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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Traditional Ceremonies, a Zambian Safari!

Would you have known it? Zambia has numerous traditional ceremonies. But a word of advice! They generally do not follow the normal calendar. The weather elements and a bit of "sniffing" or such related matters bring things to bear on the date… if you get the drift...

But seriously, the timing of most traditional ceremonies depend more on natural factors such as rainfall, the season, the month, etc. If you happen to be around when one of these ceremonies is on don’t miss the opportunity. Seize it! Just ask your tour operators they’ll advise you.

There are more than 21 annual traditional ceremonies cerebrated in Zambia. They generally manifest customs, social life, rituals, oral history, material and spiritual culture. They provide a valuable insight to a traditional culture that has been passed down from generation to generation. One of the most colourful traditional ceremony is the Ku-omboka.

The name Ku-omboka means "to get out of the water onto dry ground". Every year during the rainy season as the floodwater of the upper Zambezi valley rises, the Lozi people make a ceremonial move to higher ground. You should see it .

Remember the “sniffing and things” I mentioned above? The Chief decides that it’s time to leave (anytime from February to May). The drums signal this. The Lozi people are on the move. They pack their belongings into canoes .…and the whole tribe leaves en mass! The chief rides in his royal barge called the "Nalikwanda". It’s got zebra stripes that run up and down and make it look great on the water.

Just imagine the jostling that gets under way when it’s time for the people to get selected for this great honour, the honour to paddle the royal barge. A troop of traditionally dressed Lozis paddles it with pride. It takes about six hours to cover the distance between the wet season capital Limulunga and the dry season capital Lealui,

This crossing when completed successfully is celebrated with traditional singing and dancing. Great traditional beer and all! This ceremony dates back more than 300 years ago.

But alas, this year’s Ku-omboka has been cancelled for lack of sufficient waters in the Zambezi. The rainfall was rather low this last season. How disappointing! But next year is coming.


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