‘’ I should not create my own way of handling matters. According to the law that I am supposed to follow, the royal establishment chooses a chief who is initiated through customary tradition. In the Bemba tradition, when a person is selected to be a chief, that person has to go through the traditional rituals before he can be called a chief. He is also given what are called the instruments of power, and the instruments of power in the Bemba Chiefdom are called Babenye.’’
In A History of the Bemba, Andrew Roberts wrote: ‘’The senior Bakabilo are no mere servants of Chitimukulu, but are themselves the hereditary holders of historic titles, some as old as the Chitimukuluship itself. Since they are essential to the maintenance of chieftainship through their control of chiefly appointments and their responsibility for chiefly rituals, they are in a real sense the source of chiefly legitimacy.’’
Indeed, according to President Sata and Honourable Luo I was de-gazetted because I had not been initiated in accordance with Bemba customs. But the question is: Who performed the rituals on PF cadre Chiefs Chewe and Chimbuka to make them qualify to be gazetted as Bemba chiefs? If on the other hand, they had undergone through Bisa rituals how did they qualify to be gazetted as Bemba chiefs? Note what Andrew Roberts emphasized on, ‘’Bakabilo are in a real sense the source of chiefly legitimacy.’’
How true are Dr. Kaunda’s words on abuse of power: ‘’The attraction of power is that it extends the range of a man’s personality and allows him to fulfill himself through the personality of others. Power enables men to multiply the impact of their personalities on the world and other men. Hence it is often the source of pride and arrogance. People in power use the vast power at their disposal to mould the lives of the subjects to the point where they cease to be free persons and become, as it were, limbs and organs of their bodies; there will expressed through theirs and their voices speaking through their mouths. ’’
The Mubanga Albert Mumbi Saga
On the 26th February 2015, I was instructed by the Inchenje Council which comprise of Bashilubemba to invite Mubanga Albert Mumbi (the now ex-Chief Mumpolokoso) to attend Ilamfya Bemba Superior Council which was to be held on 16th March 2015 since there were very serious allegations which had been leveled against him. And in my letter dated 26th February 2015 which was delivered to him by two of our Bashilubemba, I stated:
It is alleged that in August 2014, you sent a motor vehicle to transport His Royal Highness Chief Chimbola to become Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu so as to replace Mr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala who had been appointed by Bashilubemba.
It is alleged that in August 2014 you applied to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs to establish you own traditional ceremony known as ‘’Ukusefya Chishamwamba,’’ which meant breaking away from the unity of Bemba chieftainship and allegiance to Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu.
In that letter I emphasized that these were very serious allegations and I strongly advised that he needed to exculpate himself in person and I went further to advise that should he be unable to travel, then Bashilubemba would also accept his exculpation in writing. ‘’And failure to comply to both will mean that the Ilamfya Council members will table your issue and come up with their decision based on the information at hand.’’
Our two emissaries told the Ilamfya Council members that he told them to read the letter for him and after they refused then it was given to his retainer who told him the contents. And then he told Bashilubemba that the Ilamfya Council should be postponed to another day since
he also would be holding an important meeting with his village headmen on the same day.
Andrew Roberts wrote: ‘’Subordination is deeply ingrained in Bemba society, and it is not too much to say umucinshi (respect, deference, propriety) is one of those essentially untranslatable key words which characterize a whole society.’’
The Ilamfya Bemba Superior Council on 16th March 2015 was attended by 133 persons consisting of chiefs, sons of chiefs, Bashilubemba, citizens, government officials etc., resolved to dismiss Mubanga Albert Mumbi and others from being Bemba chiefs. However, the minutes we submitted to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs for the de-gazetting of the chiefs were not processed. And Albert Mumbi was heard boasting that he had been assured by Honourable Joseph Katema that ‘’the decision of Ilamfya is useless, you will remain a chief as long as you are gazette by us as government.’’
The Cartel’s Evil Strategy
The recent constituted Bisa nationalism pioneered by Professor Nkandu Luo had the strategic evil plan of transferring the Bemba paramountcy to Chileshe Yulaya Mumba, a man of common stock and therefore reduce the Bemba tribe to nothingness.
And this came from the horse’s mouth. Kingsley Kaswende reported on Yulaya Mumba, the PF-cadre Chief Chewe: ‘’..in making a claim for Chitimukuluship, Chief Chewe, for instance, seems to consider an alternative scenario in his case, ‘In fact we from Ichinga do not consider Chitimukulu from the miti clan as a royal. We can do without your Chitimukulu and the boundary will be east of the Chambeshi river. Nkula-chewe-Kaponge-we-Chinga. Chief Chewe will be the overall Paramount chief of Ichinga country’.’’ (Bulletin magazine Volume IV. Issue 3 April 2014). And furthermore, the government approved their traditional ceremony called, ‘’ukulambalala,’’ as opposed to the Bemba ‘’Ukusefya Pa Ngwena.’’
And on the other hand, Albert Mumbi, who was gazetted as Chief Tungati was transferred to act as Chief Mumpolokoso because the people rose against him was recruited by the Luo-cartel to make another division and another ceremony was approved called ‘’ukusefya Pa Chishamwamba.’’ He was promised to be promoted to a position of Senior Chief inspite of being on the lowest rung according to Bemba hierarchy. His task was to include Bemba chiefdoms of Mumpolokoso, Shibwalya Kapila, Tungati, Chipalo and Senior Chief Shimumbi to break away from the authority of Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu.
