Nkolola Initiation Rite in Munyumbe Chiefdom of Gwembe District in Southern Province of Zambia, 2018-2020
Valued and Cherished but Waning
Keywords: Decline, Nkolola Initiation Practice, Tonga People, Munyumbwe Chiefdom.
AbstractConducted in 2020, this study explored reasons for the decline in the number of girls undergoing Nkolola rite of passage for girls among the Tonga people of Munyumbwe Chiefdom in Gwembe District Southern Province. The socialisation theory as explained by Anthony Giddens of making a younger member of a community become part of it culturally was employed and confirmed in the study. The objectives of the study were: to describe the Nkolola initiation rite, to establish its value, to explain the reasons for the decline in the practice of Nkolola initiation rite, and to show measures being taken to preserve it. The study was a descriptive case study. The target population included village headmen, women, initiators, girls and boys in two selected villages of Munyumbwe Chiefdom with a population roughly of 45 000 people. The sample was 36 participants; 2 village headmen, 6 men, 6 women, 6 initiators, 8 girls and 8 boys. Purposive and snow-ball samplings were employed to get the intended respondents. Data was mainly collected using focus group interviews and some semi-structured interviews, as well as an observation schedule. Data analysis was done by making sense of themes arising from the responses of the participants in the study. The findings of the study indicated that fewer girls who had come of age in Munyumbwe chiefdom were undergoing Nkolola rite of passage due to a number of reasons such as anti-Nkolola teaching by some churches, girls’ belief that they have the right to refuse undergoing Nkolola, and the inability by some households to host the celebration to mark the girl’s coming out of seclusion. However, those who participated in this study still held the practice in high esteem, arguing that it gave them an identity as Tonga people. In addition, the lessons taught to the girls during the initiation rite were described as vital to the girls because they prepared them for marital and adulthood roles. The article recommends that chiefs, village headmen, initiators and women come up with measures to save Nkolola initiation rite from going into oblivion.