Lilemba Clarifies ‘MAFWE’ Name

 From last edition


Now with the government it has also started complaining that there are so many applications for chiefs and this means that the (Tax Payers’s money ) VAT money for the government will be used to pay those chiefs while at the same time the government is struggling in terms of money.

 Who came first in the Caprivi Strip and under which name was he called among those Chiefs?

That is a heated debate because when you ask any tribe found in the Caprivi Strip they will tell you that they were the first people to come into the Region.  But records show that when Mwanambinyi (the younger brother of Mboo Mwanasilundu Muyunda, the first Luyana King) attacked Katima Mulilo around the 16th Century Subiyas and Mbukushu were reportedly already being there,  and Mupatu also mentions that there were other elements from Mafwe around Katima Mulilo. But those groups have migrated from Bulozi plains and came to the Region even before it was called Caprivi. In addition Mainga is on record to say that Ngombala attacked and incorporated the Mafwe at Linyanti around 1740.

According to Tlou from Botswana, in his book, A History of Ngamiland 1750 – 1906 : The Formation of an African State, the Yeyi were firstly sited at Ngasa which is Nkasa now.  He also thinks that Yeyis were the first to come from Central Africa and live in the Caprivi Region.

As I said that it’s a heated debate and we should understand that during those years people were moving in small groups in search of grass and water.  For example if the Yeyi were sited at Nkasa by that time perhaps in a village of two (2), one cannot say they were the early settlers in the whole Region because they just stayed at that place as a smaller group and I think research should be made on that.

So to be exact and say a certain large group of people were the first who came and settled in the Region is unfair because people were moving in smaller groups. Therefore if you ask the Subias they will tell you that this place was known as Itenge, Yeyi will tell you the area was known as Diyeyi and the Mafwe will tell you that the area was called Linyanti.  So which one will we say is the exact name of the Region? This boils down to what I said earlier that smaller groups could not have influence over the entire Region.

Ngombala conquered the whole Region (Caprivi) in 1740 and named it Linyandi and subdued it under his rule. In other words by conquering the whole Region and naming it Linyanti, meant that the Region should be called as such. In fact Ngombala is known as the Slaver (Conquerer) of Nations. He moved from one area to another, from Luyana kingdom he came to the Region (now Caprivi) and conquered the Masubiya and Mbukushu, former subjects of Mwanambiyi, and Mafwe (Mashi tribes) who were found at Linyanti which is Sangwali now. He moved on further to Wankie in Zimbabwe and furthermore moved up to Tongaland in Southern Zambia with the aims of incorporating areas in his kingdom.

How do you define the term Royal blood? 

A person with ‘ROYAL BLOOD’ is one born from a royal family like Chief’s families and Kings. If you take Britain or Swaziland or any monarch, as examples they have a line of royal descendants. If the Queen or the King dies they will not go out and pick up anybody but they will pick up someone born within that ruling group.  It is called a ruling group because it’s a group that has been ruling a certain group of people for ages.

Can you give us an Overview of the Mafwe Chiefs? 

The Mafwe Chieftainship originates from the Luyana Kingdom. As many people know, there was a Berlin Conference (1884 – 1885) in which the European countries divided Africa among themselves. The process is sometimes called the Scramble for Africa and Namibia became a German colony. At that Conference Caprivi Strip was still a part of the Barotseland and five years later Germans exchanged land with Britain to enable them reach German East Africa (Tanzania today) when travelling through the Caprivi.

In 1830 the Makololo tribe from the former Orange Free State of South Africa, led by Sibitwane attacked and conquered the Luyana Empire.  The Luyanas lived under the Kololo rule for almost thirty ( 30) years until in 1864  when the former stood up and fought their Kololo masters and returned their rule. After that the Luyanas decided to post chiefs in the faraway places to forewarn them of any eminent danger. It is in this regard that Imataa Kabainda (Kabende) was sent to Linyanti to come and guard and inform the authority in Naliyele if there was any looming danger. Imataa Kabainda was the great grandson of Ngombala and Ngombala was the sixth (vi) King of the Luyana.

Now I don’t think if it’s fair to say that the Mafwe Chieftainship starts with Imataa, it actually starts with Mboo Mwanasilundu Muyunda who became the first Luyana Chief and his mother Mbuywamwambwa was regarded as the first Queen of the Luyana Kingdom and Mwanambinyi was one of her sons.

Mboo Mwanasilundu Muyunda was followed by many other Chiefs up to Ngombala. In 1884 Imataa Kabainda was sent to Linyanti as the first Chief of the Mafwe in the Caprivi from 1864-1910.  His son Imataa Lifasi Mamili took over from 1910-1931 and was then succeeded by his son Simataa Lifasi Mamili 1932-1944, in 1944 his uncle Nowa Simasiku Imataa Mamili who was the son of Imataa succeeded him from 1944-1971, Richard Temuso Muhinda Mamili took over from 1971-1987,  from 1987-1998 Bornface Bebi Mamili ruled the Mafwe and from 1998 when he fled the country to exile Chief George Chikandekande Simasiku Mamili took powers from 1999 up to date.

In his final message to the people of the Caprivi Region Dr. Lilemba said balkanization and fragmentation of communities already living together will not lead them anywhere as it will just create conflicts and violence and in the process neglecting development projects. Lilemba added that during the 21st century people should not regard themselves as pure and superior tribes than others. In fact people should focus on the principles and virtues of nationalism.

He ended by saying, “The government of the day has the duty to try and unite all the people. Government should not divide them for political gains, we need united tribes in order to have a united nation and if we have a united nation we are going to enjoy our freedom, stability, peace and development.”

Dr. John Makala Lilemba






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