Origin of ‘Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena’ Traditional Ceremony

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By Kalobwe Bwalya

THE highlights of “Ukusefya pa Ng’wena” is the re-enactment of the journey from Kola to Lubemba and Bemba traces their origin from Kola (modern-day Angola) in the 17th Century and from Kola, they went to Luba, from Luba where they crossed Luapula, Chambeshi, and Kalungu Rivers.

Mukulumpe the great king of Luba Empire and his wife Mumbi Mukasa uwamatwi nge nsofu, (ears like Elephant) thus bore three sons named Katongo, Nkole and Chiti they also had a daughter named Chilufya Mulenga.

The king picked up some differences with his children resulting in the blinding of the first born son Katongo. As the king continued with his high-handedness approach towards his children, the children opted to rebel against the father and left the kingdom heading eastwards from the Kola kingdom.

They traversed vast lands and overcoming all kinds of obstacles. Since leaving Kola kingdom the leader was Nkole the second born of Mukulumpe.

Katongo the first born was left behind in Kola, hence Chilufya Mulenga was in the company of her brothers and their followers.

It was not until they crossed Luapula River that the leadership changed from Nkole to Chiti. The change of leadership was occasioned by the fact that Chiti the younger of the two brothers crossed the river first before his older brother.

Upon achieving this, Chiti glorified himself and called himself Chitimukulu.

This marked the beginning of the Chitimukulu dynasty which soldiered on eastwards overcoming all challenges, eventually the group under the leadership of Chitimukulu settled by the banks of Kalungu River.

When they reached the banks of Milando, they came across a dead crocodile and since then the Bemba rulers belong to the crocodile clan, the discovery, earmarked Bemba-land and a village was set up at this very spot-and it was named ng’wena Village.

They fortified the area and continued conquering other groups of people for supremacy with easy, and they are the largest ethnic group in Zambia.

The Bemba history is a major historical phenomenon in the development of chieftainship in a large and culturally homogeneous region of central Africa.

Around August/September, Chitimukulu (the head of Lu Bemba, the Bemba nation) calls his subjects to the original Ng’wena Village to celebrate the formation of the Bemba people and nation, and their subsequent achievements.

The Bemba (or ‘aba Bemba’ using the ba- prefix to mean ‘people of’, and also called ‘awemba’ or ‘ba Wemba’ in the past) belong to a large group of bantu peoples mainly in the Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt Provinces of Zambia who trace their origins to the Luba and Lunda states of the upper Congo basin, in what became Katanga Province in southern Congo-Kinshasa (DRC).

The Bemba is those who consider themselves subjects of the Chitimukulu, the Bemba’s single paramount chief and they lived in villages of 100 to 200 people and numbered 250,000 strong in 1963.

There are over 30 Bemba clans, named after animals or natural organisms, such as the royal clan, “the people of the crocodile” (bena Ng’andu) or the bena Bowa (Mushroom clan).

They were the people who finally put a halt to the northward march of the Nguni and Sotho-Tswana descended Ngoni people, through Chief Chitapankwa Kaluba.

In contemporary Zambia, the word “Bemba” actually has several meanings. It may designate people of Bemba origin, regardless of where they live, e.g. whether they live in urban areas or in the original rural Bemba area.

Alternatively, it may encompass a much larger population which includes some ‘eighteen different ethnic groups’, who together with the Bemba form a closely related ethno-linguistic cluster of matrilineal-matrifocal agriculturalists known as the Bemba-speaking peoples of Zambia.

They do not share any ancestor but migrated to Luapula and Northern Provinces from various places including the Congo and present day Tanzania.


One Response to Origin of ‘Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena’ Traditional Ceremony

  1. They have a rich history indeed; but how come, today, my mbuyas are associated with kuiba.

    Eastern Nzika
    August 12, 2018 at 1:58 pm

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