By Leah Komakoma Kabamba
MAMA Chikamoneka, renowned Mama UNIP, was born Julia Mulenga Nsofwa in Kasama in 1910 to a British Army African Sergeant who served in the First World War.
At 28, she and her husband migrated to Lusaka to seek employment.
Mama Chikamoneka became one of the pioneers of political engagement and activism for freedom from colonial rule. Her courage, bravery and pride won her fame and respect among women countrywide. She encouraged fellow Africans to determine the political destiny of their country.
In 1948, she and other freedom fighters formed the Northern Rhodesia Teacher’s Welfare Association, led by David Yamba, which was later transformed into a political party called Northern Rhodesia African Congress. Late Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, who had just returned from studies in London, assumed its leadership.
In 1951, political activism heightened and Mama Chikamoneka became a founder member of the Women’s Brigade.
After the transformation of Northern Rhodesia African Congress to African National Congress, the members sensed inertia in terms of activism, leading to the formation of a breakaway named Zambia African National Congress (ZANCO).
Mama Chikamoneka mobilised several women to join ZANCO, believing there was need for a more aggressive group with a sense of direction.
ZANCO was later banned, its leaders arrested and detained but Mama Chikamoneka, with other women like Mama Betty Kaunda, Emelia Saidi and Mandalena Mumba, organised a new political party, African National Independence Party (ANIP).
They petitioned the colonial authorities over the starving families of the detained leaders and also fought legal battles for their release.
She was often arrested for inciting other citizens, hence she sometimes faked her name to Julia Chikamoneka Ico Mutusakamikila (meaning Julia, the secret of oppressing us shall be revealed).
In March 1960, Mama Chikamoneka, with other women marched to the District Commissioner’s office where they intruded and slapped him. She, Emelia and Mandalena stripped to the waist before marching to the City Airport.
Mama Chikamoneka continued providing leadership to the Women Brigade until its transformation into Women’s League at independence in 1964.
Around 07:00 on March 20 1986, Mama Chikamoneka passed on at the age 76.
At her death, fellow freedom fighter Mama Kankasa described her as ‘a torch bearer of the Women’s League.’