No Gonapamuhanya, but Mulindafya, Mkuramchere

With the future of the famous Gonapamuhanya cultural event in limbo, people of Rumphi District will this year turn their attention to Mulindafya and Mkuramchere, two cultural events celebrated among the Tumbukas under Senior Chiefs Katumbi and Mwankhunikira, respectively.

Mulindafya is celebrated every first Saturday of September in honour of Mulindafya, the grandfather of the Katumbi dynasty who alongside his clan trekked from Egypt through Tanzania to Malawi.

His heir not yet identified: The late Chikulamayembe

Senior Chief Katumbi said yesterday the event normally involves traditional dances and competitions that include bicycle rides. This year, it will be commemorated on September 7 at Hewe, the Katumbi headquarters.

Said Katumbi: “After Egypt, our forefathers settled in Tanzania where they learned to make canoes which they later used to trek to Chiondo in Karonga and thereafter Mlowe in Rumphi.

“There was some movement, and later our grandfather settled between Muyombe in Zambia and Nthalire in Malawi. Mulindafya died there in the 1800s but his children moved to Hewe where we are now settled. So, it’s just a day to appreciate the movements and life of Mulindafya.” 

On the other hand, Mkuramchere, which started last year, is celebrated after Sulumphale Msowoya, the first occupant of the Henga Valley who alongside Nkhulikuli Mzumara and Kango Nyirongo used to mine salt around the place.

Senior Chief Mwankhunikira said the three are credited for naming the area Henga due to their salt mining exploits.

“The salt was normally mixed with soil, so they used a winnowing basket to separate the two. That is where the name Henga came from.

“So, while they were doing this, they used to perform traditional dances like kalimba, chimtali, vimbuza and also shared stories, and this is what we also do during the day,” he said.

According to Mwankhunikira, the day for the event will be decided after Mulindafya, which he said, is their mother cultural event.

Last month, High Court Judge Dorothy De Gabrielle ordered disputing factions in the Chikulamayembe royal family, which holds the Gonapamuhanya chieftaincy, to discuss and elect  a rightful heir who can be presented to  government for appointment. 

The Gonapamuhanya cannot be held without a leader on the throne.

Gonapamuhanya is a cultural ceremony that takes place at Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe’s headquarters in Bolero, Rumphi. It is a celebration of the arrival of the first Tumbuka king, Gonapamhanya, who ruled the Nkhamanga Kingdom. The chieftaincy started when Mlowoka came to Malawi in 1780. The name is derived from his crossing Lake Malawi from Tanzania.

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