PARAMOUNT CHIEF MPEZENI THE 4th VISIT TO MALAWI CHIEFDOMS ON 17TH AUGUST, 2013
By Rodney Tingo Kanyama Nzunga & Collins Patrick Chibondo Nyoni
THE SENIOR LION ARRIVES
We were already waiting for Ingwenyama Njengabaso Mpenzeni Jere the 4th to cross the border from the Zambian side into Malawi at 1 p.m. The Malawi welcoming delegation was led by Inkosi Nyoka Thole and his Izinduna. The delegation included Lilongwe Ngoni Chiefs and their Ngoma Impi and the Remasekongoni Team.
As we waited for the arrival of Ngwenyama at the border, Inkosi Nyoka and the Remasekongoni team shared notes on several Traditional & Cultural developments. As usual Inkosi Nyoka as an elder of Mpenzeni 4th shared a lot of wisdom with us especially on the way the Maseko Paramouncy is currently handling traditional issues especially on the Inkosi Masula saga and the grooming of our young Ngwenyama.
HRH Inkosi ya Makosi Mpezeni 4 crossed the border at 14:00hrs and was welcomed by Inkosi Nyoka. We all sat on the floor of the Malawi Immigration Office at Mchinji border to perform a rich and detailed Bayete salute to the Ngwenyama led by Aphiri Impi Charles Govati. After the bayete salute and physical hand greetings HRH Mpenzeni and all the Ngonis who gathered at the border formed a car convoy led by the Malawi Police and we hit the road at 100 kms per heading for the Mchinji District Commissioners Office. When we arrived at the DC’s HRH Ngwenyama Mpenzeni alighted from his car and we performed and Royal Rich Bayethe Salute and praise for the Mtuto Jere descendant. Therafter HRH Mpenzeni 4 went straight to work.
NGWENYAMA AT THE DC’s OFFICE
Ngwenyama Mpezeni 4’s first assignment was a meeting in the DC’s office where he was welcomed by the DC’s representative, and the Executive Director of NASME, a Mr. William Mwale. The Dc’s representative and all senior District officials expressed their gratitude for the Ngwenyama’s visit and Inkosi Nyoka led us all in giving the Royal Salute to the Ngwenyama, We all shouted the praise – Bayete Ngwenyama! In response, HRH thanked the DC’s office, Inkosi Nyoka and his entourage and the Remasekongoni team for welcoming him with great respect here in Malawi! HRH Mpenzeni 4 also thanked HE Amayi Joyce Banda and her Government for the various developments in his area. He reminded and encouraged all of us present that traditional leaders should always recognize the Government of the day since it holds the key to many developmental doors. HRH Mpenzeni 4 went on to pay special gratitude to the one and only Impi Aphiri CMG, “Mwana wa Kwende” for the work he has been doing for Chingoni in Malawi and bringing various Ngoni groups together. Ngwenyama Mpezeni 4 specifically mentioned and recognized how because of CMG’s efforts, HRH Mpezeni 4 has connected with HRH Zintambila in Mocambique and The Mjeru Ngoni’s of Zulu Gama in Tanzania. HRH Mpezeni told all the officials that it was through the unification efforts of The Remasekongoni led by Impi CMG that he was given great honour and respect during his recent 2 week’s visit to the Zintambira Maseko Paramouncy in Mozambique.
HISTORICAL VISIT TO FORT MANNING
The next official assignment for HRH Mpezeni 4 was a historical visit to Fort Manning. As we all know, Fort Manning is as historical to Mpezeni’s people as is Nkolimbo to the Gomani Maseko people because on 20th January 1898, Sir Harry Johnston’s rifle wielding troops, largely Indians, Yaos, and Tongas, masacred aNgoni warriors who were being led by Mpezeni’s son Nsingu (Nsingo). UNsingu himself and some of his men fled. Between 10,000 and 16,000 of their cattle were seized and sent exported to Salisbury in southern Rhodesia. This sad massacre and cattle robbery by the colonial government was the source of the protest by the Livingstonia missionaries which they made in their paper The Aurora. It was after this battle with the colonialist that Ngwenyama Mpezeni was taken prisoner to Fort Manning where he was kept for one year, and he died in 1900. His son Nsingu and other family members fled to KwaM’belwa and remained in Mzimba for about twenty years.
