Friday, May 24, 2024

Lenshina re-lived at Lusaka Playhouse



Admittedly, the propaganda by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) has not helped Alice Lenshina’s place in the minds of many Zambians, even as it is agreed that she was a spiritual leader.
Oftentimes, she is portrayed as a villain; but not in the theatrical play “Lenshina: The Uprising”, which showed at the Lusaka Playhouse last Friday and Saturday.
The play, written by Kulijekuszyika Nyimbili and directed by Mwambi Kasakwi, portrayed Lenshina, the founder and leader of the Lumpa church, as a heroine, who preached love and peace.
It is a stark contrast to what most sociologists, missionaries and historians portray her.
But in the play, Lenshina’s teachings floated around Christianity and her native faith; she preached about the love for one another, against polygamous marriages and discouraged her followers from practising witchcraft.
For her, when you do the right things, your reward is heaven.
Lenshina’s life-changing ministry is seen to grow among the indigenous population, not just in her home town of Chinsali, but in other regions outside the then Northern province.
In the play, her members are enjoying singing hymns when there are suddenly fierce gunshots. You have the once brave and outspoken church leader weeping over corpses, almost like a helpless child.
It is a solemn scene that sends the entire auditorium into a tranquil mode.
Who could have killed these defenceless and seemingly innocent religious peasants?
The Lumpa church was founded in 1953, based on the profound spiritual experience of Lenshina, a hitherto illiterate village woman of Chinsali district who laid claim to divine inspiration.
For some years, this church was highly successful, attracting a large following, much of it from members of the local mission churches who included families of some political elites who were in government at the time.
Eleven years after its founding, a bitter conflict arose between UNIP and the church, over participation by its followers in politics. First paramilitary police, and then troops, had to be called in to disperse Lumpa settlements and to restore order. They were resisted with primitive weapons and suicidal bravery. Over 700 people were killed including members of the security forces while over 400 were wounded with several thousands fleeing to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In his book, A Time to Mourn, John Hudson, an eyewitness, says there has been an official conspiracy of silence over responsibility for what happened in 1964.
“The outgoing colonial government and the incoming independence one had a common interest in this; the former, because it did not wish to have its record of good governance damaged by the disclosure of failure to prevent violence by acting decisively before it started, and the latter, because the use of lethal force against the very people who should have been its firm supporters in the home district of their leader was a grave embarrassment,” Hudson, who was district commission at Isoka, one of the five districts affected by the Lenshina uprising, writes.
Perhaps what is even more embarrassing is that there has not been an objective account on Lenshina and the Lumpa church.




    • Well spoken…winner takes all and hence the history we were taught in Zambia was totally biased towards KK..surprisingly the national archives are reaped with this rich history for all to read…

    • KK has repented. All this years attending national prayers etc.
      I thought Lenshina came later in early 70s, and I also portrayed her as a cult leader.
      But she sounds like the current minister of PF religions.

  1. People need to be educated especially our children…I remember my grandma telling me she was evil and they all had to eliminated – it was the opposite just like the church was burning everyone to a steak who didn’t come on board with their religion, KK did the same with his opponents.

  2. Leshina
    she was a real african mother, the custodian of tradition in a changing society dominated by politics and religious change. Lenshina and the lumpa church was not an uprising as it came to be known by the ruthless kaunda resime and propaganda.
    IF lenshina was to be blamed by kaunda, it was because she protested against the dying african traditional religion, mass migration and dsocial cultural changes.
    lenshina movement represented something that made sense to africas hence they supported the movement. The suplesion suffered by the followers spelled doom to Bembas. Kapwepwe died mysteriosly but all the Bembas cerebrated. Since independence,

  3. since independence, real Bembas though being a marority group, (41Percent) have been used in political circles, no real bemba has been a president.

  4. KK and the Catholic Church acted together because at that time the Catholic had lost almost all there members who joined Lenshina.

    • The Catholic Church carried the most atrocities known to man …its beggars belief that a black person could be a catholic…its a case of not knowing your history.

  5. No, you are ALL wrong. At the heart of the matter was the advice Lenshina gave to her CULT followers NOT TO PAY TAX!! That is why her matter came up to Gov’t notice and the connection to KK who was new President. I have been researching Lenshina for a film project for a while now. This play is churning out the same drivel historians and interested people have ‘lazily,’ churned out. There are many angles. To Lenshina one can investigate, but her INNOCENCE and her being a gov’t VICTIM is absolute BUNK. Like other cults, in the world, Gov’ts become interested when you start mobilising citizens against the state. A clash of interests between the gov’t and it’s objectives in a democratically elected nation will always bring perpetrators to justice. Churches cannot go up against…

    • Churches cannot go up against the gov’ts of the Land. If you study the Bible you will observe that Good Gov’t and good Governance is our right. It is given that we shall be ruled by our elected and a good Christian will understand how Lenshina erred. Pray for Leaders, for good governance AND do your part, Pay Taxes, Observe The Law. All those observations are prerequisite to practicing for the Kingdom to come. The gov’t on earth us given power to provide structure, and we are to observe the laws. Kenneth Kaunda was the foundation for Zambia and guarded very jealously our rights and freedoms from external powers. We are now testing multiparty and I believe we are deviating from our perfect fit of government. The still primitive nature of tribalism has been brought to the fore by…

    • If we look at Jesus’ approach to the Gov’t of his day, was it to cause an uprising against it? NO! On the contrary. He taught us to bear up to the current circumstances of our lives. To at all times rise above our circumstances and PLACE and VALUE the Kingdom to come and our rights to it ABOVE ALL ELSE. A true religious leader knows, that God has from time given us Leaders here on earth. Prophets, Kings, Presidents, Prime Minsters, ALL are in this fit. Because they are human, they can sin and fail in their duties, and that is a sin before God. We must not give ear to Anarchy, because if the Social nature of humans we must relate, and share out resources equitably. We must lean towards good governance not personal power.

  6. I wont b suprised if the pipo telling how it was here r 20smthngs & 30smthngs. Just pepetuting hearsay. I personally bliv we wil never know the truth. The other truth is that back then Govts knew no democracy & descenting opinion. If u cld not toll the Govt line, u died. From colonial o the way. Kk did it. Mugabe sent soldiers to go & deal with the Ndebele uprising, find out how blood was spild. So the Leshna woman rose up & the wrong time. Now, imagine a chap like hh, if we cld just rewind him to then………


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