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Wim van Binsbergen

Mukanda, Part II



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7. Contested patrilineal succession around 1900: The Mukanda element

In the case of the shift towards patrilineal succession, we are fortunate that the oral-historical data provide us with the details that allow us to perceive the specific, concrete political strategies through which such major changes in the socio-political structure tend to realize themselves.

                      ? From the account in Likota lya Bankoya, Shamamano emerges as a great warrior and resourceful adventurer, and also as a usurper, who only under the protection of Lewanika managed to revive the Kahare name to which he was related not as a sister’s son, but only as a daughter’s son, i.e. outside the ordinary line of dynastic succession. A century of chief’s rule by members of Shamamano’s patri-segment, in a general context of the Lozi indigenous administration and the colonial and post-colonial state favouring patrilineal succession, has created such an image of self-evident legitimacy for the current Kahare line that oral traditions dwelling on the irregularity of Shamamano’s accession are completely suppressed at the Kahare court today. However, there is in Kahare’s area and among urban migrants hailing from there a noticeable undercurrent of traditions in which this legitimacy is challenged, and rival claims to the Kahare kingship are entertained.

                      ? When Shamamano built his lukena in the same general area where his sons and grandson have since held the Kahare kingship, he did not enter a virgin territory, but one which for at least a century had been under Nkoya rule. Mwene Kabazi lived on the Njonjolo, at Litoya lya Mbuma. His younger sister, one of his successors, Mwene Manenga, had her lukena at the Lwashanza less than ten kilometres away. Mwene Mulimba, whose title (perhaps through perpetual kinship?) is claimed to go back to a son of Mwene Manenga,[1] was and is considered the owner of the local land, even though his name appears in table 1 as one of those Myene who saw their status annihilated under the impact of the Barotse indigenous administration and the colonial state.[2] Other Myene encountered by the Kahare group when settling there were named as Kabimba, Shikandabole and Shikwasha[3] ? but:

‘Mulimba is the greatest headman here of all, directly under Mwene Kahare. He gave us this land. Without him we could not live here.?/span>[4]

At Mwene Kahare’s court Mwene Mulimba, even though an unremunerated village headman ?with only his royal bell to prove a more glorious past ?is treated with the greatest deference. None the less, it stands to reason that the Mulimba title has for many decades been the rallying focus of rival claims to the Kahare kingship.

                      ? The most detailed information on Shamamano’s contentious succession was however not volunteered by an incumbent of the Mulimba title, but by an urban informant whose very strategic genealogical po-sition will be clear from diagram 2: his father married both in the Shamamano and in the Kambotwe family:


Diagram 2. Reconstruction of the genealogical relationship between Shamamano and Kambotwe.[5]

‘Kambotwe (a predecessor of Shipungu) was the original owner of the Kahare name. All regalia had been taken by Kambotwe from Mongu to Kasempa:[6] ngongi, ngoma ntambwe, shibanga, mpunga (eland tail), and mpande. These regalia did not originate in Mongu but from somewhere else, where he stayed first.[7]

                 Kambotwe[8] gave the Kahare name, and the regalia, to Shamamano, because in his own family he could not find a successor.[9] After Shamamano’s death Kambotwe asked the name back, but in vain: the Europeans did not allow Kambotwe to take the name of Kahare. After the death of Timuna, Kabangu wanted the Kahare name back, but the elders declined.?/span>[10]

This reading allows us to look with different eyes at the praise-name with which Timuna acceded to the Kahare kingship:

‘Ami Timuna

Mwana mutanda na mpande

Ba Timuna ba Nyengo?

‘I am Timuna

The son who dons the mpande

Timuna son of Nyengo.?/span>[11]

The son: in other words he has managed to claim the mpande (i.e. the kingship), even though he is only a son, and not a sister’s son, ?not even (as his father had been at least), a daughter’s son.