After a reflection of the Fort Manning saga, HRH Njengabaso Mpenzeni 4 decreed (bayaduma umthetho) that Fort Manning should be turned into a historical place. He instructed all his Makhosi in Mchinji to mobilize all ngonis to one day come to clean up the place and requested the DC’s Office, the Hon. Members of Parliament present to commence the processes which will facilitate the conversion of the site to a Ngoni memorial site.
NUNS’ JUBILATION AT LUDZI
Next destination for HRH’s procession was Ludzi Parish. There HRH Mpezeni 4 was shown around the farming efforts that the Catholic sisters based there are doing such as mushroom farming and Vegetable oil extraction. HRH Mpezeni 4, a Catholic himself, also had a brief audience with the sisters at their main Convent. The sisters were so delighted to have HRH as their surprise guest. HRH Mpezeni took some time to chat with the three old/aged sisters who were part of the founding sisters of the congregation. It was so touching to hear the oldest sister who was wheel chaired to the audience with Ngwenyama say that and I quote :- “God was keeping me alive to see you my Ngwenyama! Now I can die!” – end quote.
IDUMA UMTHETHO INKOSI YA MAKOSI
From Ludzi HRH Mpenzeni’s entourage proceeded to Inkosi Zulu’s headquarters (KwaZulu) where a plot for the Ngoni cultural centre has been earmarked. This was probably the climax of the Ingwenyama’s visit because there Inkosi ya Makosi futhi iduma Umthetho, again Ngwenyama spelled out Ngoni Law, and very important since he cleared the KwaZulu chieftainship cloud. The Ngwenyama cleared all the confusions and doubts by simply reminding all people present what Ngoni Umthetho says about the inheritance of an Inkosi’s position. He urged everyone to ensure that the seven year old Crown Prince should be enthroned. He told the people who gathered that an Inkosi becomes an Inkosi in his mother’s womb and not through our opinions, debates or politics. This young Prince is a King and no one disputes that because he is Zulu, and it is by God’s appointment that he was made a Kosi. He reminded them that he can coronate him anytime when they are ready, as his age is not important in our Ngoni culture.
Ngwenyama Mpezeni emphasized the need for aNgoni to keep the spirit of Mdauko, of the origins, of oneness, that all these border issues are only man made, for political convenience. All Ngonis in Malawi and Zambia are one! He said that the border lines were basically created for goods and not for people. He reminded his subjects that at the border they charge duty on goods such as cars or tractors, etc, but they do not humans duty! The Ngwenyama gave an example of cross border marriages. If one picks a wife from Malawi and crossed the border into Zambia, they wouldn’t be charged duty at the border when they cross and they can live as a family for as long as they want. He reminded everyone that they are all children of Zongendaba, the HRH himself and everyone else, amidst Bayete salute led by Inkosi Nyoka and Impi Govati Phiri. Ngwenyama recalled how this spirit of oneness allowed him the privilege of a plane “kumuthwala ndi kukamushiya” ku Mocambique kwa Ingwenyama inzake Zintambila Maseko where he was greatly honored beyond his expectations. HRH thanked the amaGomani Ngonis who were present. He actually pointed at Impi CMG who was wearing a shirt showing HRH Mswati’s youthful handsome face. Inkosi ya Makosi said that “Ubukosi” siutha, amatha ndi munthuyo”. ; Inkosi ya Makosi Mpezeni reiterated the need for Makhosi to “ukusebenza” with the Government of day. He urged Inkoses and chiefs not to be partisan because politicians come and go, while the kingdom is permanent.
APPOINTMENT WITH NGWENYAMA
After this historical event, HRH Mpezeni was invited to a meal at Joe’s Motel at Mchinji Boma. Inkhanda (Group Headman) Mazaza Jere immediately returned to Lilongwe with his entourage. The rest of us who were in the HRH Polycarp Mputa Gama 5’s entourage remained to sit at table with HRH Mpezeni, Inkosi Nyoka, Impi CMG and the DC’s representative at the Motel. During the supper, Ngwenyama Mpenzeni 4 discussed many important things with us about Chingoni and the dealings with our national Government.
Coming to the Maseko Gomani Paramouncy, HRH Mpezeni asked a very sensitive and pertinent question to Impi CMG. HRH asked and I quote – “who crowned Mswati Gomani?” Instead of answering the question directly and understanding the implications, Impi Govati Phiri threw the same question to me. Realizing the importance, gravity and relevance of the question I replied and told Impi Govati that I could not properly answer that question. Impi Govati finally replied that no one did coronate Mswati Gomani 5 despite the fact that HRH Mbelwa 4 was present at the function in his private capacity as he was also not officially invited to the Government installation ceremony by the coronation committee which never coroneted Mswati Gomani 5.
