2018 Kuomboka elephant sparks social media debate

By Staff Reporter
The appearance of an artistic elephant placed on top of a pavilion inside the Litunga’s Nalikwanda royal barge during last Saturday’s Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi-speaking people has sparked a social media debate.
And Kalonga Gawa Undi’s Chewa masquerades have added a different dimension to the cultural entertainment activities that usually characterise the traditional ceremony that takes place in Mongu and Limulunga districts at least annually.
According to postings and reactions on various group and individual Facebook pages monitored by Newsday Zambia,  the majority of people are wondering why the inflatable elephant at this year’s Kuomboka, which was officially graced by Kalonga Gawa Undi of the Chewa-speaking people, looked stranger.
The elephant is a symbol of the Litunga’s authority and such artistic elephants have been placed atop the royal barge during the Kuomboka Ceremony starting from around the end of the 90s.
Some people blamed the ceremony’s organisers for what they termed the elephant’s embarrassing appearance while others pointed fingers at whoever the artist behind the symbolic elephant was.
Mark Musialike Mwanangombe, for example, observed that even students of art from Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka could have made a better elephant than what had been displayed during the last Kuomboka.
Nakubyana Kalaluka Ikafa compared the elephant to the artistic lion that recently caused uproar after it was decoratively placed at a roundabout in Ndola.
However, while others went further to insinuate that the Kuomboka elephant looked like a tortoise, some said the elephant had not spoiled their enjoyment of the 2018 Kuomboka Ceremony.
And the arena in front of the Litunga’s palace in Limulunga was a hive of activity when the Chewa masquerades or nyau put a historical display a day after the Kuomboka Ceremony.
While the other nyau walked on poles, others danced belly-down on raised tree poles, but it was the nyau called Chingiliza, the one that moves with a snake in a sack and occasionally removes it to allow it wander towards the specreators, which brought people to their feet.
A crowd gathered around the snake-charming nyau to witness the display,  and even the police officers that been bussed in huge numbers to secure the traditional ceremony momentarily forgot their role and joined the fearful and excited crowd.
Some of the past Litungas’ grave caretakers stood up  from the VIP pavilion where they usually sit, next to the Litunga’s public pavilion at the other side of the arena, and openly exclaimed over the Nyau display.
President Edgar Lungu recently directed that traditional ceremonies should be graced by other traditional leaders instead of politicians from the government.
It was in this basis that Kalonga Gawa Undi was the guest of honour at this year’s Kuomboka Ceremony.