Africa Leaders Magazine


The Kuomboka festival is  one of the most famous and culturally significant traditional ceremonies in Zambia which dates back over 300 years, making it a deeply rooted tradition among the Lozi people, passed down through generations, and holds immense historical and cultural importance for the community.

Kuomboka, which means “to get out of water,” marks the end of the rainy season when the Zambezi River’s floodplains become inundated with water.

The Kuomboka Ceremony signifies the transition of the Lozi king (known as the Litunga) from a palace located in the flooded plains to a palace on higher ground. This move is necessary because during the rainy season, the Zambezi River overflows, flooding the plains. The Litunga’s move to higher ground symbolizes the wisdom and leadership needed to adapt to environmental challenges.

The ceremony typically takes place at the end of the rainy season, usually around March or April, when the floodwaters are at their peak. However, the exact date can vary from year to year.

Lozi people of Barotseland, Image credit (Trip Down The Memory Lane Blog spot)

Leading up to the Kuomboka Ceremony, there is heavy drumming of the royal Maoma drums, creating an electrifying atmosphere. The day before the actual event is filled with excitement and preparations as the community comes together for celebrations.

Drumming and dancing at Kuomboka festival, Image credit(

The main highlight of the Kuomboka Ceremony is the grand procession of the Litunga and his entourage. The Litunga is transported in two large canoes, each paddled by 50 oarsmen. This procession is a spectacular and colorful sight, attracting both locals and tourists.

People waiting for Litunga (King), Image credit(

Nalikwanda being paddled to the Limulunga harbour, Image credit(

The Kuomboka Ceremony is deeply rooted in the natural environment of the region. It demonstrates the close connection between the Lozi people and the Zambezi River, highlighting their dependence on the river’s annual flooding and their ability to adapt to it.

The  Ceremony presents  an excellent opportunity to witness Zambian culture at its best. It’s not just a religious or royal event but also a cultural showcase featuring traditional music, dance, and attire. Visitors can experience the vibrancy of Zambian traditions during this celebration.

Colorful scenes at the festival, Image credit(

The ceremony has gained international recognition and has become a major tourist attraction. It draws thousands of visitors from around the world who come to witness this unique cultural event and immerse themselves in Zambian heritage.

Some foreigners seen capturing the moment at the kuomboka ceremony, Image credit(Valerie Duffy)

The Kuomboka Ceremony is a living testament to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Lozi people in Zambia. It’s a unique and captivating event that showcases the resilience and adaptability of a community in the face of environmental challenges while celebrating their history and identity.

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