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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Zambia… the Nc'wala Ceremony and the Ngoni People

During the last weekend of February a variety of Zambians will gather at Mtenguleni Village in Chipata district of eastern Zambia. They religiously congregate every year to celebrate the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni people.

And what do they expect? The usual highlights… roasted meat, drinking homemade beer, the stomping feet dance by bare-breasted women, the menacing ‘warriors’ doing their war dance and the ‘fierce blood-drinking’ chief. Chief Mpezeni is the Inkosi Yamakosi (chief of chiefs) the Ngwenyama (lion) who’ll be the main spectacle of the ceremony.

The 25th Nc’wala ceremony, which takes place on February 26, is meant to pay homage to the Ngoni people’s ancestral spirits. It is a celebration they first did during their flight from King Shaka Zulu the warmonger of KwaZulu Natal in the 1800s. Their run brought them to Zambia. In 1835 they crossed the mighty Zambezi River into Zambia during a spectacular eclipse of the sun. The Ngonis also praise God for the year’s first fruit from their gardens.

On hand will be Chief Mbelwa from the neighbouring Malawi. Other chiefs will come from Mozambique and Swaziland. Many other Zambian chiefs have been invited too …and of course politicians as usual will be ‘politicking’ :-)

Ms Priscilla Jere, the Deputy Publicity Secretary of the National Nc’wala organizing committee has confirmed that, ”All is set and people should expect thrills at this year’s ceremony…which is expected to be better than in the previous years.”

On Saturday February 26, the main day of the ceremony, Chief Mpezeni will be led to the main arena where song and dance will continue. There’ll be the bare-breasted women accompanied by the menacing ‘warriors’ doing their war dance. This will be spiced with the slaughtering of a bull using a spear. Then the momentous occasion! Chief Mpezeni will wrap it up by ‘drinking’ some of the bulls’ blood off a shallow dish. And of course all the drinking of traditional beer and enjoying of the braii (roasted meat) will continue.

For those who have not been to the Nc'wala ceremony Mtenguleni Village will surely be the destination this month end. See ‘u’ there!


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