In the Kazungula District of Southern Province lies the rural Mukuni Village. It is just seven kilometres from the world heritage site of Victoria Falls and was founded in the thirteenth century by Bedyango the Leya Tribal Matriach, it was originally called Gundu. However it was renamed in the seventeenth century to Mukuni Village after and in honour of Mukokalya Mukuni N’gombe.
Mukuni Village is situated on a dry, sandy knoll and has a population in excess of 8000, it is the main village of the Mukuni Chiefdom. The soil is relatively infertile and they cannot rely on agriculture; therefore they have turned to tourism. Mukuni Village is now a tourist destination, introducing an insight into the Leya people’s cultural inheritance; with a wonderful developing curios market, selling intricate wood carvings, stoneware, jewellery and baskets.
Over 100 villages are scattered throughout the Mukuni Chiefdom, with twelve schools and four rural health centres at Mukuni, N’Songwe, Katapazi and Mahalulu. The Butterfly Tree built the first high school and special education unit in the District. We have built entire new schools at N’dele, Chuunga and Malima and besides Mukuni we have expanded or supported the schools at N’gandu, Kamwi, Katapazi, Siamasimbi, Manyemuyemu, Libala, Mulindi, Chaba and N’songwe.
It is possible to go on a cultural tour of Mukuni Village and see a traditional way of life. We encourage visitors to first contact The Butterfly Tree so that we can arrange a personal tour. If you have already made arrangements please take time to visit our projects when looking round the village, so that you can see first hand the difference that has been made at the school, the health centre and within the community. As a result of the visit numerous people from around the world have offered support, some sponsor an orphan, others have funded a bore hole and provided vital funds for our malaria prevention programme.
For centuries the Leya people in Mukuni Village have lived a peaceful, traditional tribal life but like much of Southern Africa the village has been decimated by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Being in a tourist catchment area, close to Livingstone and the Zimbabwi border, Mukuni is vulnerable. However Chief Mukuni, along with The Butterfly Tree is working hard to advance the education; which he believes is the key to overcoming the problems caused by this devastating disease.