A guide for the overseas self drive, self sufficient, vehicle dependent visitor in Africa

Zambia Traditional Tribal Ceremonies

2009 Highlights

The Ncwala ceremony of the Ngoni people takes place on 28th February 2009

Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People of Western Province will this year take place between 25th March – 10th April 2009 – actual date yet to be announced

The Umutomboko Ceremony of the Lunda people of the Luapula Province during the last week-end of July.


Go to the "Placemarks in Google Earth" page for a download of placemarks in GE for most of the Zambian Traditional Tribal Ceremonies listed below. Locations are not verified. They were determined by the "best guess method" most often. I would appreciate any accurate coordinates and up-to-date information regarding these ceremonies.

N'cwala, Likumbi lya Mize, Kuomboka, Shimunenga, and Mutomboko. While these few ceremonies--named the "big five" based on animal spotting in game parks--are still favored by the tourist board and major sponsors, the shift to multiparty politics brought with it a still-rising phenomenon of annual cultural ceremonies. There are more than 60 annual traditional ceremonies in Zambia, manifesting customs, social life, rituals, oral history, material and spiritual culture and if you have the opportunity to attend one, do. They provide a valuable insight to a traditional culture that has been passed down from generation to generation. The decline of traditional customs and culture has been brought about by the infiltration of the west and western ways and the melting pot of various tribes living in the same areas. There has recently been a realisation of the value of traditions and a conscious effort is being made to preserve them Most of the ceremonies have a deep meaning, in many cases designed to invoke memories of the transformation from childhood to adulthood. Most tribes in rural areas still practice harmless initiation ceremonies for girls which are generally conducted after puberty. They are intended to help the girls make the transition from childhood to womanhood and prepare them for marriage. Only a few tribes still practice male circumcision initiation ceremonies and those that occur happen in total secrecy. The open ceremonies that visitors can watch are those that signify ancient times, when new kingdoms were being founded by ancient chiefs and are usually splendid, colourful affairs with much symbolism in their dancing and drumming. ................Planning in advance can be difficult currently for most traditional ceremonies. Most do not have a set recurring date each year, some not even held annually. If you do decide to go to one of these, be aware that it maybe hot and dusty, and the crowds will be injesting quite a bit of booze. There may be charges for photo permits. But at this time the ceremonies are not on the tourist path, so you maybe part of small contingent of foreigners attending. Try to sneak into the VIP stands if possible. ...............Any tracks accompanying a village location is not a T4A verified route. It has been traced off a topo map and most likely observed also in GE. Things change, and the topo maps are not the most current. *****Known dates of ceremonies in 2007**** -Feb 24th- N'cwla (one of the big 5) near Chipata- -June 30th and 31st - Kazanga (Kathanga) Nkoya Cultural Ceremony near Kaoma, west side of Kafue NP- -June 30th and July 1st - Lwindi Lwa Chandante Mikuni - Village near Livingstone -July 27-29 Mutombuku (Big 5) Mwansabombwe Luapula Province- -Aug 24-26 Kulamba near Katete-- -Aug 24-26 Likumbi Lya Mize (Big 5) NWestern Zambia- -Sept 1-2 Inchibwela Mushi near Old Mkushi- -Sept 26 or Oct 26 Shimunga(Big 5) Kafue Flats- -Oct 27-=28 Chakwela Makumbi Chongwe-


Gifts to the Chief

If the opportunity presents itself to meet a chief or you maybe asking for a place to camp nearby:

"A gift is always in order though not usually expected. The Chief will make no bones about asking for one so no worries about being in the dark there! If I were you I would offer to pay the chief to camp in his village as you would pay in a camp site. $5 or $10 should cover it. You will find most of them very accommodating and hospitable and you will probably be called upon to get drunk with the chief so prepare yourself for that. " Dorian T. "It would appropriate to offer the chief some present and this can be in form of a bottle of whiskey/Brandy, some clothes or just some cash in an envelope" Nickson "Yes, a gift of any thing would be ok. If they want to bring something original from the States that would be ok. If they want to give money, like some do, a Kw. 50,000 note in an envelope would be good for a whit person. ($12) For a minor Chief or Headman, a smaller gift would be ok. Like I said, an object or money in an envelope. I think money would be a better option for the smaller chiefs. Yes, we Americans love culture things. They will be on their knees clapping to the Paramount Chief." Tom M. Above are some suggestions from people in country- one, a Zambian who was a camp manager/guide in NLNP the same time I was. Another, a missionary at the Mutombuku Ceremony area. And last, a tour agent in Lusaka. Others- South Africans- suggested stuff like a package of sugar, maybe nshima, basics needed in the bush. This might be ok for minor chiefs, but hauling around a kilo of this or a kilo of that just in case of meeting the chief, not something I would consider. Interesting but contrary to environmental issues--Chikanda


Lwindi Toka Tribal Ceremony

Mukuni Village authentic tribal village . Toka Leya ceremony in January or February. Every year Chief Mukuni of the Toka-Leya leads his people down to the whirlpools and spray of the gorge, where they offer sacrifices to their ancestors in thanks for the rain. The ceremony is accompanied by traditional dances and rituals. The Lwiindi Ceremony is performed every year just before the rains. This ceremony is conducted from a sacred hut about 100 metres from the village by the graveyard. In the hut are kept the sacred drums. Before the ceremony the village people will brew plenty of beer, and visitors from all over the region will visit the village. On the day of the ceremony everyone moves to the graveyard where prayers are said and hymns are sung to the dead chiefs. After the ceremony is completed the people return to the village to feast, dance and sing.


N'CWALA Tribal Ceremony

ZAMBIAN Airways will tomorrow provide a direct flight from Lusaka to Chipata for guests attending the Nc’wala ceremony in Chipata.

Nc’wala National Organising Committee head of media and public relations Dickson Jere announced the partnership between Nc’wala Ceremony organisers and Zambian Airways in a press statement released in Lusaka yesterday.

“The special flight will depart Lusaka on Saturday February 23, 2008 at 07:00 hours and return at 17:30 hours the same day,” Jere stated. “The seats on the flight will be on first come, first serve basis.”

Jere also announced that Railway Systems of Zambia had donated K10 million towards the organising of this year’s ceremony.


