By CHARLES MUSONDA
TONGA is the only tribe that outnumbers Bembas, Senior Chief Mukuni of the Toka Leya has said.
He was reacting to Paramount Chief Chitimukulu who said the 21 percent of Zambia’s population were Bemba and need to decide the vote in an election because of their numbers.
But Senior Chief Mukuni said the 21 percent majority population the Paramount Chief may have made reference to was a combination of Northern, Luapula and Muchinga Provinces, which he said were viewed as Bemba speaking, but not necessarily Bemba inhabited.
He advised that history be read in its proper perspective in order to be correctly guided.
“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,” said Senior Chief Mukuni.
In a statement yesterday, Chief Mukuni who supported d Chief Chitimukulu, said his friend was merely expressing 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.
He said that is 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 who recognize the importance of voting than follow the false fantasies of politicians. He actually never cited any political party to 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,” Chief Mukuni said.
He said Chief Chitimukulu is an intellectual and an accomplished historian who appreciates the established norms and resolve of Southerners in using the vote to register a grievance against any unjust establishment.
He said in 1991 and 1996 the province registered a high turnout in support of late Frederick Chiluba, a Bemba speaking candidate, who twice in the cited years polled a 100 percent parliamentary vote in Southern province.
Chief Mukuni said this was more than in Dr. Chiluba’s own 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 us applaud His Majesty for his timely advice to his people, and as a matter of fact to all Zambians.
“The 21 percent 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. It would therefore be very important to read history in its proper perspective to be correctly guided,” he said. Chief Mukuni said the underlying factor however is that there is no one tribe that is bigger than the rest of the nation and that everyone must therefore strive to live as one people who celebrate their rich diversity and diverse culture and languages but one nation under one God.
He said politics must not divide Zambians but must instead unite them.
By CHARLES MUSONDA