Zulu chief to grace Nc’wala ceremony

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of the Zulu Kingdom of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa will be the guest of honour at this year’s Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni people of Zambia to be held at Mutengileni village in Zambia’s Eastern Province.

This year marks the 38th anniversary of the crop harvest festivity since it was revived in 1980 by the Ngoni’s Paramount Chief Mpezeni III.

The festival is planned for February 23.

According to the programme released by the Zambian Embassy in Pretoria, Prince Buthelezi is the first official from the royal clan to grace the event in Zambia in recent years and his visit will be used to forge links between the Ngoni-speaking people of Zambia and the Zulus of South Africa, as the two tribes share the same ancestral origins.

The Nc’wala organising committee has confirmed that Prince Buthelezi will be gracing the ceremony.

In a statement, the Zambia High Commissioner to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, hailed the deepening cultural ties between Zambia and South Africa, noting that the Ngoni and the Zulus of South Africa have a lot in common.

“There is a need to enhance and preserve the cultural ties the two countries have enjoyed over the years,” he said.

Historically, the N’cwala traditional ceremony is the hallmark of the first harvest of the year. The people use it as a thanksgiving ceremony to their God and ancestors for good crop yields.   

In 1935, the former British colonial government had banned the event, as it was perceived as a barbaric cultural ritual.

The ceremony signifies the union of the Ngoni, people also known as Ngunis, and Zulus of Eastern Zambia and part of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania as they prove their uniqueness, having fought and triumphed over other tribes as they moved from South Africa.

On the last Saturday of February each year, the Ngoni people of Zambia trek to Mtenguleni’s main arena to pay homage to Paramount Chief Mpezeni IV also referred to as Nkhosi ya Makhosi, Ndabazithe, Thuto and Ngwenyama.

Over the years, the event has become a popular attraction for both local and foreign tourists. Many companies have also taken advantage of N’cwala popularity.

To add to the occasion is the establishment of the Museum situated in Chipata, which has been set up in memory of the late Ngoni Prince and freedom fighter Nsingo Jere, who was the son of Paramount Chief Mpezeni I.

The museum is situated in Feni, near the border with Malawi, and the heritage site aims at providing the public with information on the renowned Prince and freedom fighter Nsingo Jere as well as the way of life of the Ngoni people.

Many sponsors and companies are using the event as a marketing platform, given the influx of people expected from across Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and other parts of the world - making it an international tourist attraction.

 

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