Paramount Chief Chitimukulu SOSALA of the Bemba-speaking people
Paramount Chief Chitimukulu SOSALA of the Bemba-speaking people

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala


According to Dr. Lumbwe’s interpretation of the Bemba proverb, ‘’Umulilo ucingile abakalamba taoca,’’ in English means, ‘’the fire does not destroy when the elders screen it from you. (No matter how bad the trouble, it will turn out alright if the elders help you).’’ He went on: ‘’Umulilo nangu ubwafya bwingakula sana nga babutwala ku bakalamba abali na mano tekuti bwafye sana pantu bena kuti bamona umwakusengulwila.’’ In others words, any situation no matter how daunting is not insoluble as long as senior wise citizens are around.

And therefore in this respect, what sort of persons are referred to in the Bemba proverb, ‘’Umulilo ucingile abakalamba taoca.’’ It is said that knowledge teaches you how to use a gun, but wisdom teaches you when to pull the trigger. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge or the ability to apply knowledge to everyday life and that is why wisdom is regarded as ‘’skill for right living.’’ It’s the ability to see connections between one fact and another and between facts and real life. No one is expected to prevent negative emotions or feelings, but the Law of Emotional Choice directs us to acknowledge our emotions and feelings, but also to refuse to get stuck in the negatives.

I have recently decided just to listen and understand rather than to respond because generally in this country we have adopted a social solecism. I believe we stayed too long in the one-party dictatorship and have wrongly grasped the tenets of democracy and more particularly the free-speech that was brought about after 1991. No one can limit the freedom of expression of another person since our ability to express our thoughts and ideas is a basic right. However, freedom of expression does best when it is controlled by self-discipline, by deference and respect for others. But we have more people as at now in this country who are hot-headed rather than level-headed. And more particularly the media landscape which has turned into a market for wickedness. And surely that made Pope Francis to go to such an extent of saying,

journalists and the media must avoid falling into ‘’coprophillia’’ –an abnormal interest in excrement. And those reading such stories risked behaving like ‘’coprophagies – people who eat faeces.

In fact true freedom and democracy involve much more work than dictatorship. And democracy is not the absence of law, work or a release from authority, but in reality, true democracy imposes more law and more work than dictatorship since it demands more discipline and self-control than oppression. True democracy is a matter of the mind and not of human law!

The Aftermath of August 2016 General Elections

The current political events after the 11th August 2016 general elections have not come as a surprise to most political analysts because we saw how the two leading rival political parties, i.e., the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND), effectively mobilized the people; the huge finances that were poured into their campaigns; the hiring of paid-up cadres to intimidate the people and above all how the party leaders touched even the normally unreachable remotest areas of the country by helicopters and dug-out canoes.

And it was very uncertain to pin-point at the time of the campaign before what Dr. Kaunda calls, the ‘’painless killer’’ (i.e., the ballot box), which party would emerge victorious, and hence there was generally great expectations and anticipations from the party leaders and party members as well for political rewards. And consequently there is great frustration which is normally to be expected from the losing party leaders and members especially by those who had staked everything into the campaign machinery.

And here is what Dr. Kaunda wrote about ‘’frustration’’ in his book, A Humanist in Africa:

‘’….but political frustration built up over time cannot be dissipated overnight. The psychologist defines ‘frustration’ as the condition which occurs when a blockage is placed in the way of some desired goal, resulting in the destructive outworking of the energy generated to achieve it. He further claims that the symptoms of frustration are aggression, heightened suggestibility and a reversion to non-constructive pattern of behavior. All these conditions are likely to be experienced in the immediate post-election period…’’

I wrote to Expendito C. Chipalo, one of the few journalists for whom I have great respect since he can in any circumstance call ‘’a spade, spade,’’ and is not involved in what is now known as ‘’yellow journalism,’’ to give me an overview of the past elections and here is what he sent me:

‘’Kanabesa,below is the information from 1991 when the country reverted to multiparty democracy 1991.

