What going to the stadium to watch a long-awaited exciting soccer match is to city dwellers is what attending the annual Chisemwa Chalunda traditional ceremony is to the people of Mwinilunga district in North-Western Province.Mwinilunga is a quiet town which seems to be in a permanent state of slumber, but the town usually becomes awake during the annual traditional ceremony which is now becoming popular in the entire province.
The natives of the town, which is situated approximately 872 kilometres north-west of Lusaka, are also known as southern Lundas, who are an offshoot of the old Lunda empire of Mwata Yamvo in the present day Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Lundas are divided into several groups which are under two sub divisions.
One group is under Senior Chief Kanongesha and the other is under Senior Chief Sailunga.
Some natives of Mwinilunga boast of being proud residents of a town which perhaps was the only Zambian border town which has never had its culture and traditions adulterated by the languages and culture of both foreigners and locals who are not natives.
Many first time visitors to the town are usually amazed after noticing the ability in which foreigners and non-natives are compelled to voluntarily start speaking Lunda.
The town shares its border with Zambia’s neigbhours, the DRC and Angola.
Foreigners and non-natives living in Mwinilunga have no choice but to learn Lunda, failure to which they risk sentencing themselves to solitary confinement because of language barrier.
From the manner in which the Lunda language is used in private homes and public institutions such as the council, police station and hospital, one may end up being convinced that there was a silent law declaring that Lunda was the lingua franca for Mwinilunga.
Many Lundas from all walks of life have a rare opportunity to meet during the Chisemwa Chalunda ceremony.
The Lunda royal establishment says the hosting of the annual ceremony was important because it plays a unifying role among the Lundas.
The ceremony plays the vital role of preserving the culture and traditions of the Lunda people of Mwinilunga.
The Kanongesha royal establishment says over the years, the ceremony has proved that it was a vehicle through which the people were constantly reminding themselves about the importance of respecting and preserving the beliefs and values handed over to the Lunda people by their ancestors.
Kanongesha royal establishment representative, Wandi Mukanda, says the Chisemwa Chalunda was a vanguard of the future of Lundas, protecting both the young and the old from the effects of foreign culture invasion resulting into a situation in which people lose their culture and identity.
She says the ceremony also plays an important role in promoting and preserving the mighty Zambezi river source, which is a natural heritage site and tourist attraction.
“The ceremony has over the years been providing a forum at which HIV/AIDS sensitisation has over the years been conducted enmasse to the locals. The promotion of future development prospects of Mwinilunga is also being spearheaded with the creation of the Chisemwa Youth Project, which is a product of the Chisemwa Chalunda traditional ceremony. This gives us hope for a bright future although we are fully aware that our land is prone to experiencing natural disasters such as floods,” Ms Mukanda said.
This year’s ceremony, which took place from September 14 -15, attracted a total of 30 chiefs, among them, chiefs from Angola and the DRC as guests.
The ceremony usually starts on a Friday at the Chikota Chalunda, the Senior Chief Kanongesha’s palace, some 50 kilometres west of Mwinilunga Boma.
Chisemwa Chalunda traditional ceremony’s Mwinilunga district organising committee chairman, Anderson Maloza, said this year’s edition of the annual ceremony was expected to attract close to 10,000 people from different parts of the country.
Senior Chief Kanongesha of Angola, who is regarded as the father of Chief Kanongesha of Mwinilunga, was also in attendance.
The ceremony started with the prayers for the agricultural produce by the chief and elders from the Lunda royal establishment. After the special prayers, the chief and elders led the people in a special visit to the royal ancestral gravesite.
byÂ Gideon Thole