                      ? The above version of Shamamano’s usurpation is widely accepted in the Kahare area. Even our informant Katambula, who as Mwene Shamamano’s daughter cannot quite afford to subscribe to this reading, at the same time admits that Shamamano received the Kahare name from the Nkonze clan, which is the clan owning the Mulimba title; in her view, Mulimba was in collusion with the representative induna Simuliankumba when the latter ?after allegedly killing Timuna’s predecessor Mpelembe by sorcery ? tried to oust Timuna and convert the Kahare kingship into an exalted induna-ship for himself.[12]

                      ? In the course of a formal group interview with the Kahare Royal Council another informant, distantly related to Kabangu and from 1975-1980 the incumbent of the Mulimba title which has been the rallying focus for the political faction contesting the Shamamano line in the Kahare kingship, did not confirm Mr Mangowa’s reading but instead claimed ?as some sort of compromise ? the existence of a third royal title on a par with Mutondo and Kahare: that of Kambotwe.[13]

                      ? The same group discussion, a day later, failed to throw any light on the place of Kambotwe, and Shakalongo for that matter, in relation to the Mutondo and Kahare kingships.[14] Headman Mulimba’s public interpretation may be understandably diplomatic but it is far from helpful: at this stage in the argument we are in a position to interpret this view as a projection of the colonial survival of the kingships of Mutondo and Kahare back into a past where there was a proliferation of royal titles. However, in private he completely confirmed Mr Mangowa’s interpretation of Shamamano’s succession:

‘Kambotwe came just after Lipepo. Kambotwe introduced Mukanda, for his father, a Mukwetunga, was from Lunda.

                 The Kambotwe who was in competition over the Kahare name was a different Kambotwe, he lived in the time of Shamamano. But that Kambotwe did not get the Kahare name back because in Lealui he was told:

                 ‘‘Kingship is to be inherited in the male line now.’’ ?/span>[15]

If this throws some new historical light on the current owners of the Kahare title, what about the relations between Kahare and Mutondo, and the history of circumcision in the area?

8. The seniority contest between the Kahare and Mutondo titles

In the preceding section we have looked at oral traditions which because of their anti-establishment, not to say underground character deserve to be taken seriously as possible glimpses of historical truth, such as may have been censored out of official versions which are effectively attuned to the neo-traditional political status quo in Kaoma district. Amazingly, in two instances the Kahare title was associated with the original introduction of crucial elements in the political culture of central western Zambia: the total package of regalia, and Mukanda.

                      ? It is time we return once more to the political issue of rivalry and seniority underlying the moiety-like political structure of the Nkoya community in Kaoma district today, before we return, in the next chapter, to the text of Likota lya Bankoya and seek to penetrate its symbolic deep structure.

                      ? There is reason to believe that Mutondo’s qualified seniority only goes back to the greater success of the Mutondo state in Nkoya in the nineteenth century as compared to the decline of the Kahare state before its being revived by Mwene Shamamano Kahare at the end of that century. As a royal title and a dynasty, Mutondo seems primarily a local product of Kaoma district, from the first quarter of the nineteenth century. It is quite likely that Kahare is in fact the older, more established and senior title, whose history goes back to Mbwela settlement on the Upper Zambezi if not to Musumba itself.

                      ? For prior to the dynastic migration to Nkoya there is only very unconvincing evidence concerning the Mutondo title, whereas the Upper Zambezi and Lunda connotations of the Kahare title are somewhat more substantial. Schecter (1980a) mentions a Kahare cave in the old Mbwela region; he finds passing references to the names of both Kahare and Mutondo in Upper Zambezi traditions,[16] but most likely this is a projection on the part of contemporary informants, in an attempt to render more substance to traditions on Mbwela and Nkoya groups: they certainly know ?as many other Zambians these days ?that the Nkoya in Kaoma district have Kahare and Mutondo as their principal chiefs.

                      ? The oral source[17] on Kambotwe as quoted above is not the only one in which ‘Kahare?is claimed to have made and distributed the first xylophone, which does have strong Lunda connotations. The praise-name of the first incumbent of the Kahare title is:

‘Kahare kamulema njimba

Bale mangoma zizinge

Katapishila bantu nimwabo?