Village of Mutengulena. Takes place annually the last Saturday of February every year(feb 24th, 2007). An Ngoni religous thanksgiving festival to celebrate the first fruit of the season, where Paramount Chief Mpezeni ceremonially tastes the fruit of the land, then spears a bull and drinks its blood. It commemorates the Ngoni's entrance into Zambia in 1835. It is marked by feasts, music, much traditional beer drinking and some of the best tribal dancing in the country. These activities are designed to strengthen the communal bonds within the tribe's society. Dancers perform repetitive movements in response to the rhythm of drums, creating a hypnotic atmosphere of motion and music. Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people arrives in advance at his Laweni (Bachelor's house) at Mtenguleni from his Pindukeni Palace in preparation for the N'cwala climax It is open to all kinds of visitors, and you can expect to see traditional dances paying tribute to ancestors in a traditional way. You are also expected to see the lower tribal chiefs pay their loyalty to the Paramount Chief. Eastern Province is the only province in Zambia which has two paramount chiefs, Kalonga Gawa Undi of the Chewa and Nkosi ya Mankosi Mpezeni of the Ngoni people. 2006 had a record 25,000 people attend. One of the big five ceremonies. A useful contact possibly:



Kuomboka Tribal Ceremony

2010 Ceremony to be held April 17th.


2009 Ceremony to be held April 9-11th

The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) has disclosed that this year’s Kuomboka ceremony will be held on 12th April, 2008.

Acting Ngambela, Imasiku Lyamunga called on all Lozis and well-wishers throughout the world to contribute immensely towards Kuomboka.

He said concerted efforts were needed in order to hold a successful ceremony.

Kuomboka ceremony is celebrated by the Lozi people of Western Province of Zambia and signals their movement from the flooded wetlands to the upper lands.

Last year’s Kuomboka ceremony was graced by President Mwanawasa.

2008 Kuomboka article by Pieter Du Toit

Limited camping spaces. Secure area. With or without your own tents. For more details and booking Laura

                               +260 211 266158

                                 0977 96 34 97


Lozi Ceremony. Litunga Lamboela Senanga. The name means "to get out of the water onto dry ground". Every year towards the end of the rainy season as the flood plain of the upper Zambezi valley rises, the Lozi people make a ceremonial move to higher ground. When the Chief(Litunga Lamboela Senanga) decides that it’s time to leave (anytime from February to May),usually held around the end of March/beginning of April each year, just before a full moon, the drums signal to all the people. They pack their belongings into canoes and the whole tribe leaves en mass. The chief in his barge with his family and a troop of traditionally dressed paddlers, in the lead. It takes about six hours to cover the distance between the dry season capital Lealui, and the wet season capital Limulunga. There the successful move is celebrated with traditional singing and dancing. This ceremony dates back more than 300 years when the Lozi people broke away from the great Lunda Empire to come and settle in the upper regions of the Zambezi. The vast plains with abundant fish was ideal for settlement but the annual floods could not be checked, so every year they move to higher ground until the rainy season passes. ACTIVITIES INCLUDES BOATING, CANOEING,MUSIC, DANCING, CLOTHING/COSTUME, LEALUI.. One of the big five ceremonies.


Litunga Lamboela Senanga entourages canoes from Lealui to their residence in Limulunga. When the Chief decides that it’s time to leave Anytime from Feb to May^ Last @Saturday April 8, 2006 The return to Lealui is usually around mid August.

May 2007


Kufwikila Traditional Ceremony of the Kaonde people of Chief Chiek Mukumbi took place in Solwezi


Kuomboka Nalolo of Chief Litunga La Mboela of the Lozi people took in Mongu


Kazanga Tribal Ceremony-Kathanga Nkoya Cultural Ceremony
June 30 - July 1, 2008,  July 19th, 2009

Village of Mangongi.~!5kms East of Kaoma. The Nkoya annual ceremony is considered Zambia's oldest traditional ceremony having been celebrated by the Nkoya people for over 500 years. Chiefs Mutondo & Kahare. The Kazanga (Kathanga) Nkoya Cultural Ceremony, a two day event, is usually held between the last two days of June and the first two days of July. The Ceremony is usually held on a weekend (Saturday and Sunday) around that time of year between June and July. This year the ceremony was held on the 30th and 31st of June, 2007 which will be Saturday and Sunday respectively. Held 15th and 16th July, 2006 at Mangongi Held at the usual Shinchoncho site, Kaoma district, 31st July to 2nd August , 2004. A recent Communcation with the Nkoya Royal Establishment: " Last year the ceremony was supposed to have been held on the 1st and 2nd of July, 2006 which was the nearest weekend but it was postponed to the 15th and 16th of July, 2006 because the Kazanga (Kathanga) Nkoya Cultural Association received a last minute generous donation from one of the Eurpean Embassies in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. As a result of the donation the ceremony was postponed to accommodate the new resources because the donation made a huge positive difference in the organisation process of the event. What we are trying to say is that if it was not for that last minute donation the event would have been held on the traditional times as we have tried to explain above. However, we will confirm the actual official set date for you so that hopefully the Kazanga Ceremony can fit in nicely with....celebrate the ancient and legendary ceremony with everyone else this year! ...we would like to say thank you for reminding us of this very important point of taking into consideration international visitors like yourselves in as far as planning is concerned. We will make sure we communicate this important point in our campaigns to everybody early enough especially those that might choose to donate towards the event. We will encourage them, if it is possible, to make their donations in good time so that the event is not disturbed by changing the event date for example because this will not go well with visitors like yourselves who might have set times and dates and it also disturbes the organizers in a way." I found it is best to email in Feb -Mar to request information on the official date of the ceremony- Nkoya Royal Establishment Also, they can arrange accommodations and camping.


Lwiindi Lwa Chandaule Tribal Ceremony

Mukuni Village. Thanksgiving ceremony for the years harvest. Last week of June.


