Chikulamayembe Dynasty

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The Paramount Chief of the Tumbuka "Chikulamayembe" with his wife in Bolero, Rumphi, Malawi.

The Chikulamayembe are a dynasty of chiefs who rule the Tumbuka people in Northern Malawi, precisely the Nkhamanga-Henga area.[1] In the 1700s, immigrants who came from the eastern shore of Lake Malawi (which today is Tanzania) founded the Chikulamayembe kingdom.[2]

The first Chikulamayembe, still well known among the Tumbuka, was Gonapamuhanya (also known as Nkhalapamuhanya). He is known as the father and founder of the Chikulamayembe dynasty.[1] The Tumbuka people celebrate him annually, 2012 with the Gonapamhanya Cultural Festival at Bolero, Rumphi.[3]

The pre-colonial Chikulamayembe dynasty existed until the 1870s, when the Ngoni under their leader Mmbelwa defeated the forces of the Chikulamayembe. In 1907 the Chikulamayembe dynasty was reestablished by missionaries as part of the British colonial administrative system. The powers of the Chikulamayembe were enhanced compared to the pre-colonial dynasty and the first colonial Chikulamayembe Mbawuwo Mgonanjerwa Gondwe (later known as Chilongozi, which means leader) was installed as '"Themba la mathemba", paramount chief for the whole Tumbukaland.[1]

Mbawuwo Gondwe's successor was John Hardy Gondwe who was also known as Ziwange (1932-1977). Since 1977 Walter Gondwe is Chikulamayembe.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Shadreck Billy Chirembo (1993). "COLONIALISM AND THE REMAKING OF THE CHIKULAMAYEMBE DYNASTY 1904 - 1953". The Society of Malawi Journal. Society of Malawi - Historical and Scientific. 46 (2): 1–24. JSTOR 29778687. 
  2. ^ MacDonald, Fiona (2000). Peoples of Africa. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 308–309. ISBN 0761471588. 
  3. ^ "JB graces Tumbukas' Gonapamhanya cultural festival". Nyasa Times. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.