Let me give you the clear picture of the strategy: In Muchinga, Yulaya was to be the Paramount chief over Senior Chief Nkula, Chief Chikwanda, chief Mpepo, Chief Luchembe, Chief Mukwikile, Chief Mubanga and Chief Nkweto. ( Mr. Geoffrey Ng’andu the current Chief Mukwikile was to be deployed in the diplomatic service in order to create an opening for Yulaya’s appointee, but he was only to serve for a period of one year and to be recalled and that could have been the end of his story).
And this meant that Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu was supposed to remain only with Senior Chief Mwamba, chief Nkolemfumu, Chief Makasa, Chief Chimbola, and Chief Munkonge. And the so-called ‘’Senior Chief Mumpolokoso’’ had one time travelled to appoint Chief Chimbola as Chitimukulu.
The Power of Dismissals
And the dismissals were based on issues that were raised during the March 1975 Davidson Nyambe Muttendengo Commission. President Kaunda was at variance with Senior Chief Nkula (alias Dickson Mutale Chitabanta) of Chinsali District. Senior Chief Nkula grew up together with President Kaunda during their childhood at Chinsali. In the opinion of many people, Senior Chief Nkula stuck to traditional values which required President Kaunda to pay a courtesy call on him and not vice versa. Besides, the chief knew in detail the background of President Kaunda’s parents who came from Malawi. On the other hand, in an exhibition of power, President Kaunda suspended Senior Chief Nkula for being disloyal to him.
Article 96 states: The overwhelming view in the evidence received by the Commission was that unless the suspended chief is stripped of his office by the Paramount Chief and the Bakabilo in consultation with other Bemba chiefs, he retains it, whatever action Government may take.’’ And article 97 states: ‘’It is clear from the evidence received that Mr. Dickson Mutale chitabanta has not ceased to hold the office of Senior Chief Nkula and that he will continue to be so until and unless the Paramount Chief and the Bakabilo in consultation with all Bemba chiefs decide otherwise.’’
On the other hand, Part XII of the amended Constitution states in section 174 (1): ‘’The institution of chieftaincy and traditional institutions are guaranteed and shall exist in accordance with culture, custom and traditions of the people to whom they apply.’’ (2) Parliament shall not enact legislation which (a) ‘’confer on a person or authority the right to recognize or withdraw the recognition of a chief.’’; or (b) derogates from the honour and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy.’’
J13 __618 of the Supreme Court judgement reads: ‘’Alluding to the case of Ignatius Muhau Vs Attorney General and National Airports Corporation, a case founded on the principle of judicial review and where it stated that the court cannot enquire into the merits or demerits of the decision made by a body with the power to make decision. Professor Mvunga, S,C., submitted that the decision of Bashilubemba would not be attacked on any ground of illegality, impropriety or unreasonableness in the Wednesbury sense……’’
An ancient scholar, Eliphaz said, ‘’God upsets the plans of the crafty, so that nothing they try seems to succeed. He traps the wise in their own schemes and what they thought would succeed, doesn’t.’’ (Job 5: 12, 13). And the great physicist, Albert Einstein once said, ‘’God doesn’t play dice.’’
It is amazing that the three Bemba-speaking Republican Presidents I.e., President Kaunda, President Chiluba and President Sata have each frantically attempted to disintegrate Bemba chieftaincy. On the other hand, there was only due respect from President Patrick Mwanawasa and President Rupiah Banda. And in addition we did not face problems with Honourable Inonge Wina, a traditionalist, when she served as the first Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs. Whereas it was hell with Honourable Nkandu Luo and we are currently facing the same hell fire from Honourable Joseph Katema who are both Bemba-speaking. And that it is widely believed in the Bemba royal circles that: in the relay race of hatred for the Bemba chiefs, Honourable Nkandu Luo has passed on the baton to Honourable Joseph Katema.
The question is why? And indeed there are various reasons since each individual has had personal reasons for their deep hatred for the Bemba chieftaintcy and which boils to the hatred of the Bemba people! And three dismissed chiefs are now boasting that the government would still keep them on the pay-roll and to-date the accountant at the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs has not yet received instructions from the relevant authorities to delete them from the payroll!
It is just amazing how Chileshe Yulaya Mumba and Grimson Mwila suddenly came on the scene from nowhere and began to masquerade as genuine senior royal family members in the Ngoshe Mukote lineage and with no royal family trees and the government began to offer them senior positions in Bemba chieftaincy and appointing them on Boards. It was in March 2015 when the Ilamfya Bemba Supreme Council passed the resolution to dismiss the three and nothing had since been done and it’s only the amended constitution that has come to our rescue. This was deliberately done to make it abundantly clear especially to me that I am not in the least wanted in the ‘’system.’’
Of course there would be vehement denials but judging from the aforesaid, but do not reality on the ground fall entirely within the passage from Atkins Court forms, 2nd ed., Vol. 25, which states that, ‘’……..the scope of the defense of justification does not depend upon the way in which the plaintiff pleads his case, but on the meaning or meanings which words or actions are capable of bearing.’’