VIOLET MENGO, Mongu
THE Zambezi Flood Plain, also known as the Barotse Flood Plain or Bulozi Plain, has been recognised as one of Africa’s great wetlands, but now there are plans to have it declared as a world heritage site.
With a rich biodiversity and high ecological value, the plain is an interesting feature that gets flooded every rainy season. Tributaries, like arteries from a heart, channel water from the Zambezi River to water the plain until it cannot soak up the water any more.
The result is a huge expanse of water interspersed with numerous small islands.
In the past, the plain was teeming with wildlife, but due to a number of factors, including poaching, large game can no longer be found here.
For the Lozi people, who occupy this land, life is governed by only two seasons – when the plain is flooded, and when it is dry and dusty like a desert.
The flood season comes with many challenges for the Lozi people living on the plain. Many of them maintain two homes, one on the plain and another one on the highland. When the flood waters rise, they shift to the plateau.
The movement is signified by the annual Kuomboka ceremony, when the Lozi king – the Litunga – escapes to his palace on the highland in his barge called the Nalikwanda.
When the rainy season is over, then comes the winter months, followed by the hot season, and all the water in the plain drains away, sucked by the sandy plain, or simply runs off back to the Zambezi River.
The landscape remains dry and open for human activity once again. It is a cycle the Lozi people understand very well.
Because the plain controls the way the Lozis live, it has become part of their culture. It is also a final resting place for the Lozi kings.
Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) Ngambela (prime minister) Manyando Mukela says all the passed Lozi kings have been buried in the flood plain. Their graves are well-preserved by the Lingomboti (grave keepers), who must protect them from erosion and degradation.
The Ngambela said the flood plain has canals which were dug for purpose of irrigation and CLICK TO READ MORE
VIOLET MENGO, Mongu