Friday, 27 April 2012

Farewell to Princess Nakatindi

The Rev Manda, Mrs Manda, Ida and I set out on Saturday morning to Nawinda, the country residence of Princess Nakatindi, who had died after a heart operation on Maundy Thursday in hospital in South Africa. Nawinda is about 10km north-east of Mwandi. Her body had been flown to Lusaka a week later to a State Funeral at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross. She was accorded this honour in recognition of her contribution to democracy and national development. She also gained the sobriquet ‘the People’s Princess’. After the service in Lusaka, she was flown to Sesheke for burial at home.

We arrived in the midst of all the final preparations for the interment and found seats under one of the marquee and tarpaulin shelters. We sat down on some chairs which had yet to be set out in rows, our neighbours were siziba-clad, red-bereted indunas from the Barotse Royal Establishment.

Already gathering as well were the Mwandi Church choirs, the UCZ, Catholic and New Apostolic. The political cadres were assembling too, the men dressed in chitenge shirts and the women wearing chitenge wraps all in their party colours . Interestingly the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, the Patriotic Front, United Party for National Development each had its own choir and they were rehearsing too.

The digging of the grave in the family cemetery about 200m from the house was underway and interestingly much of the manual work was undertaken by trusted prisoners in their green fatigues from the jail at Sesheke who worked together with the Army, Airforce, Police and National Service personnel, who in turn were advised by indunas. A kayatwa, used at royal burials but echoing the temporary shelter made of reed mats used by herdsmen and paddlers in open country was being made. This would be put over the coffin and buried as well. In the meantime we were served a bread roll and hot sweet tea, a welcome breakfast, as we chatted to other mourners and acquaintances.

The Church had lent all its pews for the occasion, they had been collected by an army truck earlier and were now being unloaded. It was discovered that the lectern had been forgotten. Ida and I dashed back in the car with the Church caretaker, Mr Ndopu, to pick it up. By mid-day all the seating arrangements according to precedence and protocol had been completed and we awaited the arrival of Senior Government Officials, Members of the Cabinet and Parliament and other politicians.

The burial service began around 1500h as the Princess’ body, coffin draped in the Zambian flag, was carried by military pall-bearers, accompanied by the Airforce Brass Band to the entrance porch of the house where it was placed for the body-viewing. This is a custom where everyone present at the funeral may file past the body to bid the deceased a final farewell. The body-viewing must have taken the best part of an hour.
The Minister officiating at the burial was Major (Rev) Malcolm Moffatt Nyambe, the Airforce Chaplain, based at Livingstone. The programme began with a hymn and prayer followed by the lowering of the coffin into the grave and the committal. A firing party released three volleys in salute.Each choir was then given the chance in turn to perform, during the proceedings. After the burial came the laying of wreaths, this was led by Mr Sikota Wina, the widower.

Then came the eulogies, the first was given by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Felix Mutati, then came the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Given Lubinda, who represented the President. Mr Lubinda is a nephew to Mr Wina.
Also in attendance was Mrs Mazoka, the widow of Anderson, the first President of UPND. The programme closed with the Benediction.

Princess Nakatindi Wina , nee Mirriam Mbololwa Nganga, was born on 15th February 1945 to Yuyi Nganga and Princess Nakatindi Yeta. She was the first of eleven children and is also a cousin to our Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta. She took the name Nakatindi after her mother’s death in 1972. The name Nakatindi comes from matindi - the islands of grass that break off from the river bank when the water is high.

She attended Barotse National School in Mongu and Maramba Girls Secondary School in Livingstone. She then studied accounts at Evelyn Hone College and later studied Business Administration in Britain. In 1967 she married Sikota Wina, they were a devoted couple and had 5 children together.

A freedom fighter, she was the first female Member of Parliament after independence in UNIP but became a founding member of the MMD whose victory at the polls in 1991 brought about the end of the one-party state. Elected as the member for Sesheke, she served as Minister for Tourism, then Community Development in the Chiluba Government but was unjustly detained without trial for over a year following the alleged coup attempt in 1997. She bore no grudge against Dr Chiluba for this and freely forgave him.

As a fearless democrat, advocate of gender equality and women’s emancipation, she boycotted sessions of the Africa Union Parliament because of the lack of female representation and participation in that body. She was a strong voice for the poor and down-trodden and finally served as UPND MP for Kanyama, an impoverished compound in Lusaka.

She is survived by her husband and five children.

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