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How traditional ceremonies can be unifying factor

• LITUNGA Lubosi Imwiko II (right) of the Lozi-speaking people with Paramount Chief Chitimukulu when the Litunga made a maiden appearance at the Ukusefya pa Ng’wena of the Bemba people.

TRADITIONAL ceremonies are not only a tourist puller, they also have the capacity to unite people.
History was made on August 18, 2023 when Litunga Lubosi Imwiko II of the Lozi-speaking people of Western Province, landed at Kasama Airport to make a maiden appearance at the Ukusefya pa Ng’wena traditional ceremony of the Bemba people of Northern Province.
The Litunga was invited to be the guest of honour by Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of Mungwi district.
In the past, on some people’s lips was a perception that Bembas and Lozis did not like each other.
But Ngambela Mukela Manyando, who speaks on behalf of the Litunga said “doomsayers” had sown a bitter seed of mistrust among people, which could lead to disunity if left unchecked.
“Cultural exchange will promote regional understanding and foster unity and harmony in the nation. History has been made. Our ancestors look at us with pride as fate dictated destiny,” he said.
Speaking last year, Kuomboka organising committee chairperson Irene Muyenga did not mince her words when she said traditional ceremonies had the power to unite the nation.
Worth noting is the fact that in fact last year’s Kuomboka ceremony was held under the theme: “Unity in Diversity”.
In fact, in October last year, during the Western Province Expo, several chiefs from other provinces, among them chiefs Chibale, Kaputa, Mumena and Chikanta from Central, Northern, North-Western and Southern provinces,among others, attended the event as a mark of unity and solidarity.
Commenting on the significance of chiefs attending each other’s cultural events, House of Chiefs chairperson, Chief Chisunka, of the Ushi people of Mansa District in Luapula Province, believes traditional ceremonies have the power to unite citizens.
“Recently, I was able to attend the Malaila traditional ceremony which was hosted by Senior Chief Nsefu of the Kunda people of Mambwe district,” said Chief Chisunka, who was born from both Ushi and Tonga parents.
Chief Chisunka said since traditional leaders normally attended each other’s traditional ceremonies, it was expected that their subjects should reciprocate.
He said cultural heritage was showcased through traditional ceremonies which were an integral part of preserving culture for the good of future generations.
With about 73 spoken dialects, Zambia boasts of various traditional ceremonies which have always been held in all the 10 provinces until COVID-19 broke out, putting a temporary halt until 2022.
Apart from being a catalyst for unifying communities, traditional ceremonies play an important role in marketing the country’s tourism potential as evidenced by the number of foreign tourists who come to witness these annual events.
For instance, Western Province is endowed with in about five ceremonies, prominent among them the Kuomboka ceremony which is held in April in Limulunga and Lealui under the Litunga.
In Central Province, the notable ones are the IkuiLyaloongo, a traditional ceremony held in senior Chief Shakumbila’s area in Mumbwa District.
The traditional ceremony celebrated by the Sala people is annually held in July.
IchibwelaMushi is held in September by the Bisa, Swaka and Lala chiefs of Mkushi
Musa Jikubi, celebrated by the Kaonde people of chiefs Mumba and Kaindu, is held in September in Mumbwa district.
Kulamba Kubwalo ceremony held in October is a traditional festival by the Lenje of Chibombo District.
The Ikumbi Lya Malumbe-Munyama ceremony held in Chief Chibuluma’a area also of Mumbwa is celebrated by the Kaonde-Ila people and comes up every year in October.
In the Copperbelt Province, Ukwilimuna traditional ceremony is celebrated in July annually in Mpongwe under chieftainessMalembeka’s area.
The Chalabankata traditional ceremony which takes place in November in senior Chief Mushili’s area is one of the spectacular events of the Copperbelt while the Nsengele Kununka celebrated by theLamba people of Mpongwe under Chief Machiya takes place in November.
Eastern Province boasts of Nc’wala under Ngoni Paramount chief Mpezeni of Chipata.
The festival, which takes place in February, is arguably, one of the best known traditional ceremonies.
Other traditional ceremonies which take place in Eastern Province include Kulamba in Paramount Chief GawaUndi’s domain (Katete), Kulonga (Chief Mpamba) of Lundazi, Malaila (Senior Chief Nsefu) of Mambwe, Zengani (Senior Chief Magodi) of Lundazi and Tuwimba (Senior Chief Kalindawalo) of Petauke.
In Luapula Province, the most notable traditional ceremony is the Umutomboko ceremony of the Lunda people under Senior Chief Mwata Kazembe in Mwansabombwe.
Others are Bwilile traditional ceremony in Senior Chief Puta’s area of Chiengi, Kwanga in senior chief Mwewa’s area, Mabila in senior chief Mununga, Chishingamalaila in senior chief Mushota and Chabuka traditional ceremony of the Ushi’s under chief Matanda of Mansa.
North-Western Province boasts of almost 20 traditional ceremonies with the Lunda-Lubanza ceremony of senior chief Ishindi and Likumbilya Mize under senior chief Ndungu( both of Zambezi) being the notable ones.
Others are Chidikachanvula (rain festival) in chief Kanyama and Chisemwa cha Lunda both happening in September and October respectively in Mwinilunga districts.
The other notable one among the Kaondes is the Juba JaNsomo , held in June under senior chief Kasempa.
The famous traditional ceremonies that occur in Southern Province are the Lwiindi Gonde, a festival held under chief Monze and Bene Mukuni ceremony of the Toka-Leya people of chief Mukuni in Livingstone, Kazungula and Zimba districts.
Shimunenga of the Ila people of Maala in Namwala district under chief Mungaila’s area is also one of the famous ceremonies in Southern Province.
Muchinga Province, the gateway to East Africa prides itself in almost 10 traditional ceremonies such as Chinamonga under senior chief Kopa of Mpika, Vinkanimba (chief Muyombe) and Insonge (Chibesakunda) both of Isoka.
In Northern Province, the prominent traditional ceremony is Ukusefya Pang’wena held annually in August under paramount chief Chitimukulu’s area in Mungwi district.
Lusaka Province boasts of at least six traditional ceremonies, chief among them the Chakwela Makumbi which is celebrated every September by the Soli people of Chongwe under Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya’s area.
The above mentioned traditional ceremonies, among others, can all be used as an avenue to unite people.
As earlier stated, after years of tribal talks, especially perpetuated by politicians, traditional ceremonies in Zambia have the capacity to heal and unite people.
This is as espoused by late President Kenneth Kaunda under the mantra ‘One Zambia, One Nation’.