When I lived in Mongu in 2013 I had the opportunity to attend my first Kuomboka ceremony. Kuomboka is a traditional ceremony held in Western Province where the Lozi people move from the plains (which become flooded during the rainy season) to higher areas. It's steeped in tradition and pretty amazing so I decided it was time for a return visit. Since I wasn’t living in Mongu this time the logistics of getting to Western Province for the weekend proved more challenging. Turns out Western Province is kinda far? Well, me and 9 of my closest friends piled into 3 cars and left town on Friday afternoon in what would turn out to be another great African adventure. In the first hour, one of the cars broke down and we had to push it to a nearby church and we then piled into the remaining 2 cars. Delayed by a few hours, we proceeded to drive on some of the worst roads I’ve seen in a long time (I’m talking gigantic potholes which swallowed your entire car). After almost 9 hours we made it to Mongu around midnight on Friday evening. Don’t worry because we were still excited to wake up early to participate in the boat ride so that we could see the Nalikwanda depart on its journey across the floodplains. It took some negotiating to find a boat to take all 10 of us and we still ended up with some random local kids (and apparently a “famous” rapper) on our small boat (which seemed to also have a slow leak and was just probably generally very unsafe) but we did manage to find the Nalikwanda which was pretty spectacular.
We did make it back without our small boat tipping over or filling up with water so we celebrated by spending the afternoon eating some local cuisine at my favorite local hangout before setting out to see the Nalikwanda “dock” in what can only be described at organized chaos. People hanging in trees, stampeding to catch a glimpse of the king, and a few random people falling into the water. But we pulled it off and, man, did I really enjoy having a cold beer at the end of the day while watching the sun go down...I have to say that Mongu has some of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.
And luckily we only had to drive a short 9 hours home the next day.