His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Imwiko II has arrived in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta scheduled to take place on the 14th of September.
On hand to receive him as his aeroplane touched down on Wednesday afternoon, 11th September 2019, were several Batoka chiefs, among them, their Royal Highnesses Chief Chikanta and Chiefteness Sekute of Kalomo district, covering Dundumwezi and Kazungula districts respectively.
The chiefs were at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport alongside the Provincial Minister, Edify Haamukala, to welcome the Litunga who is in the tourist capital for an official royal visit to grace the International Regatta and South investment Expo at the invitation of the Provincial leadership and the government of Zambia.
Batoka, now largely the Southern Province of Zambia, was once a District of Barotseland and its people continue to enjoy a very special relationship with the King of Barotseland.
And the Litunga was accorded the full customary royal salute, known as ‘Ku showelela’, as he disembarked from the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) aeroplane, after which he and his entourage proceeded to greet thousands of royal enthusiasts who had been waiting for his arrival at the royal pavilion especially set up for the occasion of His Majesty’s royal visit in the tourist capital.
As His Majesty entered the royal pavilion in his characteristic majestic walk, known as ‘Ku tamboka’, he was treated to more royal salutations from all his royalists in unison, after which the spectacular ‘Ngomalume’, a special dance for men and warriors, was performed to welcome the King of Barotseland.
The Litunga’s entourage aboard the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane, which touched down at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport at 15:08 hours Wednesday afternoon, included his Prime Minister, Mukela Manyando, and Richard Kapita, who is Zambia’s Provincial Minister to Barotseland - now officially known as the Western Province of Zambia, District Commissioners and some chiefs and Induna from Barotseland.
Meanwhile, the Livingstone City Council has mounted the Litunga and Barotseland’s Royal Flag alongside the Zambia National Flag to symbolise His Majesty’s presence in the capital as the city comes to life with festivity in the week ahead.
On Friday, the 13th of September, 2019, the King and his royal entourage of about 350 royalists will perform a traditional ceremony called Kupuwana, at which the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) will paddle their royal boats and barges for a flotilla in Kuomboka like manoeuvres on the mighty Zambezi River.
Although similar to Kuomboka, the Kupuwana ceremony is a distinct water ceremony the King of Barotseland undertakes when on an official or ceremonial tour of duty, different from the annual Kuomboka or Kufuluhela festivals.
Consequently, alternative but equally spectacular royal barges, such as the Indila, are used for the voyage in the place of the Nalikwanda and the Notila royal barges that are the main features during the Kuomboka water festival and its reverse voyage, Kufuluhela.
In recorded history, this will be the third time that the Litunga of Barotseland has travelled to Livingstone to perform the Kupuwana procession on the incredible Zambezi River, the only other time being in 1925 when King Yeta III came to meet with the Prince of Wales and the 1947 royal journey undertaken by King Imwiko I.
His Majesty, the Litunga is in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta and also mark the beginning of the Southern Province EXPO.
The Regatta starts on 14th September 2019 which, in the next days, will see the Alumni from Oxford and Cambridge, men and women crews, battling it out on the Zambezi River against their South African challengers.
This year’s festival is an International Centenary Rowing Regatta and White Water Kayaking which will allow both attendees and participants to experience the rich and unique traditional music, culture, drama, street performances, arts, crafts, fairs and workshops.
Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Rhodes and Wits will participate and manoeuvre their way through hippos and crocs with the spray of the falls as a backdrop.
In 1910, Livingstone also hosted the World Professional Sculling Championships between World Champion from New Zealand and the British champion.
Between 1910 and 1964 several important regattas have taken place from the Zambezi Boat Club involving Zambians, British, South African and local clubs.
1996 saw a visit to the Victoria Falls by Richard Fishlock, an ex-British Olympian and Oxford rower, as a result, an idea for the first Oxford Cambridge Regatta was discussed. It was developed by Peter Jones of The River Club, an established lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, on the Zambian side.
However, the first modern Zambezi International Regatta took place in 2004, followed by 2005, 2007 and 2010, and all these regattas were attended by Oxford and Cambridge Alumni, and leading South African Universities, men and women, from Rhodes, University of Johannesburg and Cape Town, and once in 2007 by Brown University, USA.
Fishlock and Jones remain the event organisers with a new partner, Lee-Anne Singh.
2019 will see the fifth event take place, as the showpiece of a week of sporting celebration to mark the Southern Province Investment Expo.