Nsomo Tribal Ceremony

town of Kasempa. Kaonde ceremony in June. Snr. Chief Kasempa


Chivweka Tribal Ceremony

Chivweka Luchazi Chief Kalunga Kabompo June


**Mutomboko Tribal Ceremony  July 26th, 2008

Village of Mwansabombwe. Palace of Mwata Kazembe. Latitude 9*49.25S - Longitude 028*45.35E _____ The Lunda Ceremony-Mutomboko- headed by Snr. Chief Mwata Kazembe and held annually the last Saturday of July.  The celebration is an annual reminder of the victories of Chief Mwata Kazembe, when his great kingdom migrated en masse into Luapula from the Congo earlier this century. Legend has it, the dispersal began when the kingdom’s paramount chief, Mwata Yamva ordered his people to build a tower which would reach the sky so that they could bring him the sun and the moon. The tower collapsed during vain attempts to build it, killing many of the builders and causing many of the families to flee in terror. Under the leadership of Kazembe, they travelled away across the river and into the east conquering nearly all the tribes they encountered. Each time they conquered a people, they celebrated the victory which they called Umutomboko. The two day ceremony is a grand affair, mixed with ritual, semi-mystic performance, pounding drum beats and long speeches. Tributes of beer and food are brought to the chief by the women and the chief, smeared with white powder, then goes to pay homage to his ancestral spirits and is carried back to his palace to the beating of drums. On the second day, a goat is slaughtered before the Mutomboko dance led by the chief. At the climax of the ceremony, the chief takes his sword in his hand and points it in all directions, implying that there is nobody who can conquer him except God, as he points upwards. He then points down to indicate his place of rest when he dies. The brightly coloured cotton skirts worn by the chiefs and senior council are in memory of an early king who received gifts of cloth from Portuguese ambassadors. ****During the last week of July, the people of the lower Luapula Valley in northern Zambia gather in the village of Mwansabombwe to celebrate their Lunda traditions and their paramount, Mwata Kazembe. For days prior to the main event, pubs serve bottled beer, much of it imported from nearby Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to quench the thirst of guests who have arrived in the hot, dusty village; women from different village sections deliver pots of millet beer to Mwata Kazembe's palace; and the youth organize special sports competitions and cultural events. Toward the weekend when the main festivities are to take place provincial, and on occasion national political and military dignitaries dressed in their suits and ties arrive. On Saturday afternoon, following the performance of certain rituals in the morning, chiefs, headmen, state dignitaries, and the villagers crowd together in a stadium on the outskirts of Mwansabombwe. A dignitary delivers a speech that highlights the importance of culture and tradition for progress, development, and national well-being. Listening to the national leadership's calls for the preservation of these traditions are chiefs and headman, who appear in the traditional Lunda garb of long imikonso skirts (sing. umukonso), leather inshipo belts and ututasa crowns (sing. akatasa). After the speeches, on the instruction of Mwata Kazembe, selected aristocrats and members of the royal family dance. The day's events culminate in Mwata Kazembe performing the Lunda dance of conquest, the Mutomboko. ___One of the big five ceremonies


**Lwindi Gonde Tribal Ceremony     July 2nd '08, July 7th '09

The annual Lwiindi ceremony takes place at Gonde in Monze District about 9 miles South West of Monze town. It is held usually on the 2nd of July and is the main traditional ceremony of the Tonga peoples. Each year Chief Magunza Monze leads his community in the annual Lwiindi ceremony, traditionally held to give thanks for the first harvest of the year. The Chiefs of Monze are held in tradition to be 'Shine Chiefs' or Rain Maker. Traditional culture records that Chief Mukulukulu, the first Rain Maker, disappeared into the sky and is responsible for sending the rains. Gonde is the place where the first chief Monze disappeared - his 'court' claimed their chief didn't die and this same place became the burial place for all chiefs - though only two are buried there. The rest have no graves as their bodies just disappeared at death. Many Tonga people believe that Chief Monze the First, fondly called Mukulukulu by the Tongas, is said to have mysteriously disappeared and is the giver of rains. The reigning Chief Monze celebrates the praise given to Mukulukulu by consuming the first meal from the new season's harvest. The ceremony attracts many important people from around the country, Zambia's elected politicians, representatives of the opposition parties, many Chiefs from towns in the province and hundreds of people both in and beyond the province all converge for this colourful event.


Lwiindi Lo Kuzyola Mukuni Ngombe ceremony of the Toka Leya people of Livingstone   July 8th '09 

Chief Mukuni. At the Simukale shrine.


**Kulamba Traditional Tribal Ceremony
2009 ceremony was rescheduled to be held on September 5, 2009 because all the three invited presidents were committed on August 29th

2008 ceremony was rescheduled for Sept 13th  preliminary activities were started on Wednesday.


Mkaika Palace -Village of Undi. Takes place annually the last weekend of August. A Chewa thanksgiving festival that draws colorful Nyau secret society dancers not just from Zambia, but also Malawi and Mozambique. One of two major festivals near Chipata. Paramount. Chief Gawa Undi is head of over 11 million Chewa in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. It is open to all kinds of visitors, and you can expect to see traditional dances paying tribute to ancestors in a traditional way. You are also expected to see the lower tribal chiefs pay their loyalty to the Paramount Chief. Eastern Province is the only province in Zambia which has two paramount chiefs, Kalonga Gawa Undi of the Chewa and Nkosi ya Mankosi Mpezeni of the Ngoni people. Celebration starts on Thursday, with Saturday being the big day. .The traditional Vimbuza dancer, bedecked in vivid, gaudy colours dances the nyau, who are rather more difficult for the public to see, being associated with tribal cults and rituals. Gule Wamkulu is both a secret cult and ritual dance. Kalonga is a Chewa word meaning ‘the one who enthrones or installs subordinate chiefs’ while Gawa means ‘the one who gives out land. Undi means the one who protects his subjects.


