I was finally able to witness the Kuomboka Ceremony in Mongu, Barotseland and had the pleasure of sharing the experience with my friends from Australia, Chloe & Luke and our SEEDS manager Fredrick.I have been to Zambia 5 times now and this is the first time I was there when on April 8, 2017 the ceremony took place.
Although Ku-Omboka, the annual movement and evacuation of the King of Barotseland and his people from the rising waters of the Barotse floodplain to higher ground, has been taking place from time immemorial, it was during the reign of King Mulambwa Santula ( 1812-1830) that Kuomboka became the national spectacle it is today. Click on the link to read more about the traditional annual event providing the flood waters are high enough to accommodate the Royal Barge.
They were expecting huge crowds this year as the ceremony had not been held the previous 3 years. Last year due to their Queen’s death and the previous two years due to low water levels due to drought.
Fredrick, our SEEDS manager and owner of our Bed & Breakfast Mulopo Flats, wanted to give us a true Lozi experience so he hired a dug out canoe and a paddler. We were initially going to use his canoe but it leaked and attempts to stop the leaks were unsuccessful.
We walked about 1.5 kms down from Mulupo Flats http://sendseedstoafrica.org/seeds-b-b-mongu-mulopo-flats/and SEEDS Resource Gardens to the Flood Plain. It was a lovely walk, fortunately down hill and I was pleasantly surprised when we passed through Kabita’s village on the way to meet our canoe and paddler.
Kabita was a gardener at Liseli Lodge, just down the road from SEEDS, where I normally stayed when I was in Mongu. He has retired now and was not there at the time but we met all of his family and saw his huge banana trees and his vegetable gardens.
Kabita came up to meet me at SEEDS the following week and I gave him some vegetable seeds from our seed cupboard.
We walked through grass fields with cattle Kraals gradually getting closer to the flood waters which were about 6 feet deep with about 2 -3 feet of tall grass reaching above the waters.
We are on our way to see the King ( Litunga) pass by in his barge but first we stopped in the village, this time of year an island, where Fredrick was born in the middle of the Barotse Flood Plain and had lunch and washed our legs!
Washed our legs you say?
Stay tuned for the next blog and find out why and the rest of our exciting day!