9 Feb

Chapter 10

Sandy and Tunya went a great distance before Sandy broke their silence.

‘I seem to be doing a lot of strange things lately.’

‘Strange is good if it is right’, answered Tunya.

‘You see that is the point. I am not sure I have done all things right,’ stated Sandy. ‘Illuminada has always taken care of me and I turn my back on her?’

‘You would be back with Illuminada very soon.’

‘This had better be good,’ she concluded resignedly.

‘It is. You are about to witness the Kuomboka ceremony’.


‘Yes my friend, Kuomboka. It means ‘to get out of water.’

Kuomboka is a traditional ceremony of the Lozi people which takes place at the end of the rainy season. The Lealui area is often flooded when the rainy season ends. This causes creatures such as rats, snakes and the terrifying white ants to come out of their hiding places. The white ants are quite ferocious and could consume even the homes of people. Even the snakes had to hang in bushes to keep away from the ants.

This problem occurred annually and to solve it the first male king of the Lozi people—Muyunda Mwanasilandu, introduced Kuomboka. The king who was later known as Mboo came up with the idea of building a barge to be used in transporting people, their livestock and valuables to Limulunga which was on higher ground.

This innovative idea of the king played a major role in the change from a female ruler to a male ruler.

A day before the annual departure the royal Maoma drums are beaten to announce the event. The king alone knows when this departure would take place; the date is not pre-arranged and changes from year to year.

‘We are here’, Tunya announced.

Sandy could see the crowds of watchers from the river bank and two barges approaching.

‘There are two boats approaching, why is that?’ Sandy asked thrilled that she was witnessing this.

‘Those are barges and the natives call them Nalikwanda. The Litunga is transported in it,’ answered Tunya.


‘That is what the King is called’, Tunya clarified.

‘See the barge painted black and white with the huge black elephant on it? That is the Litunga’s barge.

‘Is that a real elephant?’ asked Sandy.

‘No, my elephant friends would not have that’.

‘But there is a smoke coming out of that particular barge’,

‘You are really observant my little friend’, responded Tunya. ‘That smoke tells us all that the Litunga is alive and well. The second barge with the huge cattle egret is for the Litunga’s wife.’

‘There are really a lot of paddlers,’ Sandy observed.

‘Any able-bodied man who volunteers gets to paddle the barge’.

They watched the barge go past. Some of the paddlers could not help but notice the white girl riding a hippo.

‘When do they return?’ asked Sandy.

‘Whenever the Litunga says so,’ was Tunya’s simple answer.

This is all so lovely, thought Sandy. Africans are no monkeys at all and they definitely do not swing from tree to tree. They are a people with a rich culture which she envied very much. She thought about Illuminada and what she had said to her when they first met and she thanked God she had apologised for it. The cool breeze of the open Zambezi combined with the soothing heat of the sun to give a drowsy effect. In no time Sandy was dozing on Tunya’s back.

*                                  *                                  *

Sandy felt someone shaking her.

‘Wake up girl; you have to strap yourself we are about to land’.

Sandy opened her eyes from a deep sleep feeling so disoriented. When her vision cleared she could see Illuminada shaking her.

‘Come on girl you’ve been sleeping for hours now, buckle up.’

‘Illuminada?’ Sandy said smiling. ‘How did you get here?’

‘Did you just call me Illuminada?’

‘Sandy’ someone called from across the aisle.

Sandy turned to find her mum and dad smiling at her. Could this actually be real? She stared at them blankly.

‘You slept all through the flight; I hope you have not developed cramps?’ Yolanda Simpson asked.


‘Are you alright’, her father asked concernedly as he made to stand up from his seat.

Yolanda held him back reminding him that they were already landing.

‘It was all a dream?’ Sandy whispered under her breath. She turned to Illuminada and found her gazing at her with a knowing smile.

‘You knew didn’t you?’

‘Guilty as Charged. You called me Illuminada,’ narrowing her eyes, ‘saw me in your dreams?’

Sandy smiled nervously. It all made sense now how she could survive un-survivable situations unscathed.

‘Yeah, you were Illuminada’, Sandy explained as the plane touched down at the international airport at Lusaka.

‘Makes sense, I always illuminate where ever I am’, she chuckled as she undid her straps.

Sandy also undid her straps as her father got to her side.

‘What’s the matter?’ he asked.

‘Nothing dad. I just had a dream.’

Greg heaved a sigh of relief. ‘For a moment there I thought you were chickening out of this expedition’.

Sandy touched Illuminada’s hands. ‘You still have not told me your name’.

‘It’s Victoria. Victoria Summers’, she answered with a wink.









The Zambezi River is the fourth largest river in Africa and the largest that runs into the Indian Ocean. It runs across four Southern African countries beginning from Zambia through to Angola, Zimbabwe where it borders Zambia and Zimbabwe at the famous Victoria Falls, and ends at Mozambique where it empties into the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi feeds and waters a host of animals and people who have a rich culture and heritage. It is no wonder that a series of ceremonies are connected to it.

The story is weaved around real places and sometimes real people. Nevertheless, all events surrounding Sandy’s journey are purely fictitious.


2 Responses to “Zambezi”

    • cbnwali March 30, 2013 at 6:14 am #

      Don’t agree with what, really?

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