‘Kahare Who Made the Xylophone

And Many Drums

To Share with all the People.?/span>[18]

                      ? Brown (1984), whose musicological research in the 1970s concentrated on the Mutondo lukena, offers various traditions connected with the origin of the royal orchestra among the Nkoya. A recurrent theme there is that the first royal musical instruments were created not by humans but by spirits. Significantly, the royal orchestra of Mutondo is claimed by these traditions to have perhaps a supernatural, but at the same time a strictly local origin in the land of Nkoya: allegedly it was invented by spirits in a lake near Shinkisha Mate’s capital (Brown 1984: 130-150) ?a charter-like ideology clearly meant to cater for

?..the need of the Mutondo dynasty to establish an exclusive claim to the Nkoya royal xylophone and drum ensemble, a primary symbol of political power. Claiming that the ensemble was a gift from the spirits eliminated any need to acknowledge the possession of the ensemble (and through it, political power) by anyone outside the Mutondo dynasty.?(Brown 1984: 147)

The most likely outside claimant in this context would be the Kahare kingship!

                      ? Moreover, Kahare is much more than Mutondo associated with the mythical Mwene Kapeshi, and hence not only with Musumban traditions of Kaposh, the mythical tower into heaven, but also with the origin of tribal heterogeneity and even with human (or at least Bantu-speakers’s) presence in South Central Africa. Some Kahare subjects claim, as we have seen, the Kapeshi link explicitly as an indication that, historically speaking, not Mutondo but Kahare should be the senior Nkoya chief.[19]

                      ? This would seem to mean that, contrary to Mutondo, the Kahare title was already in existence at the time of the original dynastic migration from Musumba. But what then to make of those traditions which attribute the later separation between Kahare and Mutondo to disagreement concerning Mukanda? Admittedly, the traditions on this point are highly contradictory. Likota lya Bankoya, and the ethnographic fact that Mukanda is associated with the Mutondo kinship and with the Nkoya in the narrower sense but rejected by the Mashasha, would indicate that the Kahare kingship resolutely rejected Mukanda, whereas the Mutondo kingship after initial rejection was more effectively subjected to a process of re-Lunda-ization including reintroduction of Mukanda under Munangisha. There is a neutral source which merely states that Mukanda was a bone of contention between the two titles without specifying which side was taken by either of them.[20] And again, there is the Kambotwe tradition:

‘Kambotwe came just after Lipepo. Kambotwe introduced Mukanda, for his father, a Mukwetunga, was from Lunda.?/span>[21]

The puzzle may be solved once we realize that the latter-day separation and juxtaposition of the kingships of Kahare and Mutondo, and the political convenience to deny any genealogical relationship between the two kingships, does not at all preclude that the kingships were actually related in the past, perhaps not in terms of genealogical links (which is largely a political idiom anyway) but at least in terms of having a joint political origin. It may be highly significant that in a context of legitimacy or usurpation of the Kahare title, Kambotwe is relegated to a figure like Lipepo who according to Likota lya Bankoya and other Mutondo-orientated sources is clearly situated in the Mutondo tradition.

                      ? What we are witnessing in the process of Nkoya state formation is the creation of a political culture, offering powerful symbols by means of which aspiring polities can both legitimate themselves internally and define themselves vis-a-vis each other. As far as external definition is concerned (and for argument’s sake still concentrating on two Nkoya royal titles out of the far greater number to which Nkoya royal titles proliferated) two phases can be clearly distinguished: self-definition of the proto-Nkoya out-migrants vis-a-vis the Musumban state; and differentiation between Kahare and Mutondo.

                      ? The Humbu war, in which Mwaat Yaamv’s loyal subjects attacked the Nkoya Myene because the latter refused to perform Mukanda ?and by this stance declared their independence from Musumban overlordship, strongly suggests that initially acceptance or rejection of Mukanda was, among the proto-Nkoya, the decisive element in their political self-definition vis-a-vis the Musumban state.[22]

                      ? As cleavages developed within the newly broken-away proto-Nkoya group, an internal contest over regalia came to supersede the external contest of Mukanda. Mukanda lost its central position as a boundary marker, and an inconsistent process of re-Lunda-ization, difficult to allocate to either dynastic line but in the nineteenth century increasingly situated on the Mutondo side, once more found employ for this institution ?even to the extent of it becoming an internal boundary marker, not between Nkoya and Musumba, but between Kahare and Mutondo.

