Along river Zambezi located in the Barotse floodplain area of West Zambia is the home of an ethnic group called Lozi. Often called the Barotseland.
The Lozi (Aluyi, Malozi, or Barotse) are the Benue-Congo speakers, in the language family of the Niger-Congo whose extension reached Angola and some part of Namibia.
Historically, the Lozi people were first called the Aluyi till the South African Kololo who were running away from Shaka Zulu Mfecane, invaded and conquered them in 1838 and they were named Barotse. The Aluyi made a reprisal attack in 1864. It was victorious to them, after the victory, the Aluyi was changed to Malozi dominating the floodplain of river Zambezi.
The inhabitants are mostly farmers whose economy is mostly depending on agriculture – fishing, farming, and livestock farming. Among their major crops are; cassava, maize, millet, potato, beans, sorghum, and melon.
They keep animals like goats, sheep, and pigs while most of the dwellers are hunters and into fishing.
The trade-in Barotseland includes the exchange of cattle to crops and they accept inter-tribal trading between them and the surrounding tribes.
Lozi man with his wife (image credit: google.com)
The Lozi are famous blacksmiths – they make their iron products from the iron ore they got from river banks, swamp soils, and streams.
The Lozi have strong mythology with Nyambe as their creator who lived on earth with his wives Nasilele and the rest, he had two counselors who intermediate between him and humans; Sashisho the messenger and Kang’ombe the lechwe.
The Barotse practice three types of religion; the Royal Grave Cult, Nyambe cult, and ancestral worship. The offer of animals for sacrifices are made to plead or appease the gods or their ancestors.
Like some tribes, the Lozi girls get betrothed at young and get married after getting her Mwalianjo initiation followed by a bride price from the groom.
They are polygamous in nature with the oldest wife being more active in the family decision making but does not have authority over her co-wives.
The Lozi people celebrate special days like the relocation of the King from his home during the rising flood and his return after the flood drops, they call it the Kuomboka festival. In this festival, it is a taboo for one to leave their flooded land before the King.
This festival takes place every April.
The New Moon festival is attributed to Nyambe’s wife, Nasilele. Prayers are made either directly to Nyambe or to her once a line of the moon appears in the sky.
Once a Lozi dies, his or her body will be folded so the knee can touch the chin while being carried out through a cut made in the hut the person died.
As the body is being taken to the graveyard, a spell is being cast while prayers are being made to prevent the ghost of the dead from hunting nor tormenting the people of the land.
A dead man is buried facing East while a woman faces the North.