Times of Zambia article By Andrew Lungu.... ALL the roads in Eastern Province this weekend lead to Mkaika in Katete district, the headquarters of the Chewa people, which is also the venue of the annual Kulamba traditional ceremony. Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni and Kalonga Gawa Undi of the Chewe people are the two paramount chiefs of the vast province that is also set with so many traditional cultural ceremonies that give a true picture of the dynamic traditional cultural values of the people of Kum’mawa, the land where the sun sets first, as many easterners would boast. Out of all the ethnic tribes found in the province, the Nc’wala traditional ceremony and Kulamba have emerged as the two biggest and distinctive ethnic ceremonies synonymous with the entire people of Eastern Province. Judging by the magnitude of people who attend these two ceremonies, there is no doubt that the two ceremonies have overshadowed other smaller cultural ceremonies such as the Twimba of the Nsenga people of Petauke, Kwenje of the Senga found in Chama, Malaila of the Kunda and Kailala of the Gowa people, all of Eastern Province. It is also good to note that the Ngoni people of Zambia fall under Paramount Chief Mpezeni whereas the Ngoni of Malawi are under Paramount Chief Mbwerwa. But despite the Ngoni being one of the biggest tribal groupings in the area, not only in Zambia but the entire region, they do not have a common royal establishment under one Ngoni traditional leader. The Ngoni people trace their roots from the Zulu kingdom of South Africa. Through Kalonga Gawa Undi, the colonial government facilitated a tacit pact for the Ngoni people and other tribes in the province to live in harmony. Today, the Ngoni people are only confined to Chipata district in Zambia and to the Nyika plateau in Malawi and probably none in Mozambique whereas the Chewa are today in Chipata, Lundazi, Mambwe, Nyimba, Katete, Chadiza, Chama and in Malawi and north-western Mozambique. The sharing of these common cultural values has clearly shown that the people of Africa, and southern Africa in particular, are one and the same. This is seen in their historical origins, traditions and cultural practices such as the Gule wa Mkulu or Chilombo dance also commonly known as Nyau which, again despite the artificial colonial boundaries, its name and the rhythm of the drums has remained the same for centuries now. Kulamba master of ceremony Alexander Mitti said this year’s event expects to host more than 10 chiefs from the Chewa people of Malawi. Mr Mitti, a former broadcaster and member of Parliament for Vubwi, said Chief Mbwerwa of the Ngoni people of Malawi will be the special guest at this year’s ceremony. Paramount Chief Mbwerwa was a good friend of the late Kalonga who died in 2004. He paid him several visits and usually stood by his bedside during his illness. He also attended his funeral. “To continue that good friendship which signifies an ancient bondage between the two kingdoms, we have invited His Royal Highness Paramount Chief Mbwerwa of the Ngoni people of Malawi as our special guest at this year’s Kulamba ceremony,” Mr Mitti said. He explained that the Kulamba is a traditional practice of paying tribute to Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi by his subordinate chiefs and subjects of the Chewa kingdom. Kalonga is a Chewa word meaning ‘the one who enthrones or installs subordinate chiefs’ while Gawa means ‘the one who gives out land. Undi means the one who protects his subjects. It is for this reason that Kalonga Gawa Undi not only presides over all the installations and funerals of senior chiefs in the Chewa kingdom in Zambia but also of Malawi and Mozambique. Initially, the Kulamba ceremony was only performed by individual chiefs and subjects at different occasions, especially after the harvest time, before it was banned by the colonial authorities in 1934. But 50 years down the line, in 1984, the ceremony was revived by the late Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi Chivunga who assumed the royal throne in 1953 and reigned until his death in 2004. The late Kalonga Gawa Undi Chivunga was not only a paramount chief but also one of Zambia’s freedom fighters and a good friend of first republican president Kenneth Kaunda.

The late Kalonga has gone down in the history of the Chewa people as the only chief who rose to the throne at a tender age of 21 and was the longest Kalonga to reign in the Kingdom. The history, spread and influence of the Chewa people is traced back to the 14th century when the journey from Kola took place. Today, the history of the Undi Chewa kingdom and its spread has also been included in the Zambian secondary school history curriculum, which is now being taught in all the schools. According to a book entitled The Chewa kingdom written by Chambuli Banda, it is agreed by many oral and other historic sources that the present-day Chewa people are Bantu who lived and migrated from the Luba (Kola) land that is today part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is also said that the practice and the leadership of this Bantu group wanted to acquire more land and give it out to their people being left behind as they were conquering other territories. During this period of migration a number of Kalonga reigned, from Kalonga Chidzonzi, Chisaka Undi, Msenya Ndodo and many more others. But it was under Kalonga Undi Chivunga that it was unanimously agreed by the Royal Chewa Traditional Council in the entire eastern and southern Africa that the Kulamba ceremony should be held annually in Zambia at the Mkaika Palace in Katete district during the last Saturday of August. On this particular day, all Chewa chiefs from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique throng Mkaika to pay their annual tributes to His Royal Highness Kalonga Gawa Undi. The paying of tributes involves giving gifts to Kalonga and all subordinate chiefs present a social economic report of all the activities that took place since the previous ceremony. From 1984 to date, the ceremony has proved to be a successful core of the cultural values associated with the Eastern Province. President Levy Mwanawasa, who is expected to officiate at this year’s ceremony, was the first head of State in 2004 to attend the ceremony. Dr Kaunda has also attended the ceremony on several occasions but it was after he left power. Former Agriculture and Co-operatives minister Mundia Sikatana was the guest of honour at last year’s Kulamba which turned out to be the first ceremony for the current Kalonga who inherited the throne two years ago. It is a well-known fact that Zambia has diverse traditional ceremonies that have attracted the attention of the international community. Among such ceremonies that depict the true African national identities are the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni people, Umutomboko of the Lunda in Luapula, Kuomboka of the Lozi, Lwindi of the Tonga and numerous others that have greatly helped in marketing the rich Zambian cultural diversity to the international tourism sector. But what differentiates the Kulamba ceremony from these other traditional ceremonies in the country is that it does not only unite the people of Eastern Province, but the entire nation. It brings together all the Chewa people from the three countries that form the modren Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique Growth Triangle (ZMM-GT) under Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi. At the ceremony, the biggest and most famous dance among the Chewa people, the Nyau highly cerebrated among the Chewa people as Gule Wamukulu, takes the centre stage alongside female dances such as Chimtali and Chinamwali for young girls coming of age. Other dances such as Chitelele, Mganda and Chigwiti are also performed to entertain the crowd that travels from all over the country and the neighbouring countries. The ceremony exhibits a variety of more than 30 different types of Nyau dances with different masks. The Nyau dances are referred to as Vilombo among the Chewa people, which means animals, and each Nyau is only performed at a certain occasion. There are general Nyau dances performed for general entertainment, others at funeral ceremonies and yet others at special tasks such as Kulamba. Mr Mitti explained that the newly-constructed art gallery will add more colour to this year’s ceremony as many artists will be exhibiting their works such as sculptures and paintings.Among the many traditional ceremonies the country has been blessed with, the Kulamba stands out as unique as it does not only cut across the province but it does not recognised any international precincts established by our colonial masters. It is one ceremony that one cannot afford to miss.


