ARTHUR MWANSA, Rufunsa
TRADITIONAL ceremonies are possess a wealth of knowledge that should be celebrated, shared and honoured. This is exactly what took place at this yearâ€™s Nkombalyanga traditional ceremony.
The ceremony of the Soli people of Chieftainess Shikabeta of Rufunsa district in Lusaka Province is celebrated to mark the preparation of granaries in readiness for storage of the harvested crop.
â€œWe have commemorated the Nkombalyanga traditional ceremony for many years now; even at the time I served as district commissioner here we were still celebrating. A nation without a ceremony is as good as dead; you are recognised as chiefdom Shikabeta because you have a ceremony.
â€œThis traditional ceremony has brought many together. I want to commend the organising committee for ensuring that this event has finally come to fruition.â€ these were words of Rufunsa member of Parliament (MP) Kenneth Chipungu during the commemoration of the 2015 Nkombalyanga traditional ceremony .
It also was an opportunity for Mr Chipungu to call upon subjects in the chiefdom to take advantage of the ongoing mobile voter registration exercise and register as voters so that they also take part in voting for leaders of their choice in 2016.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has extended the mobile voter registration exercise on the Copperbelt, Luapula and North-Western provinces. The extension is from November 12, 2015 to January 31, 2016.
The extension will provide an opportunity for eligible citizens in these areas who will be issued with national registration cards by the department of national registration, passport and citizens during the final phase of the exercise to register as voters
Officiating at the traditional ceremony, Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata, said traditional ceremonies are important occasions that should be promoted and preserved.
â€œTraditional ceremonies create a sense of belonging, spiritually, materially, technologically and socially,â€ Ms Kapata said.
Government is not only committed to safeguarding culture and traditions but also looking at the welfare of traditional leaders.
Last year, late President Sata directed the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs to finalise the identification of sites to start construction of chiefsâ€™ palaces across the country.
â€œIn this regard my Government has commenced the construction of her Royal Highnessâ€™s palace in Shikabeta. As I speak, the contractor has already been identified and the site handed over to him,â€ Ms Kapata said.
Building materials have been procured and the district project management committee is working around the clock to ensure quality works are done.
Ms Kapata also said the construction of the Lusenfwa bridge will undoubtedly ease mobility within the chiefdom and Rufunsa district at large while connecting the area to Central Province and shortening the route to Northern Province.
â€œAt the point of completion the project will bring economic emancipation to our people in the chiefdom. It will also be easier and cheaper to access markets for farm produce among other goods and services,â€ she noted.
Shikabeta chiefdom will also see the upgrading of 32 kilometres of the Shikabeta road up to Lusenfwa Bridge to bituminous standard.
Ms Kapata, who is member of Parliament for Mandevu Constituency, is also happy that Lusenfwa Irrigation Scheme has been initiated in Shikabeta to boost agricultural activities in the chiefdom and Rufunsa as a whole.
At the same event, Chieftainess Shikabeta appealed to Government to consider upgrading Mpanshya and Chinyunyu Primary Schools to include senior secondary school.
Currently, the available schools only accommodate pupils up to grade nine, a development that has resulted in most pupils walking long distances to further their education outside Shikabeta chiefdom.
â€œI am appealing that grades ten, eleven and twelve are introduced to cater for children who may not be in a position to go outside the chiefdom to further their education,â€ the chieftainess said.
She said in a speech read on her behalf by her representative, Agness Kalonga-Shikabeta that while teachersâ€™ accommodation may generally be satisfactory, Lubalashi is faced with inadequate teachers due to lack of accommodation.
The provision of high quality and affordable health care is also a serious challenge for people living in rural areas such as Shikabetaâ€™s village, and having access to primary care in such areas is often inadequate because facilities are located far from where the people are settled.
It is for this reason that the chieftainess said though the frequent visits of health personnel from Mpanshya Mission Hospital to Shikabeta clinic are appreciated, the health post is in a deplorable state.
She raised concern over the construction works at Lubalashi and Chomba health centres which have stalled.
â€œMaterial such as cement is being wasted. Up to 100 pockets of cement delivered to Chomba in 2013 has now solidified. My subjects continue to trek to the nearest clinic at Shikabeta covering distances of 48 and 27 kilometres from Chomba and Lubalashi respectively.
Chieftainess Shikabeta is also concerned that a retired nurse is manning the only clinic (Shikabeta) in the chiefdom.
The traditional leader is, however, happy that works on the water reticulation system in her chiefdom have been completed. She commended Government for embarking on a project of constructing palaces throughout the country.
â€œI am grateful that work has already commenced in my area and it is my prayer that the contractor will complete the project of constructing the palace in my chiefdom on schedule,â€ she said.
The traditional ceremony that could be best described as successful was beautified by traditional dance from dance troopes and healthcare sensitisation programmes among other activities.
ARTHUR MWANSA, Rufunsa