  1. Dr. Kaunda lost to Mr. Frederick Chiluba. The loser never disputed the elections although he questioned why the women did not vote. There was friction between UNIP and the MMD caused by a spate of bombings by a group calling itself ‘’Black Mamba,’’ which everyone thought were perpetrated by UNIP and this led to the detention of former President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda by the MMD government. The late Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere came to mediate and Dr. Kaunda was released from detention unconditionally.
  2. 1996, there was no dispute. But UNIP boycotted the elections due to a parentage clause in the constitution which disqualified Dr. Kaunda from contesting the elections.
  3. 2001, founding President of the United Party for National Development (UPND) Mr. Anderson Mazoka disputed the election of Mr. Patrick Levy Mwanawasa of the MMD. Mazoka took the matter to court and the litigation lasted four years with the Supreme Court eventually ruling against Mr. Mazoka..It was this case which led to the proposal to include a clause limiting the period within which the presidential election petition must be finalized as well as staying the inauguration of the winner until after the ruling of the on the petition.
  4. 2006, the leader of the Patriotic Front Mr. Micheal Chilufya Sata lost the election to Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. The result was heavily disputed but Mr. Sata did not go to court citing the experience of Mazoka. He recognized Mwanawasa as President and went on to launch his campaigns for the next election.
  5. 2008, Mr. Sata lost to Rupiah Banda (MMD). The loser was not happy with the results but did not go to court and recognized Rupiah Banda as President.
  6. 2011 Rupiah Banda became the second sitting President to lose an election. He conceded defeat and even attended the swearing in ceremony of Mr. Michael Sata.
  7. 2015, Mr. Edgar Lungu defeated Mr. Hakainde Hichilema who disputed the election and claimed that victory was stolen from him. Mr. Hichilema did not go to court but continued campaigning for the August 2016 elections.
  8. 2016, the first elections under the new 50 per cent +1 was won by Mr. Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front. Mr. Hichilema has disputed the elections and refused to recognize Mr. Edgar Lungu as President of Zambia.

The Failure of a Reconciliation Process

I have finally decided to put it across to Zambians themselves because I had received many appeals from people from various walks of life asking me to be the trail-blazer in appealing to certain prominent senior citizens like Dr. Kaunda etc., in order to try and tackle the political dilemma that might lead to some sort of reconciliation between the warring parties so as to end the current political crisis.

I wish to report to all those who had asked me to carry out that assignment that I have failed because the two right institutions i.e., the traditional leadership and the Church that I had hoped to appeal to in this national reconciliation process have unfortunately made pronouncements that are prejudicial to this task. Normally, these are the two institutions to which people generally look up to for moral guidance. Tradition is concerned with some of the structural ways in which we relate and interact with one another in our communities and whereas religion is concerned with all the ways in which we relate to others because it is in these relationships that we relate to our Creator. But it is worth to note that the most violent conflicts today are among people with strong religious beliefs, since they are convinced that God is on their side as they murder their enemies.

But it is worth to note that the most violent conflicts today are among people with strong religious beliefs, since they are convinced that God is on their side as they murder their enemies.

Traditional rulers derive their authority from customs and traditions that have existed since time immemorial. They are custodians and repositories of traditional customs and cultural heritage. And customs and norms provide a means whereby modes of behavior for each society are fixed. These provide a means whereby young people cannot be brought in a higgledy-piggledy manner. And this simply means that traditional rulers stand on a more superior moral ground than politicians.

In 1958, D.B. Hall, then Secretary for Native Affairs wrote a paper titled: Chiefs in Northern Rhodesia (i.e., Zambia), which was intended for white officers who were recruited from overseas to serve in the Provincial Administration.

‘’What is the position of the Chief? He is the material and spiritual leader of his tribe or a part of his tribe. He is the most important person in the particular part of the country which he administers, in that he is the focus to which loyalties ___ spiritually, personal and constitutional ultimately return. He is the man to whom all his subjects can go when they feel the pressing need, go with their troubles. His functions combine spiritual, administrative and judicial duties. And to the Chief all eyes are turned in times of trouble…..’’ (emphasis mine).

