Zambian Customs Are Best Exhibited Through Traditional Ceremonies And Social Life

The Zambian customs embrace extended families and they are very common among the Zambians. The brothers of your father are also your fathers. Likewise the sisters of your mother are also your mothers. 

So, it’s not unusual to find a household full of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and grannies living together as one big family. This arrangement is especially common in the Zambian villages.

These days though, families tend to be more nuclear, especially in urban areas. Most Zambian families are patriarchal, where the father is the head of the house. Some families are matrilineal.


Morden Marriages In ZambiaMorden Marriages In Zambia

During the old days, marriages were within the same tribe. It was unheard of to marry outside your tribe. But these days, inter-tribal marriages are very common. According to the Zambian customs, a girl is ready for marriage when she’s of age, (Adolescent).

Traditionally, the man pays ‘lobola’ or the bride price to the girl’s family. The 'lobola' (dowry) is usually arrived at after some consultations and negotiations between the two families. Church and traditional wedding ceremonies are both popular.


In the Zambian customs, nshima is the Zambian staple food. It is always taken with a side dish known as relish. On average, Zambians take two meals of nshima a day.


English is the official language, but there are about 73 ethnic languages spoken all over the country. Of notable importance are Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Luvale, Kaonde and Nsenga. Combined, these languages are the most widely spoken.

The Bemba tribe is the largest ethnic tribal group in Zambia, (20 percent of the population). They came from the Congo in the 16th century, and their homelands are in the northern and central parts of the country, many have immigrated to Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

Chewa, Ngoni and Nsenga tribes, all found in the east of the country, share the same language and form Zambia's second largest grouping, constituting about 15 percent of the population. The Tonga, the Ila and Lenje, known together as the Bantu Botatwe (Three Peoples), are a close runner-up with 15 percent of the population, concentrated in the west of the country in the Zambezi Valley.

The Lozi and Tonga are also abundant in the west. The Luvale, Lunda, Kachokwe and Kaonde in the north western. Other ethnic tribes are the LaLa, Bisa, Mambwe, Namwanga and Lamba.


In urban areas, soccer is the most popular sport and it has a huge following, but the effect is now trickling down to the rural areas. Boxing is also another sport with a huge following. Rugby, golf, tennis and car racing are among other sports with a sizable following in urban areas.

Zambian Customs, Hand In Hand With Traditional Ceremonies

Held throughout the country, traditional ceremonies are very much part of the Zambian customs. The time when they are held varies according to each tribe. But they are not done on a specific date. And it varies from year to year. Zambia has a lot of traditional ceremonies estimated to number about 20.These do not include ceremonies held in seclusion, like a number of initiation ceremonies.

These traditional ceremonies are a way of exhibiting Zambian customs; social life and culture. Among the notable ceremonies are the Kuomboka of the Lozi in western province, which takes place between March and April. Ncwala of the Ngoni, Likumbi lya Mize of the Luvale and Umutomboko of the Lunda in Luapula province, the ceremony takes place at Mwansabombwe.

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