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Thursday, September 26, 2013



Zambia is a beautiful country for any tourist. Every where in Zambia, there is something to offer to the outside world. But some parts of Zambia have distinctiveness that sustains an alluring force to ensure that it is a must visit and must know area. Chienge, the area where you find the Bwile People of Zambia is such an area.  It is full of mysteries that educate and enrich the mind while at the same time the people offer you the memorable entertainment that is defined by who they are : The Bwile people.
If you are a curious tourist or student of anthropology or simply history, you would have learnt already about the large ethnic groups of Zambia. They are well studied and known.  But only the intensity of your curiousity can entice you into discovering a unique people, the Bwile.  After the Shila who surrounded the Lake Mweru, the Bwile were the second group of settlers into the Chienge area , a territorial District administrative centre that serves the North-Eastern part of the Lake after the Shila. Others came later. The Bwiles secured the North-Eastern end of the Lake Mweru from  Pweto District in the now Congo DRC into Chienge in the now Senior Chief Puta’s area in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia)  from Kalobwa to Musungwishi without letting out blood.  It was land secured as legal compensation in customary traditions of the time after a Bwile princess Mulumbwa Mwanto Likolo who had been married to a Shila Chief Mchelenge, had a miscarriage. This was before colonial rule or the Berlin  Conference on the partition of Africa! The Bwile people  governed by the ANZA Clan under Senior Chief Puta has been a stable leadership since.  James Kasoma,II Tefwetefwe, the current Muanzankulu Senior Chief Puta is the 8th from Mulolwa Chimputami, Mulubi, Munfinsa, Chipalabwe, Chongo, Kasoma I,  and Kaongwa Shebele. The name Puta is derived from the Praise name of the first Puta, “Chimpuntami”. It is a name designating the Chietaincy like Kazembe, Chitimukulu, Litunga.
 It is not  a royal family tree name even if in some instances some clan members have named their offsprings “Puta”. Like the names of all those who have reigned as Putas on the thrown, there are maternal and paternal clan names of the ANZA clan (The Monkey Clan): Natende, Mwanto, Chomba, Mutumpa, Sensele, Seya, Ng’aansa, Chisabi, Kalwa, Mpongwe,  Shebele, Chongo, Lukonde, Kasoma, Lupashya,  Lubasa,  who among  many others constitute the Royal College. There are some prominent clan names that come from the patrilineal lines who have now been fully integrated in the clan lineage. Other  clan names family lineage no longer constitute part of the Royal College for historical reasons which have been upheld by modern law. They were customarily debarred from the time of Puta Chipalabwe. Some Royal Houses while considered very senior before were also down- graded  or degazzetted under colonial rule for various reasons. However, these are considered as part of the Bwile Royal Houses even today. Others have been created through the mandate of Senior Chief Puta especially during the reign of Kaongwa Shebele.
For those who want to fully appreciate the Bwile Chiefdom  and its Royal Clan families in Zambia, they have to relate it closely with its descendancy from the Bwile Royal Houses of the Congo DRC like that of Mpweto, Chizabi, Kasama, Kapulo, Mwabu wa Ming’omba, Ching’onshi, Nzwiba, Ng’anye from where many of Zambian Anza Clan families trace their family roots. They are one people by and large. Mpweto is the Paramount Chief of all the Bwiles and exercises the power to install or approve the installation of certain Senior Royal Houses of the Bwile Chiefdom both in the Congo DRC and in Zambia. The House of Mpweto and Puta are closely interrelated in terms of Clan family ties and have customary law powers over each other on family issues and the general welfare of  other Bwile Chiefs. There have been ten Mpwetos since inception: Mpweto Chimamina Matipa who was the first followed in this order by: Mpweto Kayembwe, Mpweto Muntala, Mpweto Chipungu, Mpweto Shebele, Mpweto Lubasa Nkonde (Temporary),  Mpweto Musosa Augustin,  Mpweto Myolo Mukala Mathias, Mpweto Yuma Chikalipa, and the current Mpweto Mumba Medard Lulimi. It is important to state that Mpweto Muntala and Mpweto Chipungu were from the House of Nzwiba which originally was Shila but because of certain custodial and friendly historical events, were permitted to sit on the throne of MPweto. That is why the house of Nzwiba still remains part of the Royal House of Mpweto territorial authority.
If you have to characterize the Bwile people, you would certainly say they are a hospitable and fun-loving people who have a propensity for strategic mind games. Engage them in a conversation and you will be surprised at the complex structure of code switches in their language. They are just amazing. They love freedom, strategic thinking and self-reliance  in a way quite uncommon to many societies in Zambia. While their immediate  lineage goes to the Congo DRC and are proud to say so they, like many Luba-Lunda migrants, trace their origins from Angola. In fact they have closer affinity with Luba-Bemba lineage.


