They have been described as many things, but I like to call them mass migration spectacles, a floating symphonic exodus, performances of spiritual renewal of faith in the role of the Litungaship for both male and female, in the entire Kingdom north and south, east and west and centre of the flooded plain. Bringing balance to our lives at home and abroad regardless of our other faiths and beliefs, these ceremonies are what make us Malozi but today our most sacred rites of passage are threatened to never belong to us again if we do not stand up and claim them as the rightful owners.
These ceremonies are all born out of ecological necessity and over time have become grand texts, myths and unifying performance practices for us, the MaLozi of southern Africa. Kuomboka and Kufuluhela as cultural practices were fully explored by Mutumba Mainga in her article A History of Lozi Religion (1972) and Likando Kalaluka (1979) in Kuomboka: A Living Traditional Culture among the Malozi people of Zambia (Neczam). This seminal work covers the cosmology, cultural history, ecology, and explores the political and economic basis for Kuomboka and Kufuluhela.
There are three different Kuomboka and Kufuluhela locations and ceremonies with all their own royal barges, xylophone orchestras and separate pageantry at Nalolo, Libonda and Lialui. These six grand migrations and many other ceremonies in Barotseland give us an enormous repository of cultural memory and places our belief system at the forefront of my mind at all times as the central unifying grand narrative for our people. Kuomboka and all of its cultural properties - music, dance, masquerade and more has ancient Nilotic roots and we hear them spoken of in the oral epics of the praise singers to the Litunga, Litunga-la Mboela and the Mboanjikana. They tell us how over time they have become ceremonies of cultural unity and opportunities for collective consciousness - where we "wade in the water" with our King, Queen and Princess Regent, as they lead us to higher ground physically and spiritually and then brings us back down to the land of plenty.
Kuomboka and Kufuluhela are our symbolic systems of democratic governance where every individual paddler represents the people in the Nalikwanda - for the People stand in for the nation. We are the nation in this symbolic system.
The Litunga is the custodian of the nation and he has to ensure that our sacred oaths are not violated; not even by him for the general protection and welfare of the entire nation, else, the calls for his abdication would continue to ring so loud. Without this symbolic system in action we cease to exist as a people and as a nation.
Therefore, news of the Nalikwanda being paddled by outsiders during Kuomboka or Kufuluhela is never welcome as our sacred secrets from most ancient times would be revealed and corrupted by those who only wish to destroy us. If there is any one thing that would go down in history as the most heinous of all crimes against the Barotse nation, this would be among the worst.
As such, His Majesty Lubosi Imwiko II, must continue to protect and adhere to our sacred precepts and return us to the land of plenty because it is our only homeland.
Our beautiful Ku-o-mboka!
Our beautiful Kufuhela!
Our beautiful Barotseland!