Each year in Zambia’s Western Province the Litunga – the King/Paramount Chief of the Malozi people, moves in a symbolic ceremony known as the Kuomboka (“get out of water”).
This ancient ceremony celebrates the move of the Litunga from his ‘summer’ home at Lealui in the flooded villages of the Barotse Floodplain, to his ‘winter’ home in Limulunga on the higher ground, until the flooded plains subside in June/July. The festive event is celebrated each year at the end of the rainy season (around March/April) when the upper Zambezi River floods the plains of Western Province. The Litunga decides the date for the ceremony a few weeks beforehand after considering the level of the floods, the availability of food and the phase of the moon.
The Nc’wala ceremony is celebrated by the Ngoni people who are found in the Eastern Provice of Zambia in the Chipata District. The Nc’wala is a thanksgiving ceremony held every year at Mtenguleni village. This ceremony gives thanks for the first harvests of the season. This ritual ceremony has been passed on to current generations by Ngoni ancestors who originated from old Zulu culture.
For the Ngoni, the start of the rains, usually in October or November, means the new year has come. Land is cultivated, seeds planted and at harvest a sacramental meal and celebration is offered to the Chief, God and the ancestors. After many weeks of preparation events are enacted in a series of events that give respect to the Chief. Specially selected and well-rehearsed dancers perform at the entrance of the Chief’s palace. There is poetry, drumming, theatre and very colourful sites. This is a very popular event and there are visitors from far and wide, including political and business leaders.
The Kulamba Ceremony of the Chewa people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia was held at Mkaika Palace, home of Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi XI in Katete, Eastern Province. The ceremony, which takes place in the last week of August, pays homage to the chief and God for the good harvest and serves to unite with the ancestors. The Kulamba reflect the three principal political roles held by the Chewa King: Kalonga – one who identifies and installs others into office; Gawa – one who allocates land and shares wealth; and Undi one who protects citizens. The Nyau-masked dancers, understood to be spirits of the dead, are a popular feature, where they perform the Gule Wamkulu (Big Dance) of Chewa traditional life.