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Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Title: The  Bwile people of Northern Zambia, their movement and settlement in the Lake Mweru, Chiengi District area

The Bwile are a minority ethnic group in Luapula Province of Zambia. However, taken together with the now Bwile of the DRC ( most of whom were formerly under the de jure jurisdiction of Northern Rhodesia and remain in the disputed Lunchinda-Mpweto enclave), the Bwile, ruled by the ANZA Clan (Monkey clan) are a significant minority.The historical ascendancy of the Bwile in Zambia cannot be understood clearly without a factual appreciation of the unfolding historical  events in the Lunda-Luba emprire in the now Congo Democratic Republic  that led to a major bifurcation around  the  middle 18th century (S.L. Hinde, The Fall of Congo Arabs, London 1897 pp 184, 187). 
The Bwile originally known as ABakuha or progressively as Abakuasimba, like the Bahemba broke off from the sovereign imperial authority of the Luba kingdom after  Mulopwe Ilunga sungu who reigned as a Luba king between 1790 to 1810 died. His successor Mulopwe Kumwimbe Ngombe lost effective control over many clans and tribes under the Luba imperial rule . Having moved from the kola area of Kienge Haut-Katanga, through Kienge  Haut-Lomami and  further down to Kienge –Takanyika in the DRC before the death of Ilunga Sungu, the Bahemba had moved with smaller clans close to the Takanyika area and later settled  back around the area between the ruvua and Lualaba rivers  . The Bakuha  sometimes referred to as Abakuasimba moved from the Kasonga  region  around  Kienge  area  of bena chimPuta  down the Lualaba river, going  eastward to join bena kasanga or abashimba  under Chomba Chalusombo. The area from which they came of Kasongo Kongolo in the now Maniema province  after moving from Kienge Haut-Katanga, included  areas controlled by Mulolwa Kiluba, Kalembwe , Kiofwe in addition to Pene- Kimpunta, Seya,  Sulumba and Ponde. In their search for a peaceful area to settle from the Kienge Tanganyika area they appear to have moved into the area now known as KiAnza east of Kibalange,
As seen, within the areas of KiengeTanganyika in the DRC , Kasongo and around Pene- Kimpunta,, there  are many names similar to those the Bwile now carry for their royal chiefs in Zambia and Congo  DR in the District of Pweto. In the Kienge area of Haut-Katanga you find a mighty rock on the hill called Kabwekantanda. The place where the chiefdom is today very much reflects the scenary, fauna and flora of the many areas they travelled through in the Congo DR particularly in KiengeTanganyika area.
As noted , the Bwile people originally known as ABakuha or Abakua seemed to have seceded from Luba imperial authority at the time of the reign of the Luba emperor Mulopwe Kumwimbe Ngombe after he succeeded to the thrown around 1810. This is about the same time that the Bahemba also seceded from Luba central authority Mukulumpe. For the Bakuha, Kasongo Wakumwimba  is credited in their folklore with the beginning of their split from other Luba clans searching for peaceful areas to settle. There is no evidence that Kasongo wa Kumwimba exercised the authority of a tribal chief nor that he actually reached this area of Bwileland. Kasongo wa Kumwimba appear to  have guided the Bakuha into the KiengeTanganyika areas of Kasongo, Kalembwe, Mwehu and Kimputa away from the chaos that had beset the Luba kingdom  in central Katanga or kola area during the Chokwe dismemberment of the Luba/Songye empires and the penetration of Banyamwezi into Lunda kingdoms.
After the death of MulopweIlunga Sungu who  reigned between 1790-1810, the Chokwe armed with Portuguese traders’ supplied guns , the Chokwe backed by Ovimbundu penetrated deep into Luba land. Kasongo wa kumwimbwa  may have been part  of the Chokwe  invaders who split-off. Among the Chokwe , there is reference to Kasonga waile ku Lualaba and  Amakuha  area in  Eastern Angola.
Under Kumwimbe Ngombe, there were many occasions of conflict as he appeared to have lost his grip over the who;e Luba kingdom.  There were marauding warlords, tribes and clans that thrived on war and plunder, confiscating property, ivory, slaves, and the produce of the more civil and enterprising tribes and clans. The split with the Bahemba who appear to have been more organized and provided smaller clans with leadership and protection within the area between Luvua and Lualaba around Mulenga, may have created even greater insecurity.
The avoidance of conflict and the intrinsic desire to be in more peaceful lands were catalystic factors that forced Bwile ancestors to migrate from Luba land. Equally their migration from the area of Mulolwa Kiluba and Kienge and now Pene-KimPuta, travelling  long distances up to lake Tanganyika where they joined up with Abena Kasanga clan  led by Chomba Chalusombo may have been precipitated as much by the search for peace as for increasing commerce that had started with  Arabs and Banyamwezi  around Tanganyika.  During this time the Bakuha appear to have aligned themselves with bena Kasanga  (Abashimba) under Chomba through the marriage of Seya  Bulanda a Mukuha and Chomba Chalusombo .
