THE KING’S ROYAL TOUR: Litunga Imwiko II to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta in Livingstone

02 September 2019
His Majesty Imwiko II, The Litunga, King of Barotseland - CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE


This September, His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland,  will ceremoniously travel to Livingstone on the Zambezi River, the first such royal travel by any Litunga since his father did it in April 1947 when he travelled on the incredible Zambezi to meet King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the Zambezi Boat Club.

The Litunga will travel to Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta scheduled to take place on the 14th of September.

For this royal tour of duty to Livingstone, the King and his royal entourage will travel the traditional way called Kupuwana, when the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) will come with their royal boats and barges for a flotilla on 13th September 2019.

Kupuwana is a distinct water ceremony the King of Barotseland undertakes when on an official or ceremonial tour of duty different from the annual Kuomboka or Kufuluhela festivals.

Consequently, alternative but equally spectacular royal barges, such as the Indila, are used for the voyage in the place of the Nalikwanda and the Notila royal barges that are the main features during the Kuomboka water festival and its reverse voyage, Kufuluhela.

In recorded history, this will be the third time that the Litunga of Barotseland has travelled to Livingstone on the incredible Zambezi River in a Kupuwana procession.

The only other time the Litunga came to Livingstone Kupuwana style was in 1925 when King Yeta III came to meet with the Prince of Wales and the 1947 royal journey undertaken by King Imwiko I.

And a Lozi historian and traditionalist, Mwangala Mutumwenu, has advised that there is nothing sinister about the Litunga going to Livingstone on a royal visit or for official royal duty such as to grace the opening of the forthcoming 5th Zambezi International Regatta in the tourist capital because this has happened more than once before since the turn of the 20th century.

Mr Mutumwenu’s advice comes in the wake of some Lozi mixed reactions that have accompanied the announcement of the Litunga’s imminent royal visit to Livingstone to grace both the 5th Zambezi International Regatta as well as the Southern Province Investment Expo.

“After all,” Mr Mutumwenu argues, “the city of Livingstone was commissioned by King Lewanika, then Litunga of Barotseland, and historically, the people of Livingstone are Lewanika’s children!”

“Kaufela ki bana ba Liwanika!” chuckled Mr. Mutumwenu!

In fact, the first Zambezi International Regatta that took place in 1905, which also featured the Barotse royal barges of Mwandi Palace under Prince Litia, son of Lewanika based in Sesheke and the royal barges from Lealui Palace in the capital of Barotseland, was also graced by King Lewanika.

At the time, the Mwandi palace won the regatta, while the Barotse Native Police (BNP) was on hand to do the formalities, and the Barotse Brass Band performed.

The 1905 regatta coincided with the founding of the town of Livingstone and the founding of the Zambezi Boat Club, and it was during that royal visit that King Lewanika laid the foundation stone at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the greater city of Livingstone.

Meanwhile, Peter Jones of The River Club in Livingstone, in a social media post on the Northern Rhodesia & Zambia Group (NRZ), has stated that the arrival of His Majesty, the Litunga in the tourist city of Livingstone will also mark the beginning of the Southern Province EXPO, while the  next days will see the Alumni from Oxford and Cambridge, men and women crews, battling it out on the Zambezi River against their South African challengers.

And the Livingstone Sports Festival (LSF) website reporting on both the Litunga royal visit and the international regatta has revealed that this year’s festival is an International Centenary Rowing Regatta and White Water Kayaking which will allow both attendees and participants to experience the rich and unique traditional music, culture, drama, street performances, arts, crafts, fairs and workshops.

Further, universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Rhodes and Wits will all come to participate and manoeuvre their way through hippos and crocs with the spray of the falls as a backdrop, the LSF has reported.

In 1910, Livingstone hosted the World Professional Sculling Championships between World Champion from New Zealand and the British champion.

Between 1910 and 1964 several important regattas have taken place from the Zambezi Boat Club involving Zambians, British, South African and local clubs.

1996 saw a visit to the Victoria Falls by Richard Fishlock, an ex-British Olympian and Oxford rower, as a result, an idea for the first Oxford Cambridge Regatta was discussed. It was developed by Peter Jones of The River Club, an established lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, on the Zambian side.

However, the first modern Zambezi International Regatta took place in 2004, followed by 2005, 2007 and 2010, and all these regattas were attended by Oxford and Cambridge Alumni, and leading South African Universities, men and women, from Rhodes, University of Johannesburg and Cape Town, and once in 2007 by Brown University, USA.

Fishlock and Jones remain the event organisers with a new partner, Lee-Anne Singh.

2019 will see the fifth event take place, as the showpiece of a week of sporting celebration to mark the Southern Province Investment Expo.

SOURCES: LSF.CO.ZM, Peter Jones (The River Club), NRZ

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