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Muyombe is a rural community town in Mafinga Hills a new district east of Isoka, Zambia, and it is the biggest settlement in the region. The chiefdom is sparsely populated over an area of 625 square miles (1619 square kilometres).
The Muyombe Chiefdom was founded in the Seventeenth century by Vinkhakanimba, who was an elephant hunter. He, together with a party of fellow hunters and traders originated from Uganda, traveled through Tanganyika Tanzania and entered Northern Malawi. According to local historians, Vinkhakanimba is believed to have crossed lake Malawi on a bark of a tree and later established a settlement on the Zambian side at its current site, Muyombe. The legendary Vinkhakanimba is remembered through an annual traditional ceremony which is named after him. Tumbuka is the main language spoken in the area, the language is also referred to as Yombe to distinguish it from the Tumbuka of Lundazi, though the two languages are by and large the same. The society has integrated well with other language speaking peoples of Mambwe, Namwanga, Bemba, Nyika, Nkonde, Lambya, Tambo, Senga, Phoka among others.
Muyombe chiefdom consists of several villages, among the notable ones being Muyombe which hosts the Chief's palace, Bulawula, Chabazamba (see Tubale),Chandeya, Chibanza,Chidulika, Chifunda, Chigoma, Chikoya, Chimung'ontho (see Nathan), Choma, Chowa, Dowoko, Gombelimo, Jombo, Kadanje, Kalembwe, Kapalakaska, Kapela, Kapenda - Maji, Kapilimutuza, Kasakalawe, Kaswanga, Kasyamusenga, Katanga, Khuyu, Mahobe, Masangani, Matendo, Mayowa, Mitanga, Mombo, Mugomba, Mugula, Mukolomanga, Mulowe, Mung'ang'a, Musantha, Musenga, Muzenga-bweka, Muzilakunyola, Mpemba, Mphalayi, Mwezi-Mupya, Namovwe, Nathan (see Chimung'ontho) Njela, Samu, Samu-Saluya, Sanga, Sungo, Thiti, Tubale(See Chabazamba),Vumbo,Wenela, and Zumbe among others. The villages are administered by Headmen on behalf of the Chief, and who also act as advisors indunas to the chief on various traditional issues including arbitration.
The Vinkhakanimba dynasty has since its founding been ruled by a number of Chiefs who include the following: (1) Vinkhakanimba Founder, (2) Mughanga, (3) Polomombo, (4) Winga-Musenga, (5) Njela-Clan (I), (6) Chapyoka-Clan (I) -(1850-1891)), (7) Chisusu - Chipanga Clan (I) (1891-1903), (8) Kolelawaka- Njela Clan Acting/Interim (1903-1904, (9) Funtukeni-Njela Clan (II)-(1904-1914),(10) Vwalamawoko-Chipanga Clan (II)- (1914-1927), (11) John (Punyila) Muwowo- Chapyoka- (II) (1927-1980), (12) Ellywell Lameck Muwowo (Musunga Mbumba)-Njela Clan (III) who ascended to the throne in 1981 till his death in December 2011.Eminent local historians and traditionalists have since confirmed the aforementioned clans as eligible clans/families to ascend to the throne of Chief of the Yombe People.
Unlike other Chiefdoms in the district, Muyombe is endowed with a lot of natural resources such as arable land, abundant water (both surface and ground), dambos and pastures. The area enjoys high productivity in both crop and livestock production. The predominant produce are crops such as maize, and beans. From 1964 up to 1989, Muyombe used to produce a lot of maize, hence being referred to as maize belt, mainly due to heavy subsidies by the Kaunda regime. This led to an over-dependence on maize and the local people could not diversify into other crops such as cassava and sorghum. However, in the Chiluba era, there was a drastic decline in production as subsidies were removed and locals were unable to buy seed and fertilizer at commercial rates. Beans is also produced mainly in far flung villages of the Chiefdom such as Kaswanga, Mphalayi, Mpemba, Jombo and Chifunda where soils are very good for the crop.
With the re-introduction of the maize subsidies in 2002 under the Fertilizer Input Support Program (FISP), maize production has since improved tremendously. The challenge however is the poorly managed crop marketing strategy by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) as can be evidenced by late delivery of inputs and delayed purchase/payment of farmers for their produce annually. Other agricultural produce include millet, chickens, cattle and goats. Due to vast land and plenty of water, the area has great potential in commercial production both for crops, livestock and water harvesting. Agricultural market is always available locally, along the line of rail and neighboring Malawi which is just 30 minutes to 1 hour drive from Muyombe. Market access is poised to greatly improve once tarring of Isoka-Muyombe-Chama road is completed.
