Friday, 12 June 2015

A Trip to Kazembe – Part 1

Kazembe is in the Luapula district in the North of Zambia. It's a place where much of the witchcraft in Zambia comes from and is ruled by a chief who gets his power from witches. Approximately 20,000 people visit Luapula Valley each year, including the president of Zambia, to see the annual Mutomboko Festival which includes symbolic dances to represent the first chiefs who conquered the valley.

We travelled from Ndola in the Copperbelt to Kazembe in Luapula

Statue in Kazembe marking the ceremony

However, we visited Luapula for a different reason. Our purpose for going was to train children’s workers and pastors in the district in children’s ministry (e.g. Sunday School) and to hold meetings for children. It’s a very rural place, so I don’t expect they have many visitors or tourists outside of the festival.

The Apostolic Church where we led the training

A friend of mine called Malene who leads Kids in Ministry in Zambia, had asked if I would be part of a team she was taking to Kazembe. Two years ago she and her husband led a team there and had a pretty eventful time. They saw some quite amazing miracles take place but also found it tough going, with several team members getting very sick. This time we headed for Luapula with many people praying for us and I also took probiotic tablets to prepare my stomach!

I guess you could call us a mixed bunch - one Brit (me!), one South African, three Danes, four Zambians, and a toddler! Different ages and life experiences but one united team. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily we all got on and how well everyone worked together.

Malene with her son Noa, our youngest team member

New friends - Maureen, Mary, Petronella & Deborah

The journey from Ndola to Luapula took two days, with an overnight stop in Mansa, the capital of the district. Perhaps not surprisingly, we had some hassle at the Congo border. Almost every person working there tried to charge us more than we were supposed to pay – there is clearly a lot of corruption. To cut a long story short, we got the Head of Zambian Immigration involved and eventually got through to the other side.
During our trip we slept in tents in the grounds of a school and there was a guard on the gate to keep us safe. Sleeping in a tent and showering in cold water is not my preferred option, but I did survive! We ate mostly nshima and vegetables, sometimes with rice, fish or chicken. It didn’t all look particularly appetising but it tasted pretty good.

My makeshift shower curtain!

Eating the village chicken for dinner!

Food from the local market

Apart from running the training, we visited people in the villages. Generally people were very welcoming and many asked us to pray for protection, wisdom or a blessing for their family. One day we visited the local clinic and spent some time in the ladies/children's ward. It consisted of several beds and not much else. We led some worship songs (mostly in the Bemba language) which they joined in with, and we then prayed for anyone who wanted us to and encouraged them with verses from the Bible. One lady's headache disappeared immediately – it was difficult to judge other conditions but they seemed very grateful that we were there.

Kazembe village

An unexpected addition to our programme was an invitation to go and visit the village chief. We were instructed on protocol before visiting, having to kneel and clap three times when the chief entered. I was actually a bit disappointed that he wore casual clothes rather than some sort of chief costume! Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photographs. However, it was an honour to be able to go and to speak to him, and he also allowed us to pray for him.

Waiting to be invited into the palace grounds to see the Chief

Following our visit to the chief, we enjoyed a much needed day off before running meetings for the children in the community. More on this will follow shortly in Kazembe - Part 2!

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