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Nsenga Tuwimba Ceremony

October 16, 2011

While in Petauke this week taking care of some things for the house, Chris was able to attend the Nsenga Tuwimba Ceremony. This is a cultural festival celebrating a mythical/historical event in the distant past of the Nsenga tribe.

The story is that one year there was a severe drought, and the rains that usually come in October or November did not arrive. Since there was no rain to soften the ground, no planting could occur, and no food could be grown. This was a serious problem. So the Chief led all of the Nsenga people into the deep bush. There they found a huge special tree. They prayed to the spirits at this tree and made offerings (tuwimba). Before the tribe even got back to their homes, it had started to rain.

The Nsenga people bring their gifts to Paramount Chief Kalindawalo during the 2011 Tuwimba Ceremony.


Now every year on October 15th the Nsenga celebrate the Tuwimba Ceremony near the start of the rainy season. Nowadays it is characterized by lots of typical Nsenga music and dancing. Groups of choirs and dance troupes come from all over the Nsenga-speaking areas. Political leaders from Lusaka come and give speeches about the importance of cultural heritage, about development plans they have for Eastern Province, and the need to work together to be “One Zambia, One Nation.” And people still bring traditional (and modern!) gifts to the Paramount Chief Kalindawalo, who makes an “offering” on behalf of his people in a traditional shrine.

There were many people at this year’s Tuwimba ceremony, perhaps as many as 10,000 before the day was over. Most stood for hours in the hot sun watching the performers and the events of the day, but Chris was glad for a chair in the shade!

You can see more pictures of the Tuwimba Ceremony at this link: Tuwimba Ceremony 2011.

One interesting thing was that the Nsenga Bible Translation Project got a lot of free publicity at the ceremony. One of the ceremony planners is a member of the Bible Translation Committee, and another committee member was Master of Ceremonies. He took many opportunities to point out the new work of translating the Bible into Nsenga, and asked people for contributions to the project via a special box.

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