Change and continuity : A comparative study of the changing role of the Mukanda institution in the Western and North-Western Provinces of Zambia, 1900-1963

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Mileji, John Kayombo Ka Chingumbe
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The mukanda institution in the Western and North-Western Province of Zambia, is one of the popular cultural heritages in the country. Over time it has created an inter-ethnic cohesion which in turn has integrated more than ten previously heterogeneous ethnic groups into a single entity. This institution is an age long cultural heritage whose genesis is inextricably linked to the various vakamulauko (the people of this study) royal houses in the western and North-Western Provinces of Zambia and beyond (i.e. Angola and Zaire). From the late nineteenth century when colonial rule was imposed on Zambia, to about 1963 when the colonial epoch was coming to a close, the mukanda institution was subjected to various forms of social change. Through adaptation to the colonial environment, the mukanda institution both managed to change its role and to sustain its own continuity.This dissertation is basically an attempt to reconstruct a history of the mukanda institution during the colonial epoch. In order to portray a fair picture of the institution, a comparative approach was preferred, to cover both the Western and North-western Provinces. In Chapter one, we have attempted to review the existing literature on the topic, with a view of delineating its weaknesses and Strengths.We have argued that much of this literature contains limitations, one of which was the static portrayal of the mukanda. Chapter Two is an attempt to reconstruct a precolonial history of the institution in both the Western and North-Western Provinces. This entailed: tracing the genesis of the mukanda institution among the vakamulauko generally; assessing the historical development of the institution in the two provinces; and examining how mukanda rites were practised in the two areas during that period. In Chapter Three, we heve attempted to analyse the impact of the colonial social change (i.e. colonial economic and political policies), Christian evangelization, Western medicine and modern education on the mukanda institution. To this end, we assessed the impact of hut tax, migrant labour, and other colonial policies, on the mukanda practitioners in both provinces. It has been argued that these policies had a far-reaching effect on the structure and practice of the mukanda rites. As a result, the mukanda institution of the colonial society reflected the influence of these forces; hence the chapter emphasizes change in the institution and not a static state of affairs. In conclusion, we have contended that during the colonial epoch, the mukanda institution adapted itself to the prevailing socio-economic and political environment, and in the process sustained its continuity such that by 1963, the institution had become a vehicle for integration and cohesion amoung vakamulauko, not only in the Western and North-western Provinces of Zambia but also beyond the territorial boundaries of these provinces.
Social change- -Mukanda- -Zambia