From the Editor

Mísiri King of the Bayeke of Garaganza December 20, 1891 Ė December 20, 2016

Around the middle of the nineteenth century, the one the whole world would come to know as Mushidi or Mísiri (the earth as in the ground, all the earth), of his birth name Ngelengwa Mukala, accompanied his father Kalasa to Katanga. Kalasa had already come to Katanga to acquire possessions, of which was copper. There, he had weaved bonds of friendship with autochthonous leaders, among whom were Mpande of the Basanga, Katanga of the Balamba, Sompwe of the Bena-Mitumba, Kiniama, and Katala.

Kalasa was of the Sumbwa tribe of Unyamwezi, in todayís Tanzania.

After spending a few years in Busumbwa, Mísiri sought and obtained from his father Kalasa Mazwiri, the authorization to return to Katanga. Mísiri came back to stay with king Katanga who welcomed him with open arms and gave him a place to settle. Mísiri built his first village, which he called Lutipuka. He began to acquire possessions and ascendace in Katanga. However, he also put his life, his mind, his strength, and his weapons to the service of his Ďadoptive fatherí Katanga, and later, other kings as well.

Mísiri fought on their behalf to bring order back to the various realms of their kingdoms. He put down vassals who were in revolt, hunted down the Baluba whose violent raids in these parts of the country were equal to an epidemic against which the local people were defenseless. He thus freed the people who were under the stranglehold of the Lundas of Kazembe to whom they paid tribute. Mísiri went and crushed the armies that were led by Lubabila and Saka Diata, two sons of the Lunda King, killing the former with his own hands.

In recognition to his services, Mpande gave him land and all that he desired, so that he could continue to be their shield against the Lubas and Lundas, and they began to pay him tribute. It is the local kings who made Mísiri King of this country that he would later call Garaganza, a name from Tanganyika that the first Protestant missionaries mispronounced as Garenganze to baptize the mission they had built in Bunkeya. Mísiri kept the different leaders as masters of their respective territories. However, he would send his representatives and would entrust them with keeping an eye on the respect of law and order, and make sure that tributes were paid and warriors were recruited.

While organizing his empire, Mísiri continued to trade. His Bayeke perfected the smelting of copper, and introduced the copper threads in the place of lingots, thus moving towards the semi-finished products. Mísiri sold copper, ivory, and salt to his partners on the Indian Ocean, in exchange for rifles, powder, fabrics, and pearls. Later he would open another commercial road to the west that stretched as far as the Atlantic Ocean towards Luanda and Lobito; in essence he became the first to establish a transcontinental commercial trading route Ďde Angola a contra Costaí.

With a growing population, Mísiri was forced to resettle several times, leaving Lutipuka his first village, and later settling in Kisungu, Kikuni, Kisanga, Mulungwishi, Kyama, Kalabi, Kishimunda, and Lwambo where he was enthroned at the same time as his maternal uncle Mutaka and Kukulu. Later, he settled for good in Bunkeya his last capital, which the English missionary Arnot considered as the ďLondon of AfricaĒ.

It is in Bunkeya, starting in 1884, that the missionaries, along with German, English and Belgian explorers visited him; they came one after the other, Reichard, Arnot, Swan and Faulkner, Thompson, Crawford and Lane, Sharpe, Le Marinel, Legat and Delcommune and finally Stairs with Captain Bodson, a Belgian officer. The latter killed Mísiri before being himself shot by Masuka, the son of Mísiri who died on the infamous day of December 20, in 1891. Bodson would later die of his wounds in Bunkeya.

Mísiri was killed for the sovereignty of Katanga. It is only after his assassination that the Belgians were able to settle fully in the entire territory of Katanga. We will never know how events would have unfolded had Mísiri survived and maintained his power. However one thing we know, with his death, the Belgians acquired one of the richest territories in Africa.

Mísiri was killed, but his memory lives on. His work and his spectacular contributions to the edification of Katanga remain astonishing and are worthy of praise.

Over the years, those who try to vilify this giant of African history have reduced his glorious story to a few snippets. However, each year the Bayeke retell their history to the Yeke youth and guests who join them in solemn commemoration.

Mushidi afwile Kadata
nolo afwe ni muhanga!
Mushidi afwile Kadata
Nolo afwe, ni muhanga !
Nolo afwe, ni muhanga !
Nolo afwe, ni muhanga !

Mushidi died for Katanga
Though he died he remains alive!
Mushidi died for Katanga
Though he died, he remains alive!
Though he died, he remains alive!
Though he died, he remains alive!