Centenary foundation of Santa Maria Chilubi Island (1903-2003)
Bishop Dupont Motomoto
This year 2003 will see the centenary of the foundation of Santa Maria Parish in the Island of Chilubi, and in May 2003 the foundation of Kacebere at 30 kms from Chipata district.
It is in 1894 that the great Missionary adventure of MotoMoto started in this country of Zambia which was called at that time: Northern Rhodesia.
Coming from Tanganiyka Territory which at that lime was under the German rule Motomoto and his confrères arrived in the actual Malawi. Having met difficulties to establish a mission, they went ahead and were welcomed by Chief "Kitika" a small chief Bemba in the Makasa area of influence.
Kitika himself brought them to visit Chief Makasa this was the 18th January 1894. Motomoto at that occasion asked Chief Makasa the permission to teach the good news of Jesus in his country, but Chief Makasa first told him that he had to consult his "Father" Citi Mukulu, the Paramount Chief of the Bemba.
Chief Citi Mukulu was not in favour of the missionaries to establish in His country, so Chief Makasa told them to stay for the time being at Mambwa Mwela that was the 31st of May 1895, and then at Kayambi.
Six weeks after, Motomoto sent a message to Chief Makasa telling that He would come to visit Him in few weeks, and so being at the Palace of Makasa, Moto moto was told that he could not stay at that place because Chief Citi Mukulu was angry and wanted to start war against his' son Chief Maakasa.
All the same, having ravaged few vi1lages of Makasa, one day, Moto moto was shooting few birds when two messengers and spies of Citi Mukulu saw him killing one bird after the other, and were caught by fear, run away to the Paramount Chief and told him not to start war against Motomoto, for they were witnesses that that Priest was so good at shooting that it would be a disaster for the Chief's army.
In addition to that, during the night itself when Makasa wanted to chase Motomoto, an old woman relative of Makasa, came to Motomoto with a terrible wound on her leg, asking for medicine. Motomoto kind as he was, gave her medicine, and gave also a blessing from the Lord. In the morning when Motomoto had to leave the Palace, all the women went begging and chanting and praising the Lord, that very woman was cured miraculously in the night, and Chief Makasa was so flabbergasted that he called immediately Motomoto and told him to stay at the palace, that he did not care about his "Tata" and that the Lord who did a so great miracle would protect his country from war and so it is that Motomoto stayed at Chief Makasa's palace and at Kayambi also where many people were gathered for instruction in the Good news of Jesus Christ.
But the Great dream of Motomoto was to reach the Bemba country to teach the word of God.
First of all He went to Citi Mukulu of the Lubemba country, but the Chief did not want him. The bishop saw the palace of the Chief surrounded by poles all over and on the top of each pole the head of an enemy, and at that time the enemy was Chief Rupeseni's warriors, because there was an hostility between the Bangoni and the Babemba.
Well! Motomoto was depressed and went to a hill called "Malole" were he planted his tent, before thinking of what to do next for the kingdom of God.
From there He proceeded to Chief Mwamba of the Ituna Country who was the brother of Chief Citi Mukulu, praying the good Lord that Chief Mwamba would not chase him as his brother did.
On the 15th April 1897, Motomoto celebrated Mass on Holy Thursday at the foot of a hill near the actual Malole parish, after being weak he was carried in a hamac, (Machila) but the soldiers of chief Mwamba of Ituna were angry at that, thinking that it was an insult to be carried in a hamac in the country of chief Mwamba. Meantime the messengers of Citi Mukulu came to greet Motomoto they were people from Mulenga Mukulu and altogether crossed the Village of Kapampa. Already in that part of the Lubemba they were many Christians and from village to village the priests were accompanied by a lot of people.
On Easter Monday the 19th of April 1897 all the group camped at the village of Kalimanshila who was the 1st minister of Chief Mwamba.
At that time passed at Mwamba's an Englishman called "Spencer" he was an unmannerly fellow, and Chief Mwamba had to chase him away. Consequently, thinking that Motomoto would be the same He refused him the permission to reach his palace. But thanks to a counsellor Kyadalila, and afterwards to Kalimanshila, Moto moto was given permission to approach the palace of Mwamba.
