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BANA MUNYATI: OUR STORY THUS FAR

From Nascence to Date

From Antiquity, We Come, Sovereign

 

According to oral accounts, our indigenous nation's recorded history as it relates to this era in which it is part of the Republic of Zambia as the Chiefdom of Nalubamba begins in 1894, when Muuluka Mwanang'ambwa was recorded as Chief Nalubamba of the Bana Munyati of Mbeza by colonial administrators acting on behalf of the British South Africa Company during a territory-wide registration exercise. This took place in Kalomo, then the central hub of the British South Africa Company's concession territory called North-Western Rhodesia. 

 

Around the same general time, the Barotse Kingdom sought and was granted, Protectorate status by the British, as the British acquired the Cecil Rhodes' claimed concession territory of North-Western Rhodesia and fused it with Barotseland for administrative convenience, creating a new Protectorate called Barotseland North-Western Rhodesia. 

 

The areas that are today called Southern Province and North-Western Province of Zambia, were, after the creation of the Protectorate of Barotseland North-Western Rhodesia, placed under the administrative oversight of the Litunga, King of the Barotse, and his court by the British Crown. 

 

The Protectorates of Barotesland North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia were later fused into a single entity called Northern Rhodesia, in 1911; Northern Rhodesia then went on to become the independent nation of Zambia in 1964. 

 

The Chiefdom of Chief Nalubamba of Namwala predates the Republic of Zambia by 70 years. Our indigenous nation and its sovereign leadership, though small in size and humble in character, go much, much further back in time. 

 

We, the Bana Munyati of Mbeza, are  considered to be part of Zambia by way of the Independence Act 1964 of the British Parliament that renamed Northern Rhodesia to the independent nation of Zambia, and the Barotseland Agreement 1964 between the Kingdom of Barotseland and the emerging independent nation of Zambia that held two separate territories together by mutual agreement and created the Republic of Zambia.

 

 

 

About Muuluka Mwanang'ambwa, aka Nalubamba

 

Regarding Nalubamba, the Mwami after whom our territory is today named, the following has been gathered from oral family history.

 

Although descending from a line of leaders, his father being Chooye, grandson of Munyati, who was the accepted and known sovereign ruler of the territory of Mbeza and surrounding areas at that time; Munyati being a nephew (some accounts say, cohort) of Chizungu, the renowned leader of the illustrious Chizungu group that had dominated Mbeza, before Munyati's migrating from Namakube in the Muchila area and taking up residence in the vicinity of Mbeza, Muuluka Mwanang'ambwa's rulership was not inherited directly from his forebears. 

 

However, the seat that is known today as Senior Chief Nalubamba is acknowledged by oral history to be the continuation of an established lineage of sovereign rulership, connecting through our indigenous nation's founding Mwami, Munyati, in the long- and continuously-settled territory of Mbeza and surrounding areas; a settling that reaches back at least 200 years, to some time in the the 1800s. 

 

 

1894-1947: Mwanang'ambwa Takes Over From Munyati; Becomes First-Ever Chief Nalubamba

 

Oral and written history speak of Munyati as a sovereign ruler, a Mwami recognised to be the "most powerful among the leaders in the area", at and around Mbeza prior to the registration of Nalubamba Chiefdom in 1894, although he was not stationed at Mbeza itself at the time, according to family lore.

 

Chooye, Mwanang'ambwa's father, however, was, and even though being on the ground and heavily involved in ruling over the Bana Munyati, was never named as sovereign ruler by Munyati but looked after his grandfather's interests in Mbeza as a steward. 

 

When the time came for the British South Africa Company to make a register of chiefs in the area, it is recorded that Munyati, who was based at Hachiboloma's village some distance away from Mbeza by then, wishing not to go himself, and, no doubt, also, not partial to the idea of being summoned in such a fashion, sent Mwanang'ambwa, his grandson Chooye's son, to Kalomo,  with the colonial administrators who had been sent gather the rulers of the area, to be registered in his stead. It was there that Mwanang'ambwa was conferred with the official title of Chief, making him the first Chief Nalubamba. The sovereign ruler at Maala, apparently, sent someone else in his stead too.

 

There is no recorded, nor is there any recounted, tale of ire on Munyati's part arising from this occurrence. This was, it can be assumed, on account of the blood connection that existed between Munyati and the newly named Chief Nalubamba, the latter being the son of the former's grandson as earlier stated. 

 

Munyati was warlike, having taken on Sebetwane and the Makololo in his prime. Had anything been out of order, spears would, no doubt, have flown. The fact that the transition from Munyati's rule to Nalubamba's went down without incident evinces that Mwanang'ambwa's chieftaincy, and his accession to sovereign rulership over the territory of and around Mbeza, had Munyati's blessing.

