Maliko Lwiindi Ceremony 2007: impressive celebrations and encounters

The annual traditional Lwiindi ceremony at Sinazongwe is a function where the Tonga people appease and thank their ancestors for what they have done for them in the just-ending agricultural season. Central to the ceremony is the visit to the Malende site and shrines where the hosting Chief pours traditional brewed sorghum beer onto the graves of the ancestors whilst their spirits are called by nyele horn blows and clapping hands.

This year, Tonga.Online facilitated the participation of Simonga, the Ngoma Buntibe group from Siachilaba, to go across and join their counterpart group Maliko, Honourable Chief Sinazongwe and the community on the Zambian side in vibrant Lwiindi celebrations on the 28th July.

The function was not only an opportunity to meet family members, often after a long time, but also an eye-opener and learning process for the BaTonga from the Zimbabwean side on how to preserve and develop their common cultural heritage which faces the risk of extinction.

The occasion was also blessed by the visit of Elizabeth Colson, an American anthropologist who has conducted research among the Tonga since 1946 and is particularly known for her study The Social Consequences of Resettlement  (published 1971). In her most recent book Tonga Religious Life in the Twentieth Century (published 2006 in Lusaka) she refers to such ritual occasions as the Lwiindi. She describes it as follows: “On the Plateau and in the Gwembe hills, major communal celebrations are associated with the agricultural regime. These are referred to as lwiindi. The two most important are the lwiindi lwakumwaka, associated with planting, and the lwiindi lwakutebula, which takes place after harvest. On each occasion, the ritually recognized households of a neighbourhood are expected to make beer for offering to the ancestors, and people go from homestead to homestead celebrating the occasion. At lwiindi lwakumwaka, they may also visit the community shrines (malende)...Zambezi River communities, less dependent on a single harvest, did not celebrate either of these lwiindi.” (page 39)

Interesting to note is how dynamically this cultural heritage has adapted to today’s world and to the needs and occasions of a vibrant Tonga community in the Gwembe Valley, and how Lwiindi encourages further cultural encounters across the lake.

See pictures of Maliko Lwiindi celebrations and encounters: Photos page1 , Photos page2