Chief Mweenda's Ziliango

Samson Mwiinga steps from the hut


And thus becomes what he has long since been:

The silent chief.


And straight to prayer surrounded by the clan

Of stamping, ululating hordes,

Ecstatic with their spears:

Cadenzas praise.


To prayer before the sacred shrine

Of rough and twisted palings, some now rooted

By the centuries

Of twelve long generations.


A pause for the mere parting of the lips

In slow deliberate appeal to his own shades

With their accumulated heritage,

To possess him now.


The thunderous roar of ceremonial drums

Translates his prayer to ancestral. spirits

Hovering to indwell the chief as he passes

Through his gateway in the shrine.


On the installation of the new chief at the ziliango - the sacred shrine, where the Tonga people communicate with the  mizimu (shades or spirits of the departed)




September 1973