Hats off to Nkosi yama Nkosi nama koswe yonse, the Paramount Chief of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province for breaking the political monotony and bickering that dominated social media in February.
No retired bare breasts this year. Well, they were there but the Ngoni warriors decided to steal the limelight and protect their women’s integrity by performing exhilarating car stunts never seen before in the history of the Zulu Kingdom.
For a change, Zambians had an opportunity to watch our own local super heroes showing off their black pathers, brown pathers, skinny pathers and fat pathers; name it. All in the name of celebrating cultural heritage.
We can imagine that the Catholic nuns who went to Mtenguleni this year are still repenting over what they saw; unless they were Bemba and they are looking forward to next year’s ceremony to take more selfies with the nude panthers. After all, this is the only event where police can’t arrest anyone for indecent exposure; just like weed smokers are allowed to do their thing during Bob Marley memorial concert.
And by the way, now we understand why the Nc’wala Organising committee empasised that those who were traveling to Chipata should carry enough condoms. We suppose they knew that whatever goes up needs to come down… Hehehehehe!
But on a serious note, we salute the Ngonis for trying hard to keep it strictly traditional this year. We say this because the creed of traditional ceremonies in Zambia is under siege from corporate influence. For years now, multinational companies in this country have been hijacking these traditional ceremonies to advertise their services.
When you go to attend the Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi Speaking people in Mongu, Limulunga, you find a sea of MTN or Airtel dressed local people. These companies take advantage of the poverty in rural areas; pretend to care by giving away free T-shirts and in the end brand the entire arena – taking away the desired cultural euphoria.
Sometimes even the warriors who transport the Litunga to dry land are forced to wear branded telecom company outfits, making it look like they are paddling to rescue the MTN or Airtel CEO from the swamps. It is the same with the Ukusefya Pang’wena ceremony of the Bemba, the Chakwela Makumbi of the Soli, Lwiindi Gonde ceremony of the Tonga and many other prestigious cultural events.
It would be better if mobile telecommunication companies can get the naming rights of these ceremonies, as major sponsors, so that we can maintain a traditional touch to cultural events. That way, we would have the 2018 Airtel N’cwala ceremony or the 2017 MTN Kuomboka ceremony. That would still give them the desired media publicity with a few billboards here and there. That’s what happens when they sponsor Golf or Football leagues. They don’t force Red Arrows to wear MTN yellow jerseys as if they own the club. Billboards are kept outside the pitch.
So, back to Zwangendaba’s descendants, well done Angoni esalako for downplaying the corporate sponsorship and choosing animal skin over Mobile Money T-shirts. Our only suggestion is that maybe next year, High Commissioner George Kanyamula Zulu must go back to Australia and bring with him Kangaroo skin for the Warriors. At least those have big enough baby pockets to cover the bulky black panthers, which could not be kept hidden this year by the skin of thin impalas that succumbed to poaching in Mfuwe.
And maybe if the Easterners really want to take next year’s event to another level, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if Honourable Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale showed up in the same gear, sandwiched by Honourable Dora Siliya’s bare breasts as a way of showing government’s commitment to support traditional ceremonies.