A fiery Pentecostal preacher recently became chief in Northern Province and his ministry has thus far carved out a niche for itself among his people.
He is speeding his throne to heaven, absolutely no doubt, for that is precisely what it means when a chief exudes piety with a capital P, and turns a palace into a religious hotspot where subjects come in search of prayer and salvation.
His name is Maurice Simwinga, the new Chief Chindo of the Mambwe-speaking people in Zambia’s Senga District, Northern Province.
His story is like a nightingale among birds because it is the very thing that controverts the widespread notion that all traditional leaders in Africa are wizards and witches, using charms and human blood to wield influence over territories.
I recently chummed up with Maurice in Chindo Village, spending a week at the chief’s residence to get a lot of perspective on this numinous evangelist who commands ruggedly good looks.
Maurice was installed as the 15th Chief Chindo on May 24th, 2017 by the Mambwe-Lungu Cultural Association (MALUCA), which is currently headed by Chief Mpande.
His predecessor was his uncle, Ellies Simwinga, a pariah chief deposed by the MALUCA for committing 13 atrocities deemed to desecrate the throne.
“I was in Ndola with my family at the time the previous chief was dislodged. We immediately knuckled down to travelling arrangements at the approval of the Mambwe royal family that I was the legitimate successor,” Maurice recalls.
Accordingly, Maurice shot up as the sought-for good deal to restore royal sanity in Mambwe land. He comes from the Simwinga family which is the Mambwe tribe’s royal clan and he is a descendant of Musamvu, the 8th Chief Chindo.
“I hadn’t the slightest doubt when I was taking over that God’s time for my people had come,” he says with a grin.
The Chindo Chiefdom is a relatively vast area that boasts of more than 25,000 inhabitants in a total of 49 villages.
It is in such an environment where Maurice’s fame as a tough votary of Jesus Christ, a voracious Bible reader and a stubborn prayer man has reached epidemic proportions.
He is one of those chiefs—like Chief Mumena of the Kaonde-speaking people in North Western Province—that are not remotely afraid to publicly pledge support to Christianity and assert their faith.
“I am a blood-bought saint of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am not the kind of chief whom people think sleeps in a small house in the graveyard!” he states emphatically.
During my stay at Maurice’s palace, scores of “pilgrims”-cum-subjects kept coming through for prayer.
As a new chief, Maurice attends to the people from a makeshift shelter within the environment of the palace. Here he prays for them, counsels them and preaches the gospel to them 7 days a week!
Lillian Nakazwe, a resident of Chindo Village says, “What we love about this chief is that he is a Christian and a man of prayer… He has no discrimination also.”
Having been born in Senga District to Wellington Simwinga and Lister Nandala, both alive, on 17 July 1961, the new chief’s association with the Christian religion has endeared him to the Mambwe-speaking people under the Chindo Chiefdom.
“He is a signpost of hope,” as Chrisostom Simwinga, an elderly resident of Chindo Village, says.
Maurice says his contact with Jesus Christ in 1982 led him to vow to serve God and subsequently find his place in evangelism.
“I was captain of the first United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Kapiri Mposhi Brigade Company, and yet I had not known Jesus as my Lord and personal saviour. It was until 1982 at the preaching of an itinerant evangelist that I came to be born again,”said the chief.
As if to add a turbulent chapter to his spiritual experience, Maurice got excommunicated from UCZ on grounds that he was preaching faith-healing, deliverance and the message of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
But despite this, Maurice would not stop preaching. Instead, he entered Trans-Africa Bible College in Kitwe to pursue pastoral studies from 1985-1987.
After the Trans-Africa Training, he served with the Apostolic Church in Zambia until 1992, when he founded the Potter’s House Christian Faith Church in Zambia.
In terms of professional qualifications, he is no mere man: he has over 20 qualifications in pastoral ministry, advanced leadership, teaching methodology, training, health, social work, finance, business entrepreneurship, psychosocial counselling (HIV/AIDS) and military training.
Additionally, he is a philanthropist, having personally founded and managed Maurigrace Schools, a robust institution providing free education and health services to more than 700 orphans and vulnerable children in Ndola, Copperbelt Province.
He was the director of Maurigrace Schools until his installation thus committing the administration of the institution to his eldest child.
He is married to Evelyn Simwinga and they together have four children and a grandson.
His reputation as “a chief with the Bible in one hand” has continued to grow, so much so that he says:
“We are currently looking for an independent venue within the chiefdom, where we can be doing more of the Lord’s work! The palace isn’t enough!”
Besides, the chief put up a statue of the cross outside his palace, the explanation being that:
“We are in a covenant with God. The cross is a symbol of the priceless good that God has done for humanity in general and the Mambwe people in particular.”
Maurice doubtlessly demonstrates that traditional leaders can still be steeped in their Christianity while they address themselves to the manifest functions of chieftainship.
Indeed, witchcraft may be found in some African chieftainships, but certainly not in all. Many can readily agree that this chief is dead right on this score!