Kuomboka

The King's barge
Paddlers preceding the arrival of the Litunga

[1]Kuomboka is a word in the Lozi language; it literally means ‘to get out of water’. In today's Zambia it is applied to a traditional ceremony that takes place at the end of the rain season, when the upper Zambezi River floods the plains of the Western Province. The festival celebrates the move of the Litunga, king of the Lozi people, from his compound at Lealui in the Barotse Floodplain of the Zambezi River to Limulunga on higher ground.

HistoryEdit

Historians claim that before the time of the first known male Lozi chief Mboo, there came a great flood called Meyi-a-Lungwangwa meaning "the waters that swallowed everything." The vast plain was covered in the deluge, all animals died and every farm was swept away.[2]

People were afraid to escape the flood in their little dugout canoes. So it was that the high god, Nyambe, ordered a man called Nakambela to build the first great canoe, Nalikwanda, which means "for the people," to escape the flood. Thus the start of what is known today as the Kuomboka ceremony.[3]

The ProcessionEdit

The ceremony is preceded by heavy drumming of the royal Maoma drums, which echoes around the royal capital the day before Kuomboka, announcing the event.

The Litunga begins the day in traditional dress, but during the journey changes into the full uniform of a British admiral that was presented to the Litunga in 1902 by King Edward VII, in recognition of treaties signed between the Lozi people and Queen Victoria. The ceremony is attended by hundreds of people each year.[4]

The ceremony begins with two white scout canoes that are sent to check the depth of the water and for the presence of any enemies. Once the scouts signal the ‘all clear’, the journey to the highland begins. The Litunga’s royal boat is followed by another boat for his wife and another for the Prime Minister. The journey to Limulunga normally takes about 6-8 hours. Drums beat throughout to coordinate and energise those paddling the barge.[5] The most important are the three royal war drums - kanaona, munanga

and mundili -  each more than one-metre wide and said to be at least 170 years old.[6]

The Litunga is accompanied on the journey by his Prime Minister and other local area chiefs known as the Indunas.[7]

The King's state barge is called Nalikwanda and is painted black and white, like Zambia's coat of arms. On the barge is a replica of a huge black elephant, the ears of which can be moved from inside the barge. There is also a fire on board, the smoke from which tells the people that the king is alive and well. The Nalikwanda is large enough to carry his possessions, his attendants, his musicians, his 100 paddlers.[8] It is considered a great honour to be one of the hundred or so paddlers on the nalikwanda and each paddler wears a headdress of a scarlet beret with a piece of a lion’s mane and a knee-length skirt of animal skins.[9]

For his wife there is a second barge. This one has a huge cattle egret (Nalwange) on top. The wings move like the ears of the elephant, up and down.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People: Mongu, Zambia". DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  2. ^ Mongu, ZambiaCultural ceremoniesTourist attractions. "Kuomboka Ceremony". The Best of Zambia. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  3. ^ Mongu, ZambiaCultural ceremoniesTourist attractions. "Kuomboka Ceremony". The Best of Zambia. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  4. ^ "Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People: Mongu, Zambia". DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  5. ^ "Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People: Mongu, Zambia". DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  6. ^ "All set for kuomboka ceremony in Zambia || The Southern Times". maxebooking.com. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  7. ^ "Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People: Mongu, Zambia". DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  8. ^ "Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi People: Mongu, Zambia". DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  9. ^ "All set for kuomboka ceremony in Zambia || The Southern Times". maxebooking.com. Retrieved 2020-05-29.

External linksEdit