 

Mwanang'ambwa was the son of Chooye, Munyati's grandson, and a Bisa woman, who was given the name Chuunza by the people of Mbeza. 

 

Having been rescued as a girl from an abandoned village near Mbala by Chooye and his companion Hangomba during a hunting expedition, Chuunza's original name is unknown. She was Chooye's second wife. His first wife bore him Munamooya. 

 

Hangomba too had acquired a wife from the Mbala expedition. She was named Namubi, and it was assumed the two were sisters, something neither ever denied.

 

Upon being given the official title of Chief  Nalubamba, Mwanang'ambwa began to rule over Munyati's territory and people with his brother Munamooya by his side as his primary counselor and aide. 

 

Together they formed the basis of what is today being called the Mbeza Royal Establishment: Two brothers, one being the sovereign ruler and the other his staunchest ally, along with their siblings and family. Nalubamba had 8 wives, 7 of whom bore him children.

1947-1972: Succession History

 

NOTE: The accounts that follow in the remaining sections of this narrative have living witnesses, who have corroborated their veracity. The witnesses are named, where deemed necessary.

After ruling for over 50 years as Chief, Muuluka Mwanang'ambwa Nalubamba passed away in 1947. 

 

After his death, Jim Kapobola, Mwanang'ambwa's son from his first wife's house, was named and anointed as Mwami according to African Customary Law (called 'kukwatwa' in Chiila), an act carried out by Mpukaila, a slave of Mwanang'ambwa's, making him the second Chief Nalubamba.

 

Two months into his reign, Rice Mwachisowa, an estranged and disowned son of Mwanang'ambwa's, from his second wife's house (a house that Mwanang'ambwa had disowned wholesale and banished entirely from the royal household for Mwachisowa's murder by witchcraft of Munyati, Mwanang'ambwa's son with his fourth wife Changu; a wife he inherited from his late father Chooye), ousted Jim Kapobola, the anointed chief, by subterfuge and took over the chieftaincy by being recognised as chief by the District Administrator/ Commissioner of Namwala in his brother's place. 

 

Rice Mwachisowa ruled as third Chief Nalubamba for 25 years until his death in 1972. He was never anointed.

 

After Rice Mwachisowa died, in keeping with its custom, the family selected Simon Chiimbwe from Mwanang'ambwa's third wife's house to be ruler as fourth Chief Nalubamba. 

 

A side note on Nalubamba's Customary Anointers: The Bakwashi of the Bana Munyati

Simon Chiimbwe was anointed as the next sovereign leader after the passing of Rice Mwachisowa by Maurice Himunugu, supported by Ambrose Kafulukwa; Maurice Himunungu being a grandson of Mpukaila, the same slave of Nalubamba's who had anointed Jim Kapobola as second Chief Nalubamba, borne from Kahise Mwaalonga, daughter of Munamooya's wife Chuunza, but sired by Mpukaila. 

 

It is said that Kahise's peculiar circumstances of birth came about by Chuunza's being given to Mpukaila by the brothers Mwanang'ambwa and Munamooya on account of what they concluded was her barrenness, as she had not borne Munamooya any children in their marriage. 

 

However, when she was impregnated by Mpukaila everything changed. The woman was promptly taken back and the child immediately claimed and taken in by Munamooya, to be raised as a child of Munamooya's. 

 

This was Munamooya's customary right as he and Mwanang'ambwa had paid dowry for the child's mother and any offspring she might produce and Mpukaila had not. 

 

Mpukaila moved on and took wives of his own, who then bore him other children. His descendants, continuing on through Kahise, who is of the Bana Munyati through Munamooya, are considered to be a part of the two-pronged royal house of Bana Munyati and function as its seat's official anointers (known in Chiila as bakwashi), having one foot in the lineage of a slave of Nalubamba's (Mpukaila) and another in the lineage of Munamooya (through Chuunza).

 

In antiquity, among Baila, an anointer or mukwashi of a particular seat was a slave of the ruler or ruling family. 

 

In our modern times, it translates to the mukwashi being descended from such a slave, though he himself is now a free man. 

 

On the other hand, in order to have any real say in matters of the chieftaincy, the anointer must be part of the royal clan. 

 

The descendants of Kahise Mwaalonga qualify to be the MRE's bakwashi by reason of the fact that they are descended from a slave of Nalubamba's and also, being descended matrilineally from Munamooya's wife and adopted by Munamooya they fulfill both criteria. No other descendants of Mpukaila qualify to be Nalubamba's Bakwashi.