I hope you have grasped the fact that one of the key roles of a traditional ruler is to keep peace,

‘’He is the man to whom all his subjects can go when they feel the pressing need, go with their troubles.’’ It is said that ‘’tolerance’’ is a virtue where you respect the views of others, without necessarily agreeing them.

And indeed in this respect I have no quarrel, though it is regrettable to note the adversarial stance that some traditional leaders in Southern Province have taken against President Lungu and the PF government. On the other hand, other traditional leaders like myself have not been very comfortable with the discrimination that our Southern brothers have openly displayed whereby in the political struggle between our two subjects,(i.e., Messrs. Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema), they have declared the latter as ‘’our son.’’

There are three major characters in every story: the person, the problem and the prescription. For every person, there will be a problem and for every problem, there is a prescription. It is difficult to understand why our brothers in Southern Province decided to take a political instead of a moral prescription! It’s because political prescriptions have always short answers, ‘’Free HH now without condition,’’ and the answer is simple, ‘’Yes, but let law take its own course.’’

When a group of eminent senior citizens come together to reflect on an important national issue we surely expect the outcome to be in line with Dr. Lumbwe’s Bemba proverb: ‘’the fire does not destroy when the elders screen it from you.’’ It is amazing to note how prominent citizens can gather just to come and issue an unworkable, empty and cadre-like slogan: ‘’HH must be released!’’

We must have at least a world over-view of events that relate to our local situations. For example, some of those prominent citizens were at one time witnesses to some of the United Nations resolutions demanding the release of the South African freedom icon, Mr. Nelson Mandela. The racist South African politicians just dismissed them as mere interferences in the internal affairs of sovereign country. And it was just reconciliation that finally released that great African statesman.

Aljazeera journalists have now been detained in Egypt for over two years and there have been ‘’demands’’ for their release from all sorts of organizations and more particularly from the body of journalists and the answer from the authorities has been the same, ‘’the issue is being dealt with in the courts of law.’

And it cannot be far from the truth that the entire exercise was merely meant to impress the donor community as well as Zambians that they were as well concerned as Tonga chiefs were about the plight of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema. And in reality and truth, what did they actually intend to achieve? No wonder the late Honourable Mundia Sikatana once said: ‘’We are lost as a nation.’’ (The Post 7th March 2003).

And generally, it’s politicians and not chiefs who try to secure their ends by direct attack, to rush and win by assault and that by the way was the Biblical Samson’s way and it worked very well except for one minor oversight; it slew the victor along with the vanquished.

Chiefs are Parental Leaders

Honourable Mwamba resigned as Defence Minister:

‘’ …it’s important for Zambians to know that I hail from the Bemba royal family and it is therefore unacceptable for President Sata to stop me from visiting my grandfather. There is no way I am going to forsake my own blood for the sake of politics. So for me as GBM, I am sorry. I am a very principled person and I resign from government.’’

This was because President Sata censured him for visiting me in Kasama after I had been de-gazetted and as he put it, ‘’for failing to show collective responsibility on his part as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for the ruling party.’’ (The Post 24th December 2013).

It was far beyond comprehension that President Michael Sata being a ‘’staunch’’ Catholic and Head of State had such intense hatred for me that he had even instructed his cabinet ministers to hate me and never to speak to me. This in actual fact meant that his intense personal hatred for me had even been translated into Zambia’s national policy i.e., ’’failing to show collective responsibility.’’ What was amazing was that when President Sata took the oath of office, he pledged that he would rule the country in line with God’s Ten Commandments!

However, when President Sata sent heavily armed paramilitary police to guard the palace at Chitimukulu and mounted a road block about ten kilometers away in order to turn back anyone who disclosed that he wanted to come and visit me, the then Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Edgar Lungu made arrangements through Honourable Yaluma and he and Kaizer Zulu met me at a secret place.

