My Roots

You said something about who you are? Can you tell us more about this?

Hon. Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla: I am Hamisi Kigwangalla, born about 36 years back from a purely Nyamwezi couple. Bagaile Bakari Lumola, my champion and the iron lady who paved the way for my academic pathway and ambitions, and Mahampa A. N. Kigwangallah, an enduring, smart, and intelligent corporate banker who retired as a freelance journalist. My father met my mother in early 70s when he was initially posted to work as an assistant accountant at the formerly National Bank of Commerce Ltd. which was newly opened in Nzega. My mother was then attending her teaching certificate course at the Ndala Teachers Training College which is in Nzega also. They married and soon after my father was to shift to Kigoma on a promotion, unfortunately my mother had just started working at Zogolo Primary School (In Nzega Ndogo) and was denied transfer to move to Kigoma to accompany her husband. This created a lot of imbalances in this young couple and my mother had to quit her job and join her husband. Soon as they settled in Kigoma they realized that my mother had conceived. A few months later, they were blessed to have a baby boy. That boy was me, the man you see today.

My father is of the Kimbu tribe, one of the smaller tribes grouped under the umbrella of the Nyamwezi. He hails from a village in Uyui district called Goweko, Mlimani, where my grandfather, Saidi Mussa Kigwangalla and majority of his brothers and sisters lived, died and were buried. They all were born in a nearby village where their father, my great grandfather Mussa Kigwangalla, and great-great grandfather Kigwangalla wa Mpanda Motto lived, died and were buried. The village is called Chabutwa, and is found in Igalula ward. To date the place that used to host our clan from my great-great grandfather and his grandchildren, and of course the cemetery of our ancestors, remains our property for traditional rituals and prayers. It is normally recognized as “Mahame ya akina Kigwangalla” (meaning ‘a left- place by the Kigwangallas’)

Kigwangalla wa Mpanda Moto is a Kimbu whose history could be traced back to Chabutwa where he and his sibling, Kayumbo wa Mpanda Moto, had a fight after their father died and had to part ways. He remained there with his group of cattle and his brother travelled to Mgandu and later in Salanda, now in Manyoni District and would never meet until their death. Kayumbo settled there and established his clan. Today we have maintained contacts with our vertical descendants from the Kayumbo tree. Most of them live in Salanda.

My great grandfather had three wives (wa Kinyaga, wa Mabalwe and wa Mbehi) and all were blessed with a number of children. I descend from wa Kinyaga, who had six children (Mrisho, Ntonya/Kalilimbe, Silanda, Kabula, Selemani/Kigwangalla and Nyambwa). My grandfather (Silanda) and his siblings, Mrisho Mussa Kigwangalla, Selemani Mussa Kigwangalla lived in Goweko, Mlimani Area while his sisters were married and lived with their husbands and families in other areas. They were all farmers and cattle keepers. My grandfather also married three wives (Binti Jumbe, Binti Seif/wa Kisiva and Binti Iddi/Kasuvi) and all had children. My father is a son of Joha binti Seif/wa Kisiva and is a second born child among the three.

The name Kigwangalla is unique to our clan, and is famously known in that area, and the family is now one of the biggest and widely spread families in the whole of Tabora and the country. There is no district in Tabora region where I do not have blood relatives!

My paternal grandmother was named Joha Binti Seif, and was born in Chabutwa. She was one of the three wives of my cattle-rich grandfather. She was cool and beautiful and she loved me a lot. If it were not for her my fate would have been different. I remember one big story of my childhood that probably spins my destiny upside down. When I was young, I and my young brother were vehemently snatched by our father from our mother soon as they separated. He thought, as I later came to learn, that by doing so he would impose on our mother to move back into his home. Our mother had made a firm decision never to go back to him. So our father was not successful in his mission. He decided to take us back home to his mother and father and he left us there.

My grandfather was a rich and respected man. He was kind of a clan head and there at his home he lived traditionally with a lot of other relatives and children and their families (my uncles, aunties and their children) in the same compound. There we enjoyed the company of other children in a big family. Playing was fun and enjoyable. Coming from a fair and relatively modern family and all the way to the village in a big family, we couldn’t sustain the drastic transformation and therefore succumbed to malnutrition. I was lazy at meals and was hit hard by kwashiakor. My condition deteriorated day after day and no one cared except my grandmother, Joha Binti Seif. She constantly asked her husband, my grandfather, who was a bit conservative, to take me to Kitete Hospital, he refused and instead he opted to offer me traditional remedies. As my condition worsened, one day she took a firm decision, she escaped and took me all the way to Nzega, to my maternal grandparents and where my mother was living. My mother cried a lot on seeing what had become of me and she, together with my grandmother, worked hard to see me getting better. I recovered.

My mother, again, is a pure Nyamwezi, born, grew up and started her career life in Nzega. She is a first born child in a family of three children, all girls. She endured a life of poverty in a fast growing town and had the strength to confront and conquer life alone. She indeed had fought fiercely and managed to raise my siblings and I successfully. It is for this reason that I love and respect her more than the fact that she is my mother and am so proud of her. She sacrificed a lot to provide for my brothers and sisters and I. I am what I am, by large because I wanted to make her happy, because I could often times see how proud she became when I made it big time. I remember when in school I would read hard to pass to just please my mother, who normally would be so happy. She would often times buy me gifts if I brought home excellent reports.

Several times in my childhood I witnessed my mother crying and could never ask why but would just sit beside her, quietly, and feel the pain together with her. I swore to myself that if my passing at school was the only thing that would make my mother happy then failing was never an option for me. I made sure I made it to the top of my class.

