Archaeology and Anthropology
This is an exciting archaeological area with microliths (small quartz stone tools) around our lodge, newly found and unrecorded Late Stone Age schematic rock art, and Iron Age workings within the Mutinondo Wilderness Area.
Nachikufu Cave 53km from the lodge is also worth a visit. The dominant rock art of this region is Nachikufan named after these caves and relics which were first excavated in 1950.
The local population belong to the Plateau Bisa tribe, the mushroom clan renowned for hunting. Their historical lifestyle is well described in the book 'Large Mammals and a Brave People - subsistence hunters in Zambia' by Dr. Stuart Marks, which is available from Amazon.
Like many ethnic groups inhabiting modern-day Zambia, the Bisa people have their origins in the former Lunda-Luba Empire, situated in south-central Congo. Bisa tradition is that it was from this empire, called "Kola" and ruled by Mwata Yamfu, that their ancestors came, and that disputes arising from land scarcity led to their emigration. According to F.M. Thomas' 'Historical Notes on the Bisa Tribe' (1958), the emigration of the Bisa from Kola occurred around the year 1650, but it was not until the early eighteenth century that the Bisa emerged as a distinct ethnic unit.
According to the traditions of the Valley Bisa (the Bisa who settled the Luangwa Valley), the emigrating groups of their own ancestors and those of the Bemba (a sister tribe) remained together until they crossed the Chambezi River. It was here, while the group paused before crossing, that the Bemba built a fish trap and caught a crocodile. When the Bisa found a ford and crossed, the Bemba remained to investigate and consume the crocodile... thus, among the Bisa, the "Ngona" (mushroom) became the clan of Bisa chiefs, and the "Ngandu" (crocodile) became the dominant clan among their sister group, the Bemba.
(Note: The belief amongst our Bisa employees is that there was great hunger at the Chambezi River and the two clans separated over a dispute because a woman hid a mushroom from another woman so she had food for her baby. Hence the "Bowa" clan - which is the local name for mushrooms)
From the Chambezi, the Bisa traveled to the plateau, said to be near Mainza Hill (note similarity to Mayense, our largest inselberg/granite dome), close to the headwaters of the Mutinondo and Mupamadzi rivers and settled there. Old village sites can be found around the Mutinondo Wilderness area, along with evidence of old fortifications where the Bisa hid from invading tribes, visible along the Mafoni Road, an old road to the escarpment.
Apparently the Bisa began to move away from the Mutinondo Area about 100 years ago, because of the attractions offered by the new road, and during a village regrouping scheme by the first Zambian President. The local economy is still very dependent on hunting/poaching of the diminishing wildlife, and Mutinondo Wilderness is involved in trying to assist the Community to diversify.