In a country called Cula or Kola (present day Angola and Congo DR), there was a chief called Mukulumpe “Mierda” Mubemba, from whom the Bemba people of present-day Zambia derive their name. He had a number of sons by different wives, but one day he heard of a woman with ears as large as an elephant’s, who said she came from the sky and belonged to the crocodile (ng’wena) clan. Her name was Mumbi Lyulu Mukasa, and the chief married her. They had three sons, Katongo, Chiti and Nkole, and a daughter, Chilufya Mulenga (Bwalya Chabala II).
The impetuous young men built a tower that fell down and killed many people. Mukulumpe was furious. He put out Katongo’s eyes, and banished Chiti and Nkole. Mukulumpe pretended to relent and called back the exiles. However, he had dug a game pit to kill the three of them. Katongo, though blind, warned his brothers by using his talking drum. When they arrived at the palace, the king humiliated them by subjecting them do menial work. Chiti and Nkole left the kingdom for good, and took with them their three maternal half-brothers Kapasa, Chimba and Kazembe, and a maternal cousin, Mwewa, and their entourage.
They fled east, until they came to an area, which at the peak of the kingdom, comprised Lake Tanganyika to the north, Lake Mweru and Lake Mweru-Wantipa to the northwest, Lake Bangweulu and the Luapula River to the west, Lake Nyasa to the east, the Luangwa River to the south, and the Chambishi River in the middle.
The exiles reached the middle ranges of the Luapula River. Chief Matanda of the Bena Mukulo ferried them across. In their haste, they left behind their blind brother Katongo and their sister Chilufya Mulenga, who Mukulumpe had locked up in a house without doors. They dispatched their half-brother, Kapasa, to free Chilufya Mulenga, which he did ingeniously. But on the way to Luapula, Kapasa fell in love with Chilufya. When it turned out she was pregnant, Kapasa was disowned by Chiti. Meanwhile, the group had fallen in with a ‘white magician,’ Luchele Ng’anga. When they arrived in Luapula, Kazembe decided to settle there, but Nkole and Chiti were uncertain. When Luchele Ng’anga conjured up a fish from a mortar, they took this to be an omen to head eastwards, and moved toward the plateau of the Chambeshi River, near Lake Bangweulu.
The complexity of their relationships, the reforms that followed, the pain of betrayal in their ranks, their succession disputes, coupled with their tumultuous ritual systems with regards to Lesa (God) and imipashi (ancestral spirits), and how they traded with the Arabs and braced against the invasion of European traders, explorers, missionaries and colonist, are the basis of the matters narrated in this trilogy.
A PART OF OUR HISTORY.
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