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Lueji Inherits Her Father's Kingship


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(Lunda/DRCongo)

Lueji (Luweji, Lweshi), mythic queen of the Lunda, was a descendant of the primordial serpent, Chinawezi, and wife of the hero, Chibinda Ilunga.

Hunters from the great lakes in the north crossed the Congo River. Kalundo, chief of that group, a man who had abandoned his own people because his claim there to the succession had been postponed, together with his followers founded a new state called Luba. Others joined them; other states came into being, including the Bungo. The Bungo were divided into distinct peoples, each governed independently by its own chief, who possessed as a mark of distinction the lukanu bracelet, a special insignia that distinguished lord from slave. The chiefs of these peoples were relatives; all respected the most senior, Iala Macu (Iyala Maku, “mother or source of stones”), a name given him because he had been an accomplished hurler of stones. The main residence of Iala was Nkalanyi between the Kalanhi and Kadishi Rivers. Iala, by his first wife Nkondi yamateti, had two sons, Chinguli (or Kinguri) and Iala, and a daughter, Lueji (Luweji Ankonde), to whom her mother's name was given as a surname. The sons were idle and drunken, and the father, as he grew older, concluded that he should not confer the leadership on either of them. At one point, the drunken sons beat their father bloodily. His daughter, Lueji, cleansed and healed him. The dying Iala asked friends and relatives to recognize his daughter as his sole heir. Iala Macu then surrendered the lukanu bracelet to Lueji that it might be placed on the arm of the man whom her heart might choose to be the father of her sons, who would be of her blood and would succeed her. Because Lueji was young, Iala provided for councillors to assist and advise her, and to defend her from her cruel brothers. He died, and Lueji took over, became an effective ruler, and gained the affection of the people. Eventually, she was advised to marry so that the question of succession could be settled. But she could not find a man she loved. Meanwhile, the great hunter Ilunga, son of the late Mutombo, king of the Luba, was hunting, carrying with him the ornamental ax that was his symbol of authority. He and his group came upon the young women of Lueji as they were bathing, and asked them for salt. The women reported the matter to Lueji, who invited the hunters to cross the river and come to her. She had the handsome hunter sit on the stone used by her father as a throne, and she heard his story, how he intended to leave his land. He showed her the ax, and she showed him the lukano bracelet that she had inherited from her father. She asked him to remain there, to teach the Bungo how to use the weapons. He now had access to the bed of the queen, and he now sent his ax back to his home, to Cassongo, his elder brother, informing him that he would not return to assume the leadership. He and Lueji became more intimate, conversing daily. Ceremonial trees were planted around the stone. Convinced that the spirit of her father had sent this hunter to her, Lueji conferred with her councillors, telling them that she wished to marry him: though a stranger, he was a man of high birth, the brother of Kanioka and Cassongo, her neighbors. The councillors and her people agreed to this, fearing that Kinguri would attempt to recover the lukano bracelet. Cassongo received the news favorably. Because Lueji was pregnant and because she feared her brother, she wanted to transfer control of the lukano to Ilunga quickly. The ceremony was completed, and the senior councillor slid the bracelet on the arm of Ilunga. He was given powers in the name of the people to join all the small states into a single state under the authority of his future son who would have within him the blood of Iala Macu. He was told to teach the sons of Lueji to be brave. Lueji's son was born: he was Noeji. Ilunga ruled in Noeji's name, and the people, including Lueji, humbled themselves before him. Some of Lueji's people, including Kinguri, found it difficult to perform these humiliating ceremonies. Kinguri now set about to organize a following, and he killed those who opposed his will. In the end, he decided to leave the country, to go to a distant place and organize a powerful state that would one day destroy the state of Ilunga. He and his followers traveled a great distance. Lueji bore six sons. See also: Chibinda Ilunga, Chinawezi, Tianza Ngombe.

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Subjects: Religion.


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