Traditional ceremonies were banned by the colonial administration, urged on by the missionaries as primitive and heathen. Denying people their heritage was the height of oppression. It amounted to stripping people of their ancestral identity. Although no public ceremonies were held in deference to the law at that time, traditions were kept alive and kicking and ceremonies were held in the dead of night. Culture is the bed rock and mainstay of any society. A percentage of our mindset, norms and behaviour is determined by our culture and traditions. Chiefs hold a very important role in Zambia, the main one being as custodians of the land. There are two categories of land in Zambia. Tribal land and state land. Tribal land constitutes the largest area. Land cannot be allocated without permission from the area chief. Niether can businesses like commercial farms, mines, malls, quarries etc. An agreement has to be reached on social responsibility to the chiefdom. Chiefs are highly respected in Zambia. They preside over many social matters and land issues. Those who like adventure and bundu bashing, when you go to a rural area, it is wise to seek audience with the chief to make your presence known. In many chiefdoms there are areas which are sacred and a no go zone for visitors. Trespassers are asked to pay a heavy fine. It is said (unconfirmed) that some tourists went into a sacred forest despite being warned not to so. When they came out they were herded to the chief who fined them a tractor or a bore hole. If the story is true, I don't know how it ended. The story is retold to deter tresspassers.
Here is a comprehensive list of Traditional ceremonies and the months they are held, updated in March. Due the Covid 19 Pandemic, all ceremonies were cancelled for the past year. These ceremonies are a very important event to every tribe, reminding us of our roots and cultural heritage. Massive planning is involved and they've become a tourism attraction both local and international. People cross the country to attend these events even if it is not their tribe. Some chiefdoms span Borders so tribesmen from across the border to celebrate. The Chewa are spread across Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique with the Paramount Chief, Gawa Undi's seat at Mkaika in Zambia. The Lunda Kingdom of Meats Kazembe spans Zambia and DRC withe kingdom seat at Mwansakombe in Luapula. These are just two examples of how colonial boundaries split tribes between countries. The Ngoni's always receive a delegation from the Zulu Kingdom of South Africa, another from eSwatini and Lesotho. The Ngoni kingdom is a breakaway from the Zulu Kingdom which fled from Shaka's Mfecane , led by Zwangenda. The biggest of these ceremonies is Kuomboka (Lozi...there are also two smaller Kuombokas in Senanga and Kalabo), Nc'wala- Ngoni, Mutomboko- Lunda, Likumbi Lya Mize -Luvale, Kulamba- Chewa to name a few. The ceremonies attract corporate and private sponsorship. The head of state has a cycle of which ones to attend on an annual basis. The local residents in the area receive an economic boost especially in the food, transport and accommodation business. They are big and colourful events characterised by energetic dancing, singing and drumming in colourful costumes and masquerades and people have renewed pride in their culture. All the ceremonies are a celebration of special events in the tribes history or mark the cycles of the seasons For example, Kuomboka marks the movement of the Litunga from the lower land to higher land when the Zambezi floods annually. The Mutomboko- of the Lunda and Kysefya pa Ng'wena of the Bemba are victory ceremonies, symbolize the defeat of other tribes to settle where they are today. Other ceremonies are thanksgiving for a good harvest. Chiefs are our royalty and highly respected.