It is: this same Kalimenshila who years after at the Parish of Malole was sent by Mwamba and Citi Mukulu to testified that Motomoto was really an authentic and genuine successor of Chief Mwamba Cipoya of the Ituma. Motomoto asked permission to see Chief Mwamba, Kalimanshila tells him that he will not see him today. But I want to speak with him ... and he got no answer, the councillor had left already. The whole evening plenty of people gathered around the bishop Motomoto and his companions, they were very kind but among them came a man who looked like a Muslim who started to insult the priests, but the people around did not agree at all and that man left with his tail between his legs humiliated by the mob. Then the night arrived on the little camp and everybody went back home.
The famous day of the first meeting came with dawn.
The prime minister Kalimanshila described the relations between the British ruler and the Chief ,and specially what happened with that Mister Spencer and Chief Mwamba appointing and smoking his pipe (cinkuli) declared that no white man would penetrate in his kingdom anymore. Then the Chief gave Motomoto two small tusks of elephant. All the same the following day Mwamba called Motomoto and started to brush a short history of his country saying: Years ago, there was an European called: Lucele N'anga, who was commanding our brothers the Balula, up to Kasembe. But as our brothers were working too much, we decided to go away and proceed further on, when our brothers the Balula, decided to stay in the Kasembe country, on the Uwapula river. Then this Lucele N'anga went to the East telling us that he will come back one day later on, even he left as a gift a nice book in Latin and a statue of a nice woman, that we still keep even now in the burying place of our bemba chiefs. So... I believe that you Motomoto you are a son of that Lucele N'anga who promised us he would be back one day.
Then telling the people this: Motomoto has done miracles, curing my people kneeling at them to bandage their wounds, chasing with a blessing these possessed by the evil spirits, he does not come to steel our ivory, on the contrary he gives money to free the slaves whom the Muslims have caught in our villages he is a good man: follow him from today.
Then Mwamba told Motomoto : Where is your brother? fetch him fast I want to meet him too and then... Have you got medicine for me, I am a sick man, please you can cure me because all those local doctors Bashin'anga can do nothing for me.
Bishop Motomoto planted his tent next to Lukupa River near Kasama and then started to teach the word of God to the people gathering around him. But... Sufferings is the daily bread of missionaries, few weeks only and Mwamba was telling Motomoto that he was unwanted in his country, obliging the bishop to go again out of the Ituna country, it is then that they planted the tent at the foot of the FubeFube Hill in Malole parish actually, From there they went to stay at Kapili that was in June 1998.
For three days, Motomoto, stayed there at the threshold of the capital of Citi Mukulu knowing not what to do next step, when at his surprise, Cimutwe the minister of Chief Mwamba arrived in haste and brought the word of the chief that he knew now that few people of the palace had calomnied him and that now He believe that the bishop was a good man, pure from all those calomnies and that he, Mwamba wanted him to come back as fast as possible and that he Mwamba would give him a big land and that they would live together like friends.
Bishop Moto moto told Cimutwe that if really the Chief wanted him to came back he would send gift and escort to accompany them back to the palace.
Cimutwe told the bishop that he would be back in a week time with everything wanted.
It is on the 5th October 1898 that for the third time Motomoto took his walking stick and accompanied by 50 warriors of Mwamba, the cow and it's calf went back again to the Ituna Palaca of Mwamba.
It is with 120 big men and boys that Motomoto entered the palace of Chief Mwamba. Few kilometres before that, Motomoto had passed through Citi Mukulu's palace and then Four children of the paramount chief had been delegated by their father to greet the Bishop saying: there are two great men in this country Motomoto and me, why don't you come here to greet me I am four friend, and my brother Mwamba played a trick on me saying that you were not a good man to be received so... that is why I did not welcome you but that was a bad trick from my brother Mwamba. Setting his tent next to the Kalungu river the following day Motomoto went on to the palace of Ituna Palace.