Likumbi Lya Mize Tribal Ceremony

Luvale ceremony takes place at Mize, the official palace of Senior Chief Ndungu, about seven kilometres west of Zambez Boma. People of the Luvale tribe gather to celebrate their cultural heritage, bringing displays of all types of handicrafts and spicing the event with traditional singing and dancing. . Held on the the weekend of August 26th 2006 Likumbi Lya Mize held last weekend in August over several days – it is an opportunity to see Zambia’s famed Makishi (Masked) dancers part of the ceremony observes the waking of the dead and the initiation of girls and boys to puberty. The Makishi Masquerade The male Makishi dancers are famous for their fearsome masks and elaborate costumes. Traditionally, they represent the spirits of the dead. During male circumcision ceremonies, the Makishi perform to help the boys feel less anxious. One of the big 5 ceremonies.

Held August 25th, 2007


Lunda Lubanza

Lunda Ceremony. Snr. Chief Ishindi Took place last August 2006


Makundu Tribal Ceremony

Village of Mufumbwe. North western Province Kaonde ceremony in August. Snr. Chief Mushima. Took place Sept 15th 2007


Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena Tribal Ceremony

Village of Chitimukulu. Bemba traditional cermony in August. Paramount Chief Chitimukulu.  The 2009 ceremony is to be held at Ilamfya royal kraal in Mungwi district, August 21st to 24th , 2009. The 2008 Ceremony in the Mungwi District took place from September 18 to 21. The ceremony, which was initially set for August 22 to 24, was postponed after the death of Republican President Levy Mwanawasa. The  ceremony is commemoration of the movement of the Bemba people from the historical Kola kingdom to Zambia where they settled at Ngw’en village in Mungwi.  

Malaila Tribal Ceremony

Oct 12-14th, 2007

Excerpt from Robin Pope Safaris newsletter Oct 15th 2007:

Every year the paramount Chief of the area, Chief Nsefu, holds a ceremony called Malalila.   I gave them all the “motherly” advise – don’t take money, stick together, always stay near members of staff.  They came back hot and dusty but having had a great time.  I asked for a brief outline.

On arrival they were surprised by the crowds.  There were thousands of people.  The first thing they saw was raw meat from a hippo being given out to the dignitaries to take home.  Imagine popping that into your handbag.  The Chief arrived, carried aloft, guarded by both smart parks people and by his gun waving personal attendants.


The District Commissioner gave a speech about all the Chiefs working together.  But there was a noticeable absence of the other five Chiefs from the area.  The villagers spokesman talked for a while – all about the people and wildlife conflict.  The villagers want compensation if a family member is killed by an elephant.  They need more forest for firewood and medicine collection. And more.  Speeches over and lots of dancing. 


Chibwelakumushi Tribal Ceremony. Ceremony of the Soli people revived in 2003and continued annually since. Held September 20th 2008. Headed by CHIEF Mpanshya Kalubangwe II,  one of the three Soli chiefs in Chongwe district in Lusaka Province.


**Malaila Tribal Ceremony

Village of Nsefu.The ceremony of the Kunda people of Malambo in the Luangwa Valley near South Luangwa National Park is headed by Chieftainess Nsefu. It lasts for 2-3 days and involves alot of feasting and dancing. It is open to all kinds of visitors, and you can expect to see traditional dances paying tribute to ancestors in a traditional way. Malaila ceremony has now become an annual event and is celebrated every second Saturday of September each year after the people have done their harvest. This is the biggest event at Shalilenipo, the capital of the Kunda people where Senior Chief Nsefu, more appropriately known as “Mambwe” lives. The ceremony, which has usually been celebrated over one day, has now been changed to three days. The ceremony starts on Friday afternoon and reaches climax the whole day Saturday and farewell on Sunday. Days before the ceremony the Senior Chief’s Palace is a hive of activity as preparations approach the final stage. Hunters prepare for the outing into the bush for game while women begin to brew large quantities of opaque beer for the festivities. In the olden days, according to the Kunda tradition, the entire wildlife was a source of wealth and only belonged to the chief, especially the tusks from the elephants and the rhino horns. The main celebrations begin on Saturday morning when the people assemble in the arena where traditional dances and guns rumble as the traditional show of power by the Kunda, are held. By this time the audience remains anxiously waiting for the chief to emerge from the palace, where he would have been since daybreak on Saturday. However, before the chief emerges from the palace on the “hammock” “Machila” there is shooting of guns as a sign to silence the enemy and as salute to the Mambwe in the company of important drumming called “Kamangu” The drumming of “Kamangu” is only done where there is war or the death of a chief to summon other people. The authority of the chief to indicate the arrival of an important person or guest only does the drumming. The senior chief is carried on the “Machila” and followed by his subordinate chiefs then lead in a procession to the arena where on arrival the Senior Chief is smeared with red powder (nkula) on his fore head before he is made to sit on a chair encircled by elephant tusks. From the time the Chief sits the ceremony is punctuated by traditional dances, performed in turn by subjects from chiefdoms. The various dances include Nsongwe, Mbote, Ndonda and Jiri which are performed until late in the day when the Mambwe performs a closing dance for the day before he retires to his Palace. When all the dancing is over before sunset the feasting and beer drinking starts to mark the end of the big occasion. Sunday morning, the various groups from the respective chiefdoms,bid farewell to the Senior Chief through dances and other rituals. The ceremony normally close at mid day on Sunday, when most of the people leave for their homes


**Walamo Tribal Ceremony

**Town of Mpulungu in the Ngwenya market . Lungu Traditional Ceremony the last week of September Annually. Revived in 2003 after 61 years of inactivity- the 2003 event was a succession ceremony in Chief Tafuna’s line of rule. Walamo to which Senior Chief Tafuna was patron, was celebrated to pay homage to the ancestral spirits of the Lungu tribe who include Kapembwa, Mbita, Nalukale, Chilowela, Chisha, Manzi Mbwiro and Nundo. It was also celebrated to remember victories during tribal wars as well as praise their ancestral spirits who had given the Lungu people crops and signal the beginning of the fishing season in Lake Tanganyika which they (Lungu tribe) believed was given to them by the same spirits.


