History Of Malawi

The History of Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Willard Bvalani Gomani

By Madalitso Kaludzu Nzanani – Jele

28th August 2020


This article is about the historical of Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani Maseko son of Zitonga Gomani Maseko whose headquarters is Ntcheu at Lizulu.  It is not about the history of Ngoni. It is not about the Ngoni language or culture, although elements, as they impact on this article, may be touched upon. Though the article mentions present day situations, these are for the sake of comparison and context. The article really does not aim to go into events that occurred.

The sources were originally through oral means, it is possible there may be a few differences in sources of events and when they happened.  I collected the information when I was doing research about Ngoni tribe.

Early life of Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani – Sleeping Ngwenyama

Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was born in October 1918 and his mother was Nkosikazi Isika, the daughter of Inkosi (Chief) Chakhumbira Ndau.  MaiKosi Nandau had seven children.  These are Bambo Willard Bvalani, Bambo Chezani, Bambo Samson, Bambo Hastings, Bambo Titus, Bambo Saulosi and Bambo Simasi.

Willard Bvalani Gomani Maseko is from the Royal family, and he is identifiable by their Totem or Mfunda. In the case of Gomani, who is a Maseko Ngoni, the totem is Maseko, Mgwagwa, Khoni. Not anybody born in the royal family can become a King. It is only the Males with the Royal Clan totem who are the eligible candidates and not the females. 

He was a descendant of Mputa and Chikuse, becoming paramount Inkosi Ya aMakhosi III of the Maseko Ngoni in Malawi of the Maseko Ngoni of Ntcheu, southern and central Malawi, from 1954 to 2006.  He was the first born son of Bambo Zitonga Gomani who was Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II. 

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi (chief of chiefs) Gomani II was born Zitonga (child of knobkerries) at Mawe or Chipiri in Mozambique in 1893 and he became Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II from 1921 to 1954. His mother was naNgondo, junior wife to Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani I, also known as Chatamthumba.  Gomani died in 1896 while Zitonga was 3years old, Chakhumbira Ndau was chosen to act as Regent up to 1921 when Zitonga was installed Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II.

Under the Native Ordinance of 1933, Zitonga, now using the Christian name of Philip, was officially recognized as the Paramount Chief of Ntcheu district.

Bambo Willard Bvalani, went to school like any other ordinary African boy.  All his schoolmates knew that he was of royal blood.  He finished his schooling at Malawi Seventh – Day Adventist Mission in standard 7.

Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani starts working.

After school, he was employed as a clerk/Cashier in the Nyasaland Government for 10years.  He ended his service at Kasungu Boma as the Head Clerk.  In the later years of the Second World War he joined the 1st Kings African Rifles (KAR) Battalion where he served for 9 months as a “signal man”, a job that requires tact and great caution.

In the late Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II – Bambo Phillip Zitonga was at that time a Inkosi (chief) that needed the assistance of a young man so that in 1952 Bambo Bvalani Willard Gomani started to assist his father most actively.

Resistance to Federation, arrest – Bambo Willard Bvalani

It must be noted that it was in 1952 that Bambo Zitonga – Gomani II became a member of the banned Nyasaland African Congress.  It was in 1952 that the imposition of Federation was being rushed through by the Churchill government in Britain in League with Roy Welensky and his henchmen.

He was also one of the few leaders to have stood against the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II totally opposed to the Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia, he was supposed to be part of the delegation of chiefs to London to oppose its institution. But because of poor health, his son Bambo Bvalani Willard represented him.

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Bambo Willard Bvalani acted for his father in 1952, in the Provincial Council of chiefs, Protectorate Council of Chiefs and later in the Supreme Council of Chiefs.

Of the chiefs that opposed the Federation to the hilt, together with the African National Congress, Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was foremost.  He was a member of the combined delegation of chiefs and congress to go to London and protest at the then likely imposition of the Federation in 1952.

The people of Ntcheu sent Bambo Willard Bvalani Maseko with other chiefs to United Kingdom.  He represented his father.  Ngwazi Dr Hestings Kamuzu Banda first met him in the United Kingdom where he went with other chiefs in opposition of the Federation

This delegation met some key figures in London including Reverend Michael Scott at the African Bureau and Cannon Collins of Christian Action.

Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani Maseko did not waver and in 1953, after Federation had been imposed by Churchill and company, he, together with other chiefs like Inkosi Mbelwa and Chief Mwase passed a vote of no confidence in the British Government.  Together with Congress and other chiefs they declared non – cooperation with the Settler Government in Zomba.

In the midst of the chaos, Gomani and heir to his throne, Willard, together with Reverend Michael Scott, escaped into Mozambique where they hid near Villla Courtinho. Michael Scott was visiting the chief’s court when this happened. They were arrested by Mozambican authorities and handed back to the authorities in Malawi. Scott was declared a prohibited immigrant and deported.

This was in 1953 after Reverend Michael Scott had been deported and Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Phillip Zitonga Gomani, had been subjected to incalculable trouble despite, his evident illness.  Even after Phillip Zitonga Gomani had been deposed, Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was undeterred in the fight against the Federation although he personally risked imprisonment.

Imprisonment itself came, however, after he had been charged with obstructing the Police, in 1953.  On 8 June a Monday, Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani and Bambo Samson were brought up for examination by a magistrate in Zomba with obstructing the police in the execution of their duty. 

