Thyolo villagers seek UK ‘asylum’ over chieftaincy wrangle

There seem to be no end in sight for the chieftaincy wrangle that has rocked villagers of Malawi’s southern district of Thyolo for many years now.

The fighting is between villagers of Ngomano and Wilson over who is the rightful heir to Group Village Headman Wilson’s chieftaincy in the area of Senior Chief Thomas.

Latest information indicate that subjects of Ngomano village have now petitioned the British High Commission to grant them an asylum as they have now become refugees in their own land.

One of the villagers who refused to be named said the petition was sent to the Commission on Saturday.

British High Commissioner in Lilongwe, Michael Nevin: Thyolo villagers pen his office
British High Commissioner in Lilongwe, Michael Nevin: Thyolo villagers pen his office

“We have become refugees in our own land and the British High commission is our last hope now. We want to be granted asylum so that we can perhaps have peace finally,” a villager told a local radio station Sunday.

People from the two warring villages, situated about 22kms from Thyolo Boma, have engaged in tit-for-tat attacks because of the differences over chieftaincy.

At the height of their fight, some villagers from Ngomano were deposed and sought refugee at Bvumbwe Trading centre in the district after the wrangle turned violent.

And after some months in wilderness, government identified a piece of land for the displaced villagers at Makande and also procured foodstuffs and arranged transport to take them there but they negated without any reasons and instead went back to their ancestral home where a fresh wave of fighting reemerged.

The place has become very unsafe with police likening the wrangle to the situation that resulted in genocide in Rwanda.

At one point, the aggrieved villagers hacked in the face Traditional Authority Bvumbwe when he went there alongside Paramount Chief Mkhumba of Phalombe to mediate.

The wrangle between the two clans started after the Ngomano villagers deposed the Wilson chieftaincy a few years ago and placed the Wilson area under its authority.

And when President Joyce Banda took over power in April last year she reversed the decision (in May 2012) and the Wilson villagers reclaimed their territory of authority, a development that has worsened the situation.

Government through the ministries of Local Government and Local Development and Home Affairs and Internal Security and the Department of Disaster Management and Civil Society Organisations has tried to resolve the wrangle but failed.


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