By FRANK CHING’AMBU –
NGOMA yetu inatubika, namichima inahokoka, (our traditional drum has deflected and our hearts are fluttered) a Luvale saying to describe the chief’s death or any other senior official of the land.
These are descriptions engraved on faces of many Luvale speaking people in Zambezi district, not only on the west where most of them (Luvales) dwell, but the entire district, if not the entire Southern African region.
A sorrowful mood has characterised the entire Zambezi district following the shocking demise of Senior Chief Ndungu, great leader, pillar and a unifier as many have described him as they mourn their chief, custodian of their culture and traditions.
To the Ndungu family, they have lost a father, uncle, brother, cousin, grandfather, husband, son, the list is endless.
The late Senior Chief Songe Godfrey Ngundu Ndungu VIII died on January 27, 2020 at Ndola Teaching Hospital (NTH) after an illness.
His death has touched many, including the highest office of the land. It has shaken the extended clan of the Luvale speaking people here in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola as well as Namibia.
The body of late Senior Chief Ndungu VIII lie in state in a beautifully crafted Kasaji- a traditional shelter at Mize capital awaiting burial on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at Kakwe, a royal burial site for Luvale chiefs.
His remains were evacuated to the Mize capital in Zambezi district on Saturday, February 1,2020 from Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola following Government’s release of two planes and a helicopter that was stationed in Zambezi to help in crossing the casket to the western side of the Zambezi river though it was not used because traditional demanded the remains of the late senior chief cross to the other side of the river on a pontoon.
It was done so as a symbol of Ulamba (magnificent) to the departed hero.
Four cabinet ministers who included Lawrence Sichalwe and Stephen Kampyongo from ministries of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and Home Affairs respectively and North -Western province minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu and his Copperbelt province counterpart JaphenMwakalombe who was represented by Permanent Secretary, Bright Nundwe and handed over the remains of the traditional leader to the people of Chinyama Cha Mukwamayi.
He is being remembered as an ambassador who significantly contributed to the growth of the tourism sector in North-Western province by creatively selling the spectacular Likumbi Lya Mize traditional ceremony to the whole world.
The Likumbi Lya Mize traditional ceremony being one of the oldest ceremonies is considered as a unifying factor that brings all the peoples of the Luvale tribe in Zambia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia together.
Maintaining the originality of the Likumbi Lya Mize, garnished with the presence of over 150 masquerades led by king of the makishi ‘Kayipu’ and his son ‘Kapalu’, the Makishi masquerade and Mukanda enticed the eyes of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation where it was conferred with a diploma as a master piece of the World Cultural Heritage for Posterity in 2005.
But this year, Musongo wa Ndungu as he was called by those whose routes can be traced from the Chinyama Cha Mukwamayi royal dynasty, will obviously not be in attendance as the Luvales are expected to host the 64 Likumbi Lya Mize festival this August as he goes to rest with his ancestors on the other side.
This in itself is unbearable, sorrowful and painful reality to the subjects he led.
His solid bond with Government was exceptional. His major focus was to ensure that development being sprout out across the country does not eluded his chiefdom and the entire bakaChinyama Cha Mukwamayi chiefdom.
No wonder Nathaniel Mubukwanu, North Western Province Minister is describing him as a true leader that meant serious business to ensuring that his chiefdom received maximum development.
Mr. Mubukwanu remembers late Senior Chief Ndungu as a devoted ambassador that willingly advertised the LikumbiLya Mize within and outside the country by attracting the presence of UNESCO in the country.
“He was a true partner to government who was called upon at any time, and one major thing I vividly remember is his agreement to co-hosting the 2019 North West Expo with the provincial administration and the fruits of the expo are beginning to manifest, how I wish he could live a bit longer to witness the sweet from his sweat.
This is the man that we are sending off. On behalf of President Edgar Lungu and the entire government, would like to appeal to the people of Zambezi district and indeed the entire province to remain calm during and after the mourning period. They have to be steadfast so that our man can be put to rest in a befitting manner.” He said.
Mr. Mubukwanu added that anything contrary would certainly undermine the late senior chief’s desire to rest in peace.
As a dark cloud was building up over the west bank, thousands of multitudes thronged to Zambezi airport to welcome the remains of their pillar, a brave warrior who defended and protected his people. Majestically the vilolo paraded in a traditional style to remove casket from the Zambia Air force plane which landed at the Zambezi airstrip.
They braved the rains just to only have a glimpse on Musongo Wa Ndungu’s casket as it was taken round the airport before crossing the Mighty Yambeji (Zambezi) river enroute to the Mize capital.
They wept while singing (Ulamba) songs in a majestic way, Luvale Royal Establishment Prime Minister, Patrick Fumbelo shared a lot with the late senior chief as an acquaintance and colleague.
“The death of Musongo Wa Ndungu is devastating becausing he was a unifier that preached love among his people and those surrounding his chiefdom and beyond.
“He was a pillar whose mind was intoxicated with nothing else but thoughts of developing the chiefdom and ensure that his subjects’ lives were improved.” Prime Minister Fumbelo said.
He said me late Senior Chief Ndungu led his subjects by critically observing the “One Zambia One Nation motto. He added that Musongo waNdungu was a selfless leader who closely worked with the Government of the day.
“Him as a leader may be gone but we as his subjects will ensure that we honour him through continuity of his legacy of working with the Government of the day in all programmes aimed at uplifting people’s lives in the chiefdom,” he said.
He has assured government not to think twice about the solid bond established adding that there were no two ways about it.
And those who worked with him have described him as a frank person who called a spade by its name and could not be swayed by any forces not within his mind.
As a friend and workmate in the ministry of mines in the early 1990s, Chief Kaputa of the Tabwa speaking people of Kaputa district in Northern Province said the late Senior Chief Ndungu VIII was very friendly and embraced everyone at work.
He said Musongo Wa Ndungu addressed matters as they were presented to him and stuck to his guns regardless of the nature of every matter.
And as chairperson in the house of chiefs, chief Kaputa describes senior chief Ndungu’s demise as a great loss not only to the Luvale and Lunda speaking people, and other ethnic tribes in North Western Province, but the entire country.
“Working with him as a friend, I never detected any fault in him. He is a man who tirelessly worked to keep our friendship, and he called a spade, a spade. We have lost not just a member, but a champion of democracy whom we shall greatly miss at all time,” Chief Kaputa said.
The late Senior Chief Ndungu VIII ascended to the thrown in 2001 until his death, and prior to that he reigned over the Kucheka chiefdom for two years.
He was born from Mwangana Ngambo Pulu – elder sister to Davison Chinyama Mwangana Ndungu the 5th. His siblings were Njamba, Beatrice Kakuhu, Mahongo Ngundu and Grace Kanyama
Below is the genealogy of the Luvale chiefs from the year 1850:
Chief Ndungu Chinyama Lyatoo Satome Ndungu Kalakata saved for 71 years from 1850 to 1921. He was followed by Chief Ndungu Sombo Nyamulombwe- the second longest serving chief who was on the thrown for 41 years from 1922 -1963.
Third in line was Chief Ndungu Chinyama Sakavungu from 1963-1967, Chief Ndungu John Ngonga Nguvu Samukelenga 1968 -1983, Chief Ndungu Davison Chinyama Pulu Kucheka 1985 -1990, Chief Ndungu Chiyaze Chikulu Mayembe 1991 – 2001- and Senior Chief Ndungu Godfrey Songe Ngundu 2001 to 2020.
‘Wawawe Mwangana Ndungu, mono wenu unoke mumaboko yabakakula zhetu’