                      ? More important meanwhile was the struggle over the regalia. Here the forced invention, on the Mutondo side, of an independence charter founded on the claim of a local but supernatural origin contrasts so beautifully with the proud declaration of personal invention and distribution in the praise-name of the first Kahare, that the conclusion is inescapable: the Mutondo line broke away from a senior group associated with the Kahare kingship, and in the process evolved its own regalia as well as accompanying myths to assert its independence from that older stock.

                      ? Such an interpretation, finally, would also explain the names of the two kingships. The name Kahare comes from the verb ku hala: ‘to uproot? ‘to dig up a wild tuber called shihala?i>.[23] Since reference is made to a wild tuber, the name cannot have the connotation, found with other early Myene, of the introduction of new crops. Instead, the name carries an association with the early phase of proto-Nkoya economy, when reliance on gathering wild forest and aquatic products may have been more important than agriculture. And particularly, the image of uprooting befits the emigration from Musumba. One can well imagine the first Kahare creating the title by adopting a hypothetical praise-name like:

‘I am Kahale

The Uprooted One...?o:p>

                      ? The image of the Mutondo tree is the opposite: the kingship has taken root and has grown to be a proud and beautiful tree. Its origin from Mwaat Yaamv can be admitted, but it is no longer a dominant theme. This is clear in the historical praises (denoted by the verb ku tanganisha) that habitually accompany a public performance of Mutondo’s royal orchestra:[24]

‘Etu Baka Mwene Mutondo

Mutondo Mwana Manenga

Mutondo wa Mpululwila

Mutondo waluba nceshelo

Etu Baka Kashina ka Luhamba

Hano nibo ba Nkoya Nawiko?

‘We are the people of Mwene Mutondo

Mutondo the Daughter of Manenga

With Branches only at the Top

Without any Scars from fallen-off Branches

We are the people of Kashina son of Luhamba

Here are, in other words, the Nkoya Nawiko?

Some among the audience may accompany this praise by shouting

‘Tufumako ku Mwantiyavwa?o:p>

‘We have come from Mwaat Yaamv?o:p>

but this is not part of the formalized praise proper, and is often omitted.

                      ? With Mutondo we have arrived at a later phase of Nkoya state formation, with other, more pressing concerns than some remote origin in a distant land: Mutondo’s praise-name, with its imagery of branches and blemishes, revolves on dynastic purity and intra-group rivalry[25] ?the typical problems of an established state elite.

9. The recent history of Mukanda in central western Zambia

With their incorporation in the Luyana state (including the latter’s temporary occupants, the Kololo from what today is South Africa) as from c. 1860, the Nkoya states began to function within a politico-cultural environment in which Mukanda was on the one had protected by law, but on the other was considered exotic, ridiculous, and utterly un-Lozi.[26]?In fact, Mukanda had already been practised among the Mbunda, an important ethnic group in Bulozi ?i.e. the Luyana territory ?from at least the beginning of the 19th century.

                      ? The last princes of the Mutondo dynasty to be circumcised died shortly after World War II.

                      ? In recent decades, at the national level in urban situations, the Nkoya, while emphasizing their political distinctness from the Lozi, have attempted to pose as culturally very closely related to the Lozi ?hoping thus to trade their despised status as Nkoya for the much greater prestige of the Lozi, and freeing themselves from humiliation by the Lozi themselves. It is for instance significant that successful Nkoya politicians at the district, regional and national level often have a mixed Nkoya-Lozi ancestry. Even though the two languages are very little related, passing as Lozi is one of the strategies employed by Nkoya in town when involved in upward social mobility. But such a cultural rapprochement vis-a-vis the Lozi could scarcely be combined with an insistence on circumcision.

                      ? As from the 1910s, and up to today, Bulozi, and especially the land of the Nkoya, has been inundated by Angolan immigrants (identifying as members of such ethnic groups as Luvale, Chokwe, and Luchazi) who do practise Mukanda. The opposition between Nkoya and immigrants, based not on historical considerations but on the presentday, and increasingly grim, competition for land, game, fish, school succes, informal distribution circuits, and modern political power at the regional level.

