First of the Central African Professional Hunters, Chumamaboko

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  1. monish

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    First of the Central African Professional Hunters, Chumamaboko

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    First of the Central African Professional Hunters, Chumamaboko.

    At the time that F. H. Melland - a nephew of Prime Minister Asquith, arrived in 1901 on foot at Mpika, North-Eastern Rhodesia in order to take up his post with the British South Africa Company as assistant native collector, Chumamaboko (arms of iron) had for some time been a leading member of the elite elephant-hunting achiwinda clan. Famous in that part of the world for his hunting prowess, he soon attracted the attention of Melland, who wanted to spend as much time as possible on his favourite pastime, hunting. They were to stay together until Chuma’s death shortly before Melland’s departure for England in 1924 when Northern Rhodesia was removed from BSA Company control and administered by the Imperial Government.

    Chuma became Melland’s professional hunter at the same time that the pioneer professional white hunters, the Hill brothers, Clifford and Harold, began conducting lion hunting parties on their ranch in the Machakos area of Kenya. Arguably, therefore, Chuma was the first professional hunter in what is now constitutes Zambia.

    While at Mpika until about 1912, he guided Melland all around the district, venturing far into the Bangweulu swamps and the nearby Luangwa Valley. On the Lwitikila River, which has its headwaters near Mpika, they shot a 116 pounder which today can be seen in the Thring Museum in England, one of the biggest elephant ever taken in Zambia, the record being a 130 pounder with one tusk.

    Chuma followed Melland from Mpika to Solwezi, thence to Kasempa, Kafue and finally, to Mazabuka. And all the time they hunted together. Melland wrote three books, one on elephant hunting, one on the anthropology of the Kaonde in Kasempa district, and one recounting his journey with Chuma and a friend, from Bangweulu to Cairo, hunting elephant on the way.

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    Chumamaboko standing by a Jackson's Hartebeest

    There are a number of fish named after Melland as a result of his Bangweulu fish collections and he made valuable contributions in anthropology and what is now termed development studies. His friends were people like Mickey Norton, perhaps the greatest of all elephant hunters, and J.E. Hughes who operated the first professionally conducted safaris in the Bangweulu and whose classic book, ‘Eighteen Years in the Bangweulu’ is still much in demand.

    Chuma was remarkable in every way. Melland recounts the tale of how Chuma, a man revered by his fellow Zambians, once personally cleaned up the latrines in the labour lines at Kasempa during an outbreak of dysentery, hubris being absent from his character.
     

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