The Ncwala Traditional Ceremony is held in February each year by the Ngoni people in the Chipata district and celebrates the first harvests of the year. The ceremony takes place at Mutenguleni village near Chipata.
When the crops ripen at the end of February, the first fruits are given to Chief Mpezeni as a sacramental meal and thanksgiving to God and the ancestors. And this is the essence of the ceremony.
After the fresh fruits have been presented to the king, he takes them into his palace and prepares for the long journey from his palace in the Luangeni hill to Mutenguleni.
This is a long journey: The palace is located at about 45 kilometres in Luangeni south-east of Chipata and Mutenguleni is about 60 kilometers south-west of Chipata.
The celebrants are adorned in leopard skins, wielding spears, clubs, shields and eagle feathers.
Speeches are given. People sing and dance. The ground literally shakes with the stomping of their feet.
The ceremony climaxes when an Ngoni warrior spears a black bull to death. The bull is actually selected and killed for this occasion.
Another warrior quickly slits the throat and collects the blood which Chief Mpezeni, wearing leopard skin drinks.
Then, Ngonis with knives cut the carcass. Within a short period the animal is dissected and some parts are eaten right on the sport. Ngoni warriors who are known as hyenas eat some of the raw meat, intestines and organs.
The whole stomping and dancing and revelry making goes on for three days, starting from Luangeni and culminating at Mutenguleni!
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It all started as a thought, about making my journey by TAZARA. You see, I have been planning on going to Nakonde by train, the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority – TAZARA.