Zambian Traditional
Dancing Is Very Much Alive!

Zambian traditional dancing is very much alive in all parts of the country. It's as diverse as Zambia's 73 ethnic tribes. It is an important part of the Zambian culture. If there's a funeral, a ceremony, a cerebration or a beer party, you are guaranteed of Zambian traditional dancing!


Types of Dances

The country has distinct dances and songs from one tribe to the other. Different types of music and dance are connected with each of the country’s ethnic group. There are specific dances and the accompanying songs for every occasion, sex and age group. Through song and dance, messages are conveyed.

The following are some types of traditional dances;

Zambian Traditional DancingTraditional Dancing
  • Kalela (lala tribe)
  • Ngoni (Ngoni tribe)
  • Nyau or Gule Wamukulu (Chewa tribe)
  • Muchoma (Namwanga tribe)

The traditional dancing is also part of entertainment. Songs are a means of passing on beliefs, legends, folklore and history to the future generations.

Dancing Occasions

Traditional dances and songs were and are still performed at any of the following occasions, although the practice is slowly dying out in urban areas;

  • Funeral rites
  • Healing performances
  • Initiation ceremonies
  • Death
  • Rituals (Such as rain making by the Tonga)

The traditional dancing is an expression of tradition and culture through the masks and dresses worn by the dancers. In rural areas, traditional dancing and singing are still the main form of entertainment especially at the weekends. This is so because most rural areas lack modern recreational facilities.

Musical Instruments

Although in Zambian dancing there’s a lot of drumming, singing, and clapping, some traditionally made musical instruments are also used.

  • Wind instruments, e.g. a flute.
  • Stringed instruments, e.g. a banjo.
  • Percussion instruments, e.g. a xylophone.
  • Drums.

Most of the traditional dancing is kept alive by traditional ceremonies. This is equally true of traditional songs. The traditional ceremonies, including weddings, funerals and initiation ceremonies, involve a lot of singing and dancing.

Some ceremonial dances culminate into the chief’s dance, like the Umutomboko ceremony of the Bemba people.

Popular modern Zambian dance music has incorporated a lot of traditional music and dance. And so it’s rooted in the traditional style of singing.

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