Her father is a grandson of a Chief of Usaguzi in a village in Kaliua whose name was Mtemi Lumola Machimu. My maternal great grandmother was a daughter to a Chief (Mtemi) who was married to a businessman from the Rufiji, his name was Maulid Abubakar, who had settled at Mwegelezi (in Uyui District) for religious as well as business missions. He was trading in ivory and salt from the Arab traders. He befriended the Chief and he proved himself valuable to the extent of being granted a daughter from the imperial family! When Maulid travelled on a business mission, the Chief fell ill and called all his family members and announced my grandfather, Bakari Maulid Lumola, who was then about six years old, as his successor. Subsequently, the young man was crowned Chief of usaguzi, and that for the time being, while awaiting for him to grow up to his full capacity as a man and a ruler, his oldest Uncle, Hamisi Lumola (Kanyama) would take the seat as a caretaker. This revelation brought out a lot of mixed feelings among the people of Usaguzi, with some happy and others claiming a son of a man from far (mtoka mbali) would not inherit leadership.

It is said that the uncle became greedy and conspired to oust his father, the Chief, and exterminate his nephew, the young boy Bakari/Lumola. The mission was all set except, on a fortunate occasion, for fear of causing a curse on all the people of the chiefdom for murdering of a young chief, the guards who were ordered to kill the boy and her mother disobeyed the order and instead they assisted the family to flee at night to a far away land. When the husband came, he couldn’t find his family and he shifted to Tabora. When on a searching mission, he fell sick and he passed away.

It is in the traditions of the Nyamwezi, and perhaps most matrilineal tribes, that only the oldest son of the oldest daughter of the Chief would inherit the crown. My grandfather was the oldest son from the second oldest daughter of the Chief. He was, by divine right, the rightful heir to the throne. His oldest auntie, Bagaile Lumola the youngest of the wives of Chief Mirambo, never had any children.
The fatherless family finally settled in Ndembezi village, Igunga district where the young chief Bakari and his sibling, Simba, together with their mother, Nyamizi Lumola and their auntie Sheila Kahabi Lumola (also Mwana Kambala) built their hut and started a new life. On returning to Kaliua, the husband never again met his family. Until they died, my great grandmother Nyamizi and her sister Mwana Kambala never went back to Kaliua or even met their older brother. They also had forbidden their children to ever go there again, for fear of sorcery or murder. My grandfathers went back there when they were old.

The young chief Bakari Maulid Lumola enjoyed education at Tabora School by virtue of being a grandson of a chief. When his uncle was asked by colonialists whether he knew him, he said yes and he approved his enrollment in school. He was few classes higher than the founding president of Tanzania Mwl. Julius Kambarage Nyerere at Tabora School and he served in various capacities in the colonial administration and post-colonially.

My maternal grandmother, whose name was Bi. Mtumwa binti Kibwana wa Jaffar (wa Fahri, wa Mali) is one of the daughters of Maalim Kibwana Bin Jaffar of Machui, Vibambani Tanga. Kibwana bin Jaffar was a first degree relative to Mwalimu wa Kihere (a famous pre- and post-independence prominent politician, and first Member of Parliament for Tanga, a man who chaired the meeting in Tabora which passed a resolution to hold a three-vote election). The decision to yield to this proposal is recognized as one of the wise decisions ever taken by leaders in our country. Maalim Kibwana wa Jaffar had 22 children from different wives, some in Tanga and some from a wife in Ujiji whom he married from a prominent Muslim and feudal lord, Mussa bin Hassan Mussa Masiku (founder of the Kabondo Mosque in Ujiji Kigoma). Maalim Kibwana wa Jaffar wa Kihere is father to the well-known Swahili writer and philosopher, Shaaban Robert. Shaaban Robert is known for his well-written and thoughtful publications such as Kusadikika, Diwani ya Shaban Robert etc.

Mtumwa and her sister, Mariam, were born from Bi. Mwanaasha Binti Mussa Hassan Mussa Masiku, Who was a daughter to a Feudal Lord who found and established palm plantations in Kigoma along the coastline of Ujiji, famously known as Kabondo. He originated from Unguja, where he also left huge coconut plantations, existing to date! He settled in Ujiji on a religious as well as business mission with D. R. Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. To date, we own a good sized piece of farm left as inheritance to our grandmother at Ujiji. Some few years back she donated a good piece of which for the construction of the new, bigger and ultra modern Kabondo Mosque. Mwanaasha was a first born child, followed by Bi. Mwanafatuma. Their Uncle Hemed bin Hassan Mussa Masiku, had five children and among them hails a famous Mwanamsimu ‘Bi Msimu’ (the founder of ‘Warumba wa Nyakanga’ a traditional music band that produced famous marriage songs like ‘ningekuwa kwetu, kwetu milumbani.’ Mwanamsimu was a woman of beauty and glamour. She is dead but her songs and the group in Ujiji, and copycats in other cities live on to date, and are known throughout East Africa.

My maternal Grandfather and his wife, Bi. Mtumwa (the love of my life), who were responsible for the major part of my early years and for the construction of the Hamisi Kigwangalla you see today, lived happily and respectfully and died in Nzega, and are both buried in Nzega town. And to date they remain among the most respected figures who founded Nzega. Every year, since their death, the whole family has gathered in Nzega with friends and neighbours to pray for God’s mercy for them.

This is, in a nutshell, the story of my roots….

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