At that time after being welcomed by the counsellors of Mwamba, Motomoto went to visit the Chief, and was amazed to see how sick he was, Mwamba tells him "If you can cure me Motomoto, I'll give you half of my country, if I have to die, you will be the master of this country, you will protect my people from those who want to kill them." Alas, the Chief had been drinking too much in his life, and his liver was completely deteriorated. Then Motomoto called the Prime minister Kalimanshila to tell him how worried he was with the condition of the Chief Mwamba, the Minister told the bishop : Sir, we know that the Chief is going to die, that is why Cimutwe was told to fetch you at Kipili. You will be in charge of this Ituna Country, and you will prevent any killing, you will free all of us from the fear of "IPAKI" (killing at the death of a chief).
Because in the old tradition: at the death of the chief, people from the palace wives, messengers, ministers were killed, to accompany the chief in the beyond. It is a very cruel tradition, and still now, many families are afraid at the death of a big chief, fearing the IPAKI for the children going to school alone.
There too was a question of revenge, for the time of Chief Mwamba Cipoya had been the witness of many killings.
Motomoto proposed then at Mwamba to establish his stay at 5kms from here at Milungu, but the Chief refused, saying that is was too far from him.
It is on the night of the 17th October 1898 that Chief Mwamba Cipoya died and on the 18th October 1898, Bishop Motomoto was the successor of Mwamba. Then also immediately He established his stay at Milungu, on the 24th October. All the Ituna knew that Mwamba Cipoya was dead and that Motomoto was elected his successor. They knew also that this good man would never agree to any killing of any kind. Then during the night at the end of October 1898, came to Motomoto the queen mother: Canda Mukulu with her sister Cilobelobe, and Mpepo saying : Motomoto, for the peace of mind of Mwamba Cipoya accept to give us one of those (they mentioned few of the palace) to escort the Chief in the beyond and the bishop refused them. At least give us an old woman, even a child who has no value, and the bishop refused. You will have nobody, I am a priest of the Lord, and the first commandment of God is: YOU SHALL NOT KILL.
The Place where thousand of Ituna people gathered to be protected was not at Milungu but another place which the bishop found better for protection and there the thousand people followed, and called the place: CHILUBULA that means our salvation, for they were sure to keep their life near the good bishop. It was situated on the Lukulu river near the big falls of Cishimba.
But the difficulties were not over at all...
Hearing about that extraordinary story of a Catholic Bishop being Paramount Chief of the Ituna country, the bwana Mac Kinon of Mbala district was very angry, he said: what is that bishop Motomoto doing in this British territory?
He sent an offensive letter to the bishop who answered that he Mac Kinon would have to come and speak himself to the counsellors of Ituna Country because, he had been invested by them to keep the peace in the country.
That situation, very tense, lasted for at least one year and it is in the 1999 that the governor of both Rhodesia came himself to Kasama, to bring a bit of peace between Motomoto and the British rulers. On the 18th September 1999, the rights of ruling the Ituna was accepted by the British to exercise legal authority on that country, to chose good leaders to administrate the villages and localities, and to preside at Court cases.
Chief Ponde having been rejected by Chief Mwamba Cipoya to succeed him at his death finally the choice was on Nkole Mfumu to be the next Mwamba.
This would stop all the trouble, Motomoto had for more than a year with the British authorities, but nobody will forget in spite of any "Human Rights" that the catholic priest were not allow to come to Mbala district by the British laws until ...1948 this is absolutely incredible, from a European nation but it is the sad fact of it.
In 1901 was founded Cilonga parish near Mpika, then in 1904 it was Kapatu Parish, and in 1903 hundred years ago, the priests left the swamps of Kalungushi river infested by the tsetse flies, and thanks to a very kind district officer who was an Anglican, they left for the Island of Chilubi, with their sheep and their goats, and crossed on foot with very little water, from the mainland at Kabesha to the island of Chilubi, the well known now: Santa Maria.
This is a short story of the wonderful adventure of Motomoto in the Bemba. His name of "Motomoto" came from Swahili and meant "Firefire" because of the strong personality and energy of that Bishop Joseph Dupont from Western France.
Father B.A. Poisson, M. Afr.