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Friday, 11 October 2013
Ancient Rulers Of Victoria Falls
In the beginning, long before Dr Livingstone, the Victoria Falls area was ruled by a girl. A descendant from the Rozwi Empire.
The beauty and wonder of the falls spoke to this 13th Century Toka-Leya high priestess called Bedyango, who erected shrines around the falls and built her village where Mukuni Village stands today. Perfectly perched on a hill, overlooking the spray from the falls.
Over the next four centuries the Bedyango performed rituals to avert disaster during wars, droughts or epidemics. This strong female reign would continue here until the end of the 17th Century when a man arrived from the Luba- Lunda Empire of Kola in the present day Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mukuni N’gombe was quite a figurehead. A statesman, diplomat, conqueror, pacifier, possessor of supernatural powers and empire builder, he had been forced to escape the turbulence engulfing his father King Mulopwe’s Bayeke Empire. Along the way, he installed his sisters, sons and daughters throughout the Central and Southern Provinces of Zambia. He allowed his sisters to get married to Gawa Undi of the Chewa people in the Eastern Province where Nyanje and Sandwe is now found. He travelled all the way to Zimbabwe but encountering raging battles there he ended up in Victoria Falls.
He too fell in love with the area and maybe even more, with the woman he found ruling there. Bedyango and Mukuni first met at Simukale, a shrine where a podium was erected to ensure that everyone could keep a beady eye on the newcomer. A deal was struck.
A wedding would take place, followed by a dual monarchy that featured a female ruler with exclusive powers over agriculture, land, culture, birth and death rites and a male ruler in charge of all political, economic, defence and judiciary matters. Bedyango would also assume all powers in the absence of the chief and during a transitional period.
She officiated and still does, during births, marriages and deaths. To this day the Bedyango has a final say on the choice of a new chief. Talk of absolute power!
The Simukale shrine still stands.
The Mukuni and Bedyango empires still rule the area together.