Inchibwela Mushi Tribal Ceremony

Village of Old Mkushi. Bisa/Swaka/Lala tribes. Takes place September 3rd-6th(or 1st weekend) annually. Also known as the Chibwelamushi.


Vikamkanimba Tribal Ceremony

Tumbuka Snr. Chief Muyombe about September 15-28. Activities include very popular Tumbuka dance. At some point in late September (the dates vary from year to year), the Tumbuka tribe meet for the royal ceremony of Vinkankanimba. The most popular dance of the Tumbuka is the "mganda" which has a strange history. During the British colonial rule of Rhodesia, many Tumbuka men served in the British Army, serving in places as far away as North Africa and Asia. When they returned to their villages, they brought with them the marches and strict parades of army life. Over time, these military movements have been incorporated into the mganda ("ganda" means "to march" in the Tumbuka language). The dance has synthesized drill manoeouvres with more fluid motions to create a display of tense motion and excitement. The dance is so popular that there are often matches between villages at the weekends. The young men explode into dances accompanying by shrill whistles and frantic drumming, performing the fast and complex routines, before slowing to a gentler pace. This is when the local girls will wipe the brow of their favoured dancer. British Airways has it taking place in Kasama???


Bwile Tribal Ceremony

Village of Puta. Ceremony of the Bwile at Senior Chief Puta's headquarters. Aug 30-31, 2006. Normally in Sept. . Attractions include traditional salt processing, visiting the famous Kabwe Katenda rock, traditional dishes and dances. The Builile ceremony is based on hard work on the land out of which the Bwile people commemorated good harvest when they settled in their present country after originating from Congo in the days of tribal migrations. The revived ceremony was held last year at which the present chief was installed on the throne .


Bisa Malaila Tribal Ceremony

Village of Nabwalya (Munyamadzi Corridor). A Bisa ceremony held annually in September-no set date. Headed by Chief Nabwalya


Chisemwa Chalunda Ceremony    Village of Mwinilunga. Northwestern Province. Lunda Ceremony. Chief Kanogesha.  Took place on 15th September 2007


Musaka /Jikubi Ceremony  Village of Mumbwa. Central Province. Kaonde/Ila ceremony. Chief Mumba/Kaindu. Took place on the 22nd September 2007


Chisaka Chalubombo Tribal Ceremony

Village of Chiwanangala at Chilubi Island. Bisa Ceremony in September. Chief Chiwanangala


Chambo Chalutanga Tribal Ceremony

Village of Mwenechifungwe. Mfungwe Ceremony in September. Chief Mwenechifungwe


Kairara Gova Traditional Ceremony

Chieftainess Chiawa Kafue Goba Kailala September

Kairara Gova Traditional Ceremony Chiawa Village on Saturday 24th September 2005. 11th October 2003 12 October 2002

The Kailala traditional ceremony of the Goba speaking people in chieftainess Chiawa’s area - Kailala Traditional and Culture Association cancelled the 2008 ceremony due to a poor harvest in the last farming season as such they had nothing to present to their ancestral spirits. The ceremony, which usually takes place in the first or second week of September every year, could not be held this year because people in area have no food.


SHIMUNENGA Traditional Tribal Ceremony

Traditional ceremony is held by the Ba-lla tribe at Maala on the Kafue Flats in Namwala district of Southern Province and is held either in September or October on a weekend of the full moon. The ceremony expresses the people's devotion to their divine ancestors. The Ila practice a traditional ceremony called the Shimunenga where they worship ancestral spirits and they are foretold what the should they expect in the year to come; abundant rainfall or drought. The ceremony is characterized by drum beatings (Yabukali) and (Kukwezhya) where people run about with spears. The drum beat is aimed at announcing news to the local people. There is another way of conveying messages to the people and this is called Kuyabila where a message is told in form of a song. Then the Ila people (whose language is closely related to Tonga) gather together, driving cattle across the Kafue River to higher ground. It used to be a lechwe hunt, but that is now forbidden! It lasts for three days. They do not have a paramount chief but there are a number of chiefs who head the different chiefdoms and these are Chilyabufu, Mukobela, Shezongo, Nalubamba, Mungaila and Shimbzhi. ----Full Moon 2007---- Sept 26, Oct 26, Nov 24.. This is one of the big 5 ceremonies. .


**Chakwela Makumbi Tribal Ceremony

**Village of Chongwe. Soli traditional ceremony that marks the beginning of the new planting season. Annually the last weekend of October at Chiefteness Nkhomeshya Mukamabo II’s palace. Chakwela Makumbi means pulling the rain from the clouds. The Busoli Royal Establishment with descendants of certain family members whose ancestors were believed to be rain makers jointly conducted prayers at this time. On the eve of the ceremony, a group of elderly people known as the Mashikulu goes to the graveyard to pray to the ancestral spirits for rain. When they come back they bring good news in terms of the rain coming. Because it is the planting season, the chief is supposed to go to the field which has been prepared, the useless grass is burnt and after that planting is done. “Every year we pray to the ancestral spirits to give us rain,” chieftainess Nkomeshya says. “We are not asking for manna, we only need rain for the people to work.” She longingly reveals that when she prayed yesterday the clouds gathered, there were ominous rumblings and it rained. “Sometimes God answers immediately, like last year when I prayed there was thunderstorm and it rained,” chieftainess Nkomeshya says. Senior chieftainess Nkomeshya’s palace is a white bungalow with a nondescript architecture encircled with trees. On the left side there is a green tent where women are playing handcrafted instruments and singing songs in honour of the chieftainess


Kalama Kubwalo Tribal Ceremony

Lenge ceremony takes place near Kabwe annually in October. Snr. Chief Mukuni The festival lasts for three or four days, and involves large amounts of feasting and dancing. The highlight of the ceremony is the masked dance. Performers wear grotesque costumes and jerk rhytmically to the beat of drums.


Kwanga Tribal Ceremony

Every year in October (the date varies each year), the Ng’umbo tribe gather in Samfya near Zambia's Lake Bangweulu to celebrate Kwanga. Snr. Chief Mwewa The festival lasts for two or three days, which are spent in feasting, drinking, and dancing. The dances are fascinating, with colorful costumes and intricate moves. The beat of drums and the shake of rattles spur dancers on to greater and greater efforts, and the crowd claps their delight.


