Lusaka – Another year and another round of cancellations of Zambia’s colourful traditional ceremonies.
Last year, the country had to put almost all annual ceremonial gatherings on ice because of COVID-19, and 2021 is not shaping up any differently.
“We have indefinitely suspended all traditional ceremonies until further notice because of the coronavirus,” Lawrence Sichalwe, the Minister for Chiefs and Traditional Affairs told The Southern Times Arts this week. “We are reviewing the situation.”
The suspension affects more than 30 ceremonies, among them those of the Namwanga and the Ngoni, the Kuomboka of the Lozi, and Mutomolo of the Mamba-Lungu. Others include Likumbi lya Mize of the Luvale and Lunda Lubanza of the Lunda; Lubinda Ntongo of the Kaonde; Ukusefya Pang’qwena of the Bemba; and Chinamanongo of the Bisa.
Zambia’s annual traditional ceremonies are all gazetted and have specific dates.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni has said the pandemic threatens preservation of age-old rites and traditions, but agrees that it is best to suspend the ceremonies for as long as COVID-19 remains an existential threat.
“This disease has killed a lot of people, I have decided not to host the (Ncwala) ceremony this year because I care about my people’s welfare and I don’t want to be blamed if ever there was any loss of lives as a result of COVID-19,” he said. “This leadership I have is for the people and without you my people then the leadership will be meaningless.”
Paramount Chief Mpezeni said not hosting Ncwala this year did not mean the end of the Ngoni people’s culture.
“God will give us direction and one day when everything is back to normal, we may have the ceremony,” he added.