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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Zambia Safari Graces Mutomboko Ceremony

This Friday, July 30 2005 signals the start of the Umtomboko Ceremony. And Zambia safari will be at hand to give homage to senior Chief Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people. The chief will lead his people in celebrating this year’s Mutomboko at his Royal Palace, at Mwansabombwe village and Zambia’s largest village…

Already the Lundas are fired up and geared to start the traditional songs and dances. Well, lets not forget to mention the eating of that tasty, traditional chicken and of course the fish. Why “Mutomboko” and the fish? Most of the Luapula Province lies along a river valley of the same name (Luapula River). The river drains the Lake Bangweulu Africa’s tenth largest wetland and home to the endemic black lechwe.

But about the fish taste; one Lunda friend of mine told me once that he could eat fish every day of the week so long the dish is “concocted” differently every time.

But I digress…

Right now scores of Lunda people are preparing enthusiastically for the ceremony…and they get very excited by now. It’s as if it never happens every year.

And what is it all about “Mutomboko”? It’s significance? The ceremony is an annual celebration to remember the victories of Chief Mwata Kazembe when his great kingdom migrated en masse into Luapula Province of Zambia. He probably was under pursuit from the present day D R Congo in the second half of the 19th century.

On the day of the ceremony and this year it will be at the weekend, the chief gets dressed in a colourful long dress. He’s carried on a special chair attached to two poles. It is tastefully designed with royal colours. Men are specially chosen to carry the chief into the main arena. And the crowd, expectant and primed for the ceremony, will be waiting.

At the main arena His Royal Highness Chief Mwata Kazembe dressed in bright blue, white and red colours will gracefully rise from the royal chair after it’s been put on the ground. Then he will start his royal dance. His dancing around the arena will be followed by the booming sound of a muzzleloader gun. On the other side young dancing girls in blue skirts and white blouses busy ‘doing their thing,’ …dancing gracefully. This will be after many days of training in dancing the Lunda way...

Mutumboko is one of Zambia’s major traditional ceremonies.


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