Every year Chewas go to Zambia where they pay homage to their overall traditional leader Gawa Undi. Some Chewas in Malawi have always argued why the Chewas have to travel to another country to celebrate culture when they can actually have their own cultural celebration just like it is the case with other tribal groupings such as Maseko Ngonis, Lhomwes and Jere Ngonis of Mzimba.
In an interview recently, one of the local Chewa traditional leaders, who is also an executive member of the Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo), senior chief Lukwa said Chewas in Malawi will always go to Zambia because that is where their overall leader is based.
“As a child, no matter how rich and powerful you become in life, you will never reign supreme over your parent. You always go back to your father’s house to tap his blessings,” he said.
Chief Lukwa said Chewas came from Egypt before they left for Abyssinia in Ethiopia.
“Due to hunger, our forefathers then left Ethiopia for Democratic Republic of Congo where they found a traditional leader King Matayamvu.
“But King Matayamvu was cruel so our leader King Kalonga led his people out and settled in a new place called the Maravi kingdom comprising Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique,” he said.
Lukwa, therefore, said while they hear suggestions to rotate the Kulamba ceremony in all countries where chewas are found, that cannot happen.
He said: “The Kulamba ceremony is an event where all Chewa chiefs go to their overall leader and report to him about how they are looking after their subjects in their respective areas. There is no way our king can come to Malawi to be briefed. We actually also pay homage to him and that can only happen at his base, which is Zambia.”
In a separate interview, senor chief Solola of Salima said the Kulamba ceremony is more than just a Chewa cultural festival.
“It is an event meant to pay respect to our leader Gawa Undi and we all must go to his home and show our appreciation and respect,” he said.
Recently, a breakaway group of some Chewas in Malawi called Bwalo la Achewa argued that it does not make sense for Malawian Chewas to go to Zambia every year for the Kulamba ceremony.
One of the leaders of the breakaway group Reverend Flywell Somanje argued that Malawi has a higher number of Chewas going to Zambia than those in Zambia.
He said: “It does not make sense to have the whole numbers of Chewa people not working to develop their own nation. Imagine if the millions of Chewas here converged in Chikwawa for three days to hold their cultural festival. How much would they contribute to the country’s economy?”
Somanje said they want Bwalo La Achewa to push and promote nationalism.
However, Lukwa said culture does not recognise political boundaries.
“Our leader Kalonga Gawa Undi established his kingdom long before these political boundaries. By going to Zambia, we are not going to that country per se but to our traditional leader’s kingdom base,” he said.
As part of preparing for the Kulamba ceremony, Chewas in Malawi are in a fundraising drive and will on July 9 hold an event Mkumano wa Achewa at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
The event was initially slated for today, but has been shifted to July 9 after some misunderstandings emerged on the selection of rapper Tay Grin as its ambassador who has since been dropped. The initial committee organising the event has also been dissolved, according to Chefo chairperson Stanley Khaila.
During the event, traditional dances, music performances and other activities will take place. The end goal is to raise funds to allow as many Chewas from Malawi as possible to travel to Zambia for the Kulamba ceremony slated for August 27.