On this point, HRH Mpezeni 4 emphasized that the Nyong’o ritual cannot just be missed out on crowning a Ngoni Inkosi ya Makosi or an Inkosi. Modern clothes, anyone can wear, but nyong’o is something else, very special in our Ngoni tradition. HRH pointed to Inkosi Nyoka “a Nyoka awa ndi okhwima osati kukhwima kwinaku kwa mankhwala ayi koma chieftainship because of the Nyongo ritual”. HRH Mpenzeni 4 warned us that we should know that this was a deliberate move by the Royal Aunt because she knows that Mswati Gomani is not yet traditionally coronated as such she can easily take over the Paramouncy anytime. The Ngwenyama advised us to ensure that Mswati Gomani is traditionally coroneted by a Ngwenyama! Unless we do the Nyongo ritual, Mswati Gomani 5 will simply become a puppet and will never be traditionally and culturally mature (Khwima). The Ngwenyama also reminded us that he also heard a lot of stories about the Lizulu intrigues masterminded again by the Royal Aunt during his 2 week’s visit to Mozambique Tete province and that there has been much effort to remove Ngwenyama Raphael Dama Zintambila 4 from the throne and he wondered what the Maseko men were doing to stop this madness! HRH Mpezeni wondered how men could fail to uphold traditions including making forgeting the Nyong’o ritual during a coronation ceremony!
VOTE OF THANKS/PURPOSE IN LIFE
According to the Shakan tradition, Zulu impis always went to war accompanied by young boys called Udibi who carried the seniors’ food suppliers and other things. But this accompaniment also provided them a double opportunity for apprenticeship necessary for their development as future Zulu military forces. Mlumuzana Maseko Dr. John Chikago has once on this forum mentioned something akin to this apprenticeship program happening in his youthful days when Ngoni Elders mixed with the youth if only for the purpose of mentorship. In the same way I as a junior warrior and as an apprentice, cannot find the right words to thank Impi Govati, HRH Polycarp Mputa Gama the 5th, Inkosi Nyoka, Ikhanda Mazaza Jere, my usually reticent fellow warrior Nyoni Collins Chibondo and my mzala and mzanga wa mbewu, Masina Masa Malili, for giving me and my family the privilege of witnessing at first hand, HRH Ngwenyama Mpezeni the 4th at work, and being part of the Malawi delegation which welcomed him here in Malawi. This experience, one just doesn’t get very often. Impi Govati, please know that I feel humbled that I have had to work with you in developing Chingoni in this way. It may look like a small step, but certainly a giant leap. Someday this work will be recognized and honoured. We are documenting Ngoni history- a very rare activity among Malawians which can only be done by visionaries and not some purposeless Ngoni party planners. I feel proud to be part of this work. Let’s keep it going, in some way. It’s what we live for.
My wife was with me, and my brother Pastor Aubrey’s daughter Luntha adaona Chingoni; iye kusanganikila ndi anthu adzibiya iye nkumalila, choncho akuphunzila ndithu basi. Masina Masa’s boys were happy too. Thanks to CMG, bringing Ngonis together, may God bless this man. This Impi has enabled HRH Mpezeni to connect with HRH Zintambila and The Mjeru Zulu Gama Ngonis of Songeya in Tanzania. It is very inspiring to note that for all this passion and dedication he gets no pay or any monetary returns, except the motivation of the old warriors. Kuthanda Chingoni basi. Really inspiring!
Reconciling ChiNgoni and modern life is a particular challenge because of the pressure coming from many social centripetal and centrifugal forces in our lives: family, Mpingo, economics, etc. My wife Nankhoma, even though she is 100% Ngoni herself, and coming from Fort naMlangeni, but many times she questions my obsession for Chingoni making such remarks as “Ine ayi koma Chingoni”. Timachita kukalipa pena kuti asatiletse kupita mmisonkhano ya ma Impi. And in the same way the general Christian attitude has a way to frown on men obsessed with Chingoni, but when the Negro spiritual says “I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield/Down by the Riverside/I won’t study war no more” the lesson for the Ngoni was that he should learn to be a gentle warrior, and not necessarily lose his will to fight! Educated and focused on his mission as a Ngoni, and living harmoniously with others. Christian yes, but rooted in umthetho wa aNgoni!
