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Bishop Joseph Dupont, 1850-1930 Bishop Joseph Dupont, nicknamed Moto Moto ('fire fire') by the Bemba people was a French Catholic missionary pioneer in Zambia's Northern Province (then part of North-Eastern Rhodesia) from 1885 to 1911. He persuaded the Bemba, feared by the Europeans and by neighbouring tribes, to allow him to become the first missionary into their territory around Kasama. At the time the British South Africa Company (BSAC) chartered by Britain to administer North-Eastern Rhodesia was not in control of all the territory.[1] Contents 1 Origins 2 Early years in Africa 3 The Chieftainship succession crisis 4 British control of the Bemba 5 1900-1930 6 References Origins Joseph Dupont was born in Geste, Maine et Loire, France on July 23, 1850 to a peasant family. After a short and quite successful military service, he studied to become a member of the Catholic White Fathers missionary society now called the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. He then taught at the College of Saint Louis of Carthage at Thibar in Tunisia. He was sent to Karema Mission on Lake Tanganyika in 1892.[2] Early years in Africa The White Fathers arrived at Mponda west of Lake Nyasa in 1885, and in 1891 moved up the Stevenson Road which had been made to connect Nyasa with Lake Tanganyika, stopping at Mambwe Mwela. They attempted to set up in Bemba lands but the Paramount Chief of the Bemba, the Chitimukulu, was fiercely opposed to any incursion by missionaries. When Dupont arrived at Mambwe in 1895 he found that some of the independently-minded Bemba Senior Chiefs were not opposed, and one of them, Makasa at Kayambi, gave Dupont a foothold in his area in 1895. Dupont tried to expand into the Bemba heartland and though gaining favour from many of the chiefs, was still opposed by the Chitimukulu.[1] A story goes that one day the Chitimukulu (VII Sampa Kapalakasha) sent two warriors armed with bows and arrows to kill Dupont, and they hid to ambush him where he used to shoot guinea fowl. Suddenly a bird burst from the bush and Dupont hit it with a single shot and it landed almost on the head of one of the warriors. This put them in such awe of his power they stayed hidden and did nothing.[3] In 1897, Joseph Dupont was appointed first Vicar Apostolic of the Vicariate of Nyasa, which covered today's Malawi and the whole northern half of present-day Zambia.[1] There are several versions of the origin of the nickname 'Moto Moto' (fire fire). One is that it was in recognition of his energy, another that Dupont smoked a pipe and was constantly calling for a light, another was that it was a Chewa war cry from the Nyasa area, another, more unlikely that he had an early kind of motorbike.[3][2] The Chieftainship succession crisis In 1896 Chitimukulu VII Sampa Kapalakasha died and the title remained vacant while the succession was worked out. Dupont tried to get permission from the most powerful Senior Chief, Mwamba III at Milungu, to expand the mission but was rejected. However in 1898 Chief Mwamba fell ill and sent for Dupont, who had some medical skills and a reputation for healing. Before the chief died the next year he and his council were sufficiently impressed by Dupont's help they asked him to succeed as chief.[4] This provoked a crisis because firstly the coronation of a new chief requires human sacrifices, and secondly a Bemba civil war threatened over the succession of the Chitimukulu. At first Dupont, who had become very knowledgeable about Bemba culture and traditions, agreed to act as chief to forestall trouble,[4] joking that he should take on Chief Mwamba's wives.[2] Meanwhile he gathered support from the 33 subordinate Bemba chiefs for his next action. British control of the Bemba To avoid bloodshed Dupont asked the BSAC administration based in Fort Jameson to take control of the Bemba lands. On 3 November 1898 the BSAC sent Charles MacKinnon and R.A. 'Bobo' Young from Mbala with a force which did the job and paved the way for a new Chitimukulu and Chief Mwamba to be installed and eventually led to a BSAC boma being based in Kasama.[5] Despite the fact that this must have been one of the few occasions in history when a Frenchman pushed a territory into the British Empire,[6] MacKinnon in particular was opposed to Dupont's presence in the country, not only because of the strife which it caused with the Chitimukulu, but also because protestant missionaries of the London Missionary Society had set up in Mackinnon's district of Mbala and there were some rivalries with the White Fathers. To Dupont's amazement Mackinnon told him that he had no permission to remain there, according to orders of the new Administrator, Robert Codrington. Dupont protested that it was he who had opened up the Bemba to British control, and he stayed put. Codrington accepted the reality of the situation, and as a gesture of reconciliation and gratitude invited Dupont to sit beside him at the installation of the next chief in 1899.[5][7] 1900-1930 In 1899 Bishop Dupont founded the Chilubula Mission enclave which still stands today near Kayambi.[1] Later he had some quarrels with colleagues who found his discipline too military and who felt he devoted to much attention to the Bemba and not enough to many other groups living in the huge area of the Vicariate.[2] He left for Thibar in Tunisia (North Africa) in 1911 where he died in 1930 and was buried there. His remains were re-buried at Chilubula at a ceremony in 2000.[8] The Moto Moto Museum in Mbala is named in his honour. References ^ a b c d Website of the Catholic Diocese of Mpika: "Brief history of the Catholic Church in Zambia." Accessed 25 March 2007. ^ a b c d Dictionary of African Christian Biography website" "Dupont, Joseph". Accessed 15 March 2007.] ^ a b Great North Road website. Related by Heather Chalcraft, publisher of Zambia Lowdown magazine, December 09, 2002. Accessed 25 March 2007. ^ a b New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia website: "Nyassa", accessed 26 March 2007 ^ a b Carmody, Brendan: "The politics of Catholic education in Zambia: 1891-1964". Journal of Church and State, 22 September 2002. ^ Origin of this remark uncertain — possibly Professor David M Gordon or recounted by him. ^ The Northern Rhodesia Journal online at W. F. Rea, SJ: "Bishop Dupont and the Bemba". Vol V, No. 6 (1964) pp 617-618. This article includes correspondence between Dupont and Codrington refuting the contention by some writers that Dupont actively sought the Mwamba chieftancy. ^ Catholic Diocese of Mpika website: "Bishop Joseph 'Moto-Moto' Dupont" accessed 26 February 2007