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Traditional Ceremonies

While the motto "One Zambia, One Nation" is a lovely image of the country's commitment for a strong country identity and pride, it does not reflect the diverse ethnic heritage of Zambia's tribal cultures that have been passed down through many generations of both hardship and prosperity. There are some 73 officially recognized ethnic groups in Zambia and their traditional cultural ceremonies remain very much alive.

In a country with a population in excess of 10 million people, it is important to honor those traditions which reflect this multifaceted heritage. And, throughout the year, many popular traditions are followed.

The N'CWALA (February)
This is a religious thanksgiving ceremony by the Ngoni people and takes place in Mutenguleni village in the Eastern Province. The first produce of the year is tasted by the Chief and this is, in turn, marked by tribal dancing and much traditional beer drinking.

The KU'OMBOKA (Feb/March)
The world "Ku'omboka" means 'to get out of the water onto dry ground". This spectacular annual event, led by the chief, is where the Lozi people leave their homes for higher ground as the rains flood the upper Zambezi Valley. In ceremonial dress, they move to their new homes, where they remain until the waters have receded, and then dance and sing the night away.

LIKUMBI Lyamize (July) |
The Luvale people of Zambezi District, North Western Province, come together to celebrate their cultural heritage at Mize, the official palace of senior chief, Ndungu. Displays of all types of handicrafts, dancing and singing take place during this traditional ceremony.

In Zambia's Luapula Proving on 29 July, Chief Kazembe celebrates an ancestral war dance in an arena by the Ng'ona River. This two-day ceremony is mixed with ritual, semi-mystic performances, pounding drums and long speeches all performed by players in brightly colored cotton skirts and headdresses.

SHIMUNENGA (September/October)
Held by the Ba Ila people on the weekend of the full moon, this traditional ceremony is an expression of their devotion to their ancestors. It occurs on the Kafue Flats at Maala.

Above material and images have been supplied for use by the Africa Travel Association courtesy of the Zambia National Tourist Board



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