I was introduced to Mr. Hakainde Hichilema by the founder of UPND the late Mr. Anderson Mazoka who was our school captain at Mungwi Secondary school in the 1960s. And let me now quote from Mr. Andrew Sardanis’ book, Zambia: The First 50 years:

‘’…..the most despicable incident was the manhandling of Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of UPND near Chitimukulu’s palace in Kasama District. It happened at a police roadblock, which many think was set up specifically for Hichilema’s visit. The incident annoyed the recently elected Chitimukulu (Henry Kanyanta Sosala) who had granted the appointment and who issued a strong statement of condemnation. This incensed not only the Chitimukulu but Bashilubemba (the Bemba Royal Establishment).’’

And as already alluded to, the chances of scooping the elections between the two main rival parties were 50 by 50 that some of my Bemba supporters changed their political leanings and decided to blackmail me into following them and when I declined, they began to spread false rumours that President Lungu had given me one billion kwacha to hate the Tongas. And in response I said,

‘’….. I want to make it abundantly clear to political opportunists that I am a traditional ruler and as such in every situation I must always be focused and take a superior moral ‘stand’ than politicians. As far as the political game is concerned ’there are no permanent enemies,’ and I must never therefore take an aggressive position when politicians are in conflict because when as usual they ‘politically reconcile’ I can be in a very awkward and embarrassing position.’’

I made it clear to them that a ‘’stand’’ is not necessarily a point of view. Taking a ’’position’’ requires us to choose to either for or against a certain issue, but taking a ‘’stand’’ recognizes all points of views and allows each one to exist and be heard. There is therefore a difference between taking a ‘’position’’ and taking a ‘’stand.’’ The best example, is from South African President Nelson Mandela who is greatly renowned for conciliating the ‘’Blacks’’ and the ‘’whites’’ in South Africa. Mr. Mandela did not take sides. He did not take on a ‘’position,’’ instead he took a ‘’stand.’’ He came to the realization that the oppressors were equally important to be liberated too, as much as the oppressed. Therefore Mr. Mandela took a ‘’stand’’ for the liberation of all races.

I personally have had a long history of associating with people from Southern Province. I first met Honourable Mainza Chona and Honourable Daniel Munkombwe during the 1967 Bemba-Tonga political pact that ushered in Mr. Kapwepwe as the Republican Vice-President and Mr. Mainza Chona as UNIP’s National Secretary. And a few years later, I was even invited at the 25 years anniversary in marriage of the Mr. Chona somewhere at his wife’s village in Chikankata.

And when His Majesty Senior Chief Mukuni invited me to attend the Lwiindi ceremony while I was still de-gazetted, the then Southern Province Minister Honourable Daniel Munkombwe was asked by reporters to comment on my presence at the ceremony since I had been de-gazetted and he said that Paramount Chief Chitimukulu was a Zambian who was entitled to attend any ceremony and he went on to say that he knew Henry Kanyanta Sosala when he was a young man and had nothing against him. ‘’I knew him long ago when he was still a young man. He is a Zambian citizen and he can go anywhere.’’ (Daily Nation 9th July 2014).

And on the other hand, I received a lot of support from my Tonga subjects than the Bemba at the time I had problems with President Sata. And in Parliament, my plight was being high lightened and defended by Tonga Members of Parliament and of course with Honourable Mucheleka. Honourable Jack Mwiimbu and Honourable Garry Nkombo and at many times they used to declare,’’ Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu is our chief.’’ And I believe they had recognized that all traditional leaders are their parental leaders.