                      ? A unique case of the colonial authorities supporting local political aspirations in the face of Lozi claims of overlordship occurred in Balovale district, which took its name after the Luvale people. After a careful and extensive consideration of the historical record this district was allowed to secede from Barotseland in 1940 and attain an administrative status similar to other districts in Northern Rhodesia.[27]?Mankoya district continued to sigh under what was felt to be Lozi oppression, and what is more, at the same time as preparations were made for the Balovale secession, the colonial state allowed the Lozi presence in Mankoya to be stepped up dramatically by the creation, in 1937, of a new Lozi royal establishment, five kilometres from the Mankoya boma. The court was to be called Naliele, in reminiscence of the splendid capital near the flood plain which was visited by Livingstone in the middle of the nineteenth century (Livingstone 1971). Naliele was to function as an appeal court and as the seat of the Mankoya Native Treasury, and was to be headed by a very senior member of the Lozi royal family (the Litunga’s son), with a higher subsidy from Lealui than any Nkoya Mwene, with more remunerated court personnel than any Nkoya chief, with judicial powers exceeding those of any Nkoya chief, and occupying a prominent position in a fixed structure of Lozi positional succession, only a few steps removed from the Litunga-ship. The colonial authorities were in favour of this arrangement, not only because the Litunga’s overlordship over Barotse was taken for granted, and the equivalent of the Balovale secession could not be allowed to be repeated in the Mankoya case, but also because the need for an appeal court that could oversee the fragmented and segmentary judicial structure prevailing in Mankoya at the time was deeply felt.[28]?

                      ? This new form of Lozi presence, with the unmitigated backing from the colonial state, was a source of great humiliation and resentment among the people of Mankoya district, which precipitated major conflicts between particularly the Mutondo lukena milieu and the Litunga’s court at Lealui; in this connexion, Nkoya popular resentment would attribute the sudden death of Mwene Mutondo Kanyinca in 1941 to Lozi foul play; his successor Mwene Mutondo Muchayila, defying Lozi overlordship, was dethroned in 1947 and sent into exile for ten years, only to be reinstated when his successor Kalapukila died in 1981. Muchayila’s intransigent stance against Lozi arrogance and particularly against the Lozi chief of Naliele, was greatly influenced by the Balovale secession from Barotseland in 1940, and particularly[29] by Muchayila’s friendship with the Luchazi chief Samuzimu, who must have had many contacts in Balovale. The latter had his headquarters in the northern part of Mankoya district but soon was to cross into Kasempa district ?which brought him, too, outside Barotseland but against the high price that his subjects did not follow him.[30]

                      ? Thus the Luvale succeeded where the Nkoya failed, and humilitation at the hands of the Lozi would continue to form the main, negative basis of Nkoya identity until the 1980s. Nkoya modern political emancipation was very much a process of trial and error, where one rallying cry and mobilization platform was easily exchanged for another, as long as it appeared to provide the means to by-pass the Lozi blockage to effective Nkoya representation in modern politics. The political career of Mr J. Kalaluka is very instructive in this respect. Before Independence (1964), he sought access to political leadership in the urban-based ‘Mankoya and Bantu Fighting Fund?(1961) and by standing as a candidate for the ‘Mankoya Front?in 1963. In the general elections of 1964 he stood as a candidate for Michello’s party, the People’s Democratic Party (cf. Mulford 1967: 311 and passim) and in the general elections of 1968 for African National Congress (ANC), then the main opposition party on the Zambian scene. Not being successful in any of these attempts, he retired for a while from active politics to be a national-level manager of a major petroleum company, only to find his ambitions of lifting the Nkoya and himself to the level of national representation fulfilled in the 1973 general elections. Then the spirit of reconciliation extended by the then unique party UNIP to former ANC partisans allowed him to stand and (in the face of the narrow ethnic claims of his Luvale and Mbunda contesters) win on a UNIP ticket as the candidate for part of Kaoma district. After a brilliant ministerial career, the ethnic rallying of Luvale and Luchazi in Kaoma district caused him to lose his parliamentary seat, and ministerial post, in the 1988 general elections.[31] At the regional level, therefore, the Luvale gradually took the place of the Lozi as the main political enemies in the modern context.

