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The uncustomary Paramount Chief Lundu

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Malawian chiefs should stop complaining about being used and dumped by politicians if the conduct of Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa District is anything to go by.

Look, Chewa chiefs agreed to ask Lundu, as an elder brother, to make eulogies during a funeral ceremony of one of their own, the late Senior Chief Kabudula, in Lilongwe District, Wednesday.

But, to the surprise of many and chagrin of the mourners, Lundu decided to run with the baton stick into the mountains. Instead of expressing how bereaved the Chewas were with the death, he insulted those people who went to condole with him and his tribe over the loss.

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Lundu waxed lyrical about how Kabudula was loyal to President Peter Mutharika while some Chewa chiefs were busy aligning themselves with the opposition, most notably Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera. Of course, Lundu was right that Kabudula was ready to die for Mutharika, at least going by what he said when he was alive. Malawians still remember how the departed chief publicly insulted Chakwera and promised Mutharika that the chiefs would remove Chakwera as a Member of Parliament, and elect a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, come 2019. As fate has it, the traditional leader has not lived to see the manifestation of his declaration.

Coming back to our Paramount Lundu, the mourners booed him in an attempt to bring him back on track. He, however, was surprised that the mourners were surprised with his surprising remarks. He even had the audacity to censure his fellow mourners for correcting him.

The most embarrassing thing was that it had to take a politician to walk to Lundu and tell him to mind his language and avoid flaring up political tempers in the MCP stronghold. And we know how foul the language of politicians is.

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Lundu owes the Chewas an apology for bringing the chieftaincy into disrepute. He has “torched the initiation camp” and opened up the Chewa heritage to ridicule.

It is an open secret that since the DPP ascended to power, Lundu has desperately tried to show that he is blue. Lundu had a honeymoon during the era of former president Joyce Banda. He made political speeches aimed to disparage the DPP and other parties. He has not enjoyed the same privilege since Mutharika became president and he so much wants to spruce up his image.

But he chose a wrong forum. His illusions that just because traditional leaders fall under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), then they have to cartoon themselves before ruling party politicians is completely misplaced and strange.

He needs to accept the reality that the OPC is run by money that all Malawians, including opposition party supporters, pay through taxes. His own honorarium comes from such taxes, hence he has to serve Malawians of all political persuasions.

Honoraria aside, as a traditional leader, Lundu has to understand that he is a father figure and symbol of unity to every person in the country. The ancestors never called their chiefs Gogo Chalo (the land) for nothing. It is from the land that humanity gets its sustenance. The land feeds the creation and it is so kind and resilient even when human beings desecrate it. It does not form cracks and swallow up vulnerable groups.

Lundu must borrow a leaf from traditional patriarchs of Malawi such as the then Chief Mwase of Kasungu, Inkosi ya Makosi Mmbelwa I of Mzimba, Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani I of Ntcheu and other traditional leaders who were ready to die for their people and not political forces. Had these fathers of the nation not stood their ground, the British colonial rule would not have been weakened in the then Nyasaland. And these are the traditional leaders who ensured that the powerful one party regime knew its limits.

But this is Paramount Chief Lundu who openly defies the leadership of the Chewa King, Gawa Undi. No wonder then that, after detaching himself from his roots, he is becoming a mere atom, floating in space. He seems not to know where he is coming from or going.

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