Wednesday the 19th of November was a memorable day for our Namushakende Parish. That was the day when we had organized a visit to the Queen of the Lozi kingdom, the female Litunga or as she is refereed to, the Litunga of the Southern Lozi land, at her palace in Nalolo, across the great Zambezi River. Litunga means the owner of the land. We the staff of St. Gabriel’s Parish, Namushakende, accompanied by Fr. Venerato Babaine who was visiting at that time, two religious Sisters working in the parish, a few leaders of the Parish, and a group of the Catholic Women’s League from some Parishes in Mongu and some from the Centres in our parish. We were all together 36 people.
We started off from Namushakende around 07:00 hours, drove to Machapa Centre just at the edge of the Zambezi plains, and from there drove 15 km through the Barotse flood plains to the bank of the Zambezi. The boat “driver” took us in 3 loads across the river, and from there we walked to Nalolo village and the palace of the Queen amidst great jubilations and excitement.
The Manduna (the traditional elders and council of the palace) and the staff of the palace received us well and organised the place where we could celebrate Mass with the Queen, in front of her royal palace. It is interesting to note that almost all elders (Manduna) and the court of the Queen are not Catholics. In the presence of the Queen, our choir was mainly made up of the Catholic Women’s League who offered us a good and prayerful liturgy. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Robert Lavertu who was to offer his farewell greetings during the same visit, and he was accompanied by Fr. Alfred Awogya. We seized the opportunity of our visit to introduce to the Queen Fr Christian Muhineza and Joseph Kakule who have arrived to work in Namushakende,
After the Mass, we were allowed inside the palace to meet the Queen in two groups, first the Priests and the Sisters, then the CWL and the other lay people. It was a warm welcome that was offered to us, and the Queen offered us delicious snacks of her own. In our conversation, the Queen, who is a committed Catholic, emphasized how much she appreciates to be visited and to pray with groups like ours; she invited us to visit her again. After a long time at the Palace, we made our way back to the river to be taken across in 3 trips as previously.
The whole ceremony and visit was coloured by deep cultural reverence and display. For us as missionaries working here, it was a great lesson on culture and insertion in the rich and profound deposit of the Lozi cultural heritage. We had a great day, and all the participants expressed their joy and satisfaction, and their desire to repeat the visit some time later.