Lusaka 4: Mukuni Village

Mukuni Village of the Leya tribe is almost 700 years old. The communal gathering point for this village of 7,000 people is a huge tree (Ngnombe Ilede which means sleeping cow because of the shape of the trunk of the tree) right in the center of the village, this is the village place to talk and socialize.

#7 #8 #9

The tree is not only renowned for its size but it is famous as the meeting place between the Chief and the explorer, Livingstone in 1855. Normally a visitor would be invited into the Chief’s residence but having had no experience with white people, the Leya tribe thought Livingstone was a ghost and refused to let him in the house. The tree is just a short distance away from the enclosures for the two chiefs –a brother and a sister. Nina (our village guide pointing #10out the Chiefs compound)

Mukuni was founded by a female landowner in the 15th century who, though she made her husband chief, retained ownership of all the land. From that time forward there have always been two chiefs, male and female and always related…brother and sister or uncle and niece, etc.

Today the village has its own school [through the 9th grade] and through the largesse of a German benefactor, it has its own water system. It is divided into four distinct neighborhoods, each with their own name and a separate spigot as a communal watering hole. #11Many new houses were being built – the wood framing is installed by the man, the woman is responsible for obtaining all the grass for the thatching which is done by the man, and then the woman applies the mud finish.  #12Houses can last 25 years and the mud helps to keep the termites out#14

The land is pockmarked with termite mounds…some of which are as high as 6 feet and 3-4 feet wide.


We had a chance to see the women making the local beer –#15which we declined to sample! And we also declined to buy some FOR the men and women sitting around waiting…they drink in separate groups.

#16 #17 #18

Mukuni even has its own jail…a tiny little building#19 that faces the town square so everyone can see the inhabitant. The red, clay dirt is so thick you feel like you are dragging in it. It makes you wonder what they do if their children get asthma.#20

All the villagers are Christians and there are seven churches in the village.

We were able to see a real home setting which includes separate dwellings

#21 #22 #23within the family enclosure for the parents, female children and male children. [Parents should contain their jealousy!] The father of this family was at one time a porter for a former hotel and as such his house contained a television and a radio.

#24 #25There’s no electrical power in the village so they use solar power whenever possible. Even if the government were able to run electrical wires to all the villages, we’re told it would cost the village upwards of $200 USD a month to maintain. This cost is practically insurmountable where $1 usd = 4,500 Kwachas, $100 = K450, 000 and $200 = K1 mil and the average person with a teaching job may only earn about K250, 000 a year or about $60.

As usual, whenever there’s more than two people present a favorite topic is politics. Right now the political gossip in Mukuni Village centers around local dissatisfaction with the male chief. He’s been Chief for 18 years but it has come to their attention that he is making good money off the tourist revenue [fees are paid for tours] but he is not sharing it with the village. #26Now he’s been away for a month, afraid to return home because he might be poisoned!#27 To add to the shame of his actions of late, it was discovered that the Chief went to meet the President of Zambia at the airport which is contrary to the traditions of the President being responsible to meeting each Chief in their village. This act brought dishonor upon the village. It is considered a serious scandal of major proportions. Life is only relevant to the current situation.

Published by MsLadyJae

Joyceann Gray Retired US Army, Author of " Yes We Remember" and "Our DeWitty and Now We Speak" Independent Family Historian and Genealogist has a combined 40 years of service in the areas of communications, Real Estate Appraisal, and marketing. Her focus of combined colligates studies in Communications, Business Management, with a Masters in Psychology. Gray's historical and genealogical research is on her family movements from Virginia to Canada and Liberia. From Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Kansas to Nebraska and from Canada to Nebraska. All during the 18th through the 20th centuries. Her goal is to bring alive the stories of achievements and legacies that her ancestors left for present and future generations. She is an on going contributor to and also a founding member of the Charles Town Researchers. Her personal quote is “You cannot know where you are going until you know who you are, you cannot know who you are until you know who came before… It is only then you will find your Direction and Reason for being.” J. Gray Love of God Family and life! Married to my best friend, I enjoy traveling, researching our families histories and who they were as individuals, also I enjoy cooking and making my family happy.

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