Lukwakwa traditional ceremony   (english)

Village of Manyinga. A Mbunda tribal ceremony. Senior Chief Sikufela.


Mabila Tribal Ceremony

Village of Mununga. Suila traditional ceremony in October. 2006-took place on Oct 16-17. The Shila Royal Establishment at Chisombwe Palace- Snr. Chief Mununga. A spiritual ceremony to honour ancestral spirits. Open to all.


Mbunda Liyoyelo Tribal Ceremony

Village of Kabompo. Northwestern Province. Mbunda tribe. Chief Chiyengele Takes place in October.Took place Sept 15th 2007


Tuwimba Tribal Ceremony

Village of Kalindawalo. Nsenga thanksgiving festival in October. Senior Chief Kalindawalo. The Nsenga celebrate their ceremony ‘Tuwimba’ to pray for the rains so that they can produce adequate agricultural produce.


Kwenje Tribal Ceremony

Village of Kambombo. Tumbuka traditional tribal ceremony annually in October. Snr. Chief Kambombo



Nkomba Lyanga Tribal Ceremony

Village of Shikabeta. Soli traditional ceremony that marks the beginning of the new planting season. Oct/Nov . Oct/Nov annually at Chief Shikabeta's headquarters. They also have a ceremony to thank the ancestral spirits for the good harvest.


Chibwela Kumushi Tribal Ceremony- Chief Mupansha

Soli traditional ceremony that marks the beginning of the new planting season. Oct/Nov. They also have a ceremony to thank the ancestral spirits for the good harvest.


Chinamanongo Tribal Ceremony

Bisa ceremony that takes place annually in October or November at Paramount Senor Chief Kopa's headquarters in the Village of Kopa, near Mpika. ----- Chinamanongo- meaning "eating together from one pot." "The climax of the ceremony is where the people all eat from one large pot with the chief. The chief gets some of the meat from the pot and then all the people partake of the meat. This is considered special because normally the chief does not eat with his subjects." A traditional ceremony Took place Sept 8th 2007



Chibwela Kumushi Tribal Ceremony

At Chinyunyu. Soli traditional ceremony annually in November. Chief Bunda Bunda .This ceremony marks the beginning of the new planting season.


Nsengele Kununka traditional ceremony


Village of Mpongwe. Lima revived annual traditional ceremony. At Chief Machiya's palace open to the public. All day cerenony. The Lima people, like the name suggests as farmers, are predominantly a farming community. The Nsengele Kununka, which was revived last year, has become the most high profiled event among the locals in Mpongwe. The event attracts many non-locals such as tourists and Government officials in large numbers. The Lima royal establishment said the performance of Nsengele Kununka has over the years been preserved because it was the only vehicle being used to conserve their cultural heritage. The ceremony is commemorated through the performance of victory dances, which were always performed after the defeat of the enemies by the Limas on their way from East Africa, According to the Lima royal establishment, Nsengele Kununka traditional ceremony signifies victory in tribal war. The Lima people performed the ceremony after conquering other tribes within the region. In fact, the word, Nsengele means celebrate and the other word Kununka means the smell of the gunpowder used in the guns during the tribal wars. Hence, the commemoration of the extraordinary annual ceremony. The start of the ceremony is signaled by the firing of gunshots in the air by a group of Lima elders as the subjects and guests wait for Chief Machiya and members of the Yeke royal clan to arrive at a special arena called Chitentamo, which is situated a stone’s throw away from the chief’s palace. Some Yeke-Lima traditionalists say that Nsengele Kununka is their version of the Mutomboko, which they boasted of having taught the Lundas of Luapula Province. They claimed that what came with the Mutomboko was part of culture they came with from the island of Zanzibar in East Africa. The climax of the ceremony is attained with the performing of the victory dance by Chief Machiya and the members of the royal clan brandishing pangas spears and traditional rifle guns. The dancing takes place around a special concrete place at the center of the arena. The special concrete stage bears the names of the gallant chiefs who lead the clan from the island of Zanzibar, fighting fierce battle until they reached their present day settlement. The names of the chiefs are written in ascending order on the special stage whose central place is occupied by special stool where the chief, who dresses in special red attire, seats when he is not dancing. The names of those who led the Limas during their fierce battles starts with Chempesha, Lyembe, Lukwase, Mwanabakansa, Chikuma, Katemene Mwiulu, Kansonkomona Twebo and others. They include the predecessor to the present day Chief Machiya IX. During the performance of the victory dance, members of the royal clan sing songs of praise to the great warrior chiefs, who have since joined their ancestors after their departure from the earth. The presenting of various gifts to the chief by subjects and some visiting dignitaries marks the end of the daylong ceremony. Before and after the performance of the victory dances people are feted with. The popular local brews Katata and different types of opaque beers which are served in abundance during the ceremony, which is held in the first week of November. Prince Winter Machiya explained that the ceremony was important to all Limas in that it gives them a chance to trace their roots. “Nsengele Kununka is a unique ceremony which shows us that how it took sacrifice and hard work for us to be where we are today. Our land is not only good for farming but it is blessed with fish and game,” Prince Machiya said. A member of the Lima royal establishment, Benard Musamba, observed that it was courage that played a role in the Yeke’s settling at a place called Kasankala surrounded by Luambowo, Luswisha and Kafue rivers on the Copperbelt. The Lima people who settled in Zambia after they left East Africa around the 17th centuary are found in Mpongwe and Lufwanyama districts on the Copperbelt. The practice of Nsengele Kununka, which is believed to be part of the Lima tradition, was suspended due to pressure from the white settlers in 1901.Lima traditionalists say the settlers introduced chiefdoms, which replaced castles. However, the predecessor of the present Chief Machiya, Rodgers Maoma who died in 1995 played a pivotal role in the resuscitating of the Sengele Kununka traditional ceremony in 1976. After leaving the island of Zanzibar, the Lima people settled at a place called Katete near Katanga in the present day Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They lived in Katete for a long period of time such that up to now the place is still considered as the ancestral home of the Lima’s. For a long time most Lima chiefs used to be buried in Katete, which was also regarded as the place where elders used to meet to resolve succession disputes. The architects of the Nsengele Kununka traditional ceremony, the Yeke clan members settled at Kansankala across the Luswishi river in Mpongwe before 1900. Since the colonial era Kasankala is a place with a special status among the Yekes such that dead chiefs are now put to rest at this place since the colonial era. Apart from Chief Machiya, other Lima chiefs are Chieftainess Malembeka, Chiefainess Lesa, Chief Kalunkumya, Senior Chief Ndubeni, and Chief Mwinuna. Other Lima chiefs are Lumpuma and Fungulwe settled in Lufwanyana district. Although Lima speaking people are among Zambia’s 73 tribes, both tourists and local cultural experts said little is known about the Limas and later on their culture. A United States (US) based tourist, Mary Edwards, observed that although the existence of the Nsengele Kununka traditional ceremony can be traced from as far back as 1976 very few people were aware of its existence. The challenge facing the Lima people is not to only to reorganise their traditional ceremony to a level where it earned a special place on the Zambian cultural calendar but also to take advantage of the annual show-piece and use it as a vehicle for propagating the existence of their unique cultural heritage to members of the public. A seemingly much more greater challenge for the Limas is to sustain Nsengele Kununka and ensure that it does not become extinct once again.


