A history of Ngoni chiefs of fort Jameson (Chipata) under colonial rule, 1895 - 1964.

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Chongo, Chanda Lucky
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University of Zambia
This study examines the history of the Ngoni chiefs under colonial rule in Northern Rhodesia’s Fort Jameson (Chipata) from 1895 to 1964. It shows the responses and reactions of the chiefs and the people they ruled towards the policies of the British South Africa Company and later of governments under the Colonial Office and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. These policies include land alienation, taxation and labour recruitment. The study shows that the Ngoni were not passive in their reactions. Their rulers, for example, tended to collect taxes less resented by their followers and vehemently opposed land alienation because it compromised the interests of their subjects. The study begins by giving a brief background of how Carl Wiese managed to buy 10,000 square miles of land from Paramount Chief Mpezeni in 1890. It postulates that the purchase of land from the chief marked the beginning of problems for the Ngoni. This was because their means of subsistence production were reduced due to land shortages coupled with the tax policy which was earlier implemented. Land alienation, movement to the reserves, and tax obligations necessitated wage employment among the Ngoni. The study further shows the changing roles of traditional rulers after colonial rule became deeply rooted among the Ngoni people. It argues that as much as Ngoni chiefs were required to carry out certain functions on behalf of the colonial state, they did not neglect their people as they executed chiefly duties. It has been noted, in this study, that even after being conquered by the B.S.A.C, the Ngoni traditional authority managed to carry out their administrative duties as demanded by the colonial state simultaneously with their traditional ones. In cases when the colonial state was in conflict with the local people, the chiefs sided with their local people. This study further attempts to assess colonial impact on Ngoni traditional authorities and their subjects. It argues that the colonial state undermined traditional authorities in various ways. It undermined the authority of chiefs by abolishing tribute and unpaid labour which were earlier given to chiefs by their subjects. The abolition of tribute and unpaid labour interfered with the superior status earlier enjoyed by Ngoni traditional authorities. The situation led to increased friction between the colonial state and the chiefs. Contrally to the underdevelopment theory, the study posits that much as the above colonial policies undermined Ngoni traditional authorities, Ngoni chiefs rose above colonial challenges to take care of their subjects in the expected traditional manner. Key words: Ngoni, Tribute, Chiefs, Colonial-Office
Ngoni chiefs--history--Northern Rhodesia--1895 to 1964.