 

1972-2019: Turmoil and Stewardship

Continuing with our historical account: 

 

Following the death of Mwachisowa in 1974, and no sooner than Simon Chiimbwe accepted his appointment to the chieftaincy of the Bana Munyati, trouble emerged as one day, Peter Hachiboloma, who was descended from the Chizungu group that Munyati was a part of in his migration from Namakube in the Muchila area, came to the funeral grounds where customary mourning was still taking place, sat under a mango tree and loudly declared his interest in acceding the seat, claiming it to be his family's by right on account of his family's relationship to Munyati. 

 

Fearing that he could not defend the chieftaincy from this sudden threat from the more educated Peter Hachiboloma on account of his own lack of a formal education, Simon Chiimbwe urged the elders around him to seek out a young man in the family who could help defend the chieftaincy, and who could be given the burden of fighting to keep the seat secure, lest it be lost forever. 

 

Going over the names of their educated 'sons' and finding that the great majority of them were too young, while, amongst the older ones few were interested in returning to the village to serve the community, they landed on the name of Bright Nalubamba, son of Rice Mwachisowa, the just deceased chief, and after much discussion amongst themselves, sent Julius Katiba and others to call him out of the hut he was sleeping in. They summoned him before the elders. 

 

The elders, Solomon Muchawa, Ambrose Kafulukwa, Maurice Himunugu, and others told him of the plight of the chiefdom and Simon Chiimbwe asked him to take care of the seat for him ( The word he used was "Ngembelela", meaning "Shepherd this for me" or "safeguard this for me") until the threat was passed; an event witnessed by many, including James Chimbozi, Julius Katiba, and Jacob Nathaniel Shamwachili, who are still alive at the time of this writing (December 2020).

 

According to witness accounts, Bright cried. He didn't wish to take on such a heavy burden. Bright was known to have retained the services of some lawyers based in Lusaka (Hamane and Company) and the elders felt the chieftaincy would be safe in his hands as its caretaker on account of this. However, getting him to actually take up stewardship of the chieftaincy wasn't easy.

 

Shortly after the elders appointed him as caretaker of the seat, Bright departed for Mapanza, it is said, in an attempt to escape the burden that was being placed on him by the elders. Solomon Muchawa and others followed after him, it is said, in Solomon Muchawa's yellow Peugeot and pleaded with him to return to Mbeza and take up the caretaker-ship of the chieftaincy, which, after much convincing and reassurance, he finally did. From then on he presented as the 4th Chief Nalubamba, though in truth he was only a steward of the seat. Even at the time of this writing - in 2021 - there are some still living who witnessed these events. 

 

An important note: Simon Chiimbwe died in 1983 without receiving the seat of Chieftaincy back from Bright Nalubamba, who went on to rule as a steward on behalf of Simon Chiimbwe until his own death on June 6, 2019. Note that, being a steward, Bright Nalubamba was never customarily anointed as Mwami. He was the Chiefdom's caretaker chief.

 

2019-2021: Usurpation, Correction & Restoration of Customary Authority

After the death of the caretaker chief Bright Nalubamba, his son King Nalubamba, ignoring his elders and their right to administer and conduct the matter of succession, presumed to take the seat of Nalubamba, claiming it to be his by patrilineal succession; and after one bungled attempt to secure it during the family meeting at the conclusion of his father's funeral (lubeta) on the 16th of June 2019, King and his supporters (mostly from the Mwachisowa line) maneuvered, campaigned, power-played and took advantage of the weakened institutions of the Royal Establishment  -- institutions weakened by Bright Nalubamba's 'one-man-show' style of ruling over decades and decades -- to claim to seat King Nalubamba on the seat of Nalubamba by using false players and premises, the conclusion of which saw him announced and presented to the community as chief on 18th August 2019, amid protests from the elders, with other formalities including a his being unduly registered as Chief Nalubamba with the Government of the Republic of Zambia being performed within the 2 months that followed, including an Installation event attended by the then Minister of Health of the Republic as the senior-most Government representative present, but with the elders of the MRE, the custodians of the seat of Nalubamba and administrators of its succession by custom, conspicuously absent. These elders were neither present nor did they bestow on him their approbation, approval or blessing.

 

In view of the very public way in which King Nalubamba had claimed to be installed as the new Senior Chief Nalubamba, the elders and custodians of the Mbeza Royal Establishment took legal action in the High Court of Zambia to stop his alleged illegitimate chiefship from receiving any further recognition by Government and to reverse any and all extant recognitions that may have been granted him on the basis of his self-imposed installation as chief against their custom in which a son never succeeds his father (citing the Ciila axiom "Kunyina mwami wakalizyala"). They also proceeded to prepare to place the rightful heir on the seat in keeping with Baila Customary Law while also seeking remediation by legal and customary means.