But wait! The Bwile’s are hospital in a very permanent way and are able to live side by side with people who may not even share a common language with them. It is only in Bwile land in Zambia that you will find another unique group of people called ABATEMBO
Like BaTWA and Sun people of South Africa, the Batembo people, as a general observation, live separate lives mainly in smaller bands and are generally “normadic” in their lifestyles. They are by and large light-skinned people who are identified by their elaborate tattoos on their stomachs and faces. They depend on hunting for their general welfare and speak a language incomprehensible to an ordinary Bwile or anyone speaking a Lunda-Luba dialect. They use bows and arrows and hunting dogs to catch their prey and are dependent on meat sources of protein. They used to help hunt down pigs and monkeys who ate local food crops in addition to their usual hunting  routines in the bush. Because of  depleted animal stocks in many parts of Chienge, they are found in or near the Mweru wa Ntipa Game park of Chienge and appear to eat anything that can provide protein like snakes, snails, among the more exotic.  Progressively they have become less “mobile” and settling somewhat. The greatest challenge for our policy makers is how to ensure services such as health and education reach them and have access to safe drinking water. They is some slow progressive integration of some Batembo children in schools. At least one is reputed to have finished grade 12 with a very good performance. Two or three incidents of marriage of Batembo women to Bwile men have been cited. But these are very rare. The Batembo do not respect international borders and can cross back and forth into Zambia and Congo. When provoked, their bows and arrows are terribly lethal. Otherwise , they remain a very peaceful even if an on-going mystery of Bwileland.


Bwileland in Chienge is simply this: beautiful like in breath-taking. Puta, which is composed of many villages or what in the City would be called “compounds”  is a large village built with town planning concept in mind. It is among the cleanest villages in Zambia. You do not have to park your car in the D79 Kashikishi-Lunchinda road and then walk with your luggage on your head to your destined house. You just drive  or are driven and dropped by the entry to your house’s court yard. It is simply organized to be live-able and easily accessible. Many villages are modeled around this concept. Bwile Houses like in many parts of Luapula are not hamlets or shacks, they are real two to three bed-roomed houses with other functional spaces like the living room inside. Most have the famous verandah or balcony.  A dirty environment is an insult to the Bwile concept of living.
There is a kind of scenic beauty in Bwileland that smiles a conspiracy of concealment.  You see, hear and feel that this is an extra-ordinarily beautiful place but something still telling you inside, there is more you have not seen yet!. There is a scenic beauty underneath a serene beauty. Something close to spiritual, something healing in and of  itself. You feel burnt-out, come here, you shall go back, if you choose to leave, feeling a whole-someness  you have not experienced before. Put a great body of water on one side, undulating green hills on another, 37 kilometers of sandy beaches along the lake shore, a giant plain of Lushiba of varied coloration under the northern gaze of Chankalamo Hills (Where lions reigned),  spectacular sunrises and sunsets, no crocodiles or hippos to swallow up your children in this giant Lake this part of the country, a buzz of life night-time or day and mosques, temples, churches, shrines etc, what do you get? Bliss!



It is part of Bwile Folklore that goes as far as Lunda and Bembaland that Chongo Shebele Puta V had three ‘golem’ lions that he bestowed on headman , now sub-chief  Swali to look after. In Bemba land they were known as :NaShitina Milongo, NaMweleu, Shila Inkampa. In Bwile land the names of these three lions still remain a well kept secret known only to special people. Can you extract their true identity?  A’golem’ in an old Jewish tradition is something that can be invoked or “made to exist and controlled” like “Ilomba” by the owner. It has what you may cal “virtual existence” but can perform required functions. Puta Chongo instructed Swali to unleash them on anyone who tried to take advantage of the Bwile’s social or economic welfare. Myth or Reality ? It is well documented but you can come and have a curious go at it from whichever angle: scientific, mythological or cultural- anthropological. It is an enlightening discovery.

