Hundreds of Malawians tomorrow will rush across their border, into Zambia, without the need for passports, as long as they are on official lists of those trekking to Mkaika, the headquarters of Chewa King Gawa Undi, in Katete, in Eastern Province, in the neighbouring country.
The travellers will join thousands of other nationals, who went to Katete earlier this week, to link up with millions of fellow Chewas from Mozambique and Zambia, in paying homage to the Gawa Undi, who reigns among the Chewas in the three countries, in a key annual ceremony called Kulamba.
Immigration officials in all the three countries have been bending their rules all week, partly by allowing the travellers to the Kulamba ceremony to cross borders without the need for them to proffer passports.
Most travellers will be allowed to transport ‘excess’ cargo—including livestock, refrigerators and mattresses—across the borders. These will be part of the gifts various groups will present to the Chewa King during their allotted time to see him; he later shares some of the gifts, according to food and other needs people face in the three countries.
Malawi Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo) secretary general Sefren Khumula told Nation Online in Lilongwe that Malawi is likely to maintain its tradition of having the largest delegation among travelling guests to the Kulamba ceremony, since all the 137 Chewa chiefs from Malawi are accompanied by large delegations.
“The Kulamba excitement is even greater this year, because we will also be marking the 10thanniversary since His Majesty the King ascended to the throne. Part of the anniversary celebrations took place earlier this week at Doole, a special burial site for Chewa kings,” he stated.
Khumula said Malawi’s traditional dances to be showcased at the Kulamba ceremony include gule wamkulu, chitelela and mganda.
“We are also happy that other top traditional leaders, like Ngonis of Mzimba and Ntcheu, and Llomwes from the South, will also be present at the Kulamba ceremony. This should greatly please our Kalonga Gawa Undi, who stresses that we, the Chewas, should live in harmony with all tribes and contribute fully to national and personal development,” he added.