                      ? These processes reinforced, and now totally so, the historical trait of partial rejection of Mukanda among the Nkoya. Today the latter turn out to have adopted all the negative stereotypes concerning Mukanda, and circumcision in general, which are found everywhere in Zambia except in the extreme north-west. Today Mukanda as an institution with which Nkoya identify as Nkoya, has completely disappeared from Nkoya life ?one only knows it as an alien institution which ethnic strangers from Angola stage in nearby villages; their Nkoya neighbours do enjoy the public sections of Mukanda as spectators. It is with disbelief that the Nkoya treat the information that their own ancestors practised Mukanda only two or three centuries ago. As a result, it is impossible to glean, from the Nkoya sources, information on the internal historical evolution of Mukanda itself ?however rich those sources are in other respects.

                      ? In the colonial and post-colonial context, the ethnic stereotypes (which produce a veritable social stigmatization of the circumcising groups, and often render them ineligible for marriage with the non-circumcising) have been linked to the fact that the circumcising groups have provided the bulk of sanitation workers for the urban sewage systems, and as a result have attained a social status of symbolic pollution somewhat comparable to that of untouchables in the South Asian context.

                      ? In this context it was not surprising that the increasing ethnic articulation of the Nkoya among other things expressed itself in an exaggerated juxtaposition vis-a-vis the Luvale, Chokwe and Luchazi. From a partly shared custom, in the course of half a century circumcision became an indicator of ethnic distance.

10. Conclusion

Diagram 3 offers a graphic summary of the evolution of the Mukanda institution as a boundary marker of cultural and political oppositions in western Zambia:

Diagram 3. The evolution of Mukanda as a political and cultural boundary marker in western Zambia, 18th-20th centuries

                      ? The dialectical conjuncture of a religious institution in the context of the formation and transformation of states shows us that, in fact, it is possible, and useful, to study the religious history of precolonial Africa. Such study may illuminate ideological and political dilemmas in the historical societies under study, and bring out the caleidoscopic and protean nature of politico-religious identities, forms of consciousness and organizations.

                      ? At the same time we have to admit that a study like ours is only partial and defective, since (for absence of sources on this point) the Mukanda complex is not in itself historicized, is not traced in the evolution of its forms and its internal contradictions, but is rather treated as an independent and unchangeable datum which is simply introduced into a series of different socio-political situations. But this criticism at the same time suggests a project for further historical research.


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Appendix 1. List of oral sources

In the course of participatory research since 1972 numerous informants contributed information and insights on numerous more or less infor­mal occasions. This constitutes the indispensable background for my analysis of Nkoya history and ethnicity, and a ground for my life-long indebtedness. Meanwhile, the list below identifies those formal oral-historical interviews to which specific references are made in this book.

?[1]     Headman Mwene Kabimba

Njonjolo, Kaoma district

October 22, 1973

village headman; member of the Kahare royal family; one of the most senior members of the Mwene Kahare Royal Court; president of the traditional neighbourhood court in Njonjolo

?[2]     Mr Edward Kahare


March 21, 1973; September 30, 1977

son of Mwene Kahare Timuna and half-brother of Chief Mwene Kahare Kabambi; self-employed and living in Lusaka

?[3]     Chief Mwene Kahare Kabambi

Litoya Royal Establishment, Njonjolo, Kaoma district

October 9, 1973; November 19, 1973; November 21, 1973; October 11, 1977

One of the two royal Nkoya chiefs in Kaoma district; member of the House of Chiefs in the 1970s; UNIP trustee since Independence; nominated member of the Kaoma Rural Council; born 1921, army sergeant and boma messenger until called to act in the place of his diseased father Mwene Kahare Timuna in 1952, and after his father’s death in 1954 succeeded to the throne in 1955

