Luapula province, in the north of Zambia, hosts the Umutomboko ceremony at Mwansabombwe village between Mwense town and Lake Mweru, at the site of the Lunda royal capital established in 1890 by Mwata Kazembe Kanyembo Ntemena. The Umutomboko is a two-day ceremony which celebrates the advent of the Lunda and Luba people to Zambia from Kola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ceremony commences on Friday 26th July and concludes on Saturday 27th July 2013.

Chief Mwata Kazembe opens the ceremony, performing traditional rituals at various sacred locations both within and outside the royal palace. Covered in white powder, the Mwata receives gifts of food and drink from his subjects leading to the feasting and celebrations. The second day begins with an animal being slaughtered and Mwata Kazembe, clothed in traditional zebra skin known as muselo, is carried by eight men to a central ground where he is surrounded by his subjects who cheer, drum, dance and shoot volley guns into the distance. It is here where he performs the Mutomboko: a Lunda dance of victory and the climax of the ceremony. Armed with a sword and an axe, the Mwata wears the Mukonzo: a laden kilt comprising of over 40m of cloth assembled into a thick fold around the waist.

The Mwata’s assistant holds another piece of clothing, known as the Lucaca, and must keep up with the chief’s dancing. As the dancing continues, the Mwata points his sword to the north, east, south, west and finally to the sky and ground, symbolizing that only God and death can conquer him. The ceremony concludes when the Mwata is carried back to his fortress.

The people of Mwansabombwe invite all visitors to experience this uniquely African occasion promising a rich cultural experience. The ceremony not only features traditional dances by the Royal Family but traditional Lunda and Luba feasts, as well as a taste of the fascinating history of the Lunda people. The Lunda tribe divorced from the Lunda state of the Mwata Yamvo in The DRC in late 17th Century and settled in the Luapula Valley in Zambia where they now reside.

For more information on the Umutomboko ceremony and to book accommodation, visit the official Mutomoko website. Pictures of the ceremony can also be found on the website.

Story writen by: Joy Kitheka