Why is Archbishop of Kasama also referred to as Senior Chief Mwamba?
Archbishop Ignatius Chama is Senior Chief Mwamba VIII
ZAMBIA: How the Episcopate of Kasama is Connected to Traditional Bemba Chiefdom
Part I of the Serialization of Kasama Archdiocese
By Pamela Adinda, AMECEA Online News
Most Rev. Ignatius Chama the Archbishop of Kasama is also known as Mwamba Mubanga Chipoya VIII, the Traditional Chief of the Bemba people in the Northern part of Zambia where the Archdiocese of Kasama is located.
The tradition of bestowing the chief’s title to the episcopate dates back to first Catholic Bishop in the Region, Rt. Rev. Joseph-Marie-Stanislas Dupont, M. Afr.
This was when Kasama was part of the greater Apostolic Vicariate of Nyasaland.
Bishop Dupont fondly nicknamed as Moto Moto (fire fire) by the natives, was among the first Missionaries to settle in Bemba land.
According to Archbishop Chama, the dying chief Mwamba asked Bishop Dupont to look after his family and his Kingdom, something which the bishop did for one year.
“Moto Moto accepted to look after the chiefdom, and that is why the Archdiocese of Kasama and the office of the Archbishop is connected to the Chiefdom of Mwamba – whoever is appointed to Episcopate is given the title of Mwamba, for example I am number eight in the line,”, Archbishop Chama explained.
In 1913, the Apostolic Vicariate of Nyassa lost territory when the Apostolic Vicariate of Bangweulu was erected; Bangweulu is the present Archdiocese of Kasama.
The name changed from Apostolic Vicariate of Bangueulu to Apostolic Vicariate of Kasama in 1959; and the Diocese was elevated to Archdiocese status in 1967.
In 2016 the Catholic Church in Zambia celebrated 125 years of Catholicism and it is in Kasama, the northern part of the country, where it all started.
According to Archbishop Chama, the first missionaries (Missionaries of Africa, now commonly known as the ‘White Fathers’) came in the year 1891 and their intention was to move on to Tanzania but they opted to settle at a place called Mambomwela among the Mambwe people.
“Because the road was also the same one used by slave caravans, the Missionaries were kind of sad, they could not stand it so they decided to move away.
At the same time the people among whom they first settled, the Mambwe, were being raided by the Bemba people who are the majority in Kasama.
The missionaries therefore decide to go and stay among the Bembas so that they can turn them into peaceful people and stop them from raiding other communities,” he explained.
The son of the Chitimukulu, the Bemba most senior chief at the time, welcomed the missionaries against his father’s wishes and so the first mission was opened in 1895.
It is now the oldest Mission in the Archdiocese of Kasama, going under the name Kayambi.
Currently the Archdiocese has 27 parishes, two of which were created recently on 30th September 2018.
These include Nsumbu Parish on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Chaba Parish on the shores of Lake Bangweulu.