It is so unfortunate that our brothers in Southern Province have destroyed the bridge of cultural cooperation that was constructed by Mrs. Emely Sikazwe in 1982 when for the first time in the history of this country she managed through Women for Change to bring all Zambian traditional rulers including some from Malawi and South Africa on the same table. It was at that conference that the ‘’bondage’’ of ‘’divide and rule’’ that had been schemed by both the colonial and black governments was broken and that was where I met my great brother, His Majesty Senior Chief Mukuni, a friend in need and indeed; the only traditional leader who openly stood with me during the most trying moments of my life when I was being persecuted by those who not only wanted to destroy Bemba chieftainship but who intended to use me as a ladder to abolish the entire chieftainship in this country. But the Living God stood by to defend the institution which He himself had founded. As it is written in Job 5:12,

‘’He frustrates the devises of the crafty, so that their hands cannot carry out their plans.’’

And since there have been all-round inter-tribe marriages among our subjects, chiefs have also tried to demonstrate to our subjects that we are the same and one. And the only way we have been demonstrating this is by inviting each other to attend our traditional ceremonies. And this is line with one Bemba proverb:

‘’Mutuka mfumu, tatuka imo,’’ and Dr. Lumbwe states in English: ‘’He who insults a chief, does not only insult one, but all chiefs collectively. (He who does not respect a chief will respect no one).’’

And in this respect, Professor Mubanga Kashoki wrote in Factor of Language in Zambia:

‘’I believe in our diversity despite its problems lies our national strength, greatness and riches, but only if we recognize diversity as a national asset and consciously encourage its positive exploitation. I also believe that so far, in our preoccupation with its negative manifestations of ethnic particularism, referred to in Africa as tribalism, we have tended to give greater weight to the negative aspect of our diversity at the expense of its more positive attributes….’’

The Difference between Law and Morality.

Incidentally, the task of the supposed reconciliation committee would have been to tackle the issue from the moral point of view rather than the legal point. My Oxford dictionary defines law as, ‘’a rule, usually made by a government, that is used to order the way in which a society behaves..’’ Moral is defined as ‘’relating to the standards of good or bad behavior.’’ And accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and human reason weak, morals will be strong because they appeal to diffused feelings and law weak because it appeals to the understanding.

In the first place I want to make it clear that I am not a theologian but a free-thinker and a ‘’staunch’’ Bemba (and not a Roman) Catholic. I think the premises of law and morals can best be understood through the teachings of the Bible. Just at the beginning of His public ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ declared:

‘’Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fufill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled….’’ (Matthew 5:17).

But which Law was our Lord Jesus Christ referring to? In Exodus 21:23-25, Moses proclaimed a Law: ‘’…..then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.’’ However, In Matthew 5:38, our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘’You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.’’

Was in this case, our Lord Jesus Christ contradicting Himself, since He had earlier declared that He had not come to destroy the Law or the teaching of the Prophets? No, what Christ was teaching was moral law or what others call ethics. Our Lord Jesus Christ went further and declared, ‘’Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.’’ (Matthew 24:35). And indeed, the death penalty (i.e., an eye for an eye) has been abolished in many countries. And as the apostle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 13 that knowledge, wisdom, talents etc., will pass away, but love will remain forever.

In the same way, those who have studied Marxism might have come upon a book, Christ Vs Mao. In this little red book popularly known as ‘’red bible’’ they have picked quotations from Thoughts of Chairman Mao and compared them with certain verses which were proclaimed by Christ in the Bible and the meanings are almost the same, but different approaches, whereas Mao declared violence and revenge, Christ on the other hand, preached forgiveness and love. ‘’But I say to you who hear:

‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you….. and just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise..’.’’ (Luke 6:27-31).


In his thesis: Multipartism and Matrilineal Governance System of the Bemba-Speaking People of Zamba: An African Theological Perspective, Dr. Simon Muwowo wrote: ‘’Our hypothesis question in this regard is ‘is there a chance for a solution?’’ The answer to every question in African society lies in the concept of ‘Ubuntu’ and that is, ‘human beings have the ability to cut through their differences to the rock bottom identity of interest.’’(Wiewdu 2000).

And, on this view, ‘the means to that objective is simply rational discussion (M.Mutiso, 1975:478). On the capabilities of this means, our African society is very explicit, they say, ‘there is no problem of human relations that cannot be resolved by dialogue (ibid). This is what Dr. Kaunda, former President of Zambia meant when he said,

‘in our African society solutions were arrived at through consensuses (ibid).

