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People and Culture

Eastern Province has a number of ethnic groups which are in each district. Sometimes each district may have two or three ethnic groups-(tribes). These tribes are rich in culture and proverbs. The proverbs are rich and useful in the sense that they enable people to talk about some secret issues without young ones or an alien to apprehend what they are talking about.

The Province has major Traditional ceremonies celebrated every year. these are listed below;

Kulamba Ceremony

The ceremony is held in August at Mkaika in Katete District. The ceremony, held after harvest in late August, is a way of bringing together different Che-wa Chiefs from different Countries to present their reports of griev-ances to Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi. The name Kalonga means the one who in-stalls subordinate Chiefs. Gawa is the one who gives out land and Undi means the one who pro-tects the subordinates. The Kalonga Gawa Undi is head of all the Chewa Chiefdoms and takes care of all the installations of chiefs not only in Zambia but in Malawi and Mozambique as well.

The ceremony was banned by the colonial masters in 1934 but Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi Chivunga revived the Ceremony in 1984. Since then it has been an annual event. On the day of the ceremony, the center of attraction is the main arena where all the dignitaries are seated. The entrance of Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi into the arena signifies the start of the ceremony. Visitors from Zambia and Che-was from neighboring Malawi and Mozambique are entertained to a variery of dances that are from three countries. The Nyau dance (Gule Wamkulu) was offi-cially recognized by UNESCO in 2006.

Nc’wala Traditional ceremony

The Nc’wala is a thanksgiving ceremony held every year at Mtenguleni village. This ceremony gives thanks for the first harvests of the season. This ritual ceremony has been passed on to current generations by Ngoni ancestors who originated from old Zulu culture. Interest-ingly during colonialism the Nc’wala ceremony was banned for being too war like. It was revived after independence in 1980. When the first fruits are taken to the Chief he addresses the crowd and is received with a roar of appreciation. The chief leads in his leopard skin outfit and he seens to have set a trend as many people wear animal skin of some sort. The Chief pro-ceeds to taste the first fruits such as millet, pumpkin, sugar cane and maize. Women ululate and sing songs of praise to the Chief, God and ancestors as the Chief blesses the fruit. The ceremony involves a black bull which is speared and the Chief must drink of its blood.

Then a journey begins between the Chief’s palace and Mtenguleni where the main ceremonial activities take place. Today the chief travels the 100 or so kilometres in a slow moving motorcade so the people can see their Chief, whereas in the past this journey was made on foot over a period of days. Crowds throng and there are bicycles, blue taxis, ox carts, cars, pick ups and buses packed with singing public.

The Nc’wala is a series of complex rituals, enactments and stories relating to the Chiefs power, crop protec-tion, thanks giving as well as aspects of birth, child-hood, puberty, adulthood, death and rebirth. This is rich culture that visitors are welcome to take part in.