‘Zwangendaba’s grave is not in Nakonde’

Dear Editor,

For the past two days, there has appeared on ZNBC News a story of the emergence of a grave in Nakonde of the Ngoni Warlord Zwangendaba. Similar articles have emerged on the internet.

The ZNBC story bases states that Paramount Chief Mpezeni intends to have the remains exhumed and reburied at uFeni in Chipata. On the other hand, the internet stories from several media say that a company on the Copper belt intends to erect a stature at the site in Nakonde for the purpose of setting up a tourist attraction for tourists in general and South Africans in particular, in view of the upcoming WTO conference in Livingstone.

The company on the copper belt intends to solicit for funds for this project, according to the internet article.

The idea of honoring the Great Zwangendaba whose name means “hear by report”, who fought Shaka Zulu, and destroyed the Mwenemutapa empire after a great slaughter and skinned alive the last Changamire. It would be a great idea to honour the man who led his people through a 20 year trek through Mozambique (twice), Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

However, I have some reservations about this grave in Nakonde.

According to books of History and history lessons taught in Zambian schools, Zwangendaba died in uFipa area of Songea in Tanzania at a place called Mapupo( place of dreams). According to  W.H.J Rangeley,” At Mapupu, at some date between 1845 and 1848, Zwangendaba died. Before his death he is said to have prophesied that his successors would see the coming of white men and the wane of the aNgoni power. ”

Also, according to an article by the University of Makerere, Zwangendaba [died. 1848, Mapupo, near Ufipa, Tanganyika [now in Tanzania]]  African king (reigned c. 1815-48) who led his Jere people on a monumental migration of more than 1,000 miles, lasting more than 20 years. A leader of incomparable stature, he brought his initially small tribe (later called the Ngoni) from its original home near modern Swaziland to the western part of present-day Tanzania, forming it into one of the most powerful kingdoms of eastern Africa.

Now, this grave in Nakonde is a great challenge to all Researchers and Historians, including History Teachers in Schools. Did Zwangendaba die in Nakonde and was buried there or did he die in Tanzania and his grave is in Songea?

It is on record that Zwangendaba never entered Bemba land. It his son Mpezeni, with his half brother Mperembe who entered Bemba country. In fact Mpezeni went deep into Bembaland while Mperembe settled for a while among the Mambwe and Namwanga near Nakonde and Mbala. Mpezeni and Mperembe came to Bemba land with a small force of hardened warriors after Zwangendaba had died at Mapupo in Tanzania and the main Ngoni army with its terrible impis had split into 7 groups.

The small group that went into Bemba land, in search of nice women and cattle was led by Mpezeni, and not his father, who was already dead.

This is the group that is today in Chipata, after concluding that the cost of doing business in Bembaland was too high.

The question still remains to all. Is this the grave in Nakonde of  Zwangendaba or not? If it is, what is the proof. And what about the burial site at Mapupo, Songea, in Tanzania? If the grave in Nakonde is not of Zwangendaba then whose is it?

John Zulu

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