Dialogue, of course, presupposes not just two parties, but also two conflicting positions as the ‘Multi-headed hydra’ metaphor describes the nature of a homo Afrikanus. ‘one head does not hold council, nor was any suggestion that one voice might be entitled to be heard to the exclusion of others countenanced for one moment.’ (WIredu, 1996). A Bemba saying also states, ‘Umunwe umo tausa inda’ (Mpashi, 1970) [one finger cannot pick head lies]. Another states ‘Amano mambulwa kabili yafuma mwi fwesa yaya mu culu’ (ibid) [meaning: words of wisdom are from one man to the other even more wisdom can come from a pot stand to an anthill]. These Bemba parables presuppose the idea of the principle of consensus as a basic foundation of any successful concept of governance in an African society.’’My strong belief is that the reconciliation process can only be successful if Their Majesties Paramount Chiefs can take up the initiative with prominent senior citizens like Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Bishop Joe Imakando etc.



  1. How many times have your fellow chiefs from Southern Province been insulted by the PF, and you Sir, kept quiet? Now that they have spoken out against an unjust incarceration of a Zambian citizen, you have found your voice??? I has great respect for you but your lecture is to the wrong audience and you have shown us who batters your bread.

  2. Well articulated.

    However, you are blaming the Tongas for breaking the BBRIDGE and at the same time you are talking about Tongas having supported you in your most trying moment. Who supports Tongas in their trying moments? No one. You just want them to be on your side but never at any point are the Easterners on Bembas on the side of the Tongas EVEN when it is due.

    The Tonga Chiefs gave chance to you to speak up on HH’s case but you kept quiet and when they saw no response, of course they had to speak up for their son just Like GBM resigned from the Ministerial position because of his Grandfather. So because it’s HH you are looking at the Tonga Chiefs of being tribe and the law should take its course.

    You talked of Garry Nkombo and Jack Mwiimbu of being your support in Parliament. They did that because they are not tribalist and they recognized you as their father but for HH he should be nobody’s son simply because no Bemba of Njanja have spoken but only to be condemned and being likened like a CHIKEN, for the Chiefs you are saying they have become tribal because they said their SON MUST BE RELEASED. For GBM its a well done job to resign because of his Grandfather.


  3. no wonder sata had some doubts about this chief. we know you received a ka big brown envelope so keep cool like the litunga has to avoid insults. we know what is going on. ba mwine.

  4. It is not the lengthy lecture we expected from you Your Royal Highness. It is your intervention fearlessly for dialogue between the aggrieved to prevail. You have been quiet and when someone else makes an effort and tirelessly spends nights in support of the imprisoned you get upset that he called the imprisoned “our son”. The reason is simple. if you were hurt like the others you would have also shown solidarity the same way they have done.

    Actually it does not make sense when you start praising Tongas that they helped and consoled you when you were in problems by just a word of mouth – if not just a scripture. Reciprocate through action, encouraging dialogue, etc. Otherwise, your lengthy lecture is in vein.

  5. Ba chief, on your partisan stance, i just want to be frank with you. You are too theoretical than practical in your contributions. You seem not to have capacity to use your own wisdom and no wonder your articles are full of quotes from other sources. Right now you are a living witness for having experienced unfair incanceration of the highest order. HH in 2015 campaigned on the platform of squashing your incanceration and this prompted others who had caused your suffering to follow suit and now because you are free, you have forgotten so easily. All the chiefs including those from the south spoke for your freedom without fear. Sir, you have failed to tell the whole truth by saying senior chief mukuni only refered to HH as his son. The fact as clearly quoted is that senior chief mukuni said all traditional leaders were parents to both ECL and HH as such they should not sit back and watch when one of there sons was suffering and so he was not going back until his son was released. Please post articles that have a sense of national unity and love for all and not for pieces of silver.

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