Muyombe boasts of a modern Secondary School which previously ran as a basic School and is located right at the Centre of the . Village. The only Secondary School in the area was officially opened in 1998 with the first intake of Grade 10s. However, the school lacked qualified teachers and other facilities, such as laboratories. The few teachers available worked extra hard to ensure that pupils performed well. This was evidenced by the performance of the first 2000 intake which recorded more than 70 percent pass rate. The school has experienced a major facelift as a lot of facilities have been modernized thanks to the government increased budgetary allocation for schools infrastructure, and now attracts pupils even from areas as far as Isoka, Nakonde, Chinsali, Kasama and other urban towns. Muyombe Primary School, oldest and forerunner of the High school boasts of giving birth to some prominent and distinguished personalities in Zambia such as Retired Supreme Court Judge Sandson Silomba, Edwin Muwowo- former Deputy Speaker for Zational Assembly of Zambia, Dr. Austin Sichinga Former State House-Chief of Staff, Minister Bob Sichinga, Adon Chilembo—former District Governor in UNIP government, Ndola based Businessman Kenneth Kaira among others. The area has a number of basic and primary schools dotted around the chiefdom. Basic schools include Samu, Sanga, and Mitanga (newest). Primary schools include among others, Chifunda, Choma, Kapenda - Maji, Khuyu, Jombo, Kaswanga, Katanga, Masangani, Mpemba, Mphalayi, Tubale, and Mavyavya. However, distance still remain a challenge as pupils have to walk long distances in excess of 3 km to reach a nearest school.
Accessing Health facilities and services remains one of the biggest challenges as the whole chiefdom has only one clinic (oldest) as a health center which is not only understaffed but also understocked. Patients have to be transported over long distances of more than 30 km to reach the clinic, usually on either ox-carts or/and traditional stretchers. This results in patients shunning the health facility and resorting to staying at home, while others die in the clinic due to late admittance. Health needs urgent attention from government and well wishers (the Church and NGOs) to prevent the local people from dying from preventable diseases due to inability to access the health services. Currently, most of the complicated health cases are referred to Isoka District Hospital. Locals also resort to seeking medical attention in Malawi due to comparatively better medication.
Transport and communication
Muyombe is interconnected to Isoka and Chama districts by M14 gravel road currently being upgraded to bituminous standard. Muyombe is well-positioned in Muchinga Province and provides linkage between Eastern and Northern provinces. Thus, the area is now being utilized as a transit route between Eastern Province and Nakonde, a border town in Muchinga Province with Tanzania through the Kanyala-Nakonde road. Muyombe is also a gateway to the famous Nyika Plateau National Park, and Malawi through Rumphi. The upgrading of M14 road to bituminous level is envisaged to greatly improve accessibility to the area. There is an airstrip at Chidulika which is being managed by the Fly Doctors Service in airlifting patients for referral medical cases from the local clinic to Ndola. The Zambia Postal Services operates a post office which has been operating since its establishment in the 1970s.The area has not lagged behind as it has already tapped into the benefits presented by Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) through Mobile Telecommunication services. Airtel, one of Zambia's leading mobile telecommunications provider connected the area to their network in 2007 and zamtel in 2012 . Potential for other entrants remains immense.
The main stay of the local economy is agriculture and trading. Agriculture is supported by government as already alluded to and buys the produce (maize) through Food Reserve Agency (FRA). The excess produce is sold to private buyers at usually lower prices as compared to FRA floor prices. However, prices generally are determined by the market forces of supply and demand. Trade is mostly cross border into Malawi, where agricultural produce such as beans, millet, maize, chickens, cattle, and goats are exported and in return products such as soap, clothing, cooking oil, sugar and other groceries are imported. Nakonde and Lusaka are other main sources of goods. Financial transactions are predominantly informal due to lack of banking and financial services which presents an opportunity to would-be investors in the identified sectors. Cross border trade is also informal as goods do not pass through the officially manned entry points. Due to its rapidly growing local economy, most products including dairy and beef from neighbouring Chiefdoms find their readily available market in the area. Employment is mostly informal in the agriculture and commerce sectors. The service industry remain highly underdeveloped, although Airtel and zamtel have introduced mobile services to the area which have potential to provide both formal and informal jobs through the sale of their products. Government remains the major employer in the education and health sectors. Booming construction in the country has not spared Muyombe which provide yet another source of employment to the locals. The local economy is further expected to boom with the completion of the road under construction which is to link Isoka and Chama positioning Muyombe as a focal point for business.
The tourism sector in Muyombe remains untapped despite the area having a lot of potential in wildlife. The area is an easy gateway to Nyika National Park from the Zambian side although the roads needs urgent attention. Unlike on the Malawian side, Nyika Park from the Zambian side lacks infrastructural development with lodging facilities almost in deplorable state. Muyombe also provides easy access to one of the highest peak in Zambia known as Mwanda peak.
Skills training and development
Currently, there are no training centers that are churned out from the secondary schools. The only youth skills training center which was established at Musantha Village (3 km from Muyombe) has been closed since the mid 1980s.
- World Search location map of Muyombe
- Bond, G.C, (2012). Historical Fragments and Social Constructions in Northern Zambia: A Personal Journey. New York: Columbia University.