There is no Chewa chief in Tongaland- Satire

Abiti Joyce Befu, Leader of our delegation, also known internationally as MG 66 and the Most Excellent Grand Achiever or MEGA-1, Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson , SC (RTD), the Most Paramount Native authority Mzee Mandela and I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, are still here in Chintheche enjoying the spoils of the Tonga celebration that gathered people and dances from all walks and corners of Tongaland. Even NgangaMaigwaigwa, PSC (RTD), temporarily abandoned his search for Joyce Banda to join us in the ethnic extravaganza.

Tonga celebrate their cultural heritage

According to official chronicles and migration stories told during the launch of the Nkhata Bay Tonga Heritage, which has since been baptised MudaukuwaaTonga, the Tonga came into Malawi not from Congo-Zaire but through the North-East route, most likely from around Lake Victoria. Even Egypt was mentioned as a possible origin. This legend makes the Tonga a distinct ethnic grouping from the Chewa.

We also heard that Tongaland extends from North Rukuru down to Linthipe River where, according to published legend, Kanyenda, a Tonga chief, is said to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Chewa chiefs.

It was interesting that on the day the MudaukuwaaTonga was being launched and Tonganess was being celebrated, someone somewhere WhatsApped an unsigned list that claimed that over 200 senior chiefs in Malawi are Chewa.

“Vabozavo,” one Tongally-dressed chief protested when the list was presented to him. “FukaMalaza is a relative of FukaMapiri and both are part of the Tonga chiefs that signed a memorandum of understanding with the colonial government in 1889. MalengaMzoma, Malenga Sanga and MalengaChanzi are all Tonga chiefs. MalengaMzoma is Tonga. Legend and recent historical research have established that Mkumpha of Likoma and Chizumulu is a Tonga chief. Mkumbira is a relative of Mankhambira. How does Mankhambira remain a Tonga while his relative is a Chewa? The truth is that this list is part of the propaganda and Chewanisation project,” the chief said.

“Chewanisation project?” I asked.

“Yes. From 1964 the Chewa have plotted to give the impression that Malawi is Chewa country and the rest of us are mere squatters,” the chief said.

The chief continued: “First, their Chewa-dominated administration banned the use of local languages in education to ensure that all children learned the Chewa language. Second, they banned all literature containing content other than Chewa culture to ensure that Chewa language and culture dominated. That’s why they made everybody read books like MalirondiMiyamboyaaChewa, and KukulandiMwambo.

Internationally, use of local language in academics is associated with successful concept acquisition. The missionaries and the colonial government knew this fact. But the Chewanisation-project was ready to even go against science.”

“I don’t understand,” Abiti said, mouth agape and arms akimbo. “You mean there was something sinister about the adoption of Chewa language as a national language?”

“Yes,” the chief said. “Look at it this way. When Tanzania adopted Swahili as a national language that country also made Swahili the language of academic instruction, policy dissemination, and justice delivery and government communication. What purpose does the Chewa language serve other than cultural enslavement of non-Chewa peoples?”

“The Chief is making sense,” Jean-Philippe said, adding, “ Adolf Hilter’s Chief Propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, used to say that if you repeat a lie, through books, media, social networks and other ideological apparatuses of state control, many times enough that lie is accepted as the truth because people will start believing it. This is what this list of Chewa chiefs is doing. It is Hitlerian propaganda. This will circulate many times enough through social media and word of mouth that the world will believe Malawi is Chewa country.”

“In short,” the chief said, leaning on his walking stick, “if there were any Chewa chiefs in Tongaland, elements of Chewa culture would have been present here. There is no Nyau here because there is no Chewa Chief in Tongaland. The Chewa are not Tonga and the Tonga are not Chewa. Painful as this fact is, our neighbours must accept that Malawi is a multicultural and multiethnic country and the Chewa project to dominate others through propaganda and underhand campaigns will never succeed.”

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Charles wa Mndondo

I personally appreciate the diversity in our cultures – appreciate the creativity and resourcefulness of Gule Wamkulu, the expressive dancing in Chisamba but above all I idolise Tonga dances – honala, malipenga, etc! I’m Tumbuka by the way. Being divergent is an opportunity which we all Malawians regardless of tribe should embrace! To be different should never be taken as a threat. Proud Malawian


I still don’t understand why Mr. Zeleza, educated as he is, wrote this article.

Stocklyn Lambert
@ Kachikopa, I think you are wrong by saying Chewa Language is far Beyond the borders of Malawi. It’s us the kids who were born in neighboring countries who revived this by stimulating all Malawian cultures in trying to identify ourselves. I’m of Tonga religion but i’m multicultural myself. There’re many Tonga people everywhere in the world than what you imagine. Most of them you wont even recognize them unless they tell you. In Cape Town alone there’re roads linking to each other called Nyasaland & Malawi, this did not come by chance but history made it. It’s true there… Read more »

Iam a Tonga by tribe and I grew up in a Chewa territory. My wife is a chewa from ntcheu, and am teaching her deep instincts of the Tonga tribe. I have attended more than two dozens of chewa traditional celebrations. What I simply want to imply is that no matter where we come from as long we come from Malawi. We are Malawians. Whether u speak, chewa,Tonga tumbuka,nkhonde,sena,lomwe etc as long u a a Malawian, there is no case on that. Let s come together as brothers or we will perish together as fools


I totally in agreement with the author saying the truth. How many chewa chiefs in the south, in comparison with the YAO chiefs there? The nyau people are not the dominants. TRUE! Malawi is multi cultural and multiethnical land…

Blessed Banda

Majoring in minors in the midst of poverty. Propagating hatred won’t help us in any way. It is always the small tribes that ignite civil wars in search of recognition. Put all those evil thoughts Mr. Zeleza Manda and focus on real issues of developing Malawi. All the Banda, Phiri and Mwale clans in Nkhata Bay have Chewa routes. The fact that the Ngoni of Mzimba speak Tumbuka does not turn them Tumbukas. Why being so myopic of propagating hatred as educated as you are? Let’s work on unifying the nation for development sake.

The point the article is trying to make is that there is no chewa chief on tonga land. Otherwise we could we could have seen some traces of chewa culture among tongas, but there is none. The fact that there are bandas, mwale and phiri among tonga and chewas, it does not mean that they are of chewa origin. This could have been a result of inter marriages. Blessed Banda, are you suggesting war simply because Tongas are refusing to be Chewas? Iam sorrry take that war some where else. By the way, chewas are very well known in putting… Read more »

Do not twist history, most of those who are arguing about the existence of chewa chiefs among Tongas are ignorant about history. Go back to your history and find out the truth. Do not argue negatively because you hate chewas. Let’s encourage our kids to learn history to avoid repeatition of such silly arguments

Keen Observer

I agree

Binnwell Kachikopa
Chewa language is even in far places like southafrica, zimbabwe, zambia, mozambique, tanzania, congo and other countries, it seems the author has negative perception against chewas, he has personal problems against chewas, where were your tongas by then ? Yes Malawi is a multicultural country but this doesnt mean you should ridicule other tribes. You may wish to taint the chewas but you will not succed because even your grand grand kids will speak chichewa. And for your information your tonga will never be a national language even if the sun rise from the west and set to the east,… Read more »

The beginning of civil war, what was wrong with different ethnic groups and cultural back grounds united as one nation against those we believed were our enemies and today we are using their language most?

sakaza ononga

SO Professor Kings Phiri LIED in his chronicles of the land.

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