MINISTER of Tourism Rodney Sikumba says this year’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony attracted huge crowds because people had so much appetite to participate, given that it had not been held for the past two years.

In an interview, Tuesday, Sikumba said the ceremony lived up to the expectations and he was happy that locals turned up in numbers.

“There was so much appetite to attend the Nc’wala this year than I have ever seen before. I had the opportunity to look at the crowd on an aerial view and you could tell the large crowds of people were flocking to witness what was going on. As you are aware Nc’wala is the first traditional ceremony that takes place at the beginning of every year and obviously we haven’t had Nc’wala for the past two years. It was successfully held last month and obviously, this is because the Ministry of Health and the Zambia National Public Health Institute allowed that it goes in under strict COVID guidelines to ensure that people manage to witness the ceremony itself,” he said.

“You do realize that Nc’wala is a ceremony that signifies the beginning of the year and then the culmination of many others. Now we haven’t had this ceremony for the last two years and you would find that most of the locals as well as the internationals were yearning to participate in the ceremony and actually lived up to the expectations, they turned out in numbers and as you can see there were a lot of people. What that signifies also is that for the last two years we have had COVID, it has given us an opportunity to think inwards, meaning using the opportunity that exists in Zambia. You don’t have to go abroad to actually get to enjoy or to socialize. As Zambians, we are social creatures so any opportunity that will draw us together relives certain cultures. So I’m happy that locals turned out in numbers.”

And Sikumba said the Kuomboka ceremony might be held next month as the organising committee was already on the ground mobilising resources.

“We have subsequent traditional ceremonies coming up, the closest I have on top of my head is the Kuomboka ceremony which may happen around next month. The organising committee is already on the ground mobilising resources, putting everything in place. You are aware that the Kuomboka is always determined by the levels of the water and if you check the weather, you can confirm that the water levels are just about that,” he said.

Sikumba urged people attending traditional events to always be cautious on the roads and have designated drivers, if possible.

“In as much as we invite people to come for these traditional ceremonies, it is also important to ensure safety, which is the issue of COVID and also regarding road carnage. People are becoming too reckless on the road, so we want to encourage people to have designated drivers, especially when you are going to a place which you don’t know or you are not aware of or you have been drinking. There’s always that urge to get excited. We encourage our drivers to get designated drivers and if not and you have an opportunity to get in a bus or something. We don’t want to lose lives because on one hand we are celebrating, on the other, we are mourning, we don’t want to do that,” said Sikumba.