To the ha-Ile people of the Kafue flats in southern Zambia, the god Shimunenga gives them wealth, virility, victory in war, and protection against pestilence in their cattle.
GV Crowd gathered in Maala village, Zambia, for annual Shimunenga festival.
SV Young dancers chanting and swaying to drum beat.
GV Men lined up at side of holy ceremonial ground.
GVs Women on opposite side of ceremonial ground throwing sticks at 'Shimunenga' bush. (2 shots)
SV White woman tourist watching, as African women chant.
SV Clay pots on ground marking Shimunenga's grave.
SV PAN Chief Mungaila waving shooting stick in air, as cattle released to run across ceremonial ground.
GV Spearmen chasing cattle across ceremonial ground. (4 shots)
GVs Spearmen return for end of ceremony. (2 shots)
GVs Villagers gathering for final dancing session. (2 shots)
SVs Small boys performing in final dancing session. (4 shots)
GVs Villagers and spearmen dancing. (2 shots)
SV Chief Mungaila leads villagers and spearmen off ceremonial ground.
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Background: To the ha-Ile people of the Kafue flats in southern Zambia, the god Shimunenga gives them wealth, virility, victory in war, and protection against pestilence in their cattle. But to ensure that he gives them all these things, they pay homage to him once a year, at the beginning of the rainy season.
SYNOPSIS: According to tradition Shimunenga, a great warrior who lived about 400 years ago and successfully led the ha-Ile against marauders, is buried in a sacred ground outside the village of Maala. It's here where the two-day ceremony takes place -- woven into a feast of dancing, drinking and singing by the women of vulgar songs disparaging their menfolk's virility. While chanting their songs, the women throw ceremonial sticks into "Shimunenga's bush" in the middle of the sacred ground to bring about good luck.
Broken pots mark the spot where Shimunenga is believed to be buried. And once the homage formalities have been observed, a signal from Chief Mungaila -- a hereditary title handed down to each office-holder -- sets off the traditional Cattle-drive.
The beasts, a symbol of wealth, are herded past the ceremonial ground so that Shimunenga may look kindly on them and protect them against pestilence in the coming year. With the cattle run a horde of spearmen, making frequent 'attacks' on imaginary enemies to mark a great defeat suffered by the ha-Ile in ancient times, which they must remember so they won't be defeated again.
After the cattle drive and spear charge, the final round of ceremonies -- devoted to singing, dancing, eating and getting drunk. The Shimunenga ceremonies have one major difference to most other similar homage rituals throughout Africa -- the Chief is not the centre of the ritual, nor does he play any real part. He's simply there as a spectator and to start the cattle drive. The organiser is a specially-appointed headman, who sends out messengers every year several weeks ahead of the ceremony to gather in the far-flung clans of the ha-Ile.
The final ritual dancing over, Shimunenga is appeased -- until the beginning of the rains next year.