One of the most prestigious and Foreign Exchange earning traditional ceremonies in the country has been cancelled for the third time in the PF’s four years rule.
Just like last year, there will be no Kuomboka ceremony this year (2015). The failure to hold the Kuomboka for the third time since the PF came into power has been attributed to the on-going desire by the people of Barotseland to manage their own affairs without interference from the Zambian government.
The only time the Kuomboka ceremony was held under the PF regime was in 2013 when then vice-president Guy Scott officiated. In 2011, despite the killing of Mongu youths by armed forces under the orders of Rupiah Banda, the ceremony was held but it was late vice president George Kunda who officiated under extremely tight security.
In 2012, the Kuomboka was cancelled. The official reason given by the Barotse Royal Establishment was that the water levels in the Zambezi plain were too low to hold the ceremony.
But the truth was that the Bartose Royal Establishment (BRE) cancelled the Kuomoboka on security reasons. Sources within the BRE told the Watchdog that the BRE did not want to have anything to do with the Zambian government officials who could have imposed themselves as guests of honour at the ceremony.
The BRE had initially decided to hold the ceremony but for members of Barotseland only. They had planned the event to be officiated by the Ngambela and not anyone from the PF government. But that path was abandoned in preference for complete cancelling of the ceremony.
In 2013, the Kuomboka ceremony was held after the PF government tricked the separatists’ movements in the region that they were willing to engage in genuine dialogue. After the Kuomboka, members of the separatists’ movements were arrested for treason and other crimes.
In 2014, the Kuomboka was cancelled again. The real reason was that the BRE and most people there did not want the PF officials to officiate at the ceremony. During that period, the Litunga (King)’s wife, Queen Moyo Imwambo died. The BRE gave this as officials reason for cancelling the Kuomboka. Note that the Queen died on 10th March and was put to rest on 17th March, 2014. The Kuomboka should have been held in April or first week of March, before the Queen died. Besides, after the funeral, which the PF government did not attend or even acknowledge, the Litunga shifted to higher ground from the flooded area. (silent Kuomboka).
Kuomboka literally means “to get out of water.” The purpose of this exodus is to shift from the flooded area to a higher ground during the rainy season. So, the death of the Queen could not have prevented the Kuomboka because the area was still flooded.
This year, 2015, the Kuomboka has been cancelled after PF vice-president Inonge Wina failed to convince the BRE to allow president Edgar Lungu to officiate. The BRE fears reprisals and even uprising from the public especially separatists movements. With leaders of the people still being detained and facing criminal charges, the BRE could not risk being seen to associate with jailers of the secession leaders.
A provisional date to conduct the Kuomboka had been set for April 20th, 2015 and some people had even started fundraising and booking lodges in the area. But after Inonge Wina’s failed mission to Lea Lui (see here) all went quite. There has been no official statement from the BRE. And this being May, the water has receded from the plains and it is certain that there would be no Kuomboka in 2015.
In the past and when there was harmony in the region, the Kuomboka was conducted even if the water levels were low as long as the Nalikwanda (that ugly big boat) could sail. This was because the Kuomboka had become a national symbol, something that had to happen every year for people to celebrate culture and foreigners to witness what Zambia had to offer. It was meant to bring Forex and enable tourist and hotel operators in the region to make money. But all this has changed. The lodges and guesthouses in Barotseland are currently filled with OP and other security forces who are busy spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the area. There is documented evidence to show that since the security forces occupied Barotseland in 2011, they have impregnated hundreds of school going children, wrecked marriages and spread HIV to alarming levels.