Traditions that reflected the soul and aspirations of the people have, in all cultures, been lost to and through natural development. Yet, every now and again, we come across an experience that enables us to see through the veils of history, to glimpse at the raw heart of a peoples, to see the colour, texture and sheer energy that is their core.

The Kuomboka Ceremony, in Western Zambia, is one such occasion. For once the many tourists contribute to this awesome tribal gathering. Tribal politics, the costume, the witchcraft, the nature, the landscape, the weather, the need to survive, all combine in a flurry of formality, regality, blood curdling colour, noise and wild excitement. From the primordial drumming of the royal Maoma drums around the royal capital the day before Kuomboka to the eulollating crowds along the banks of the flood plain - the atmosphere is almost tangible.

The Kuomboka is the Zambian traditional ceremony of the Lozi Litunga or King leading his people to higher ground  to escape the
annual inundation of the Bulozi flood plain of the Upper Zambezi River. Whilst the exact date is liable to change each year and is kept secret by the Barotse Royal court until close to the day, it is always at end of March or beginning of April, depending on the rains.
The ceremony involves the migration of people by water, led by the kings barge 'the Nalikwanda', from the village of Lealui, the historical capital or winter palace of the Lozi Kingdom to Limulunga, the summer or floodtime capital (which is where the Litunga of today spends most of his time).

My interest is not to tell the story but to capture the essence, my understanding and my memories of the event in a series of photographic images, for those interested in the history of this ceremony see: * sites and articles on Kuomboka and the Nalikwanda Kuomboka:
             * Ancient Wisdom of the Malozi by Andrew Rooke
             * Kuomboka - Coming Out Of The Water by Clive Kawan


Kuomboka, Ceremony, Zambia. A photo gallery.

Click on any image for enlargement and details