It was a mixture of traditional and western culture recently at the installation of three Hwange tribal elders
of the Lubale, Chewa and Nsenga clans mesmerised scores of people at the Cricket Club grounds in
Hwange town attracting hundreds of ‘foreign tribes’ from around the country.
The installation ceremony of the tribal elders could have been mistaken for a welcoming party of a newly
wedded bride. Dressed in their traditional attire, the women ululated, danced and screamed in welcoming
the new leaders as they sang and gyrated to the uncommon Lubale traditional songs.
The women spread their sari wrappers on the ground for the leaders to walk on in a show of traditional
The three tribal leaders of the Nsenga, Lubale and Chewa tribe were installed after going for more than
two years without a leader. Kinda Ndhlovu representing the Lubale tribe, Kenneth Ngulube, Nsenga and
Edward Phiri representing the Chewa Phiri, were recently given the task to lead their respective people.
The newly installed leader of the Chewa tribe in Hwange, Edward Phiri said the installation came at a
time when there is the need to protect their culture from a cultural dilution they are facing.
“We need to safe guard our values now that we are here in Hwange. Us people from the Chewa tribe are
from Congo, Maluba, Lunda area. We then moved to Mpentawuke in Zambia under Chief Kalindawalo
and after a while we proceeded to Katete where we were looking for a safer place to stay. We then moved
to Zimbabwe when we heard about the opening of new mines in 19 th century,” explained Phiri.
Historically, the Chewa who were in migration to Mozambique, inter-married with Masena tribe in
Mozambique and formed the Masena tribe. The Lubale, Nsenga and Chewa tribe are also historically
believed to be related and they are popularly called “Bhanja” meaning we are family.
Luke Katako a custodian of the Lubale tribe said it takes a collective measure to protect the tribe and
value its cultural heritage.
“We are not different, we are one family with the Nsenga and Chewa. Most of us we did not know that
we are related to each other. We are relatives and we all come from Angola, from one root. This type of
an occasion was supposed to be held at the Whange old grounds were most people are found so that they
all know this type of history.
“We need to pass this knowledge to our kids as they must know our history so that they may unite as they
grow and know each other. We thought that Nsengas are from Malawi not knowing that we are all from
Angola. Lubales were left behind in Angola while others ran away from Angola to Zimbabwe because of
war. Lubale is an umbrella name for different tribes that are in Angola namely, Kalanga, Lunda and many
more,” said Katako.
“Our forefathers were affected by the colonial rule from Portuguese known as Maputukezi in
Mozambique. The Maputukezi were very abusive, by so doing they migrated seeking for greener pastures
because they said in Zimbabwe workers were earning better salaries.
“That is how we came this side. Had it not been for war, we may not have come and also we migrated
because of good working conditions found in Zimbabwe. We are very much thankful that we now know
each other and also we should look for another day to unite our children,” he continued.
A tribal elder should be someone with sober minded, not quarrel some, non-alcoholic and should be
available anytime. Their wives should also be humble and support their husbands.
A Tribal elders is a leader of a clan in a community. Hwange town is popularly known for being a
rainbow district decorated with numerous clans or tribes. It is in this community that has indigenous clans
such as Tonga, Nambya, Shona, Ndebele, Nyanja and Dombe just to mention a few
It is in this regard that the community established Tribal leaders committee to lead and conserve their
cultural values according to their tribes.
Veronica Nyathi the Secretary General of tribal elders says in Hwange there are a number tribal elders
who work to protect their tribes and values.
‘’We have a number of tribal elders in Hwange in all the areas. They are there to protect our cultural
values, as you know Hwange is a multicultural community, there is a possibility that there could be a
clash of interest when it comes to solving conflict emanating from cultural beliefs,” she said.
Tribal elders work with the police, the magistrates as well as traditional chiefs. Their main role is to
maintain peace within the society, as well as protecting the society from harmful cultural beliefs. They
work as wisdom keepers in preserving their culture.