Customs of Barotseland by Ben Taulo Masule

29 September 2014
Author :  
Some Lozi women dressed in Musisi Lozi dress


Silozi is the National language while English remains as the official language.

Marriage and Family

Long marriage engagements are common, so is living together before or instead of marriage. Only civil marriages are legal, but many couples also have a religious ceremony.


The average Barotzish family has two children or more. Both parents often work outside the home. At home, they may share some household duties, but women are still generally considered responsible for many of them and for child care. Still, they often remain in the same town or city as the rest of their family.


Barotzish eat traditional foods mostly grown with non-chemicals; Barotseland has a rich variety of foods, including fish, pork, beef, game birds, fish, fruit, vegetables, bread, rice, cassava and Buhobe (Pap). Wine, beer, or mineral water is often served with meals in hotels. Barotseland is famous for its Zambezi breams, rice, Mango and other fruits, Sipesu local brew and other varieties of beer. Breakfast consists of a hot drink along with rolls or bread with jam or other preserves. At midday, a larger meal is eaten Buhobe with relish. The evening meal is usually at 7 or 8 PM which is buhobe again. Barotzish take great pride in the quality of their food and the variety of cuisine—from domestically developed dishes to those adapted from other cultures. Restaurants offer a wide variety of international dishes.

Mealtimes in Barotseland are leisurely occasions to enjoy good food and good conversation. Most Barotzish eat with bare hands, while others use the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left. It is considered wasteful but not impolite to leave food on the plate. People must finish the portions of foods they are allocated.


Barotzish greet each other with a handshake. The phrases used for greeting is Mulumele or Balumele or lumela to your contemporary- Hi, or Mucwani – how are you; you may respond as shangwe, mina mucwani – and yourself? The most typical Lozi greetings are Shangwe (“Hello”) and a more formal Mutozi or ki musihali (“Good day”), and Ki manzibwana (Good evening), and Muzuhe hande (Good night). English greetings would not be out of place in Mungu and some other cities. Close friends may greet each other with a handshake and 2 or three claps, and bending a little bit on the knees. This is mostly done when greeting elderly people; sometimes after a handshake you kiss the palm of the young being greeted – this is believed to be a blessing. When leaving a small group, Barotzish usually shake hands with and bid farewell to everyone individually.

Barotzish enjoy inviting relatives and close friends to their homes, but other socializing is usually done in public places such as drinking places and restaurants. It is rare for Barotzish to visit one another without prior arrangement or at least calling ahead. Invited guests always bring a small gift to their hosts. Punctuality is not considered as important.


Paddling and football (soccer) are the most popular sports, and many people enjoy watching basketball and volleyball. Hunting (a controversial pursuit) and fishing. Barotzis also enjoy outings to the beach or to the forest to pick the wild fruits. Local and national festivals such as Kuomboka ceremony and other ceremonies are recreational highlights of the year.

National Events and Ceremonies

Every year, around the month of March or April, the King moves from the Flood Capital called Lealui (Lubatañanyi) to His Winter Capital in Limulunga Royal Village; this event is a very big day for every Mulozi and it is called Kuomboka Ceremony.

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