Welcome to Chintheche: facts and places to visit

This week, Abiti Joyce Befu, our leader of delegation who is also popularly known as the Most Excellent Grand Achiever or MEGA 1 and MG 66, Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD), the Most Paramount Native Authority, Mzee Mandela and I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, are in Chintheche, Nkhata Bay. Our colleague, Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD) is out and about, armed with a nine-month old warrant of arrest, hunting for Joyce Banda and ‘eating money’ in the spy-and-search world.

Fact.  Chintheche is the founding home of the internationally acclaimed Lake of Stars Music Festival.   It started here and the final act was conducted here. It may return but only if politicians stop meddling in its management and event scheduling. So we hear.

Fact. Chintheche town is named after a marshland-cum-lagoon located about eight kilometres to the North East of the said town. It was here, at Boroma, at the Linga, near the Lweya River estuary and the eastern banks of the Chintheche Lagoon,  that a new philosophy was born that when minorities unite and become fearless, even the largest and mightiest invading impi cannot defeat them.  Fire, fury and furore are no match for war tactic, Chief Mankhambira’s small army established over a century ago.  The same tactic was used at Mwaya, Mazembe and Ulwani Atonga.  You need to visit the places to appreciate this fact and hear the tales of invasion and conquest as told by the local people themselves.

Fact. Chintheche is the home of religious giants. The reverend Yesaya Zerenji Mwasi resigned from his Scottish missionary responsibilities in the 1930s and founded his Church of Africa Presbyterian that exists to this today, over 100 years later. His church headquarters and grave are located at Ching’oma, about 10 kilometres only to the North of Chintheche town. Visit the site.

Fact. Chintheche is the home of Elliot Kenani Kamwana Chirwa, founder of the Zionist Movement called Ine wa Yehovah ndi Amikaeli and the first Malawian to use non-violent means to challenge the authority of the colonialists. Kwamwana was exiled into the Seychelles from 1909 to 1932 to silence him but his followers revolted. Ever heard of the Kamwana [Chirwa] revolt of 1909?

Kamwana’s church headquarters are still intact at Chiwangalumwi, near Mdyaka Primary School. Legend says when Kamwana died in 1956, his family did not want the colonialists to get his body away. They buried him right in his house and a banana plant was put in a coffin that was ‘laid to rest’ in the local graveyard.  Visit Chiwangalumwi to learn more.

Fact. Chintheche was the name of the West Nyasa District, which stretched from the border with North Nyasa to the north, Mombera to the West, and Nkhota Kota to the East. Then Mombera was the smallest district in Mpoto while Rumphi and Chitipa did not even exist.

Fact. Chintheche is called BOMA because it was the district capital of West Nyasa, later Chinthechi and Nkhata Bay before the BOMA was relocated to the current site. Fact. When Kamuzu’s government decided to have airports in every district, Chintheche was chosen to host such an airport because of its flatlands and centrality. Fact. Chintheche originated the Park Town Band and dances such as honala, Malipenga and Chilimika.  Other versions of Malipenga are simply copycat or modifications, according to genuine cultural anthropologists and historians.

Fact. Chintheche has some of the most elegant and flamboyant men and women, hardworking youths and smashingly beautiful women and handsome men in Africa.  If you don’t believe us, dress smartly and join us at the launch of the Nkhata Bay Tonga Heritage next Saturday.

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