Likumbi Lya Mize: Famous for its exciting Makishi masquerade dancers

Written by on January 29, 2019



THE Likumbi Lya Mize traditional ceremony of the Luvale speaking people of Senior Chief Ndungu in Zambezi district in North-Western Province is one of the oldest cultural ceremonies in Zambia having been first celebrated in 1956.

From everywhere, the Luvale people gather in Zambezi district about 570 kilometres from the provincial capital Solwezi, since its recognition by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) because of its famous Makishi masquerade dancers.

The word ‘Mize’ means a small shrub. This was a place where senior chief Ndungu lived before building his palace.

After the completion of his palace in 1956, he called for a celebration with his subjects and named it to now Likumbi Lya Mize ’’Festivities of Mize’’.

The ceremony that takes five days is held in the last week of August annually and usually starts on a Tuesday of the Mize week.

The ceremony usually starts with the resurrection of the over 100 different types of Makishi on Wednesday from the graveyards on the eastern part of Zambezi district which is called Kuvumbuka.

The Makishi then make their way to the traditional dancing arena called Chilende chamuchana (a Makishi dancing arena in the plain) where they perform in the Zambezi River plains in the West Bank.

During the procession, the Makishi are usually accompanied by a huge crowd as they make their way to Chilende in the afternoon.

Each Likishi which is designed differently and performs a unique dance and also carries a distinctive connotation.

On a Saturday, the main event starts with the breaking of a calabash containing a traditional brew by a Likishi called Kapalu Sakashimbi before a royal salute is performed by an appointed person, usually by a village headman.

The most remarkable moment of the ceremony is when a ‘stubborn’ Likishi called Kapalu parades a live goat before Kahipu (the chief Likishi) who hacks the goat by the neck twice with a machete called Mukwale before he (kapalu) finishes the job by butchering the animal without any mercy.

Kapalu then picks the goat and speeds off to the Mukanda where the boys are kept at the graveyards where the Makishi emerge from.

Another that unique part of the ceremony comes that  of the free sex called ‘Makoji free day’ which usually takes place on a Thursday night of the Mize week.

This however, is not part of the programme for the ceremony neither is part of the practice by the Luvale speaking people, but people have just taken it as a norm which happens annually during the event.

This is according to the Luvale Cultural Association National chairperson Isaac Kanguya who made it clear that the act (free sex) is not part of the Luvale culture neither is it included in the programme.

“It is not part of our culture no, but it is just in the minds of people,’’ Mr Kanguya said.

And from a journalistic point of view, many men especially the non-Luvale ones, they want to have a feel of Luvale women in terms of performance in bed.

That is why on this day, sex is free for all (Makoji free).

This is evidenced by the free distribution of condoms by various institutions such the ministry of health but the protective sheaths normally run out of stock due to unprecedented demand.

This part attracts a lot of people from across the country attending the ceremony.

It is this kind of influx of people that makes lodges and guest house owners also increase the room charges while landlords rent out their houses.

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