We had to abruptly leave Game Haven in Bvumbwe, Republic of Thyolo, yesterday to join our brothers and sisters here in Nkhata Bay today to mourn and witness the interment of the remains of Senior Chief Mkumbira, one of the greatest and peace-loving chiefs Malawi has produced. Senior Chief Mkumbira collapsed at home and was pronounced dead at Nkhata Bay District Hospital.
As you know, we had found Game Haven to be heaven. We liked the breeze; we liked the general Thyoloan talk about who will and should be the next president of Malawi; we liked the fact that the people of Cholo, as the indigenes in that Republic call their land, liked us; and we liked the Mulhakho wa aLhomwe traditional dances at Chonde.
For the first time, members of the Bottom Up expedition agreed that Lhomweland has some of the best female performers, of dances, of course, in the world.
Game heaven had become our place of refuge, dreams, plans, and cogitation. We had no plans of coming to Nkhata Bay anytime soon. But we had to. We had to because we did not come when Professor David Mphande died. We had to because we did not come when David Professor Rubadiri died.
So, this time we had to come.
Understand us when we say in Senior Chief Mkumbira we have lost a wise gentleman who easily mingled and advised anyone who sought wisdom. He spoke very little, but the little he said spoke volumes.
Senior Chief Mkumbira loved development and each time public money was allocated to Nkhata Bay for infrastructure, he ensured that it was used in the right manner, in the right place, on right projects and with the right results.
For years, Senior Chief Mkumbira was the head of the annual Martyr’s Day memorial ceremony held March 3 at Chirundu, near Nkhata Bay jetty, where the British massacred innocent people who merely demanded to be free in their own land as agreed in 1897.
Martyrs Day commemoration is a politically sensitive event during which every political party, every politician, wants to be seen to be the most aggrieved. Often, bad words are exchanged amongst followers of different political parties and politicians.
But, Senior Chief Mkumbira always ensured that peace prevailed. Even when that foul-mouthed politician called him stupid among other uncitable names, Senior Chief Mkumbira maintained his cool and advised his people to maintain the peace. Some of the young men and women who heard the foul-mouthed politician’s tirades demeaning the authority of Senior Chief Mkumbira in his own land, the land of his ancestors, wanted to exchange fire with fire and square up the foul-mouthed politician.
However, Senior Chief Mkumbira appealed for peace and tolerance, saying, the bereaved don’t have the time to fight. If that foul-mouthed politician had suffered the loss we are commemorating here, she would not have had the audacity to utter those words.’
Senior Chief Mkumbira was trusted and respected by his regal colleagues. He was until his last breath last Wednesday, the Nkhata Bay Chiefs Council chairman. By virtue of that position, he was also chairman of the Mdawuku wa aTonga (MWATO).
His last public engagement was on August 18, 2018 at Maganga Stadium when MWATO had its first anniversary celebrations.
The hard fact now is that Senior Chief Mkumbira is gone. The Scripture assures us that God gives and the same God who gives takes away; but the same God who takes away replaces.
We live in the hope that one fine day another fine person will rise up and sit on the royal Mkumbira throne that Victor Phiri has vacated, aged just 59 years, just three months before turning 60 years of aged and just six months before Malawi commemorates 60 years of 3rd March martyrdom.
Go ye well Senior Chief.