SOME Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eastern Province have protested paying homage to dead ancestors in mandatory contributions towards the hosting of the Ngoni’s N’cwala traditional ceremony.
In a petition to the Constitutional Court, Patrick Vumisa and 14 others of Magodi Vumisa village in Chipata have challenged the directive by N’cwala organising committee to order a mandatory contribution of K1 per person towards the financing of the traditional ceremony.
The petitioner, on behalf of 14 members of the Khova Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, complained that the ceremony involved traditional practices which were not in conformity with their faith.
“The N’cwala traditional ceremony involved paying homage to dead ancestors for the bumper harvest for the year and the Paramount Chief is given the first fruits to taste.
“The N’cwala traditional ceremony also involves slaughtering a black bull, cutting its throat and draining out blood which is collected and given to the chief to drink some of it.
‘‘The petitioners find the N’cwala traditional ceremony to be in conflict with their Bible-based beliefs on blood and ancestor worship which the Bible condemns,” he said. Mr Vumisa and his colleagues have declined to contribute the K1 fee demanded as it would mean they were indirectly supporting spiritualism and dead ancestor worship against their faith.
They charged that their refusal to participate in the unbiblical practice has infuriated the people in the area, where the chief summoned them and ordered them to do manual labour at his farm as well as pay one goat each as punishment.
“That some of the petitioners have already worked on the chief’s farm out of fear but have not paid a goat each.
He charged that they were obedient subjects of the chiefdom and had supported all community projects which were not in conflict with their Bible-trained consciences.
They charged that no Zambian law authorised chiefs to levy fees on subjects towards traditional ceremonies and that the directive to support the N’cwala was contrary to their freedom of conscience, contravened Article 19 of the Constitution and was illegal.
‘‘The chief’s pronouncement that all those who will not pay the fines in full will have their farmlands repossessed and their place of worship demolished and chased from the chiefdom is equally unlawful and unconstitutional as it infringes Article 16 of the Constitution and the UN international covenant on civil and political rights to which Zambia is a signatory,” they submitted.
They have applied for an injunction to retrain the respondents from infringing on their constitutional rights until the determination of the matter before court.