Chakwera set to take part in Kulamba cultural festival in Zambia

The President of Malawi, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, will attend this year’s traditional Kulamba Ceremony of the Chewa people on Saturday August 27, 2022 at the seat of the Paramount Chief, Kalonga Gawa Undi, Mkaika, Katete District, Zambia.

The Foreign Ministry announced the president’s visit Thursday in a statement.

However, the Foreign Ministry has yet to give full details of President Chakwera’s visit and attendance at the festival, saying they will be released later.

Nyasa Times understands that this year’s traditional ceremony will be the first in two years due to the global pandemic, Covid-19 restrictions.

The cultural festival, which has always been held on the last Saturday in August every year except the past two years, brings together Chewa from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.

Chewas from the three neighboring countries flock to Mkaika every year to pay homage and respect to their king Kalonga Gawa Undi. The coordinator of the Chewas in the three countries, Senior Chief Lukwa, told Zodiak Online that the ceremony is expected to take place on the last weekend of August.

The traditional Kulamba ceremony is an annual event held in Zambia. The ceremony is celebrated towards the end of August every year in Mkaika.

The ceremony is a way to bring together different Chewa chiefs from the three countries to present their reports of grievances to Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi.

The name Kalonga means one who installs subordinate chiefs.

Gawa is the one who gives the land and Undi means the one who protects the subordinates. The Kalonga Gawa Undi is the head of all the Chewa chiefdoms and takes care of all chieftaincy installations not only in Zambia but also in Malawi and Mozambique.

The ceremony was banned by colonial masters in 1934 but Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi Chivunga revived the ceremony in 1984. Since then, it has been an annual event.

On the day of the ceremony, the center of attraction is the main area where all the dignitaries are seated. The entry of Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi into the arena marks the start of the ceremony.


Visitors to Zambia and Chewa from neighboring Malawi and Mozambique are entertained by a variety of dances from three countries.

A variety of dances like Gule Wamukulu (Nyau), Gologolo, Makanja, Muganda, Chinamwali, Chimtali (the female dance) and many more are performed during the ceremony.

Nyau or popularly known as Gule Wamukulu among the locals, is the most famous dance among the Chewa people.

The Nyau (Gule Wamukulu) dance was officially recognized by UNESCO in 2006 and the (Nyau dancers) are called Vilombo (animals) in Chewa traditions, said to have emanated from dead spirits.

The Kulamba ceremony also includes an annual initiation ceremony for young girls who have come of age.

The “anamwali” or young girls were locked up where they spent time learning the skills and responsibilities of womanhood.

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Darcy J. Skinner