The Mzimba ngonis, led by Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V, will over the weekend attend the Incwala Cultural Festival of the Ngoni in Zambia which celebrates the first harvests of the year.
Mzimba Heritage Association secretary Aupson Thole said in an interview that the entourage will then proceed to Tanzania afterwards for the Maji Maji Rebellion Commemoration at Songea which will take place on Monday and Tuesday next week.
Said Thole: “We are trying to bridge our gaps through these festivals. These are meeting points for the Ngoni from Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa. We want our people to visit each other and share cultural experiences.”
The Incwala Traditional Ceremony is held during the last weekend of February each year by the Ngoni people in the Chipata District and celebrates the first harvests of the year.
Thole said when crops ripen at the end of February, the first fruits are given to Chief Mpezeni as a sacramental meal and thanksgiving to God and the ancestors. He said this is the essence of the ceremony.
On the other hand, the Maji Maji commemoration is done in memory of the mass killings of the Ngonis in Tanzania during the struggle for independence and
cultural nationalism against Germany.
Thole said the group is expected to visit several historical and cultural places such as a Memorial Pillar for the 67 executed Ngoni leaders, statues on the Mass Grave and the museum centre which houses Ngoni objects and achievements of the late Rashid Kawawa, one of the first political freedom fighters for the independence of Tanzania.
“These are cultural exchange visits that will teach us one or two things on cultural promotion and preservation. The trips will also promote national unity between the countries,” said Thole.
For the past two years, Mzimba Ngonis have been part of the celebrations in Tanzania. Thole said they have usually made it a point to visit the neighbouring country because of the shared heritage with the Songea Ngoni, who are also of the Zwangendaba descent. n