Muslims from Makata Somanje Village in Ndirande, Blantyre on Sunday March 13, 2011 confronted Chief Makata Somanje over allegations that the Chief sold a kabrastan (graveyard) belonging to Muslims early this year to people of Greek origin in order to build a Church.
During the meeting that was held at the Chief”s Residence, the representatives from the Muslims asked Chief Makata Somanje to confirm whether the allegations were true and wanted him to explain on why could he proceed to sell the land without him consulting the Muslim community. The Chief denied any knowledge on the matter.
However, the Chief angered Muslims when he mentioned that the kabrastan, which has been used by Muslims starting from early 1920s up to early 1970s, does not belong to them as far as his knowledge is concerned..
“Let me make it clear [here that] this graveyard does not belong to Muslims. By the way, there is no Muslim who was buried here. If you have history, come forward and prove it to me–am listening,” said angry Makata.
This did not go well with Muslims who were lead by the Muslim Association of Malawi Blantyre District Chairman Omar Aman and his Secretary Abdul Hakim Chirambo and it almost turned the meeting into chaos when many Muslims stood up to give their own history of the kabrastan.
One such Muslim was Mr. Mdoka who with tears in his eyes, explained that his own father, a Mr. Ahmad was buried at the place in 1957.
“I am feeling sorry with the Chief’s statement, how can he say that no Muslim was buried there when my own biological father is down under its earth? I don’t know what to say; I came here in 1951 and my father died 6 years later. And as directed by the then Chief Makata Mr. M’bwana Somanje, we buried him at that graveyard,” said the concerned Mdoka.
It had to take the intervention of some of the Chief’s elders to admit that indeed some Muslims were buried at the place but rejected the assertion that the land was given to Muslims.
This statement was however contradicted by one member from the Chief, the son of the late Makata M’bwana who admitted that the kabrastan indeed belongs to Muslims. According to him, the land used to belong to the grand father of the current Chief Makata Somanje.
“That place is my father’s as you can see those houses close to graveyard, I am the one who sold it to them (the Muslims),” he said.
On the other hand Blantyre Muslim Association chairman Aman Omar described the Chief’s statement as “unfortunate” and promised to do anything to defend the died Muslims. This among others is to go to Tradition Authority Kapeni to present their grievances as well as to take an injunction to stop any activities carried out at the kabrastan.
According to history, the first people to bury each other at the Ndirande Makata kabrastan were Arabs during the early 1920s when they were passing and the chief of the area then directed the Arab Muslims to bury each other at there.