Tongas and Bembas do not hate each

By Austin Mbozi

If the Bemba speaking Zambians want genuine unity and avoid being ethnically targeted or sidelined by other ethnic groups countrywide, they must do three things: (a) start voting for parties that are not led by leaders from their own Bemba speaking regions, (b) start speaking local regional languages when they visit non-Bemba speaking regions or homes and (c) overwhelmingly and publicly condemn President Michael Sata for appointing Bemba speaking people in the majority of political appointments and assure Zambians that no other Bemba leader will do what this tribalistic, backward thinking President  Sata is doing.

If they don’t then I will join organized campaign Bemba domination along the lines which Mandela campaigned against white or black domination.   In this Part one, let me clarify the misconceptions that the Bemba and Tonga hate each other.

The Tonga and Bemba do not hate each other

So far, the exposure by President Sata that it is not a Tonga who wrote circulars vowing to kill Bemba speakers is a sign that the Tonga speaking Zambians do not hate the Bemba speakers. (Why this President can’t arrest the persons whose names he claims to know is another story I can’t waste my time on.

This is the most incompetent, self-deceiving and confusion-creating president in the history I know of.

How do security wings work with such a man as their head?  Mr. Fred Mmembe had written that former President Fredrick Chiluba was not even fit to be a village headman in his Musangu village.

Since President Sata is worse, I hope Mr. Mmembe whom we know, knows that Sata is not presidential material, will write one day that President Sata is not even fit to be his village headman’s kapaso. )

Firstly Bemba speakers and Tonga speakers have had virtually no pre-colonial contact or grievances to warrant any traditional hatred now.

Secondly, the leaders from these two ethnic groupings have politically tried to work together before. From1953 to 1958 during the Anti-Federation Struggle, Simon Kapwpewe (Bemba) and Kenneth Kaunda (a non-Bemba but born in Bembaland) served under Harry Nkumbula (Ila-Tonga). When they left, another Bemba Lawrence Chola Katilungu (former African Mineworkers Union President) once served as Nkumbula’s Vice President in the ANC.  Mainza Chona, a Tonga, formed UNIP after ZANC was banned and its leader Kaunda sent to prison, but he still handed over its Presidency to Kaunda , a Northerner.  During the 1967 UNIP  Central Committee elections, Tonga leaders like Mainza Chona, Elijah Mudenda etc backed Simon Kapwepwe’s eventual victory for the position of UNIP Vice President against the Lozi-Ngoni alliance that backed Reuben Kamanga for the same post.

When Simon Kapwepwe formed UPP in August 1971, he appointed a Tonga General Secretary, Geoffrey Haamaundu.  When Kapwepwe was evicted from the government house under Kaunda’s brutality, his family was housed at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula’s house in Chilenje as the two leaders plotted a political alliance.

Even when on 16th October 1980 Kaunda’s regime arrested coup plotters ,Kaunda’s regime suspected that Bemba leaders who were arrested like Elias Chipimo snr, Valentine Musakanya and Patrick Chisanga had backed an Ila-Tonga, Edward Shamwana, to be their leader after the coup.  Patrick Chisanga served as Anderson Mazoka ’s second Vice President and backed Hakainde Hichilema’s presidential candidature in 2006.

Thirdly, at an economic level these two groups do not compete for the same resources. The Bemba do not value agricultural land that much. So all the way from Kapiri Mposhi to Serenje, Swaka and Lala people  (a variation of the Bemba grouping) have given away large tracks of land to Tonga commercial farmers. The Tonga speakers also don’t traditionally value trading that much. As a result all the way from Mazabuka to Livingstone they have let Bemba traders in urban centers without creating tensions.

Fourthly, these two groups appear to be romantically attracted to each other. My own headman Jameson Shandiongo Simakomba, has a Bemba wife right in our village. One of my own elder brothers has a child called Musonda, his wife being Lamba. My other elder brother’s wife is Bemba.    My friend Clayson Hamasaka;  Oh yes! that very lecturer who was famously fired from Hone College; his wife is a Bemba speaker. My own former Bemba workmate, Chrispin Chomba has a Tonga wife and so is the wife of my current workmate Julius Kapembwa. I urge you readers to submit more Bemba-Tonga intermarriages which you know (real ones) on The Watchdog comments so  that those misguided people know that their tribal divisive plot will not work.

