Africa-Press – Zambia. Beyond the breath taking cloud-covered Nyamfinzi Hills in Chipata, Eastern Province, not too far from Ependukeni Palace of Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Zambia stands a museum and a statue erected in honour of Nsingo.

The Nsingo Community Museum at Feni village was opened in 2017 as a repository of Ngoni history and culture, while the statue was unveiled in February this year.

But just who was Nsingo, and why is he being put on a pedestal now?To better answer this question,one needs to go back in time;a time when Ntuto was perhaps the most revered man (ruler) in the whole of Chipata.

The year is 1890 and Ntuto Jere,the son of Zwangendaba is living ‘peacefully’ after defeating almost all his enemies in the Chipata area of Eastern Northern Rhodesia.Mpezeni 1, as the decorated leader was dotingly known as, had at last found a safe haven with his Ngoni section that had followed him following the succession dispute that engulfed the Ngoni Nation following the death of their inspirational figurehead,Zwangendaba in 1848.

At this time Mpezeni 1 already has a successor;his first born son Nsingu (Nsingo) Jere.Even when his father is still at the pinnacle of the throne,the handsome Ngoni Prince already has a huge support base among the Ngonis especially among the impis who see in him an inspirational war general.

In this particular era, the Zambian Ngonis may think that they are at the top of the food chain. But Alas! That is far from the truth.A new enemy who is more vicious and merciless looms nearby. Like a cheetah that has carefully cornered its target,the Ngonis dynasty has been encircled and will soon remember the prophecy given by their founding father Zwangendaba that one day their power and status will truncate.

The arrival of the Europeans in Ngoniland was inevitable, Mpezeni knew this very well as his father had predicted this phenomenal. Initially Mpezeni established friendly relations with Portuguese traders, but at the turn of the mid 1890s he became a target for the British South Africa Company (BSAC).

Hoping to prevent a BSAC take over, Mpezeni granted a huge mineral and land concession to the German adventurer Karl Wiese. Wiese, however, sold his concession to a London-based company that would become the North Charterland Company, a subsidiary of the BSAC.This was a huge mistake on the part of Mpezeni as he had indirectly given lands rights to the very people he sought to keep at bay.

By the time the Ngoni King realized what was happening, it was too late,he had sealed the fate of his people.Not wanting any more wars, Mpezeni cautiously allowed the trekking of the white settlers in Ngoni territory. He no doubt wanted a peaceful Ngoni land even if it meant co-existing with his enemy.

But his son,crown prince Nsingu would not allow this.Against the counsel of his father,Nsingu assembled the bravest Ngoni warriors and attacked the colonialists in January 1898.At the advice of Nsingo,’three long lines’ of Ngoni soldiers were deployed in the Zulu-inspired Cow Horn formation and stove to encircle the British forces.

Initially pockets of success were recorded by the Ngonis but this was short-lived. Reinforcements and heavy artillery by the British soon proved a decisive factor of the war.The Ngoni pincer movement soon clashed like a pile of standing cards pushed down.

Nsingu’s forces came on bravery,but as their loses increased,the lines halted and then began to retire slowly. Nsingo realizing that defeat was eminent retreated to his village where the British finally captured him and executed him publicly on 4 February 1898.

The old chief (Mpezeni) who had avoided a direct confrontation with the Europeans was spared.But as punishment as many as 16000 cattle were seized from the Ngonis; this deviance by Nsingu also precipitated the banning of the ncwala ceremony by the british in 1935 (the ceremony was revived by Mpezeni III in 1980).

A cross section of Ngonis have been pushing for the government of Zambia to officially recogize Nsingo as the country’s foremost freedom fighter.This has so far not yielded any positive results. Attached Picture:A statue of Nsingo outside the Nsingo Community meseum at Feni village in Chipata,East of Zambia.

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