10 November 2012

Zambia: Lima People Toast Nsengele Kununka Ceremony

VARIOUS traditional dance groups wriggled their waists to the sound and tune of the drums, one after another, before guest of honour Labour and Social Security Minister Fackson Shamenda, alongside Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Stanford Msichili and other dignitaries walked into the arena.

This was during the celebration of the Nsengele Kununka Ceremony of the Lima people of Mpongwe District.

After about five minutes, a group of chiefs walked into the arena too with their respective routines.

The traditional rulers walked majestically across the arena past the dignitaries' tent as they went to take up their seats.

About 3,000 spectators were part of the audience as Chief Machiya majestically walked into the arena after a muzzle loader fired a few shots in the air signifying his arrival.

That marked the beginning of the colourful traditional ceremony, which is celebrated annually as a conquest celebration of past wars fought by the Bulima people.

The chief walked in, to the rhythm of the singing and drumming by the dance troupe as he circled round the arena twice with his retinue amidst ceaseless ululations and cheering before ascending to a nine tier platform as a sign of respect for the past eight Machiya chiefs who have been on the throne.

The ceremony is significant as the people of the area celebrate the Bulima war victories won in Tanzania and modern day Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) thrilled the crowd when the chief was challenged to a 'duel' by his machete-wielding traditionalists.

To demonstrate their ancestors victories, over the battles, the chief descended from the top of the tier and challenged his retreating opponent.

The chief dramatically disarmed the man before striking him to the ground with the machete, amidst thunderous cheering and ululations.

At the same function and in a speech read for him by former Mpongwe District Commissioner, Rasford Bulaya, Nsengele Kununka organising Chairperson, Gabriel Namulambe said traditional leaders felt honoured by the creation of the Ministry of Chiefs and appealed to the PF Government to keep the spirit of conserving traditional ceremonies.

Mr Namulambe appealed to the Government to tar the Mpongwe-Machiya Road, build a bridge across the Kafue River which connects to Chief Mwinuna's palace and also look after chief's affairs.

"When Senior Chief Ndubeni, Mwinuna and Mukutuma were admitted to hospital, no Government official visited them," he complained.

He revealed that some livestock had died due to an out-break of animal diseases and appealed to the Government to maximise livestock and fisheries activities in Mpongwe District.

Mr Namulambe appealed to the Government to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, corruption, poverty, gender based violence and illiteracy.

He urged the Government to continue taking education to the door steps of the people.

In his address to the crowd later, Labour and Social Security Minister, Mr Shamenda said the PF Government placed great importance on traditional ceremonies and also accused the previous regime of patronising chiefs.

"This Government does not want and will not interfere in the affairs of chiefdoms," he said.

He said the Government was aware that chiefs played a key role in national heritage and added that a nation without culture was as good as dead.

The minister assured chiefs of the necessary Government support, saying in order to confirm the importance President Michael Sata attached to chiefs, he had appointed a professor from the University of Zambia as minister of chiefs affairs.

He said although some people wanted to use traditional ceremonies to divide nations, in the actual sense events such as Nsengele Kununka united people.

The minister said the regime had noted with sadness that some citizens were leading sub-human lives, and that he had seen some villagers live better lives than urban shanty town dwellers.

"Some urban dwellers, would rather drink bottled water to avoid suffering from diarrhoea because they are not used to drinking contaminated water," he observed.

Mr Shamenda assured the country that some of the promises, particularly those that had been made by the President during his 2011 campaigns, would be fulfilled gradually.

He said the Government would address feeder roads and drill more boreholes. He said top on the agenda would be the construction of the bridge across the Kafue river, saying no responsible government would allow its people to continue drowning.

And in a vote of thanks, Senior Chief Mwinuna lamented that farmers had not received money from FRA for the maize that they had sold from the previous farming season so they could not buy fertiliser in preparation of this season.

He also lamented that farmers received top dressing fertiliser before basal dressing, which he said was not right.

He complained that his chiefdom lacked electricity, mobile phone services, television and radio signal and also wondered what crime his chiefdom had committed to suffer such deprivation.

"What crime has Mwinuna chiefdom committed to suffer like this? Out of the fifteen chiefs in the Copperbelt, only my palace lacks electricity. We only get to hear about current affairs when we go to town," he said.

After the emotional vote of thanks, Chief Machiya was showered with gifts before the ceremony came to an end.

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