It’s a criminal act of severe magnitude that the British, successive Zambian Governments and the UN have criminally maintained a conspiracy of silence in the murders of 2000 Zambians of a commom religious belief, by Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP in the early 60s.
At a time when the United Nations are raising a lot of dust and rightly so, of murders and displacement of the minority Rohyinga Muslims by the Maynamar Government as a result of their religious faith and ethnicity, the same World Body is maintaining a vehement silence of the genocidal murders of the Lumpa Church members by Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP almost 60 years ago.
The massacre of the LUMPA adherents by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) militia and the Zambian security forces is perhaps the darkest chapter in our history.
The Lumpa Church was a collection of members mainly from the Bemba ethnicity that Alice Mulenga Lenshina galvanized around Chinsali in the Northern Province, into a formidable religious faith that rejected any political alliances and inclinations with the British Colonial Administration, and its fore runner the UNIP Government under Kenneth Kaunda.
The Lumpa faith which colonialists called a sect, also resisted the mainstream Christian faith, in preference for theirs that was a mixture of African indigenous ancestral religions and a brand of Christianity, that tilted more on the old testament Jewish culture. The Church quickly took root in much of Northern Province, Lundazi, Chipata and Lusaka. The lightening speed at which the Lumpa faith netted membership outpaced UNIP’s own drive for recruits resulting in a head on rivalry between the two protagonists that led to several bloody clashes.
It was not however until the Lumpas rejected buying UNIP membership cards,attending political rallies, refusing to sing the National Anthem and saluting the flag, that the UNIP Government marshalled a well planned military assault to crush the resistance of the Lumpa faithfuls, who were only armed with spears arrows and shields to defend themselves from automatic weapons of the Zambian troops.
Malama Katulwendo, a Zambian resident in the UK quotes an unnamed Army officer who witnessed the massacre at Paishuko settlement in Eastern Zambia on August 7th 1964.
“Many of the women and children had stakes thrust into anus or vagina or down their throats – this is how they were tortured to death”.
Katulwendo further writes, “This description is captured in John Hudson’s book, ‘A time to mourn’ in which some official police photographs of the monstrous event depict a man with a stake hammered into his mouth, burnt corpses, and a woman, after being repeatedly raped, had the skin of the inside of her thighs torn off”.
The Lumpa massacre has been Zambia’s dirty little secret which Zambian Governments have a imposed a curtain of silence over this dreadful event for far too long. The Lumpas are buried in mass graves around much of Northern and Eastern Provinces of Zambia. Their history is not taught in schools or tertiary institutions.
Kenneth David Kaunda whose mother Hellen and brother Robert were ironically members of the Lumpa Church, bears the brunt of the massacre of 2000 citizens and a forced exile of approximately 20,000 into the Congo DRC to this date.
There will be no meaningful permanent peace, freedoms, civil liberties and economic progress in Zambia, until the Lumpa question is fully investigated, culprits brought to book, prosecuted, then exhume the remains of the victims and give them a decent burial. It is never too late to seek justice for crimes against humanity committed by Kenneth David Kaunda and UNIP. His much hailed African liberation ‘iconism’ must not launder and shield his criminal involvement in the Lumpa massacre of 1964.
May the souls of the victims of the Lumpa massacre rest in peace.