The sun rises on Gundu village, in Mukuni, south-east of Zambia's tourism capital, Livingstone.
Built on a sandy knoll with a population of 10,000 inhabitants, this village is home to the founder of the Royal Mukuni dynasty; Paramount Chief Mukuni Mulopwe, who settled here among the Leya people having travelled from the Congo in the 18th century.
Mukuni village lies just 7 kilometers from the majestic Victoria Falls, known by the indigenous Leya people as Nsyungu Namutitima or Mosi-oa-Tunya - the smoke that thunders.
Every year, members of the Mukuni Dynasty's 33 Mornarchs that stretch across Congo, Central Zambia, Northern Zimbabwe, Eastern Zambia, converge here for a ceremony to remember their past and celebrate their culture.
"Zambia, most of the tribes actually, have arrived in Zambia either from South Africa, or from.... largely from Congo in the last four hundred years, so they've held... they've now been running for something like two or three hundred years," said His Royal Highness, Senior Chief Munokalya Mukuni, a direct descendant of the Mukuni founder.
Known as the Bene Mukuni Ceremony, it also celebrate the converging in Livingstone of the Bene Mukuni Royal Houses and to commemorate the pre-colonial and historic Mukuni Mulopwe's journey.
Each Chief is a descendent from the family of the Paramount Chief Mukuni.
The ceremony is one of the most important for Mukuni followers. Dignitaries come from across Southern Africa.
It begins with the washing of the Chief's feet in the blood of a 'beast', symbolic of when the first chief chose oxen blood to wash mud off his feet.
His brother chose human blood. This was regarded as unwise and he disappeared on their journeys never to be seen again.
The lighting of the fire symbolises the light of Mukuni's reign.
The ashes from the fire are then used to honour all the chiefs present, each represented by a young girl from their tribe.
Historically these ceremonies were very private affairs. According to Chief Mukuni it is necessary to make them more public otherwise their culture may not be sustained. It is to remind the youth of where they have come from.
Grand Chief of the Cree Indians, Matthew Caan Comb travelled from Canada to witness the Mukuni ceremony.
Known internationally for his work to protect the traditional way of life of his people, he said the Mukuni people, like his own, were struggling to protect valuable traditions and resources.
"Society are consumers. Hungry for the use of ores, material things. Very materialistic. They've lost their way. Where now they focused on development. Where man thinks now it's my creation. He walks on cement, he makes big buildings. Then he forgets the creator. He forgets to protect the land," he said.
"In the USA, I visited a lot of Red Indian tribes and so on and, very strange, although we are separated by oceans and so on, I found that in essentials we are completely the same people. It was so amazing for me," said chief Mukuni.
The journey of Mulopwe Mukuni from the Congo was guided by his sister Kaseba who rode an elephant and was known as Kaseba-Mashila 'clearer of paths'.
Chief Mukuni owns a wildlife adventure business called Mukuni Big 5, that offers elephant rides, close up encounters with cheetahs and walks with Lions.
Source: Zambia's Mukuni Royal Dynasty celebrates ancient journey of paramount king. (19/09/13)