For the Lozi-speaking people of Zambia’s Western Province, this is the most important ceremony of the year. As the upper Zambezi River floods – indicating the end of the rain season in April – the Litunga (king) relocates from his compound in Lealui of the Barotse Floodplain to his Winter Palace in Limulunga, which is on higher ground. His relocation is an indication of the Litunga leading his people to a safer environment; originally, this relocation was a mark of the Lozi people’s fight for survival from natural occurrences. It continues to be honoured in similar fashion to date.
During the celebrations, guests are served snacks and beverages on Makenge basket trays. These trays are exclusively made in the Western province, through a skilled process of weaving roots from the makenge bush. The weaving is an intricate skill that has been practiced for hundreds of years; the skill is passed down from generation to generation. Although these makenge basket trays are accessories used to serve guests, they are also popular during the time of marriage across all Zambian tribes. The handwoven baskets are gifted to brides as they start their homes; in most cases, the brides preserve the baskets and pass them down to their daughters when their time to marry comes. A single basket can be used for over one hundred years in one family – simply by being passed on from mother to daughter and so on.
Over the years, married women in Zambia have used the makenge basket to store food. The baskets also add a touch of art to homes when they are used as wall and table decorations.
This traditional weaving practice has been adapted to a contemporary style that allows current day families to embrace Zambian culture and art by decorating their homes with the makenge basket trays. These trays are available for purchase at our Africonté store. Shop now and indulge in the rich culture of beautiful Zambia.