N.B. The following is a footnote: My hypothesis, just a hypothesis, as to why these two groups are romantically attracted to each other is that ‘opposite attracts’.  A Tonga man, raw from the village-farm with that red trousers arrive in town with more money in his pockets after selling his musune (ox) but does not know exactly how to integrate into the town world? Should he bring a fellow Tonga village girl for his town orrientation? Never!Kutasola Mwana ba badaala!   An already urbanized young Bemba chick, already polished up is around. She knows where town Subway food and sausages are sold but she has less cash. She charms the Tonga bull, drugs him into a boutique and using his musune cash charms him to peel off his red village trousers and wear aSagging trousers;   making him feel loved and ‘townised’. Perfect compliment! She shares the musune cash and he learns town life!

Similarly, the easy-going, free cash spending urban Bemba bull that often regrets finishing up his cash because his usual free spending life style wants to marry. He hears that ‘aba Tonga ba kaso’. Then says to himself, ‘yeah! I want a less consumer spending wife so that we save family money.’ Further he is messimerised that his own Tonga bull father in-law has many wives. What advantage has this to him?  If she checks his phone to see if he has a girlfriend the Bemba bull will tell her ‘ Iwe na iweba wiso  has many wives. Your mother is a good wife because she allows him. Did she not teach you that we men are like this?  You are even lucky that I did not marry my chicks like your dad does each time he finds one.’

Anyway, do insult me for putting up mere hypotheses. If you want, go and research this issue using my hypothesis as your starting point.

Back to the topic.

Fifthly, the two groups appear socially blending to each other.  Bemba speakers are generally mobile, assertive and adventurous. Tonga speakers are generally, less mobile, conservative   but productive oriented. My own earmarked coach for my Namayani Football Club is Bwembya, a half-Lenje half Bemba born of a former locally-based teacher. He was bred on the Copperbelt and takes football more as a serious business than the local Tonga-Lenjes. My Sports Club chief sales person is Mwila, a local headmasters’s relative, again because to him business is better than farming. Chibamba Kanyama in his book, Business Values of Our Time, put it very clearly. He argued that because Bemba culture teaches mobility, Bemba National Team players normally play as strikers since they are trained to get into enemy territory. Name them. Chris Katongo, Rainfold Kalaba, Jacob Mulenga, Kalusha Bwalya, Johnstone Bwalya, Kelvin Bwalya etc.  But Tonga players play at the back. Name them. Kennedy Mweene, Hichani Himoonde, Davies Nkausu, Clive Hachilensa, Ian Bakala, Happy  Sichikolo.   Why? Because they are trained that to survive, you must defend your land (territory) to death so that you keep cattle. This is a wonderful ethnic complement. It made them win the Africa Cup!

Sixth, they moderate each other socially. Tonga speakers have less chimweela. But being assertive, Bemba speakers have more chimweela.  Experiment it. One Saturday go to the Tonga-dominated SDA church. You will find them standing at attention in ties, one hand holding a hymn book, singing   Insabata Imbotu. The chimweela addicts like me will soon doze off. Then next day Sunday go to the Bemba-dominated charismatic church and see for yourself. In the first place, worshippers chose the church’s name themselves, even something  like Abaleya Living Waters Ministries.  Wearing hip-stars or jeans, they will wriggle their waists as a music sensation like Kings Malembe Malembe is on stage.  Microphone in hand, he   goes like ‘ Bambi bembila bakateka ba muchalo. Bembi Bembila Hakainde…. Bambi Bembila Micheal Sata…. Ifwe kwimba kwese bane twimbila…, Mwaume wabawume eeee , Yesu!’ …. Aleluya to the Glory of Gad,….Nga waikata ine  wapya because I am protected by the thrown of Gad.

Kings Malembe Malembe:  Kubana bandi ni pwe pwe pwe

Church congregation:           Pwe pwe .Aawe nshagalilwa-a-a

Kings Malembe Malembe:  Kubakashi bandi ni pwe pwe pwe

Church Congregation:             Pwe pwe. Aawe nshangaliwa- a- a

Who wouldn’t  like living with such chimweela around Now, next I will explain how the Tonga speakers and Bemba speakers differ on tribal voting, language attitudes and on Bemba loyalty towards this outdated tribalist, Michael Sata.

The views contained above belong to the author and you can contact him using this email: [email protected]

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