?[4]     Mr J. Kalaluka, MP


October 26, 1977

Member of Parliament for Kaoma since 1973, after a complex political career; at the time of the interview a junior Minister, later a senior Cabinet Minister, lost his parliamentary seat and Cabinet position in 1988; formerly director with a major petroleum company; father Lozi; mother’s mother is a half-sister of Mwene Kahare Timuna; grew up at the Litoya Royal Establishment

?[5]     Rev. Kambita and Mr Davison Kawanga


October 5, 1977

Rev. Kambita is a Nkoya pastor with the Evangelical Church of Zambia; for Mr Kawanga see below

?[6]     Mrs Katambula


October 8, 1977

daughter of Mwene Kahare Shamamano; lady in her mid-70s, living in Lusaka in the house of her daughter, who is the mother of Mr Kalaluka MP

?[7]     Mr Davison Kawanga


October 1, 1977; October 8, 1977; October 21, 1977; October 22, 1977;

senior medical assistant and UNIP local-level politician in Lusaka; grew up at the head-waters of the Luampa river, mother from Mukotoka village, Njonjolo

?[8]     Headman Kikambo

Kikambo village, Njonjolo, Kaoma district

September 22, 1973

a village headman

?[9]     Chief Litia

Naliele Royal Establishment, Kaoma district

October 26, 1977

The major Lozi chief in Kaoma district; son of the late Litunga Mbikusita Lewanika; holds a B.Sc. in agricultural science; after the time of the interview he became a member of the House of Chiefs

[10]     Mr D. Makiyi and Mr Davison Kawanga


October 8, 1977

Mr Makiyi, born 1950, is a civil servant and author of a manuscript Nkoya history in English; for Mr Kawanga see above

[11]     Mr Simon Mangowa


July 24, 1973

Nkoya elder residing in Lusaka; stepson of Mwene Shamamano Kahare’s daughter

[13]     Mr Miyengo


August 9, 1978

District Secretary Kaoma, of non-Nkoya background

[14]     Headman Mpelama Makandawuko

Mpelama village, Njonjolo, Kaoma district

December 6, 1973

a village headman

[16]     Headman Ntaniela Mulimba

Mulimba village, Kazo, Kaoma district

October 16, 1977

village headman; recognized as the original owner of the local land, and hence senior headman under Mwene Kahare; had held the Mulimba title since 1974

[17]     Mr H.H. Mwene


September 30, 1977; October 1, 1977

Examinations Officer, Ministry of Education, Lusaka; former diplomat; from Lukulu district

[18]     Group interview Mwene Kahare Royal Council

Litoya Royal Establishment, Njonjolo, Kaoma district

October 13, 1977, continued October 14, 1977

Mwene Kahare, Mwanashihemi and all senior headmen of the Njonjolo and Kazo valleys present

[19]     Group Interview Mwene Mutondo Royal Council

Shikombwe Royal Establishment, Kaoma District

October 18, 1977, continued October 19 and 20, 1977

most senior headmen present but not Mwene Mutondo Kalapukila, who on October 20, 1977 granted the researcher a formal audience in the presence of all senior headmen

[20]     Group interview with Nkoya elders

Matero, Lusaka

October 1, 1977

main informants Messrs Mulowa, Namenda, Likishi and Mankishi: Nkoya elders now residing in Lusaka

[22]     Rev. J.M. Shimunika

Luampa, Kaoma district

October 21, 1977

continued October 22, 1977; Nkoya pastor, formerly teacher, and son-in-law of Mwene Mutondo Kanyinca

[23]     Court Justice Yawisha

Yawisha village, Njonjolo, Kaoma district

September 22, 1973; October 13, 1973

village headman; assessor of the Shimano Local Court, Kaoma district; one of the most senior members of the Mwene Kahare Royal Court

[25]     Mwe Kapeshi

Shipungu village, Kabanga, Kaoma district

July 13, 1989

born c. 1885, locally reputed to be closely related to or even identical to, Kapeshi ka Munungampanda

Add diagram 1


[1]            ?Oral source [18] 14.10.1977.

[2]            ?Oral source [19] 20.10.1977.

[3]            ?Oral source [3] 9.10.1973; these are to this day the names of headmen and villages on the south bank of the Njonjolo river, near Mwene Timuna’s grave.

[4]            ?Oral source [23] 13.10.1973.

