Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets on Saturday, caused havoc at Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival of the Tumbuka ethnic group in Rumphi, and injured many people in the process.
The cadets also blocked the vehicle of the leader of the opposition in Parliament, who is also the President of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Dr Lazarous Chakwera and other opposition party leaders.
The panga-wielding DPP cadets attacked opposition supporters, and left several with life-threatening injuries.
Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe condemned the development and used his personal vehicle to carry Dr Chakwera to the function.
Chakwera blasted DPP’s “culture of disturbing opposition,” adding that violence would not win them votes in the 2019 elections.
“Everywhere we are going, the story is the same: that DPP is intimidating people. It is unacceptable,” said Chakwera.
The DPP cadets were alleged to have been organised by Jappie Mhango, the Minister of Transport and DPP campaign director.
But when contacted, Mhango said the cadets were not DPP members.
Police tried to bring peace at the function by throwing teargas canisters, but to no avail as they were overpowered.
Despite the DPP violence, the ceremony proceeded with dance, recounting of history and beer drinking as the Tumbuka ethnic group celebrated their cultural heritage.
The Tumbuka settled in Malawi in the 15th century, after migrating from Timbktu in Mali. They were Swahili speaking business people, selling jewels, hoes and soap.
The name Chikulamayembe is a corruption of the Swahili words ‘chukuwa jembe’ (take a hoe).
Gonapamuhanya was the first Chikulamayembe to settle at Bolero, where the Chikulamayembe chieftaincy is today.
The present Chikulamayembe, Walter Gondwe, took over the throne in 1969 in an acting capacity after Chikulamayembe the 11th (John Hardy Gondwe also known as Ziwange) was sick.
In 1977, Walter was crowned Chikulamayembe the 12th. In 2002, Chikulamayembe was elevated to senior chief. And in 2007, he was made Paramount Chief.
In 2012, his son Mtima Gondwe was unveiled as acting Chikulamayembe at a similar event.
Gonapamuhanya is commemorated every year.