5 ZAMBIAN FESTIVALS EVERYONE SHOULD EXPERIENCE
Have you ever witnessed a joyous festival in your country? It must have been fun and goosebumps worthy to see your culture and traditions being celebrated while forgetting real-life struggles for a while.
But have you ever travelled to another country just to witness their festival? That is a more adventurous one. You don’t only get to learn about their culture and traditions but also see the inhabitants in their most vulnerable states.
More so, you get to enjoy their sumptuous traditional meals and get handmade traditional artefacts bought at very high discounted prices.
The best country to visit for this purpose is Zambia. And so, here are 5 Zambian festivals everyone should experience. Everyone, including you.
You won’t have a better experience anywhere else… Now, let’s dive into the details.
5. Kulamba Festival
The Kulamba Festival does not only involve the Zambians but also, the Malawians and the Mozambicans. Meaning, this festival brings together the culture of three vibrant African countries.
On the last Saturday of every August, the Chewa people of these three countries perform this ceremony as a thanksgiving to the universe. The ceremony is balanced with a colourful and incredible performance from the Nyau secret society dancers.
The important part of the festival is the introduction of young girls into womanhood. This may be similar to other societies in Africa that also hold ceremonies to usher young females into womanhood. The difference here is that this is a rich heritage of three beautiful countries.
While the ushering is taking place, masked Nyau dancers move through the crowd dancing. For what it’s worth, this is one of the Zambian festivals everyone should experience.
4. Kazanga Festival
This is preferably one of the Zambian festivals everyone must experience. Wondering why? Because it is one of the oldest festivals in Zambian history.
The Kaziranga Festival is celebrated by the Nkoyo people of Zambia to celebrate their vibrant traditions. The people, as history narrates, have been in their current location for over 5 centuries. They believe their traditions are deeply rooted and must be celebrated yearly.
And so; in June, July, and August, in Kaoma in the Zambezi basin area of Zambia, the Nkoyo people, as well as tourists, come together to practice ancient traditions coupled with music and dance.
This is a festival with fewer rituals and more enjoyment. Their traditional meals are said to be out of this world.
If you want a more cultural and traditional feel to a festival, then this is very likely to be your best bet.
3. Umutomboko Festival
Every July, the Lunda people perform a dance of victory and conquest which marks the existence of the Umutomboko festival.
The Lunda people originated from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their Chief, Mwata Yamva wanted the moon and the sun for himself. He thus asked his people to construct a building high enough to reach the sky to achieve this mission. Eventually, the building collapsed and killed many people in the process.
The Chief then led his people and crossed the Luapula River into Zambia fighting and conquering small villages. If they couldn’t get the sun and the moon, they needed to retain territories. And with every village they conquered, they performed a victory dance named the Umutomboko. The people then resided in Zambia.
Today, the Ututomboko ceremony still takes place where the Chief leads the people to dance in remembrance of their rich history.
If you are a tourist in Zambia, know that this is one of the Zambian festivals that you should experience.
2. Nc’wala Festival
The Ngoni tribe of the Eastern Province of Zambia, live in Chipata – a farming community that cultivates sugarcane, maize, and pumpkins.
For as long as the tribe could remember until a renaissance of the Nc’wala festival in 1980 by Paramount Chief Mpezeni III, the people paid homage to their ancestral spirits in light of their first fruits on the last Saturday of February every year.
They go further to thank the spirits for their protection during tribal wars when they had to migrate from present-day South Africa.
The chief of the Mtenguleni Village in Chipata is usually adorned in leopard skin and elegantly walks to taste the meals made out of maize, pumpkins, and sugarcanes. According to an adopted Zulu tradition, the Chief then spears a bull and drinks the blood to commemorate the ceremony.
The Ministry of Tourism and Arts and the Nsingo Community Museum also play a vital role in the ceremony thus monetizing tourism on the 24th of February yearly.
Although the people are sad about the ceremony being a breeding ground for politicians to campaign in recent years, they are hopeful that things will take a better turn.
And Nc’wala is just one of the 5 Zambian festivals everyone should experience in their lifetime.
In the Lozi language of the Zambians, Kuomboka means ‘to get out of water”. This tells you that this festival has everything to do with water and the rainy season.
History has it that centuries ago, there was a flood named the Meyi-a-Lungwangwa that means “the waters that swallowed everything.” Animals, farms and even some people have been swept away in the flood. Many strived on little canoes that rose high on the water.
Miraculously, the great high god Nyambe ordered a man named Nakambela to build a canoe to save the people. The canoe was called Nalikwanda which means “for the people ”. That was how the people escaped the great flood of Meyi-a-Lungwangwa.
It is with no doubt that we pronounce this as one of the greatest Zambian Festivals everyone must experience.
Once the rainy season is over, the Lozi people decide that it is time to go on to dry ground. A drum is then sounded to signify that it is time to embark on such a journey. Tourists, as well as inhabitants, look on as the Litunga(chief of the lozis) dresses up in a Victorian costume to embark on a canoe journey to Zambezi River to drylands according to their tradition.
It is such a beautiful sight to witness.
These 5 Zambian festivals are celebrated yearly to uphold a tradition that is sometimes over 3 centuries old. The tribes love and are devoted to these ceremonies.
However, it is also a great contributor to tourism in Zambia. The government supports these festivals and sometimes joins in to play a vital role and is putting up structures to make these festivals bigger.
To you the reader, we hope you have found a Zambian Festival on this list that has you giddy to plan a trip. We hope you enjoy yourself.
Got something interesting to say about these festivals? Please do let us know in the comments box below.
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