Chomba Chalusombo  effectively reigned as a sovereign in the lake area of Tanganyika until a rebellion by Chomba’s  relations strategized by the Bakuha which was exposed by Seya Bulanda herself, led to another birfucation, a split with one rebel group of Abena Kasanga going south ward to the area of Mweru Wantipa. These were known as AbenaTtanga (people from Tanganyika) or Abashimba (utunama twamala ).  These clan still exists in the Pepa area of Moba District in Eastern DRC.This group considered itself to have been let down by the Bakuha. Consequently, and perhaps more out of spite than adoration for the cunning nature of aBakuha, they called aBakuha as aba Anza (monkeys or tricksters who are good at setting up “Ubwile”). This became a clan name instead of Bakuha and aba  Bwile characterized the name of the entire group led by the Anza clan leaders. “Ubwile” in Bemba refers to a “trick” or “strategy”.
 One of the ba Anza groups appear to have settled around Kianza area of Tanganyika initially and later migrated led by Pembe Chandalala, a brother of Seya Bulanda. Another group following the rebel segment of Chomba’s relatives who went to Mweru Wantipa area was led by Mutumpa Numbi with his brother Chongo . These travelled with a relative who waa a skilled hunter was called Lambwe who was left in Chitunda. This group appear to have identified itself closely with Chomba Chalusombo’s paternal lineage of abashimba (and may have identified themselves as abakuasimba)  than Pembe’s group who were stricly now called aba-Anza. Mutumpa numbi’s group  may have broken off from Kyando’s led group, a nephew of Pembe who was left in Vilumbi at Kinswa..
Pembe left the Tanganyika area and travelled westward right down to the shores of Lake area of Mweru.  This journey  took several years of going round and round,up the Lualaba and Luvua rivers , down through now Kasama and Kizabi areas to the shores of lake Mweru.
Pembe Chandalala travelled with his sister Mulumbwa Mwanto Ikolo, his three nephews namely Katunu Kamubangula,, Kyando Chalukulika Ng’ombe na Bantu and Mutengu,Kyofwe Mwine Menda Nalelamilimba Kizabi Kya Menda. He also had his two nieces, Mapemba and Mubanda (names in italics were praise names).
As earlier noted, Kyando was left in the area of Vilumbi  around Kianza with his two sisters Mapemba and Mubanda.  Katunu was left in the Kapeta area while Pembe, his nephew Mutengu and his sister Mulumbwa Mwanto Ikolo settled at Mutantula in the present area of Nsomboshi,now Pweto District of DRC. The land where Katunu and Pembe settled belonged to the Shila people at the time whose paramount chief was Nkuba.  However, a royal marriage between Muchelenge, ( son of Nkuba who had taken refuge in the Chitutu area after the death of Nkuba under the Lunda Mwata Ilunga and Nkuba’s sister NaChituti’s betrayal) and Mulumbwa Ikolo Mwanto triggered a series of power play and tragic  events that eventually secured the ba Anza people the sovereign ownership of the area now known as Bwileland  from the Congo DR to Kalobwa in Zambia. (Cf  Father Labreques’s history of the Babemba
September 1936" and Peter R. Chanshi, The Heritage and Mysteries of the Mwata Kazembe Dynasty, 2007) ). (More research needed about Lunda claims in respect to Bwile-Lunda relations as written by Chanshi)  The land was secured, after a miscarriage by Mwanto Ikolo, as a concession by Mchelenge of Chitutu to a demand by  Pembe Chandalala. The concession was inevitable and was achieved in two stages. First Mchelenge conceeded the area of now Kasama, the Ngansa (now Pweto) and Kizabi. But because of the sense of insult visited on Kaleba (or Kalewa), a brother of Ikolo by forcing him to eat dog meat, Pembe refused to be appeased.  Because the Shila chief Mchelenge was at the time battling with the Lunda under Mwata Kazembe Keleka, he could not open up another war front with the ba-Anza led people who threatened war, he eventually conceded to the claim by Pembe who rested the pot of water and salt soil at Kalobwa where the Shila had buried the stillborn.
