The setting was Mkaika-Katete in Zambia and the ceremony was Kulamba ceremony where the Chewa people from Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi go to their King, Kalonga Gawa Undi to pay homage.
This cultural festival of the Chewa is a very big event like it has never be seen in our country. The crowd was so huge, surpassing a crowd a Malawi president-elect pulls during inauguration ceremony.
Delegate’s come from all walks of life; from government officials of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to Kings from different tribal groups and during yesterday’s ceremony—Litunga, the King of the Lozi people from western Zambia was the guest of honour.
From Malawi, leader of opposition and president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Dr Lazarus Chakwera was accompanied by his Vice President Sidik Mia to pay homage. From government side was Grace Obama Chiumia—Minister of Civic Education. Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa of the Lomwe people was also in attendance.
It was during this event where I saw maturity and top leadership at such a stage from Chakwera and Mia.
When Minister Grace Obama Chiumia representing President Peter Mutharika was called to address the crowd, the two leaders, Chakwera and Mia were the only ones who stood as Chiumia was taking to the podium to address the crowd.
Obama recognized everyone during her salutations except the leader of opposition Dr Chakwera. Nevertheless, Chakwera was not bothered with that such that when she finished delivering her speech, the two leaders again rose to shake hands, congratulating her for the speech. It was such a scene cognizant of the fact the two were representative of heavily opposing camps back home in Malawi.
If that was not enough, the two MCP leaders went to the podium where the dances were being performed to cheer up and give some money to Tchopa dancers who accompanied Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa.
As Gawa Undi’s procession was coming out of the arena and when Paramount Ngolongoliwa was passing by where Chakwera and Mia sat, the two leaders stood in respect of their top chief and upon a positive signal from Ngolongoliwa himself, the two leaders approached him where they greeted one another and exchanged pleasantries. That was another scene as well!
To cap it all, the Malawian journalists asked for a group photo of Malawi delegation and there was Minister Grace Obama Chiumia, Chakwera, Mia and all the politicians who were present.
When the function came to an end, I was left with the impression that culture indeed promotes unity as there we were, forgetting any differences between us and rallying behind our flag as Malawians and for once respecting one another, supporting one another as Malawians.
Nevertheless, the small gestures from the opposition leader and his deputy showed that they can rise above petty considerations and is also an indication that they can accommodate everyone regardless of tribes and regions if they can be given a chance by Malawians to lead the country in 2019.
I hope that Paramount Ngolongoliwa saw for himself that Chakwera and Mia are equally good people who can respect and take care of him and his people in the event that his home boy, President Peter Mutharika, gets defeated in 2019.
Bravo to Chakwera, Bravo to Mia! This is the way to go! Malawi first and thus what you showed us in Zambia. For once, I felt proud being a Malawian simply because of the leadership you displayed at that function through your conduct.
In an interview, Chakwera described the function as ‘great’ and ‘fantastic.’
“The fact that several tribes including the King of Lozi from western Zambia were able to be here…it’s a remarkable event bringing together so many people from Mozambique Malawi and here in Zambia.”
Asked on the role of political leaders in promoting unity, Chakwera said it is the duty of political leaders to be the instruments of peace and not be the ones that divide the people.
“It’s important that we stress the importance of unity—the strength that is found in unity. Political leaders should not be the ones that divide the people but should be the instruments of peace through our speeches and actions,” said Chakwera.
On his part, Mia was awestruck with what he saw and had to say this when this reporter approached him for a brief comment.
“It was an awesome event—indeed preservation of the Chewa tradition par excellence,” the MCP’s second in command and business tycoon said.