THE past few days have had a diversity of media platforms inundated with debate over what my personal friend His Majesty the Chitimukulu, is claimed to have said or not said.
This is a health debate that underscores why a robust media in a democracy must be harnessed than harassed.
It encourages a wealth of ideas to be interrogated and competed for, and a way foward shaped for posterity. This is the way it should be.
However let me also add my personal opinion as a traditional leader, but most importantly as a citizen who wishes to exercise freedom of expression. His Majesty Kanabesa Mwinelubemba, of the Bena ubemba traditional grouping, appeared to have been quoted out of context in some questions that were in most cases prompted and crafted by clever journalists that were interviewing him.
The Chitimukulu expressed displeasure at his subjects who were not critically using the power of the vote in choosing quality and responsible leadership that would bring development to his Chiefdom, and that they were usually duped by empty promises made by politicians.
That’s a cry of every traditional leader who wishes to see economic and social advancement for his or her people.
The Paramount Chief therefore merely counseled the Bena Lubemba to emulate the Southerners better known as the people of Chuundu, who recognize the importance of voting than follow the false fantasies of politicians. He actually never cited any political party in which his subjects must particularly identify themselves with. As a matter of fact, he encouraged them to make their own choices, but based on quality leadership that would deliver and also protect their interests.
Chitimukulu Mwinelubemba is an intellectual and an accomplished historian who appreciates the established norms and resolve of Southerners in using the vote, to resoundingly register a grievance against any unjust establishment. In 1991 and 1996 the Province registered a high turn out in support of late Fredrick Chiluba, a Bemba speaking candidate, who twice in the above years, polled a 100% parliamentary vote in Southern Province, more than in his own home region of Luapula, and the MMD strongholds of Northern and Copperbelt Provinces, that still had pockets of UNIP.
It is from this historical perspective that I viewed the basis of the remarks by Mwinelubemba to his people, and instead of needlessly condemning him for other gaffes that were made, due to reporters’ prompting, let’s applaud His Majesty for the timely advice to his people, and as a matter of fact to all Zambians.
The 21% majority population the Paramount Chief may have made reference to, which has also drawn a lot of debate, is a combination of Luapula and Muchinga Provinces, which are viewed as Bemba speaking, but not necessarily Bemba inhabited.
As a follow up to the above assertions, it would therefore be very important to read history in its proper perspective inorder to be correctly guided. The book ‘The tribes of Northern Rhodesia’ by W.V Brelsford, 1956 on page 31 may help to arouse further discussion: “The Bemba numbering 145,000 are the second largest tribe in Northern Rhodesia. The Tonga, the only tribe to outnumber the Bemba are very mixed, whereas the Bembas are a homogeneous tribe”.
Obviously to draw a correct and proper understanding of such a statement, one has to read the whole book and other books on the subject in question.
The underlying factor however is that there’s no one tribe that is bigger than the rest of the nation.
We must therefore strive to live as one people who celebrate their rich diversity and multifarious culture and languages but one nation under one God. Politics must not divide us but must instead conjoin us.
God bless you and God bless the Republic.
SENIOR CHIEF MUKUNI of the Leya people of Kazungula, Livingstone and Zimba Districts and all Bene Mukuni.