AFTER a 'bitter' exchange of words between the Bembas and Ngonis, the stage has finally been set for the two traditional rivals to settle their scores on the golf course today.
Ndola Golf Club, the traditional hosts, will stage the 15th edition of the annual Tribal Cousins championship today with the Bembas targeting to claim another Ngonis scalp - their 13th triumph in the prestigious event.
However, the Ngonis, who have only won the title twice, claim to have done their homework properly this time, sealing off all loopholes which the Bembas thrived on to do their 'monkey' tricks in the past.
But newly-appointed Bembas chairperson, Kangwa Mukwikile said they expected nothing new from the Ngonis but promised them another thrashing.
"The Ngonis will receive what they always expect when they play us. They will be sorted out and kiss dust again as we pick our 13th cheque," Mukwikile said.
Ngoni chairperson, Charles Mwanza said the Bembas were in disarray as they were faced with a serious leadership crisis and that his 'warriors' would capitalise on the confusion to grab their third title. "Their late leader, Viano Kapoka kept them together but now the Bembas are in disarray. We don't know how they will do their battle with this crisis," Mwanza said.
Mukwikile said the Bembas had assembled a strong squad which would easily roll over the Ngonis. But Mwanza, who is Zambia Golf Union (ZGU) president, accused the Bembas of thriving on cheating for their past victories.
"We will insist on National Registration Cards this time to ensure we don't have cheats from some known neighbouring countries," he said.
To add spice to the annual Tribal Cousins golf spectacle, Mukwikile said the Bembas would display pictures of Paramount Chiefs Chitimukulu from 1924 to 1978 and also the Bemba woman who was captured by the Ngonis in the 1850s when Chief Makasa's territory was raided.
He said the captured woman later gave birth to a son from a Ngoni father who later became Paramount Chief Chitimukulu Musenga.
Mwanza said all logistics were in place for the event with attractive prizes in store for the deserving winners.
He said the tournament brings out the true friendship between tribes and that the level of interaction was the only genuine one in Zambia.
Mwanza said over 100 golfers would be battling for honours in the prestigious event that sees the Bembas, who are the defending champions, having won the event 12 times while the Ngonis have only managed twice.
During the last competition, then Ngoni chairperson, Matthew Nkhuwa boycotted the event after his call for a change of the playing format was not granted by the organisers.
Nkhuwa, a former ZGU president, had demanded that the tournament be played as a match-play but the organisers stuck to the original individual stableford.
When the battle for supremacy on the picturesque Ndola golf course ended, it was again the pre-tournament favourites, Bemba, who emerged winners after posting 386 points against 367 for the Ngonis.
However, it was not an easy stroll for the Bembas as they needed to be aided to the winners' podium by a disqualification of a Ngoni golfer, Bernard Daka, who had amassed 26 points.