The Family of Godefroid Munongo

The lineal ascent of Godefroid Munongo’s paternal side is ancient and heterogeneous. Thanks to a strong oral tradition that has resisted endogenous as well as exogenous challenges; we are able to trace it back to the sixteenth century, the earliest period in which lived Kazyoba, the grandfather of Muhemwa.

The great-great grandfather of Godefroid Munongo was Muhemwa, Kalasa Mazuiri’s father and M’siri’s grandfather. Muhemwa lived in the Busumbwa (modern-day Tanzania), where, like his fathers, he belonged to the elder clan of the Basabaga. In Busumbwa, Muhemwa was a subordinate king to Mwami Mwinula of Bulebe. His village, Kazimana, was located near a creek of the same name that extended into Gombe River, a tributary that flows into the Malagarasi.

Caravaneers , traders, and brave hunters, the Basabaga came to Katanga in migratory waves that began around 1812. The first time Kalasa Mazuiri came to Katanga was around 1832. The second trip was in 1840. Kalasa returned to Busumbwa thereafter, whence he would never return to Katanga. M’siri, his son, returned to Katanga with his own caravan in 1850. These Basumbwa caravans were mostly composed of men. Women were almost excluded because of the risks and dangers these trips engendered. That is why the current Yeke people, with the exception of M’siri and his contemporaries, descended from the Sumbwa from one side only. Almost all of the men married women from Katanga or Luapula.

The paternal grandmother of Godefroid Munongo was Mutari Kabondo Ngoyi, a woman from the Luba tribe, who was originally from Kibanda. Similar to most of M’siri’s brides, she was from Katanga. However Godefroid Munongo’s mother, Luebo Lwa Nkolomba, was from the Ushi tribe on her father’s side. Her mother on the other hand was Kaonde. But being patriarchal, she identified herself with the Baushi people, her father’s parents. She bore four children:  Kalasa Esnat, Munongo Esther, Godefroid Munongo, Masuka Madeleine.

The origins of Godefroid Munongo are rich and ancient. Notwithstanding his multicultural background, the dominant culture in his life was his father’s, the Yeke culture. The fact that he had a connection with the aforementioned Katangese tribes, on virtue of his lineage, is indicative of African family structures, which can be complex, particularly the Yeke culture. His multicultural Katangese roots help us understand his love for Katanga, the country he loved so much until his last breath.