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The case of governance, tribes and traditional ceremoniesBy By Dr Canisius Banda on 9 Oct 2017
The President of the Republic of Zambia His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa LUNGU needs help. Someone is misleading him. Someone somewhere is putting sand in President LUNGU’s Chibuku, spoiling it; or President LUNGU himself is allowing someone to mislead him. Either way, he requires the presence of God to help him lead. Something seems amiss. At present, some of the decisions he is making are not in his own interest nor in the interest of the Republic of Zambia.
Here is a case in point. In a statement attributed to State House, here is what he is said to have said. The statement was titled ‘President LUNGU Takes Time Off Traditional Ceremonies’.
Here is an excerpt: ‘President Edgar LUNGU says he will no longer attend traditional ceremonies as they are dividing the country. President LUNGU explained that some tribal groupings get offended when he fails to attend their ceremonies after being invited […they should]. The Head of State cited the Kalumba traditional ceremony of the Chewa-speaking people as one such ceremony that has raised dust after he failed to attend this year’s ceremony. The President disclosed that his failure to attend the 2017 Kalumba ceremony has caused so much annoyance with some people threatening not vote for the PF.’
Whoever advised President LUNGU to adopt this stance is wrong. He doesn’t love President LUNGU. He is the sand in the muffin. Chiefs are important. They form an integral part of the governance of Zambians. And in future, in pursuit of national unity, our democracy model might need to change, to afford them more constitutional authority. It is a matter of fact that citizens are more loyal to their chiefs than to a Republican President. Loyalty to a Republican President is enforced as a Constitutional requirement. On the other hand, loyalty to a chief is natural. It is unseverable. Zambia’s voting patterns are Illustrative. Chiefs are so important that their collective ire can render a country ungovernable.
You see, the British are an impressive lot. They are gone but we still wear their neckties, drink their tea and speak their language. Come to think of it, I think they are still here. As history will attest, their capacity to read people and govern them has no equal. There was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. As a gesture of gratitude to them, and as a symbol of admiration for their excellence, I am currently dating a British sexy thing from the House of Windsor that I intend to marry, and mate with repeatedly, quite like that Prince whose name I forget but married to stunning Kate.
In 1929, here are the records from the colonial Office of Northern Rhodesia:
A careful study of these ethnicities, and their behaviour, by the British led to the creation of the hierarchy of chiefs. Their geopolitical value was carefully analysed and noted.
It is worth noting that despite Zambia having over 70 ethnicities, and having a population of about 16 million people, it has only 4 paramount chiefs, and two of these are in one province, the Eastern [separated only by 80 kilometres]. It is extremely difficult if not impossible, under a framework of functional democracy, for anyone in Zambia to become Republican President without the support of these two paramount chiefs [Eastern Province]. And any leader whose interest it is to unite and govern the people of Zambia must understand why this is so in Eastern Province.
President LUNGU is the Republican President of Zambia. He does not require an invitation to attend a traditional ceremony. His Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs must diarise for him which ceremonies he is to attend in each year clearly explaining to him why he must attend […national ramifications].
It is more important for President Lungu to go to the Kuomboka or Kusefya Pa Ng’wena ceremonies than for him to go to New York [The UN], Angola or Swaziland [The Reed Dance Ceremony]. President LUNGU’s people are to be found at the Mutomboko and Lwindi ceremonies and not in Botswana or Uganda.
The Swazis might be exciting, especially with their bare asses and perky titties, but they will sure not vote for him or keep him in power. It was wrong for President LUNGU to stay away from the Kulamba Ceremony of the Chewa people. And when this ceremony was taking place he was only 101 kilometres away on a boat in Mfuwe in Eastern Province watching ‘Chewa’ hippos as he ‘rested’, being served by ‘Chewa’ waitresses. Yes, you can laugh. It is a joke.
Here is why it was wrong for him to snub this ceremony. First, he had the time. Second, he was in the same Province. Third, you see, truth be told, there is no such ceremony in Zambia as the Kulamba Ceremony. The Kulamba Ceremony is an international event. It is even recognised by the United Nations.
You see, whereas the Secretary General of the United Nations was in attendance through its recognition of the Gule Wa Mkulu as a world heritage, the President of Zambia, the custodian and child of this world heritage, stayed away.
In addition, it is worth noting that the population of the Chewa people altogether is greater than that of Zambians put together. If then as a leader it is in your interest to unite people and govern them surely you cannot ignore such a geopolitical presence in your jurisdiction. Or can you?
Kalonga Gawa Undi may be a Zambian citizen but he is King to people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The Chewas are the only tribe that have produced three republican presidents in two different countries. Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia form a unique golden triangle in the SADC region whose political and economic potential and value is priceless. And ignoring a traditional leader who is astride these three countries can at best be decribed as ill-informed. It is a veritable act of folly.
Further, Kalonga Gawa Undi is the only chief in Zambia who is officially and constitutionally recognised as chief in three countries. Once a year, the Kulamba Ceremony is a national event in the named countries all at the same time and it is not uncommon for the presidents of the three countries to be united in one hut over a cup of Thobwa.
To add an interesting political twist to this narrative, the brazen and controversial Chief Mukuni is a member of the family of Kalonga Gawa Undi. Note that the Chewa in Zambia are found in every part of the Eastern Province, from Nyimba through Chipata to Chama.
Chinyanja, a version of Chichewa is spoken in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is a SADC dialect. And as the British will tell you, languages unite people. Further, it is the official traditional language of the capital province of Zambia Lusaka. And it is the medium of instruction of the Zambia Police. This is the language most of the British in Northern Rhodesia were advised to speak and spoke.
All ethnicities matter. All chiefs matter. In addition to the dubious complexities of general elections, President Rupiah BANDA lost the 2011 elections partly because Eastern Province did not turn up for him. See? The geopolitical value of chiefs and their ceremonies is a timeless lesson which the British knew very well and exploited with admirable and remarkable success.
Theresa MAY may not know. Don’t worry, Jeremy CORBYN does. And all successful leaders of people in the world are students and, summa cum laude graduates of history. By staying away from traditional ceremonies President LUNGU is going to achieve the very thing he is seeking to avoid.
He will divide the nation.
Of course, he must not attend all ceremonies. But who says he should. He mustn’t. The statement from State House sounds like an emotional knee-jeck reaction to a serious matter of national governance. Never should at any one time in his reign should President LUNGU stay away from the people and their ceremonies. Or the people will unceremoniously stay away from him.
We must pray. It is sad that an Easterner is the author of this article and piece of advice. But then I had to do it. I am a global citizen and a patriot, you see.
And it is in defence of President LUNGU himself, a friend of mine, and the Republic. Besides God told me to. Laudate eum.
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