It was alleged that while the police were attempting to arrest Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II – Phillip Zitonga Gomani it was the two Princes who had organized the crowd which for some time held the police at bay.

On the second court sitting of the case on Thursday 11th June 1953, Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was convicted and sentenced to 7month imprisonment with hard labour (I.H.L.)

At the death of Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II on 12th May 1954 “izulu idilikile” at Malamulo Mission Hospital,  Bambo Willard Bvalani became Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gokani III.  He and he alone showed where to bury the dead Ngwenyama.  After burial Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was given a spear and shield and was made to stand on the fresh tomb “Lidiwa” of his father.  All knew they had a new Chief and they shouted “Bayethe!”

The people readily wanted Bambo Willard Bvalani Gokmani Maseko to be Ngwenyama – Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III in place of his father.  His father too wanted his elder son to be the Inkosi after his death.  Amakosana and elders liked him.  Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani Maseko was very active.  He helped his father in all the fields of his chieftainship.

After his release, he rejoined the fight against the Federation and he worked tirelessly.  When the state of emergency was declared in 1959 on 3rd March, Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was one of those important chiefs that were arrested and detained.

He was released 9 months later in October 1959.  Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was a demined fighter, brave, and courageous man even in the most difficult circumstances.  He was honest.

When Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was released in October 1959 he was restricted to Ntcheu till 27th September 1960 when the great Dr Hestings Kamuzu Banda formally presented the fourteen “Camp Finalists” to the assembled thousands at Nkhotakota.

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Bambo Willard ranks amongst the top of the respected and honored chiefs, in Malawi.  He was a chief that was widely read and widely traveled.  He has been to places like Scotland, England and here in Africa, he visited Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.  He also accompanied the Life President to the Lancaster House.

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Willard Gomani III was the first Member of Parliament (MP) for Ntcheu in the Parliament of Malawi after His Excellency the Life President had totally destroyed Federation and brought Freedom for his people.  Willard Gomani was swan as MP on 27th September 1961.

Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani was committed to developing Ntcheu district through the activities of the Ntcheu District Assembly, he spearheaded self–reliance development projects and some of the notable ones are the construction of Ntcheu Secondary School, Ntcheu District Hospital, Preservation, protection, and promotion of Maseko Ngoni Cultural Heritage and identity were also some of the great concerns of Bambo Bvalani Gomani .

Willard Gomani ceased to be a Member of Parliament in 1966 and concentrated the duty as Inkosi.  The throne remained vacant for twelve years because the British objected to the resurrection of the Gomani title.

Prince (Bambo) Bvalani Willard Gomani Maseko, subsequently was crowned King of the Maseko Ngunis on the approval of the Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who was then President of Malawi. He became Gomani 111, and was crowned king.

Lizulu, the headquarters of the Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani was the stopping place during all the journey that the great His Excellency Dr Hestings Kamuzu Banda made from Lilongwe or Kasungu to Blantyre or from Blantyre to Lilongwe. 

It was in 1958 that Dr Hestings Kamuzu Banda paid his respect to the sleeping Ngwenyama (Phillip Zitonga) at his graveyard at Lizulu.  It was the mother of Bambo Willard Maseko, MaiKosi who did the most unforgettable act in cloaking with a leopard skin the Ngwazi H. Kamuzu Banda when he landed at Chileka airport for the first time to come and liberate us and pronouncing him the Ngwazi (hero), for having fought the British and returned Malawi to the people of Malawi.

Bambo Willard Gomani Maseko married Ethel Phambala a lady from Ntcheu.  He had 11 children with the big wife and the big mother Inkosikazi namely: Bambo Margret (F),  Bambo Idesi (F), Bambo Rosemary (F),  Bambo Jinny (F), Bambo Boy (M), Bambo Catherine (F), Bambo Kagina (M), Bambo Simasoni (M),  Bambo Kanjedza (F), Bambo Josophine (F), and Bambo Chidyaonga (M).  Bambo Kanjedza the fourth born son became Crown Prince.  According to Ngoni custom in Ntcheu, Children of the Ngwenyama are given the honorific title of “Bambo” which literally means father whether they are male or female.

Death of Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III – Bambo Bvalani Willard Gomani

Bambo Willard Bvalani Gomani Maseko – Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani III went into a deep sleep on 26th October 2006 “izulu idilikile” at the age of 88 years.  He was buried at Lizulu in accordance with Maseko Ngoni Tradition Custom and Culture.  His body was wrapped in cow skin while sited, and nyongo ritual was done as well as buried.  He was not cremated because his father Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani II – Zitonga Phillip and grandfather Ngwenyama – Gomani Chikuse were not cremated

He was a man of strong character.  He is specially remembered of his patriotism, loyalty to his people, love and to the principle of freedom.  The history of his clan and his ancestors shows that he was courageous.

King Gomani 111, still referred to as Paramount Chief (Ngwenyama), by the establishment, had been regarded as the most powerful, most liked, and also highly liked and respected and even feared leaders in Malawi.

The time Ngwenyama Bambo Willard Maseko died, Crown Prince Kanjedza Maseko was serving as a senior officer in the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), and his Sister Mrs. Rosemary Malinki  (Bambo Rosemary Gomani Maseko) was appointed as a regent from 2006 until Bambo Kanjedza Maseko’s retirement, and coronation was on 21st June 2008 as Inkosi Ya aMakhosi Gomani IV.

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