Nsengela Kununka

Every year around November, the Lamba tribe of Zambia's Copperbelt Province meet to celebrate Nsengela Kununka. The ceremony consists of lashings of feasting, drinking, and dancing, and lasts for three or four days. Dancers put on colorful costumes and gyrate to the rythm of drums and the shake of rattles. The surrounding crowd claps them on, and often breaks into a dance itself.


Lwiindi Lwa Kanda ka Leza Tribal Ceremony

Mukuni Village. Ceremony Asking God for rain. last weekend in November


Mbambala tribal ceremony

Village of Mburuma. Nsenga-Luzi traditional ceremony in November. Snr. Chief Mburuma scheduled 10/15/02


Lwiindi Lwa Basilombelombe Tribal Ceremony

‘Festival of the Spray’ (mid December) “Prayers to God for good rains, healthy animals, bounty harvest, good governance and thanksgiving. At this ceremony, young men, the Basilombelombe start off very early in the morning after blessings from the chief to go and ‘bring the rain’ from the falls. They make off at a run to the falls, and there collect water from a sacred site. Nearing sunset, the young men reappear at the ceremonial burial grounds of the Leya Chiefs just outside the village. They carry a gourd of water from the falls and are covered from head to toe in leaves and twigs. The costume of leaves signifies that the young men have become one with nature in asking the Gods for the gist of rain. The Chief and High Priestess receive the gourd of water and young maidens are selected to take the leafy costumes off the young men, and bathe them. In the olden days, each young man would marry the young woman who bathed him. After the ablutions are done, prayers are offered and the water from the falls is poured in libation to the ancestors. Unfailingly, soon afterwards, a torrent of rain falls upon the land and much celebration accompanies this event

Gonorezhou NP

Courting in the Tumbuku Tribe

Courting in the Tumbuka Tribe

If you live in the Western world, you have seen many Hollywood romantic movies and read romantic novels, you probably believe one thing: the best way to express love and romantic feelings is through flowers, kisses, and especially a romantic dinner by candle light. You might also believe that love and romance may not exist in other non-Western cultures. After all, aren't marriages in these non-Western cultures miserable and practically between strangers since they are arranged?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do single young men and women have choices, romantic love often blooms. The only exception might be that the romantic love starts and is expressed differently from the West.

Take, for example, among the Tumbuka tribe of Eastern Zambia in Southern Africa. The single young women in the village are known as mbeta and they all sleep in the nthanganeni; a house or hut for young single women. On the other hand, young single men are known as jaha and they sleep in the mphala; a hut for single young men. When the time to seek a marriage partner comes, a jaha (young man) will dress at his best and walk often for miles to a village where he knows there is a particular mbeta; young woman he either knows or has heard about through the grape vine to be attractive and eligible for marriage. Once he arrives at the village, he is shown nthanganeni (single women's hut) and word quickly travels around that he has come, say for Jane.

There is tremendous excitement in the village as children are sent and gleefully scramble to fetch Jane who might be bathing and drawing water at the river. Once Jane learns that there is a Jaha waiting for her in the nthanganeni, she goes bonkers with sheer excitement and anticipation. How is she going to do her hair. What dress will she wear? Is he handsome? Will she like him?

Once the two see each other and if their chemistry is just right, it might be love at first sight, in which case electrical sparks will fly. But quite often they may find there is no mutual attraction and either one of them could back off. But if there is attraction and she accepts the proposal, the period of romantic love and courtship begins. This is the period of romantic love which is full of drama and has many legendary stories among the Tumbuka people.

Because the two lovers cannot stand being away from each other, there have been kusomphola (elopements). Depending on the distance between the villages, he might visit her practically every day. The two of them are allowed to spend hours alone in the nthanganeni (single young women's hut). Meals, often of nshima with delicious chicken, are served to the two lovers by the woman's family. Since any sex is taboo before marriage, the romance is even more intense and blissful. Stories say that lovers stare and gaze into each other's eyes lovingly, smile, act silly with one another, and playfully feed each other. Passers-by can hear loud hearty laughter, conversations in low tones, giggling, and silence. Giggling, noisy, and snoopy kids are shooed away from outside the hut so that the couple can have privacy.

When the man departs later in the evening, she escorts him. The lovers might exchange chikole; a personal possession as a symbol of commitment and love for one another. The woman might give him her bangle, bracelet, her ear ring, her scarf, and perhaps traditionally most intimate, one strand of brightly colored beads from inside her waist. The man might give her his white well-pressed handkerchief, or a chithumwa (small charm or love object he made he might always carry in his pocket)

Among the Tumbuka, romantically involved young women are known to become absent minded, to stare blankly into space, to lose appetite, to be tearful and lonesome. Some young women compose songs dedicated to their lover. The women sing the song while pounding corn with a pestle and mortar. Young men in love might be miserable and restless every day and can't wait to travel to the other village to visit their lover. They might persuade their lover to elope in defiance of custom and elders. The romantic lovers are teased by their friends and relatives.

Contributed by Mwizenge Tembo.

April 24, 2003

From Great North Road