Good people, a cultural clash happened during the enthronement of Inkosi Mzukuzuku which evoked a treaty signed by his ancestors and pioneer missionaries.
The one-off agreement brings to light things the ngonis of Mzimba hold dearly-not their age-old affinity for meat and ingoma, but for booze and polygamy.
Rewind to Tuesday afternoon. CCAP Livingstonia Synod’s firebrand general secretary, the Reverend Levi Nyondo, irked ngoni chiefs when he spoke against drinking and polygamy because it is sinful and against the doctrine of the Presbyterian church.
Nyondo’s controversial outbursts against everything that revolts against his convictions are a solo crusade that earns him admirers and despisers with ease.
Actually, he is said to be the maker of a bizarre banner on the fence of the synod’s headquarters in Mzuzu which proclaims: “We say NO to quota system, same-sex marriages and Chichewa as a national language.”
And he publicly rejects these in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
However, the fearless fighter and his kindred hastily fled Mzukuzuku’s long-awaited installation after Senior Chief Mtwalo told him off: “Vyako ivyo. Ise timwenge moba na kutola wanakazi umo tikukhumbira. Ni mudauko withu.”
Pass the calabash to Inkosi Mtwalo and his kind! They aren’t becoming teetotallers and monogamous soon.
But the surge in bad blood rekindles memories of the no easy treaty between early missionaries and Ngoni kings.
Following the face-off, Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V, the tribe’s king of kings, has threatened to expel the synod from his territory unless it upholds the social contract Scottish missionaries signed to evangelise Mzimba without abolishing their drunken and polygamous ways.
This is loud and clear: terms and conditions apply.
Only telecommunication companies make their terms and conditions less clear and ignorable.
In their fight-back, M’mbelwa and Mtwalo want Nyondo’s kind to stop tampering with their time-honoured traditional practices.
To them, the pre-colonial pact still stands, so no side can pick and choose the clauses to break.
Cry, Livingstonia Synod. How did the learned Scottish missionaries sign a treaty that violates the one-man-one-wife biblical principle Christianity treasures? How did the Ngoni chiefs numb them to forget that there is no standing on the fence when it comes to matters of faith? How did the clerics get into an agreement they were not willing to keep?
The Ngoni chiefs are custodians of culture. They ought to defend their heritage at all cost because give-and-take is usually a losing game for those who give in. You give an inch, they take a mile.
Mbelwa, who often speaks against cultural practices that fuel HIV infections and violations of women rights, knows polygamy and drunkenness are part of the ills. But what can he do?
Clearly, this takes us back where we were when his fallen father, M’mbelwa IV, used every mass rally to reiterate the sanctity of the drink-and-marry treaty imperiously.
This hullabaloo dials up Peter Tosh’s Peace Treaty.
“Do you remember the peace treaty you sign in a Kill Some [Kingston] City?” sings the Jamaican reggae legend. “…and now this one have a gun and this one have a gun when it pass law….Babylon run….All who signed that peace treaty now rest in peace in the cemetery….I say this one have a gun and that one have a gun. When it drop, another weak heart drop. When it pop, somebody drop.”
When missionaries and ngonis signed their treaty, Tosh would have warned them that it “wouldn’t worky worky.”
It was the shaky treaty they signed in a hurry, but an eye for an eye will blind both sides to the demands of changing times. n