By ELIAS MBAO (Africa Review)
A royal dynasty and Zambia’s heritage commission are wrangling over the latter’s leasing of a burial site of Mwalusaka – a man after whom the capital city Lusaka is named – for construction of an exhibition centre.
Chieftain Nkomeshya Mukamamba II, ruler of the Soli people that occupied Lusaka long before it became a city, has rejected the government-run National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC)’s lease of the land.
Soli people claim the territory of their ancestor, Mwalusaka, covers the area where the National Assembly, a modern mega mall (Manda Hill Shopping Complex) and a classy residential suburb are presently situated though their contention now is on a small piece of unoccupied land behind the mall where they believe he was buried.
A skull and human bones were discovered during construction of Manda Hill Shopping Complex, said Christine Mulundika – a great granddaughter of Mwalusaka – during a public hearing.
Ms Mulundika said the NHCC denied that the disputed land was a graveyard for Mwalusaka, adding that the commission had “continued to ignore the people who owned this land.”
A traditionalist, village headman Chapwalu, said: “In our culture we don’t allow anybody to construct anything at a site where we have buried our beloved ones.”
Headman Chapwalu demanded that the company – Chita Lodge Limited – planning to develop the site “must stop the construction” and surrender the land.
An NHCC official, Mr Kagosi Mwamulowe, confirmed that excavations were done at the site around 1965-66 and “two skeletons were found”.