His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Lubosi Imwiko II, sounded the royal drums at the Lealui palace on Thursday evening in a procession traditionally known as Kufulumuna.
Although the actual Kuomboka voyage takes place tomorrow, Saturday the 8th of April, 2017, last night’s Kufulumuna is officially the start of every Kuomboka festival, which ceremoniously celebrates the movement of the king from the Barotse flood plains and the Lealui Palace to the highland of Limulunga.
This morning, another colorful activity, the Royal Regatta, took place and was flagged off by Induna Inunde, Ms Ireen Muyenga, the first and only woman induna since the advent of male Litungas in Barotseland. Inunde is in charge of foreign relations, and according to her, over 35 dignitaries representing their foreign missions accredited to Zambia had by yesterday confirmed their participation at this year’s Kuomboka.
The Regatta, on the other hand, is a royal canoeing competition that attracts the participation of men and women, both young and old, as they showcase their paddling skills with deserving winners awarded prizes. Today’s Regatta ran from Lealui to Mongu’s Mulambwa harbour.
WHO IS ATTENDING?
The guest of honour at this year’s Kuomboka will be the President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who has since arrived in Mongu this afternoon in the company of several of his ministers.
Also in attendance will be Zambia’s main opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND) president, Hakainde Hichilema, together with his vice president, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, along with other party officials.
Of special note, however, is the controversial deployment of unprecedented large numbers of Zambia security personnel which has attracted widespread condemnation from Lozi loyalists and other political observers who have further alleged that this year’s Kuomboka is a mere political showdown between Lusaka and Mongu. It is a game of thrones of sort!
However, Lusaka has justified the move citing security concerns. The territory has been a political hotspot since its unilateral declaration of independence in 2012, a move that has not been accepted by the Zambian state. In last year’s Zambian general and presidential elections, the people of Barotseland overwhelmingly voted for Zambia’s opposition UPND in a vote largely considered a protest, despite Zambia’s vice president hailing from the region.
Nevertheless, the Kingdom’s prime ceremony is set to proceed without major incidentals owing to the peace loving nature of the Baroste, many of whom had greatly missed the ceremony which has not been held since 2013.
Indeed, the international eye is on Barotseland as both local and international media are present to cover this year’s Kuomboka festivities, with notable ones being CNN and BBC among others.
Litunga Lubosi Imwiko II sounds the royal Maoma drums. Video courtesy of MUVI Television.
The 2017 Royal Regatta kicks off
Zambian President, Edgar Lungu, on arrival at Mongu Airport for the 2017 Kuomboka ceremony. Video by OBLATE RADIO LISELI
Amateur video footage of Hakainde Hichilema arriving in Mongu this afternoon for the 2017 Kuomboka ceremony. Video by Hakainde Hichilema social media.