Sometimes people from other tribes are unsettled and they think that we aNgoni are eccentric, and they wonder what’s the point in all this. But Chingoni is our purpose in life, practicing the ancient Ngoni traditions in modern times, in the way we raise our children; in the way we conduct our businesses and make money. It is about the spirit of determination and succeeding despite obstacles. It is about vision and strategy: Maphupho (dreams) of a higher standard of life; knowing our origins as AbeZansi (people of the South) and keeping the mdauko spirit where it all started. It is about values of honesty, team work, and sharing. As was demonstrated again and again by ancient aNgoni, and as has been echoed in that brief moment at Mchinji by the Ngwenyama with a gentle but sturdy touch, HRH Mpezeni 4; by HRH Mputa Gama; Inkosi Nyoka; Ikhanda Mazaza Jere; the incredible Impi Charles Govati Phumisa; and the rest of us impis and aNgoni crowds gathered to witness Ingwenyama pronouncing the Umthetho wa Ngoni. Bayete Ingwenyama Mpezeni 4!
NGONI SPIRIT/OBSERVATIONS/THOUGHTS/ A WORD TO YOUNG LION MSWATI
As a way forward on this coronation issue, we in the research team have a question for those who might have the direct access to our Young Lion ikuduma ku Lizulu: Can you please ask the young Ngwenyama the question why during the graduation for Malawi University students, they do beat the ZEBRA skin drum? Why the graduation cap? Why the certificate is rolled? They could as well say “ mwamaliza university basi pitani, koma iyayi timalandila pepala! In Church, why do they ordain pastors, elders, priests Bishop, Popes? Why so much symbolism and detail? Why Holy Communion? Amakhala bread yemweyu but why so significant? Why say “Amen”. In the Military life, why regimental flag? Why the National flag? For Presidents, why the sword ceremony and the oath?
And WHY NOT NYONG’O FOR MASEKO INKOSI YA MAKOSI? WHY NOT KHOZA? Dzachikunja? Dzachikale? This gross negligence – no nyong’o, no khoza for Ndlovunkulu himself? Why was it forgotten? Or was it forgotten? Chingoni chake chiti? Ask him if he is really a Maseko Ngoni Ngwenyama without the Nyong’o ceremony! Or was he coroneted by TBJ in Naija? Prophet TB is competent about his religious affairs, but he cannot be an advisor of the great Maseko Royal House. You don’t find Mnyoni and chihata in Nigeria. You find nyong’o in the isibaya (khola) ya zinkomo (ng’ombe) in the Royal Compound. Isn’t it in fact ironic that the renowned prophet simply told the Young Lion and his entourage to come back home to the Royal Palace and find the so called missing crown. Mswati’s Crown has always been in the heart of Kwa Maseko! The Nyong’o ritual is not a minor issue. If it can be neglected, what else will be neglected?
All Elders close to the Young Lion, please live true to your calling. Mentor the Young Lion in the true Umthetho of the Maseko. Take courage to speak out against bad practices infiltrating in HRH Mswati’s domain. Make sure that Ngwenyama governs with his Makhosi and Izinduna. Protect the Royal House. Everyone must occupy their rightful position, and not pretend to fill jobs which are not theirs. And we hope that even the Government will not “aid and abet” bad practices that are crawling into the Maseko domain. I do not need to be appointed “Impi” with a capital “I” because by blood I am a warrior already, the Maseko having brought my great-great grandfather thousands of miles from Swaziland more than two hundred years ago! I am satisfied to be like Mgobozi Msane of Shaka who was always a private, and like him someone will have to spear me if they want to divert me from this cause! Mayihlome aNgoni!
Ngwenyama Mswati Gomani’s lack of contact with his key peers like HRH M’belwa’s household and HRH Mpezeni, and many key people in his kingdom is not helping Chingoni to grow. We are losing out akwa Maseko. Chingoni cha kwa Maseko cannot grow in isolation. Maximize the talents of your people Ngwenyama Mswati Gomani 5! May you join the group of your fellow lions and practice how to roar. And when Ngoni lions roar, we warriors respond like this: “Akusiphe Impi (give us war, Give us a cause, a purpose in life!). Bayete! Bayete (bring them, bring the enemy, we must fight them!) Bayete Ngwenyama! Bayete Inkosi ya Makosi ya Makosi Mpezeni 4! Bayete wena wakwa Jele, Umthwana wa Zwangendaba ka Hlashwayo! Bayete Inkosi ya Makosi Mswati Gomani 5! Bayete wena wakwa Maseko, Umthwana wa Mputa ka Ngwana! Bayete Uyizulu!”