066_G18_InFocus_Zambia

Global_18

In Focus Zambia Market in the city of Livingstone where locals buy and sell food, clothes and household goods his appreciation for their care of the girl. In most cases, the bride is taken to the groom’s village the night before the wedding; large quantities of food are cooked and a vast amount of beer is brewed. Celebrations, including music and dancing, can last for three days before elders instruct the newly-weds about the sanctity of marriage and the bride moves into her new home. Here, she is not allowed to cook until her new in-laws have presented her with pots and pans. When the celebrations reach their crescendo, the chief points his sword in all directions to imply that his people cannot be conquered by anyone except God But the full magnificence of the country’s cultural heritage is contained in the array of annual festivals that take place in various parts of the nation. These festivals draw large crowds and many urbanites make the annual pilgrimage to their home areas to participate. One of the most outstanding festivals is the Kuomboka, which is held towards the end of the rainy season, usually between February and May. The Lozi people of the upper Zambezi flood valley make a traditional journey to higher ground to escape the floods. They pack canoes with all their belongings and, led by the chief and his family in a barge rowed by peddlers in colourful costumes, make their way to higher ground accompanied by traditional songs and dances. Then there is the Mutomboko, which celebrates the victories of Chief Mwata Kazembe, who moved his entire kingdom from what is now Congo to Zambia around 100 years ago. According to legend, this came about when Chief Mwata Yamva ordered a tower to be built to the sky so that he could bring the sun and moon to his people. The tower collapsed, killing and terrifying the people. Kazembe then took charge and led his people into the east, conquering all the tribes that were encountered on the way. The ceremonies last two days and involve long recounting of heroic tales. Offerings are made to the gods as well as the chief who, smeared in white powder, goes to pay homage to ancestral spirits before he is carried back to his palace. When the celebrations reach their crescendo, the chief points his sword in all directions to imply that his people cannot be conquered by anyone except God. The costumes of brightly coloured material hark back to a time when the Portuguese explorers presented gifts of cloth to an ancient chief of the people. Perhaps the most breathtaking initiation ceremony is the Likumbi Lya Mize, held every August. Boys between the ages of eight and ten are required to perform special rituals as they are given moral and practical lessons by elders. Masqueraders in a variety of masks and costumes enact scenes from history and invoke spirits both evil and benign. The four-day festival is also an excuse to set up large, dense markets where outstanding craftwork, food and drinks are on sale. It all comes to a thunderous end with a royal parade by the chiefs. These are just some of the score or so of major festivals that take place every year in Zambia. Although urban culture may seem to be in the ascendency, the traditional core is still very much alive and well. 66 l www.global -br ief ing.org second quar ter 2014 global 


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