The Tumbuka ethnic group in Rumphi has warned “power hungry politicians” to desist from turning the Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival into a political battleground this Saturday.
Speaking on behalf of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe in an interview on Thursday, his son Mtima Gondwe said they expect a better festival this year as they have prohibited patrons from donning party colours.
“We experienced violence last year because people wore party colours. Power hungry politicians used the event to outwit each other. We are surprised that this happens on our event and not in other cultural festivals. So, this year we have prohibited party colours. We want this to be a neutral event,” he said.
Gondwe said they expect to have local and international visitors, including chiefs from Zambia, attending the event.
He said several activities have been lined up including traditional dances, beer drinking and recounting their history.
The festival commemorates the first Chikulamayembe named Gonapamuhanya who settled at Bolero where the Chikulamayembe chieftaincy is today.
It is said that the first chief used to bask in the sun after eating; hence the name Gonapamuhanya.
In an earlier interview, the paramount chief said the name Chikulamayembe is a corruption of Swahili words ‘chukuwa jembe’ (take a hoe).
“The Tumbuka in the area were farming without hoes. But we said chukuwa jembe. We were Swahili speaking from Timbuktu. But the Tumbuka could not understand us. They thought we said ‘I am Chikulamayembe.’
“Chikulamayembe is a corruption of chukuwa jembe. But we are the ones who came with hoes. That’s why we say our chieftaincy came on a silver platter. The Tumbuka gave us the chieftaincy because we came with hoes, soap and jewels. We never killed anyone,” he said.
Gonapamuhanya is an annual event commemorated in September. n