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.’


About lkomakoma2001

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  1. She was our pride as women and we the children of the zambian soil salute her mwabombeni mama says:

    We the chuldren of our motherland Zambia salute our mother mama chikamoneka our african pride and diva mwabombeni mama

  2. vwambanji says:

    oh thank you so much. was looking for info on her. thanks for this really.

  3. chabala says:

    she was a hero.let the women emulate her dids

    • Martha Maengeni MATE-MADE says:

      Interesting information on ba Mama Chikamoneka. Unforfunately justice in tthorough research into the life of this dynamic woman has not been done. I speak from the point of view of the fact that my mother is a niece of ba Mama Chikamoneka!!My mother’s father was ba Mama Chikamoneka’s brother.
      I remember vaguely growing up as child ba grandma Chikamoneka coming to visit our home in KItwe in 1966/1967 at Congo Way.
      It would be nice if more data was collected of her personal life from her many descendants scattered all over the country before many of these descendants leave this earthly life.

  4. Barbara Nkatya M says:

    Thank you for writing something about my great grand mother Emelia Saidi. She is one woman who also played a big role in the struggle for indepandence but there has never been any mention of her anywhere. I know from what her daughter – my grandmother says about her work in Matero that she was very instrumental though somehow in the background.

  5. Emmanuel Mulenga - Mpika says:

    Atleast our brave heroes are not forgotten. We shall continue to pass this piece of wonderful history to the younger ones. God bless our beautiful nation, Zambia

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