As you make the last sharp corner driving from Sub-Chief Kalembwe’s area on D79, and begin to descend into a stream known as Kabwe, try and look up right, resisting the temptation of the Lakeview scenery, you will be “greeted’ by the mighty KABWEKATENDA (The stone that never moves). Wait a minute, stones do not move anyway unless something moves them. Is that not so? Not really! Not with this one. This is not a mere stone but an inselberg with spiritual force. It is perched at the apex of a very steep hill on three small stones that can barely hold the weight of a ten ton Canter truck! But this is titan of a mystically shaped stone almost like a beacon cunningly pointing to some undiscovered realities. Underneath the smaller stones is a well cut tunnel that sits a band of spiritualist who prepare libations to Kabwekatenda. The spiritualist refer to Kabwekatenda in the male form because they say, there are two accounts. The most elaborate is that there was  Chibwe Chisosa, who is still there and  there was also the wife of Kabwe mulume. Because Chibwe Chisosa was preferred by Kabwe Mulume, Kabwe Kanakashi felt jealousy and left in a thunderous roll down the Lake to a point only spiritualists say they know. The second account says  when the people became arrogant and stopped paying the spiritual tribute to two Kabwes,  who in turn offered blessings and ensured the good health and welfare of the Bwile, the female Kabwe was very upset and decided to thunderously roll down into the lake leaving behind the tears of the Kabwe stream. ChibweChisosa used to speak before but following that incident, KabweKatenda and Chibwe Chisosa are silent. Others say Kabwekatenda has become permanently in grief for losing his wife and says nothing to the spiritualists just offers them residence for libation. Well, you have heard about Stone Henges of the UK and other similar stones in China etc. Could there been titans who moved stones and placed them in mystical  ways to hide certain realities. At Chansa Hills in Lambwe Chomba you may find intriguing stone formations. Stone age history?

Do you know that the other name of the ISENGA BAY or what is commonly called the Beach  was named by the colonial administrators who were early settlers at the PUTA POST  also known as RHODESIA  (the first place to be called such ) was named the DAVID LIVINGSTONE BOWL for its beauty and in memory of the fact that David Livingstone walked the beach and slept at Kalemwe where the Chief fed him with the tasty Mbowa. He noted this in his diaries of 1867. The Livingstone museum register the fact that Chienge or Puta Post was the first colonial administrative centre opened by the African Lakes Company on behalf of the British colonial administration. It was opened by a hunter sent from Nyasaland Mr Richard Chrawshay in 1890 before the 1894 Berlin Conference. Well that is real documented history. The First Colonial Post ? Why here? The First Rhodesia in honor of Cecil Rhodes by Sir Harry Johnston, what else can be done? David Livingstone, Cecil Rhodes, just thinking aloud on how to remember these facts!

There are than five  very active hotsprings in Bwile land. The most prominent are Kalembwe, Katete and  Chi Ng’aansa hotspring, Lushiba, .  Scientists say these hotsprings arise out of a combination of chemicals in the underground waters. Some one said they emerge when underground water hits molten rock deep in the earth. What do you know? For us these are shrines where our ancestors’ spirits keep their mysteries.

It is called our gods bridge for hunters, ichilengwa na Lesa.

Did you know that much of Bwileland sits of a giant underground salt rock which is commercially ciable to mine and has been a key part of Bwile economy and diplomacy for more than two centuries now? Salt panning is a traditional art . But if you into thinking big on salt, think Big in Bwileland, you will not regret. It is more that occurrences of copper in Chimpatika but also salt which the country now imports which is plenty here.
Many young Bwiles wish to forget a part of the Bwile history. This is a time if a baby’s teeth started to grow on the “wrong” side of the mouth, it was surrendered to the spiritual authorities who sent it diving deep into the Chinkula falls un-redeemably. It was believed such babies when grown up became uncontrollable trouble makers. “Uli chinkula” here means someone who cannot listen or be advised. A  social suicide bomber who respects no custom.  This practice was stopped but has left a deep moral scar: was a great wrong done by our ancestors and has it been fully atoned? In the age of human rights, Chinkula is a reminder of what  can go wrong. Is it possible for a whole society to misdiagnose the causes of their social ills and plunge into a theory of “ Perception Management” where a lie becomes the truth and no one dare challenge it? Can it happen at higher levels of governance than just Bwileland? Is Chinkula a lesson in Human rights and the evils of perception management as an instrument of governance? Come and reflect over this tragic history.
Bwile means a sense of strategy. Diplomacy was always the Bwile’s first line of attack when challenged. They tried to assess their adversaries menatal assets. How competent they were mentally to with stand the many strategic arsenals in the Bwile’s fighting armory. When diplomacy did not elicit the appropriate response, they circled the wagons around Mpweto, popularly known as “Kanyamabumba”.  He could instantly create warriors at night where there were none during the day. He preferred to dictate the time to fight and was able to mass produce figurines and plant them in the Lushiba, Folklore goes that this strategy was enough to scare off Lundas. Some tribal histories confuse identities for example between Mpweto Kashinge of Kilwa and the Bwile Mpweto. They even imply Mpweto was not Bwile or ANZA clan member. When the Shilas and Bwile of  Lunchinda whipped Kasumpa, Kazembe’s representative, they also whipped Kazembe’s Chief  Commander Mpweto Kashinge whom he dispatched from Kilwa to revenge. The Bwile’s were led by Mpweto Kanyamamabumba who was paramount to all the Bwiles. Like the Basanga Chief Mafunga who nearly annihilated the Lunda’s and were only saved by Mushima Kafwikamo (Akayafya ukuposa) a Kaonde also known as Chief Kaindu Mushima (Kasongo waile ku Lualaba) in NorthWestern Province,  whom the Lunda  had integrated into Lunda Chieftaincy, the Bwile’s diplomatic acumen also allowed them to call on many allies up to Ng’anye. Bwiles resisted Lunda subjugation quite successfully. Are you an historian? Why not come and study this tangled histories of the Valley people. AS earlier state the Bwiles used salt as a diplomatic strategy not tribute. Up to today Bwiles still use salt in their diplomatic interaction with other chiefdoms.


