In 1953, the Nyasaland Government established district councils for the first time. Chiefs were ex-officio members while district commissioners (DCs) were convenors and chairpersons.
Chiefs and nobles of Mzimba asked Ernest Alexander Muwamba, Member of Legislative Council for the Northern Province and a Tonga, to ask the governor to recognise the traditional M’mbelwa Indaba (council) as Mzimba’s district council with M’mbelwa as chairperson and the DC as mere advisor.
In other districts, there are many chiefs of equal rank, argued the Ngoni. It is understandable why the DC should be chairperson.
But with Mzimba there is a paramount chief and traditional chairperson.
Muwamba took the request to Zomba. After several years of hesitation during which the Mzimba chiefs and nobles their ground, the government granted them their request. That is how M’mbelwa District Council came about as a continuation of the traditional indaba.
InkosiyaMakosi title: It was at this time that Charles C. Chinula—principal advisor to M’mbelwa and MphoJele, anumnumzana (noble)—proposed that all chiefs under M’mbelwa should be addressed as Inkosi, chief, not Inkosana (sub chief), that M’mbelwa himself instead of being addressed as Inkosi should be addressed as Inkosiya Makhosi. When the Ngoni of Ntcheu and Chipata heard how M’mbelwa was being addressed, they also addressed Gomani and Mpezeni respectively as Inkosiya Makhosi. In Rumphi, people spoke of Chikulamayembe as Themba la mathemba.
Search records during colonial and Kamuzu Banda days you will come across M’mbelwa District council, not Mzimba District Council. The part of Mzimba which was under Tumbuka chiefs was made into a separate district called Rumphi during the years 1950-53. The government wanted Chief Mtwalo to be in Rumphi, but M’mbelwa and Mtwalo denied.
On Mzuzu: The writer is resentful because some people talk of Mzuzu as being in Mzimba whereas part of it is in Nkhata Bay. I do not know which district has a bigger portion of Mzuzu.
What I do know is that whenever a town or any other entity is shared between two or more countries, people tend to identify its locus with the country that has bigger portion.
If you ask where Lake Chad is, most people would say it is in the Repblic of Chad though some parts of it belong to Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
Similarly, if asked where Lake Malawi is, most people would say it is in Malawi though a portion of it belongs to Mozambique.
Vehicles registered in Mzuzu are given plate numbers beginning with letter MZ which stands for Mzimba.
In earliest days, there used to be an assistant DC at Mzuzu who was answerable to the DC of Mzimba.
Whoever would like to verify the accuracy of what is contained in the response should read the following books: Among the Wild Ngoni by W.A Elmslie, Laws of Livingstonia by W.P Livingstone, Donald Fraser by AgnessFrasey, Alfred Sharpe of Nyasaland by Robert B. Boeder, From Nguni to Ngoni by D.D Phiri, History of Malawi Volume 1 by D.D Phiri and Kanyama by KanyamaChiumie.