Zambia prepares for Nc’wala festival

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By Jeff Kapembwa

 

Lusaka - The “foot stomping” Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni people in Zambia is back this year to yet again showcase the country’s national unity and cultural preservation.

 

Dubbed “Conserving our culture, for our heritage”, this year’s N’cwala ceremony, which remains Zambia’s premier annual traditional ceremony reincarnating the Ngonis in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi, will be held in the last week of February at Mutenguleni in Chipata in the Eastern Province and will be hosted by paramount Chief Mpezeni at his Mutenguleni village.

 

In recognising its essence in the promotion of traditional heritage in Zambia, the corporate world, led by Stanbic Zambia, a unit of Standard Bank of South Africa, has donated US$2.2 million (ZMK2, 175,000) towards the hosting of the event, dubbed the country’s largest attraction of foreign and local tourists.

 

Stanbic spokesperson Wisdom Shanengeta said in donating to the event, the bank reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the contributions of traditional ceremonies in up keeping Zambia’s cultural heritage for generations to come.

 

“At Stanbic, we believe that sustaining the sponsorship of ceremonies like N’cwala is one way in which we can play a role in preserving our national heritage. It is ceremonies like this that safeguard our identity as a people and a nation,” he said when handing over the contributions raised during a fundraising event in Lusaka.

 

He acknowledged the pivotal role Zambia’s government was playing in promoting business growth and the bank’s desire to continue doing business in the country, hence the company’s reciprocal gesture to ensuring the values of culture and traditions were upheld.

 “In staying true to our philosophy which states that Zambia is our home and we drive her growth, Stanbic is proud to be the major sponsor of this year’s N’cwala ceremony of the Ngoni.”

Senior Chief  Madzimawe stressed the essence of  Zambia’s culture as it reflects the country’s unity adding,  “Our cultural heritage is a mirror of our national unity. Our diverse cultures unite us as a people. In embracing and celebrating our culture, we must also take an interest in the wider issues like climate change affecting our country.”

He called on Zambians and traditional leaders alike to join in the fight against the effects of  climate change negatively affecting the country’s rainfed agriculture, leading to poor yields.
Acting Minister of Tourism and Arts, Alexander Chiteme, expressed government’s recognition of the  N’cwala which celebrated both the tangible and intangible aspects of Zambia’s cultural heritage.


He urged traditional leaders to maintain the momentum of cultural preservation for future generations while noting that the traditional ceremonies were not only held to perpetuation and promote cultural heritage but also used to create economic opportunities for our people.


“Such ceremonies remain a dynamic activity for tourism development in Zambia – which is the fourth largest contributor to national GDP. It is for this reason that government has prioritised the sector as one of the key pillars for economic diversification,” he said.

Traditionally Nc'wala ceremony has various connotations. It is held to pay homage to their chief Mpezeni and God for the gift of the first fruits and food.  The Ngonis who trace their roots from South Africa’s Zulu culture  and entered Zambia in or around 1835,  hold the ritual ceremony which has been passed on to current generations.

The Nc’wala is a series of complex rituals, enactments and stories relating to the Chiefs power, crop protection, thanks giving as well as aspects of birth, childhood, puberty, adulthood, death and rebirth.

During colonialism the Nc’wala ceremony was banned for being too war like. It was revived after independence in 1980, marking 16 years after independence.

 

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