There is a very big stone close to the Lake and Ifuna stream at Kalembwe with a big hole inside with stone chairs and tables. Villagers can guide you there. It is said Livingstone sat on then.


The Bwile people on he Zambian side have had eight leaders  as Muanzankulu Puta inception. Kasoma II Tefwetefwe I is the 8th. Yet in the reign of Putas there has been one outstanding Muanzankulu Puta whose record of reign on the throne is historically remarkable for its longevity. It was Hillier Kasoma I Kanunga Muanzankulu Puta VI  who reigned for 62 years! There are few Royal Monarchies in Zambia and perhaps the World who have reigned for that long. Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom would be celebrating her 60 year reign as a Royal Monarch. The Zambian government awarded Hillier Kasoma I Puta VI a national medal of honor (posthumously) by President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa for long service to his people, the only traditional leaders so honored  perhaps in the history of our country. He expired in 1999. He stands as a symbol of the House of Chongo Shebele who currently reign as Putas. He also stands out as fierce and intelligent leaders who knew how to stand for all the Bwile people, including those in the diaspora including in the now Congo Democratic Republic. He personally nurtured the current Muanzankulu  Paramount Chief Medard Mumba Mpweto X  Lulimi I from his early years wghen he was brought from the DRC into Kanunga Palace in the early 60s until he went and installed him as Mpweto on  17th September1999 in the DRC,  just a few months before his own demise. He promoted enterprise and worked to resolve tensions. He knew our royal customs and respected them fully. He nurtured leadership among young members of the family. He stood firm against foes. He was generous, strategic and unifying. He epitomized all that a celebrated Bwile Chief should and must be. From their mother Shebele, Kasoma Puta had  his sisters Malita Lukonde (Natende wa Lushiba) (f), Emela Nabense (f) and his brother Jameson Shebele (m). This line remains the  House of  Chongo, who rule the Bwiles on the Zambian side.  In2017, it will be the 100 year anniversary, when the Bwiles all over will celebrate the Legacy of Kasoma I Puta VI . His Praise citation  nkafwa kuli aba, panga wauma ngesembe, ilyatumpa lyatobeka kuli mwana Chiseluka, Shichimpalapata umwaumebatasha ubulamba, Shichimputu uuputukila abatumpa,
Tobwe iyaweme mwana Chiseluka, Lumfu uwenda imiya, Shimunukula fishinte inkalamo ailalya amale abantu ngata bamina, Shimunukula mabwe ilyakosa lya lepuka…..
Puta Kasoma aishile pyanwa na Muanzankulu Puta VII Shebele II (1999-2007) Kaongwa akalumanya mishike, mpula mwiteshi, mubamba ng’oma  uulasa abamunina, muntalangwa mashindaubwema nimbwa ukutola
Uwaishile pyanwa na Muanzankulu Puta VIII Kasoma II Tefwetefwe uwibisha abafina nabamiya, Temfuma ubwaume kuilanga, cilalo cishipanguka pantu ngacapanguka ninshi bonse kuya, Shimukokota nsono,amabwe emubweemusunga apwila, Fumpa fumpa mwana owani ukafwila pangala shakwe, nchitwa cii finshi bengamucita, Chitwekoko icafinya akabwile, …tundungulu umutulwa nsengo no tuntu mukati. Chibinda mwana Chongo uwanukwile sensele peshinte aisangula butanda bwakunyantapokonse pe uko aya.