When Katunu died in Kapeta , the area he now controlled as an Anza chief, Pembe who had been nicknamed Musangwa ( the found one) by Muchelenge, took Mutengu to go and inherit his brother. His royal title  was Mutengu Kyofwe Nalelamilimba Mpweto  Kizabi wa Kapeta. The name Kizabi was a nickname  by his people who used to refer to him as “ Ozu Kizabi Kyapamenda” while he referred to himself as Kyofwe Mwine Menda for his love of water but also a reflection of the Kiofwe chiefdom up the Lualaba in Luba land..  The royal house of Kizabi effectively started with Mutengu. After his death , Musangwa Pembe installed Kyando as Kizabi (II). At the same time, he took his other young nephew Matipaa  and installed him as Mpweto in the Mitungulu area for effective management of the new Bwile chiefdom thus creating two chiefdoms out of kizabi. Thus, the Royal house of Mpweto started with Matipa.

The installation of Matipaa as Mpweto by Pembe did not please the first born son of Mwanto Mulumbwa Ikolo  born of Mchelenge known as Kasonga Wamudimo  he travelled from the Chitutu area and went and killed his uncle Musangwa Pembe effectively taking over from his uncle, the sovereign authority. However, he never settled at nsomboshi where Pembe was but in the present area of Kasama . He pronounced himself as Kasama in his own praise  “Nine Kasama Malungo LIkolo Lisama Malungo”.  He was thus recognized as a nephew of Pembe like kizabi and thus Kasongo  wamudimo effectively started the royal house of Kasama..
Matipa Mpweto retained sovereign authority of all the Bwile. And to effectively control the new land secured from the Shila and after consultation with  his brother Kyando Kizabi, he proceeded to allocate to his three nephews the land across the Nchinda river (now called Lunchinda). He appointed  Mulolwa from Kalamba  who praised himself as as Chimpuntami  uwapuntamina akaBwile. He also appointed  Katuka  who praised himself as Kalembwe and Mukomboli  who praised himself as Mwabu (Muehu) . ChimPuta and Kalembwe  and Mwabu were known royal names  from the Kienge area  near Kongolo and Kasonga in Luba land.
The Puta (a shortname for Kumpunta which had already been abbreviated  enroute from Kianza by descendants of Mulolwa Kiluba) leneage therefore proceeded as follows:
1.      Mulolwa chimpuntami as Puta I
2.      Mulubi as Puta II
3.      Mufinsa Puta III
4.      Chipalabwe Puta IV
5.      Chongo Puta V
6.      Kasoma IPuta VI
7.      Shebele Puta VII
8.      Kasoma IIPuta VIII
The longest serving of all the eight Putas was Kasoma IPuta vi who reigned  on the throne for 62 years from 1937-1999. He was awarded a medal of honor by Zambian government posthumous for this long service to  his people. On the other side, the Bwile’s of DRC under Mpweto, the Mpweto lineage was as follows: (ref: Chola Manda Jean Songs of Ukwanga Kwa Ba Bwile as Literary genre,  Open University of Katanga, 2011 , p3)
1.      Mpweto Matipa
2.      Mpweto Kayembwe
3.      Mpweto Muntala
4.      Mpweto Chipungu
5.      Mpweto Shebele
6.      Mpweto Lubasa Nkonde (temp)
7.      Mpweto Augustin Musosa 1922-1955)
8.      Mpweto Myolo Mukala mathias (1955-1986)
9.      Mpweto Yuma Chikalipa (1986-199)
10.  Mpweto Mumba Medard Lulimi (Since 17th Sept 1999)

Authority and title of the ruling clan
The Bwile chiefdoms in both Zambia and the congo democratic republic are ruled by the ba-Anza clan, descendants of Seya Bulanda, Musangwa Pembe, Mulumbwa Mwanto Ikolo, Kyando, Katunu, Mutengu, Mapemba and Mubanda. Consistent with the Luba traditions from Mulolwa Kiluba and Kasongo, royalty was addressed as Mulopwe. However, it appears clan seniority was designated by adding a seniority title like Gombe-Nkulu, Piana- Nkulu while lower clan house leaders were designated by prefixing, Mwana as in  Mwana Ngongo, Mwana-Ngio-Kasanga, Mwana Mumba, a practice that appear to have continued in our area of origin to today. It is within this tradition that the senior houses of the Anza clans in Zambia and Congo DR must be referred to as Mu-Anzankulu  in respect of M’pweto in the Congo and Puta in Zambia instead of the common references of bemba traditions of Kanabesa. If this original formulation is followed, the ba-Anza ruling clan in Zambia are under mu-Anzankulu Puta  VIII Kasoma II Tefwetefwe.  When we address him using government designation then he is referred to as mu-Anzankulu Senior chief Puta
Ref: S.L. Hinde, The Fall of Congo Arabs, London 1897 pp 184, 187
 Father Labreques’s history of the Babemba September 1936 reported by Kasama District Commissioner Bresfold"
 Peter R. Chanshi, The Heritage and Mysteries of the Mwata Kazembe Dynasty, 2007
Petit,P Proud To Be Bwile

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