People and Culture
Tribes in the Province
Muchinga Province has a number of tribal groups speaking different languages and dialects. The major tribes in the province include the Bemba speaking people mainly found in Chinsali as well as parts of Mpika and Shiwang’andu. Others are Bisa found in Mpika and Shiwang’andu, the Namwanga found in Isoka and Nakonde, the Senga found in Chama and the Tumbuka, Nyika, Fungwe, Lambya of Mafinga districts.
The language mostly spoken across the province is Icibemba, which is the mother tongue of the Bemba people of Chinsali, Shiwang’andu and Mpika districts. Icibemba is also spoken in the Northern Province districts of Kasama, Mungwi and parts of Mporokoso and Luwingu districts.
Other prominent languages in Muchinga include Icinamwanga, spoken by the Namwanga people of Nakonde and Isoka districts, ChiTumbuka, spoken by the Tumbuka people of Mafinga and parts of Chama, IchiSenga spoken by the Senga people of Chama district and IciBisa, spoken by the Bisa people of Mpika district. Despite its size and the diversity of languages and dialects, the people of Muchinga Province generally share a common culture except for Chama district whose culture relates more to tribes in the Eastren province where the district was detached from.
Each of these tribes has its own traditional leadership headed by Senior Chief and assisted by Chiefs and village headmen in the case of Bemba, Bisa and Senga speaking people whilst other tribes are just headed by Chiefs. The paramount Chief of the Bemba speaking people of both Muchinga and Northern provinces is Chitimukulu whose Royal capital is in Mungwi district of Northern Province.
The Bemba trace their origin from Luba – Lunda in present day Democtratic Republic of Congo and crossed Luapula, Chambeshi, and Kalungu Rivers. When they reached the banks of Milando, it is believed they came across a dead crocodile. Since Bemba rulers belong to the Crocodile Clan, the discovery, earmarked Bemba-land. A village was set up at this very spot -and it was named Ng’wena Village.
The Bemba people celebrate “Ukusefya pa Ngwena,” which re-enacts the journey from Luba-Lunda Kingdom into Bembaland.
Around August/September, Chitimukulu (the Paramount Chief) calls his subjects to the original Ng’wena Village to celebrate the formation of the Bemba people and nation, and their subsequent achievements. This celebration involves all Bembas from the two sister provinces – Northern and Muchinga provinces. Other traditional ceremonies celebrated in the province are listed in the table below:
Table 3.1: Traditional Ceremonies in Muchinga Province
|Mpika||Chinamanongo||Snr. Chief Kopa||Bisa||September|
|Mpika||Bisa Malaila||Chief Nabwalya||Bisa||September|
|Mafinga||Vikankanimba||Snr. Chief Muyombe||Tumbuka||September|
|Mafinga||Chambo Chalutanga||Chief Mwenechifungwe||Mfungwe||September|
|Chinsali||Insonge||Snr. Chief Chibesakunda||Bisa||September|
|Chama||Kwenje||Snr. Chief Kambombo||Tumbuka||October|
|Isoka||Ngóndo||Snr. Chief Kafwimbi||Namwanga||November|
Source: Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs
The Province has three (3) Senior Chiefs, twenty five (25) chiefs and one (1) Chieftainess. The table below shows the Chiefs in the province and the tribes they preside over.
The senior most Bemba chief in the province is Senior Chief Nkula who is chosen among the Chiefs when the one on the throne dies. A subsequent replacement is also made to the Chief who is chosen as Senior Chief. The Paramount Chief Chitimukulu is chosen among the Senior Chiefs in the two provinces – Northern and Muchinga following existing procedures on who qualifies to ascend to the highest throne at any given time.
Table 3.2: Muchinga Chiefs and Tribes they preside over
|Senior Chief Kopa||Bisa|
|Senior Chief Nkula||Bemba|
|4||Isoka District||Chief Kafwimbi||Namwanga|
|Senior Chief Kambombo||Senga|
|Chief Mwenechifungwa||Fungwes & Nyikas|
|7||Nakonde District||Chieftaines Nawaitwika||Namwanga|