Posted on April 16, 2014
Thousands of people flock to Zambia in the middle of April for this festival...to hear the royal Maoma drumming, to watch the boatmen, and to enjoy the singing.
Several different sources say that this is the biggest and best-known traditional ceremony in the country. And it all has to do with water...
You see, every year the Zambezi River floods the farmlands, making the plains into a giant but shallow lake. Naturally, the people have to move to higher ground – and this even includes the Lozi king. The king, his family, and his entourage travel on a huge black-and-white-striped barge to the rainy-season palace.
The festival name, Kuomboka, is very literal, since it means “to move out of the water.”
I found it interesting that the Lozi have a legend that is similar to the Jewish people's Noah's Ark story. The story is set a long time ago, during the first chief's reign; there came a huge flood that killed all the animals and swept away every farm. Some people were in their canoes but were frightened of paddling such small craft in such a big flood, so the high god Nyambe ordered a man named Nakambela to build a great canoe so that all the people could escape the flood.
By the way, I found it interesting that the Lozi king starts the ceremony dressed in traditional dress, but during the journey he changes into the full uniform of a British admiral. The first of these British uniforms was presented to the Lozi king by King Edward VII in 1902 in recognition of the treaties between the Lozi and Queen Victoria.
Learn more about Zambia at Our Africa.
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