[5]            ?Compiled from various sources, primarily oral source [11].

[6]            ?This is in line with the journey of Shihoka Nalinanga and his sister’s son Kahare from the Zambezi valley to the Lunga river, as related in Likota lya Bankoya, which suggests that Kambotwe Kahare might be the same personage as Shihoka’s sister’s son.

[7]            ?No more explicit information was given. It is possible that the Upper Zambezi or the Zambezi/Congo watershed is meant, and that the present tradition is subject to the same collective amnesia or self-imposed censorship as all other Nkoya reminiscences of that location.

[8]            ?As usual, the tradition speaks indiscriminately of the royal title irrespective of the various incumbents it must have had over time.

[9]            ?Which fits in with the upheaval in the Kahare line in the final episode at Kayimbu, and during the flight south.

[10]             Oral source [11], confirmed by oral source [14]. Kabangu’s son Muchati was Mwene Mulimba in the 1960s and early 1970s.

[11]             Oral source [1].

[12]             Oral source [6].

[13]             Oral source [18] 13.10.1977.

[14]             Oral source [18] 14.10.1977.

[15]             Oral source [16] 16.10.1977. Emphasis added.

[16]             He claims that the Mbwela characters Nsanganyi, Mutondu [Mutondo] and Kahari [Kahare] are known to virtually every informant (Schecter 1980a: 272), but no further specific mention is made of either Mutondo or Kahare, with the exception of the Kahare cave.

[17]             Oral source [11].

[18]             Oral source [3] 19.11.1973. Oral source [1] gives the same interpretation but only the first line of the praise-name. According to [3], the Kahare in question would have been Libinda, son [sic] of Shihoka.

[19]             Oral source [7] 22.10.1977.

[20]             Oral source [10].

[21]             Oral source [16] 16.10.1977.

[22]             Elsewhere (van Binsbergen 1991: 259f) I discuss, but ultimately reject, an alternative interpretation of the female dimension in Nkoya kingship: assuming a far greater significance of the institution of perpetual kinship than is borne out by the evidence from central western Zambia would allow us to interpret the early Lady Myene simply as the one, symbolically female, half of a pair that has been distorted in the process of tradition: the ‘female? relatively autochthonous Mbwela element which did not, as some other Mbwela, pursue the option of partial local assimilation to the Lunda and Luvale immigrants but moved away to Kaoma district, while the ‘male? invading, dominant element remained on the Upper Zambezi in the form of dynastic titles among the contemporary Lunda and Luvale. I do not include the argument here because, although evidently relating to the Luvale connexion in Nkoya history, it does not have a speacific bearing on the question of Mukanda.

[23]             Oral source [17] 30.9.1977.

[24]             From the manuscript by Davison Kawanga, ‘Nkoya songs as taped by Wim van Binsbergen: translations and notes? 112 pp.; cf. the praise-names of Mwene Mutondo Shinkisha in Likota lya Bankoya (26: 1f).

[25]             As particularly manifest in the geographical dispersal yet ?at least partially ?continued allegiance of the Momba and Kabulwebulwe titles vis-a-vis the Mutondo title.

[26]             Cf. Gluckman 1949. Holub (1879: 56) claims that he has not heard of circumcision in the Lozi empire. However, in Sesheke he witnessed makishi dances (Holub 1879: 64f), whose performance and symbolism is inseparable from Mukanda; according to Holub, women were excluded from the performances, and the elaborate costumes belonged to king Sipopa himself who had lived at Lukwakwa as Munangisha’s senior kinsman.

[27]             Cf. Papstein 1978 and references cited there.

[28]             Gervase Clay, letter to the present author, dated: 31.1.1975. The episode is treated at great length in Shimunika’s Muhumpu; further [18] 14.10.1977, [19] 19.10.1977; the resentment of Kapupa’s position is a recurrent theme in these sources.

[29]             Oral source [13].

[30]             Cf. Chipela 1974 [1976], according to whom Chief Samuzimu resided for seven years in the northern part of the then Mankoya district.

[31]             Oral sources [4]; [7] 8.10.1977; author’s field-notes.


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