By Moono John
The northern circuit of Zambia has had a fair share of its place in the history of the country. Many sons of the soil played their part in shaping the country to what it is today.
Chinsali holds a special place in the history of the northern circuit as well as the history of Zambia and it was no surprise that when Northern Province was divided in 2011 to create a new province, the town was an automatic pick for the provincial headquarters status.
The district is home to the famous Lumpa Church which was founded by Alice Mulenga who later became Regina. The name Regina was was mispronounced by the locals from the bemba ethnic grouping and later spelt as Lenshina. The Lumpa Church was founded in the 1950s and grew rapidly due to superstition and ignorance. The congregants of the church mixed tribal rituals and the Lenshina teachings.
By the year 1958, the Lumpa Church had 148 churches in the Northern province with Chinsali having six.
Some political activists had found Lenshina as a useful ally against the colonialists. Lenshina discouraged her followers from joining political parties. This made adherents of her religion to come in open conflict with UNIP members, this was during her time of the Copperbelt when she visited the province.
Kaunda found the activities of the Lumpa Church embarrassing and politically destabilizing to the new formed coalition government where he saved as Prime Minister.
This presented a challenge to Kaunda as a Prime Minister. This is because it was reported that his mother and elder brother where members of the Lumpa Church in the early days with his brother serving as a deacon in the church.
Superstition, ignorance and sheer obstinacy ruled over the minds of the Lumpa Church followers. They were taught that rubbing their body with human excreta would make them immune from bullets. They followers of the church on many times were found on the wrong side of the law. Their non adherence to the law made them to be in an open conflict with the forces of the law. The killing of a European officer and an African sergeant by the followers of the Lumpa Church excercebated the situation.
On August 11, 1963, Alice Lenshina Mulenga surrendered herself to the police. She was taken to Mumbwa and detained. It is estimated that probably more than 1000 people died in the skirmishes between Lenshina’s followers and the security forces.
Alice Lenshina Mulenga is remembered as a strong woman who led a religious sect and commanded a large following that it posed a threat to the government. The blemish that blighted her religion was the failure to adhere to the laws of the land.
Extracted from End of Kaunda Era written by John M Mwanakatwe.