The dispersal of the Aluyi across Barotseland was the genesis of most of the present Lozi tribes which were later brought under one authority. Each group that left was led by one of Mwambwa’s children. One such group, led by NALINANGA, daughter of Mwambwa, headed eastward. These are the ancestors of the Nkoya. They initially settled in the areas currently known as Nalinanga, Nakalomo and Namitome. These areas are within the north-western part of Limulunga, in Mongu. They later moved along the Luena marshlands in search of permanent settlements. In time the leadership of this group was transferred to a man called SIOKA, a son of Nalinanga whom the Nkoya refer to as SHIHOKA and is commonly known as Siokanalinanga. In Lozi tradition the name Sioka is given to a child who is considered not to have long life and one who dies soon after birth. Similar names are Kuokela, Muokela, Muyunda, Nayunda, Siyunda etc.

Some people have argued that the name Siokanalinanga refers to one person. This is wrong because it refers to two people, a woman and her son, as demonstrated in the foregoing paragraph. This combination of names is not peculiar to these two people. Similar situations arise with others names such as Mbuywamwambwa derived from Mbuyu-wa-Mwambwa which means Mbuyu-daughter of-Mwambwa. Other names are Atangambuyu from Atanga-wa-Mbuyu, Namushakende from Namushi-wa-Akende, Kabilamwandi from Kabila-wa-Mwandi, Lubindatanga from Lubinda-wa-Atanga etc.

Sioka’s people eventually settled in an area called Ñoya or Koya along the banks of Likolomani stream, a tributary of the Luena river. Some areas of present day Mongu, Lukulu and Kaoma under Indunas (Chiefs) Sibeta, Mushashu and Mayankwa converge on this area. In one of my contributions two years ago, i submitted that Lozi tribes draw their names (which i called labels) from their area of settlement, economic specialty and other considerations peculiar to them. Sioka’s group were therefore referred to as Ba-Ñoya or Ba-Koya meaning ‘people of Koya’. In similar fashion, other groups who migrated from the centre acquired their tribal names/labels. Examples are the Kwamashi (Ba-mashi) and the Ba-Kwandu who, under the leadership of ILISHUWA, settled in the marshlands of the Kwandu or Mashi river on the border with Angola. With passage of time and evolution of language the phrase ‘Ba-Koya’ transformed into ‘Mankoya’ and at present, with the usage of English, these people are simply called the Nkoya.

In their areas of settlement the Nkoya came into contact with other people from whom their leader Sioka married. These were the MBWELA, who trekked through Kapompo from KOLA in Congo. Others were the MASHASHA and LOKOLWE who were offshoots of the Kaonde people, also trekking from Kola. From a Mbwela woman the Mutondo group was founded while from a Mashasha woman was founded the Kahare group. Yet again, from a Lukolwe woman the Kabulwebulwe group was founded. When Sioka’s people decided to nominate an heir he, wisely, directed that his sons should rule over clans of their mothers. In this way the Chieftainships of MUTONDO, KAHARE and KABULWEBULWE were established. These chiefs are descendants of Nalinanga, daughter of Mwambwa. Nalinanga was a sister to Mbuyu, founder of the Lozi dynasty.

I do not dispute the story about SHILAI MASHIKU, daughter of LIBUPE who, it is claimed was the originator of Nkoya Chieftainship upon removing meat from the “Boiling Pot”. However, this event happened at TUMBA in KAPOMPO, under the tutelage of MUKWETUNGA (In law) SHIKALAMO before the Mbwela people made contact with Sioka.

There is a common expression among the Nkoya in which they say that “Yami nili wa Shihoka” or “Yetu tuli ba Shihoka” meaning “I/We are descendants of Shihoka”. To assert the fact that the Nkoya originate from Ñoya there is a saying, recorded by Reverend Jehoshaphat M. Shilumika, a Pastor at S.A.G.M (Luampa Mission). In his book, LIKOTA LYA BA NKOYA, he quotes an eulogy which goes as “Likunde lya Ñoya nili Koya kunde. Mwanuke weti kuna kai aka limona ku mwembulo, mbembata makunde tenda mbuto kulingana”.


By Saleya Kwalombota


  1. Mr Kwalombota, the Nkoyas will never voluntary be part of the Lozi kingdom because of the superiority complex the people at the Kuta suffer from. When Mr Mulozo was the Headmaster at Kambule Boys Secondary School in 1982, our Silozi Teacher Mr Mbala organized a trip to Lealui. My classmates and I were impressed with the way the Bambeti played drums and sang. Kambombo who recited the poem, “Fa munanga wa Lyambai” wanted to know if the Nkoyas who sang and beat the drums were part of the Lozi tribe. The Kuta categorically denied it, saying the Nkoyas were just hired hands who sang for the Litunga they are not a Lozi tribe. Any human being will never allow himself to be humiliated. I have read many articles in the Zambia observer and Barotse post which humiliate the Nkoyas. I remember vividly an article where the the Nkoyas were depicted as long legged Neanderthal wearing pijamas. And as an African Revolutionary I for one lambasted the author for demonizing the Mbundas and Nkoyas. So Mr Kwalombota you have lost the Nkoyas already. If there is going to be a Kafue Province in the future the Nkoyas will wave bye bye to you.


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