 

Upon becoming better informed and discovering, as a fruit of their research, that the Government recognition they were seeking to challenge had ceased to be a matter that would require reversal or redress in a Court of Law - with any Statutory Instruments that previously conveyed recognition or withdrew recognition of chiefs by the Republican President being eliminated from being a factor to be considered by way the Constitutional Court's expunging of sections 3,4,5,6 and 7 of the Chiefs Act in a landmark Judgment made on 27th November 2019; this on the grounds of such presumed power by the President or any authority to confer recognition on a chief being ruled to be unconstitutional. Thus, realising that no authority for recognition of their leader lay in any other's hands but their own, the elders of Mbeza resolved to withdraw the matter from the court and assert their rights to self-determination as a traditional institution under African Customary Law. 

 

Following this they took 3 steps.

 

 1: The first step they took was to recognise, acknowledge and by that acknowledgment reinstitute Muuluka Nalubamba's disownment of Rice Mwachisowa, King Nalubamba's grandfather, from the royal household, immediately and automatically making self-evident the fact that King Nalubamba could not be eligible to be the rightful chief by any stretch of the imagination; They effected this after they had sent him a letter on December 4th, 2020, warning him of this possibility should he choose not to voluntarily relinquish his false claims to the seat within a given grace period (3 days). He ignored their warning. In not responding to their stated position, King effected  the execution of the reinstated disownment on December 7, 2020 by default.

 

2: The elders then moved to the second step, proceeding to perform their customary duty, without distraction, of completing the process of identifying, selecting, and anointing a more fitting successor to sit on the seat of Nalubamba.

3: The elders of Mbeza selected and anointed Judge Chiimbwe Nalubamba as their chosen Senior Chief Nalubamba effective January 18th, 2021, by sovereign act restoring the line of legitimate succession and reaffirming the Territory's right to self-determination in accordance with its own custom and traditions.

 

Judge Chiimbwe Nalubamba is the son of Simon Chiimbwe, Mwanang'ambwa's son from his third house; the same Simon Chiimbwe who was anointed as fourth Chief Nalubamba in 1972, gave stewardship of the seat to Bright Nalubamba and died without receiving it back. 

 

Thus, by returning the seat from the caretaker chief to its pre-stewardship inheriting line (the third house, through the son of Chiimbwe), the MRE's leadership is signaling a return to its established sequence of succession, with the fourth house of Mukakanga being next in line to accede to the seat of Nalubamba, to be followed by the 5th and 6th houses of Chikkabe and Kaduma and finally the 8th house of Munamooya to accede in that order. After this, the cycle will start again. 

These steps marked the dawn a new day for the Bana Munyati of Mbeza, as the spirit of Munyati was reborn. 

King Nalubamba is considered by the elders of the Bana Mwami (Royal Family) and customary Bakwashi (Electoral College) to be a usurper and the Government's record of his being chief is treated by them as a falsity. His eventual removal from the government registry is something the Royal Family and community look forward to with keen anticipation as they continue to trust that truth and justice will ultimately prevail. 

 

 The journey continues.

NOTE: What follows in the next 2 sections is an account of the history of the Chiefdom of Nalubamba as gleaned from oral histories from a number of sources. As with any oral history, accounts of events, identities of some players, etc., particularly regarding events for which there are no living witnesses present to corroborate the veracity or accuracy of, might be recounted differently. There are also included bits of information from diverse written sources, but as this is not a scholarly paper, such citations have been deemed unnecessary. The aim of this telling is to begin, akin to a Wikipedia entry, a written down record of the oral story of the Bana Munyati and their leadership, a story that can be corroborated and/or corrected as time goes on, as and when necessary, from time to time. Read with a pinch of salt if you have heard different. It is an oral history after all. :)

[It is on the back of this pedigree that we annotate our use of the word "Royal" in our institution's name (i.e. Mbeza Royal Establishment), as this is the word that bears the equivalence in the English language of the Chiila title "Bana Mwami" (descedants of the sovereign ruler, called "Mwami" in the vernacular), which is what the ruling family of Nalubamba is called, and prior to our era, the family of Munyati would have been known to be within the territory, long before the introduction of the word "chief" into our  vocabulary by the colonisers; this word being introduced with the sole aim of diminishing the stature of every traditional or indigenous leadership institution during colonisation, regardless of how complex or longstanding,  by implying such institutions' innate inferiority and implicit subjugation to, the United Kingdom with its King or Queen and Royal Family, before and by whom all extant Kingdoms or sovereign territories found in colonised areas were, by default, relegated merely to "chiefdoms" led by "chiefs" and their ruling families to mere titleless families (i.e. not 'royal'), regardless of their history or pedigree as recognised in the societies they were part of or ruled over (See link to video of 'Chief' Imwiko, the Litunga, meeting King George in 1947 below as a poignant example). It is against this backdrop that we use the English word "Royal" in the place of the vernacular words "Bwami" or "Buoneki", which would denote "of the sovereign ruler".]

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