After Chipata, north towns want city status too

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 09:46:58 +0000


By augustine phiri


Spies from the Northern circuit of Zambia have docked in the land of the wise in the Far East to gather information about how Chipata has managed to attain city status.

The secret agents have been sent by their traditional authorities and it is envisaged that the information to be gathered would be used in an effort to boost develop in Kasama, Chinsali and Mansa to the level of Chipata.

You see, ever since Chipata was declared a City on February 24 this year, the indigenous inhabitants of Northern, Muchinga and Luapula regions who collectively form the Northern Circuit, have become extremely jealousy and envious.

These people are grumbling and making scandalous comments about the Easterners who they consider to be under-ground managers who are only good at devouring imbeba (mice) which reside deep below the vegetation level.

How can these people develop a small village into a city when our own Kasama, Chinsali and Mansa are still villages, is the question on their Medulla Oblongata.

But little do the northerners know that the easterners too, call them branch managers for their acrobatic behavior of jumping from branch to branch in hot pursuit of monkeys in trees.

Unknown to the Northerners, the Easterners know very well that their tribal cousins also gobble Mbeba in secret and disguise the delicacy as ‘Ba kapanga’ and make the little mammals look like they arenot one and the same mice.

You see, Chipata is not just another town, pardon me, another City. It sits on a rural valley surrounded by hills in all directions, making it very fortified from intruders from the North.

The new City has a Golf Course in the middle of the business district even though it has never hosted the annual Zambia Open tournament.

The City of Chipata has a railway line even though no train has rolled on it to convey a passenger and cargo of tobacco, ground nuts, cotton and maize.

It is the only city in Zambia that has Bike Cabbies some of which ride in the fanciest way with riders facing where they are coming from, peddling on one leg instead of two legs and without hands touching the handle bars.

Formerly called Fort Jameson, Chipata is derived from the Ngoni name ‘Chimpata’ which means large space and was the capital of North Eastern Rhodesia until 1911 when the British settlers created Northern Rhodesia now Zambia.

The name reverted to Chipata soon after independence from Britain.

With the population hitting more than 500,000, Chipata has a large concentration of people from India. As you may be aware, these Orientals from the Far East prefer living in the Eastern part of any given area.

In Africa, they are mostly in East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The latest City of Chipata also has a high presence bicycles attributed to Luangwa Bicycle Industries. But despite its demise many years ago, this has failed to lessened the population of bicycles in the area.

For this reason, the police mount road blocks to check the roadworthiness of bike cabbies and ox-carts in the habit of ridding fast to deliver clients and cash crops to markets.

The newly found status makes Chipata the fifth developed municipality in Zambia after the cities of Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Kitwe in terms of infrastructure. It has passable roads, land able airport and busy shopping malls which include Shoprite and Spars, among others.

The young City is the gateway to Malawi to the East, Luangwa National Park to the West, Lundazi to the North and Lusaka to the South.

Protea Hotel leads the list of hotels in Chipata along with Crystal Spring Hotel, Chipata Motel, Katuta Lodge and Mama Rulas, among others. These are for both the well to do and the not so well to do visitors to this eastern provincial centre.

The area has modern markets, hospitals, university colleges, spacious post office and Barclays Bank, Zambia Nation Commercial Bank and Stanbic Bank and has Breeze FM Radio, Maria Radio and a private Television Station to augment the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

The presence of large and small industries also contribute to the growing congestion of people in the City.

“The pace and congestion of the Chipata (business) centre is about the same as that of Amherst in Massachusetts in America,” writes American visitor, Camille Tuason in her recent travel diary.

Traditionalists in the Northern Circuit may wish to know that Chipata is situated in the province which has not one but two Paramount Chiefdoms.

This means that in a year, two high profile traditional ceremonies take place and these are the Kulamba of the Chewa people in August and the Ngoni’s Ngw’ala in February.

As you can see, these ceremonies attract both local and international tourists who helped local authorities lobby government to grant Chipata city status.

Ngw’ala, which takes place at Mtunguleni village on the outskirts of the Greater City of Chipata, provides that spectacular hard stomping dance by the Ngoni warriors dressed in colourful skins of leopards, cheetahs and lions in the form of mini-skirts.

During the dance, impis wield spears in one hand and clutch shields in another mimicking the stabbing of the enemy while shielding themselves from rival forces.

When dancing a Ngoni warrior wearing a short skirt of hide alternately lift their legs high in the  ‘I’ve nothing to hide’ style to the amusement of the onlookers, especially the ladies.

While this is going on Ngoni women sporting bear breasts sing along also to the delight of male tourists. The slaughtering of a cow in full view of the people and the drinking of raw blood by the Paramount Chief Mpezeni signals the climax of the ceremony, despite protests from animal rights activists.

Kulamba Traditional ceremony which takes place in nearby Katete town is equally entertaining.

But unlike the stomping of the feet by the Ngoni warriors during Ngw’ala ceremony, in Gule Wamukulu Nyau (dance for the real men) the masked dancers fluff their feet in the dust in unison to the accompanying high-pitched lead drum called Mbalule.

Nyau dancers are also scantly dressed but do not lift their legs too high and their female singers cover their breasts from those amorous male spectators the Northern Circuit.

The Nyau dancers wear their masks in secluded places like cemeteries.

It is said that during one of the dances, a Nyau dancer stormed into the arena leaving his colleague behind the bush being attacked by a lion.

With the mask on, the dancer shouted “A Banda yawagwila Nkalamu” (a lion is attacking Banda). But to his surprise, his singing queens sang after him, “Ati Banda yakatiwa Ku  Nkhalamu,” and clapped their hands to the sound of drums.

“Imwe banthu, nati kuli Nkhalamu ku sanga uku” the frightened Nyau dancer reported. Again the women sang after him, “Ati Kuli Nkhalamu ku sanga,” meaning there is a lion in the nearby bush.

“Banda wafwa ku Nkhalamu” he shouted again and again the women responded after him in unison, “Ati Banda wafwa ku Nkhalamu” (a lion is killing Banda).

Realising that nothing was working out, the Nyau dancer took off his mask and threw it on the ground. Breathing heavily with fright and panic, he dropped the mask to the ground and narrated the incident.

A rescue squad was quickly assembled and sent into the bush and it is not clear what happened thereafter.

Now with Northern and Muchinga Provinces sharing one paramount Kusefya Pangwena (celebrating on top of a crocodile) traditional ceremony, how do the northerners hope to launch a successful campaign for Kasama and Chinsali to attain city status?

My bet is that Chinsali might get city status sooner than Kasama. The town is developing faster. The town is also rich in producing high profile political activists like Zambia’s first President, Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, his childhood friend, the late Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and the vibrant Kapasa Robert Makasa (late).

Ohoo, lest it is forgotten, Dr Nevers Mumba and his brother Cosmo, also hail from Chinsali.

In addition to Dr Mumba, is a terrific tele-evangelist and Mama Alice Lenshina leader of the Lumpa church was from Chinsali and so are one or two resurrections of Jesus Christ, among them Chanda Sema.

You never know, these achievements might count when considering Chinsali and Kasama for city standing.

It should be noted here that all the provincial centres desire city status but this piece confines itself to Kasama, Chinsali and Mansa because of the parody this writer has utter and can get away with it for obvious reasons.

The ball now is in the cot of the Northerners to reply in writing and their input would be pulished on this plot of land, sorry this column.

Let us do something and let God help Kasama, Chinsali, Mongu, Solwezi, Mansa and Kabwe attain higher status for the betterment of their respective residents.



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button