Malawi President Joyce Banda on Monday joined Tumbukas in celebrating their annual cultural festival Gonapamhanya at Bolero in Rumphi where she asked chiefs to help their subjects.
The President also called on chiefs to take after Gonapamhanya by giving alms.
Said the President: â€œI have learnt that Gonapamhanya used to give alms ranging from food to commodities such as [farm] inputs. I urge all chiefs in this country to take a leaf in doing good works and be generous to subjects, even to people of other ethnic groups.â€
The President also called for cultural linkages which will help to share ideas.
Although the event has been taking place annually for decades, this was the first time that a Head of State attended the ceremony, according to the Paramount Chief of the Tumbuka tribe, Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe who has been on the throne for 43 years.
The event is celebrated to remember Gonapamhanya who was the first themba (chief).
The chieftaincy started when Mlowoka came to Malawi in 1780. The name derived from his crossing Lake Malawi from Tanzania.
With him came Kyungu, Katumbi, Mwahenga, Chipofya, Mwamlowe and Kabunduli.
Kyungu and Katumbi went to Karonga and settled at Kasantha whereas Kabunduli went to Nkhata Bay and Mwamlowe settled at Mlowe in Rumphi.
Mlowokaâ€™s son, Gonapamhanya, became the first themba and he was called Chikulamayembe, the carrier of hoes, because he was a trader in hoes, beads, cloth and other items.
During the ceremony, Themba la Mathemba asked government to upgrade the road to Nyika National Park to boost tourism and trade.
The Presidentâ€™s attendance of the Tumbuka festival comes after she attended the annual Ngoni cultural festival, Umtheto, at Hora Mountain in Mzimba, but she failed to attend the Mulhako wa Alhomweâ€™s yearly event at Chonde in Mulanje last month.
But presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane said the President was not invited to the Lhomwe function.
Said Nhlane: â€œThey [organisers of Mulhako wa Alhomwe] actually clearly stated that they do not invite State presidents to such functions.â€
Bandaâ€™s predecessor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, attended all Mulhako wa Alhomwe functions as he was founding patron of the tribal group.
During the ceremony, Themba Mwankhunikira was promoted to senior chief, a development people in Rumphi feared would create problems as the most senior chief is Katumbi.