CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe
CENTRAL Province hosts seven traditional ceremonies out of the 82 that are held in Zambia every year, an indication that the region has rich traditions and culture.
The ceremonies exhibit the traditional, cultural values and norms that are an identity of the people in the province and are unique from each other.
The Sala people of Senior Chief Shakumbila in Mumbwa district are the first to celebrate their traditional ceremony â€“ the Ikubi Lya Loongo.
This ceremony is held in July, and in the same month, the Bisa, Swaka and Lala people of Chitambo, Serenje, Luano, Mkushi and Kapiri Mposhi districts with their 19 chiefs celebrate the Ichibwela Mushi traditional ceremony in Mkushi at Chalata Arena.
The Lenje people of Chibombo, Chisamba, Kapiri Mposhi and Ngabwe districts under Senior Chief Mukuni Ngâ€™ombe hold the Kulamba Kubwalo traditional ceremony â€“ the last traditional ceremony of the year in Central Province.
Chief Chibuluma, another Ila traditional leader and his people in Mumbwa have the Ikubi lya Malumbe Munyama ceremony in October. In August, it is the people of Chief Musunga of Itezhi tezhi district who stage the Bulongo ceremony.
In September, chiefs Mumba and Kaindu of the Ila and Kaonde of Mumbwa celebrate the Musaka Jikubi annual traditional ceremony.
In the same month, the Ila people of Itezhi tezhi district under Chief Shezongo celebrate the Kapondela Of all these, the Kulamba Kubwalo in Chibombo seems to be the biggest traditional ceremony in the province.
Provincial senior traditional affairs officer Etassy Mtonga says each traditional ceremony in the region offers an insight into the life of people.
â€œIn most of these ceremonies, people celebrate a good harvest, paying homage to their ancestors and God, and they also remember how they conquered enemies up to the time they reached the areas where they have settled,â€ Ms Mtonga says.
During these traditional ceremonies, Ms Mtonga says, the hosts display unique dances, songs, drumming, crafts and regalia which signify the importance of their traditions and culture.
Traditional ceremonies have of late also become forums at which government highlights development programmes it undertakes in different areas of the country.
Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula said the ceremonies are platforms where traditional leaders and their people showcase traditions and customs.
â€œTraditional ceremonies are an effective way of safeguarding Zambiaâ€™s tradition, cultural heritage and inculcate good morals in our young generation,â€ Dr Simbyakula said.
Dr Simbyakula said during the recent Kulamba Kubwalo traditional ceremony that the preservation of tradtions and culture is important because people without a tradition are as good as dead.
Government also believes that traditional ceremonies provide an opportunity for people from different tribes to appreciate their tradition and culture, and pay homage to God and their leaders.
â€œTraditional ceremonies remind us of the values, beliefs and customs as Zambians and also help us in preserving our rich culture and traditions handed to us by our forefathers,â€ Minister of Youth and Sport Vincent Mwale said.
He said the annual events showcase rich traditions in Zambia and bring together people from different tribes to celebrate together.
Mr Mwale, who officiated at the Ichibwela Mushi ceremony recently, also said traditional ceremonies serve as events at which agricultural production and food security are promoted.
â€œTherefore, considering the importance attached to traditional leaders in fostering social and economic development, the government pledges full support to such events,â€ Mr Mwale said.
He implored traditional leaders and their subjects to preserve and advance their traditions and culture for the good of the country.
And Kunda Mwila, the chairman of the Ichibwela Mushi Cultural Association, said his organisation will strive to preserve the traditions and culture of the Bisa, Swaka and Lala people.
â€œOur association will do everything possible to ensure that our culture and traditions survive and are passed on to the next generation,â€ he said.
Mr Mwila lauded government for promoting the preservation of culture in the country because this is important for Zambiaâ€™s heritage.
And Central Province Kuomboka Kufuluhela committee chairman Matthews Mwangala said traditional ceremonies are hallmark events at which various tribes showcase their traditions and culture.
â€œLetâ€™s not shy away from preserving our culture and traditions,â€ Mr Mwangala said. â€œWe should ensure that we commit ourselves to our culture and traditions.â€
Mr Mwangala said traditional ceremonies bring out the peopleâ€™s identity, which is embedded in their traditions and culture.
He said traditional ceremonies benefit Zambia as a whole because they unify the country and also attract foreign tourists.
With the passage of time, however, the complexion of traditional ceremonies in Central Province, just like in other regions, is taking a different dimension.
As organisers seek sponsorship f r om bus iness hou s e s to successfully hold their events, commercialisation is taking its toll on traditional ceremonies.
Ms Mtonga, the senior provincial traditional affairs officer, observed that as a result of commercialisation of ceremonies, traditional attire is being replaced by branded T-shirts of sponsors.
â€œThey are distorting the whole essence of traditional ceremonies,â€ Ms Mtonga said.
Ms Mtonga said her department wants traditional ceremonies to retain their original meaning and value for them to attract tourists.
Apart from being a platform for showcasing the rich cultural heritage, traditional ceremonies also promote tourism.
Sadly, the events in Central Province have not been fully exploited and marketed for tourism purposes.
She said traditional ceremonies are also tourist attractions which should be well organised and packaged to reflect the real cultural values of people of a particular region.
â€œI think we have to maintain the originality and ingenuity of the ceremonies such as culture and food. Letâ€™s not dilute what we want to exhibit,â€ she said.
Traditional ceremonies need promotion
CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe