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Kwilimuna Ceremony

Masaiti, Zambia
Cultural ceremonies
In 2018, the annual Kwilimuna Ceremony will be held on Saturday 28th July in the Ichipembwe arena, at Ibenga in Mpongwe District of the Copperbelt Province in Zambia. This is a lively celebration of Zambian culture. Over a three day period, the history of the Bulima tribe is told, Chief Malembeka is praised as the honorable head of the Bulima tribe, and there is a lively program of speeches intermingled with music, traditional dance and sketches with a purpose.

Cultural ceremonies

At this traditional 'harvest festival', on the first day guests start to assemble and food preparations begin. On the following day the feasting gets underway, with traditional dancing, and sketches with a message. The Kwilimuna Ceremony culminates on the third day when the Chief and the various dignitaries join the festivities.

Day One

Guests and visitors gather on the first day, and food preparations begin. There is entertainment, with traditional music and dancing.

Day Two

Further food preparations take place for the following day when the feasting, traditional dancing, and sketches with a message come to a climax. The messages told in the sketches and plays include themes likes HIV/AIDS prevention and the importance of looking after orphans and widows.

Day Three

The ceremony culminates on the third day when the Chief and the various dignitaries join the festivities. There is a variety of entertainment and the history of the Bulima tribe is told. The traditional activities include an initiation ceremony, during which the girls who have come of age are instructed on various duties, such as how to light a fire without matches.

When Chieftainess Malembeka makes her way from her palace to the arena, she is joined in the procession by invited dignitaries. As they march into the arena, they scatter seeds as a symbol of the continuing cycle of growth, harvest and planting.

The master of ceremonies then introduces all the honoured guests and the speeches begin. The people show their appreciation of their wise leaders who have ensured they have grain in their barns for another year. They praise the Chieftainess and present her with 'malumbo' (gifts).

Throughout this ceremony there is a lot of singing and dancing accompanied by traditional drumming, expressing the joy of the occasion. The Chieftainess performs her ritual dance and others join in spontaneously. People give money to those whose dancing they particularly appreciate.


Bottled drinks and simple snacks such as buns, donuts and crisps are available from stalls set up around the arena. There is also a choice of traditional beverages such as munkoyo and traditional beer. On the final day of the ceremony a special meal is served to invited guests. This is a traditional fare cooked specially for the occasion. It includes chicken, fish, chitashi (wild vegetables) and nshima.

Where to stay

There is a small guest house at Masaiti less than three kilometres away. Alternatively visitors can travel from Luanshya (30 minutes drive away) where there are several hotels and guest houses. Other Copperbelt towns like Kitwe and Ndola are a few hours drive away.

Cultural ceremonies
Kwilimuna Ceremony · Cultural ceremonies
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