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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: January 15 2008 »

by Alfa Sialubange

By virtue of nature, every race, tribe,clan or individual family has got its own norm and
traditional ways of doing things .

People of the great lake are just as old as earth itself and have ever since practised tradition and culture.  Sincerely speaking, a tribe without culture is just as good as a nation without history,  therefore, such a nation could be pronounced as non existing.  The people of the great lake have had rich culture.  Perhaps the most striking cultural hallmark of the Batonga was the removal of their six front teeth.  Some young ladies, from in the region of eighteen to twenty years took great pride in this practice of teeth removal .The secret behind this was to avoid
knocking against a cup when drinking anything as a married woman, but the opposite was true with men.

Some local skilled men worked in these dental surgeries. Blades of iron were used to wobble and remove the teeth . A hot, thick, sadza like porridge was prepared in advance to heat the gums and stop the bleeding. The treatment of the bleeding gums was a big assignment to elderly women who visited their patients as many times as possible in a day .

Frankly speaking, to be beautiful amongst the valley people was a big concern. It called for  an element of patience, as one could endure some pains to obtain permanent marks of beauty.  Ageing women made holes through their nostrils to fit reeds of about nine to ten centimeter .This mark made them look more typical of  the BaTonga women. Some culturalists  still argue that all these cultural marks were borrowed from the Gwembe Tongas on the Zambian side, but since the demarcation line between Zambia and Zimbabwe, formerly known as Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia was not seriously garded by the two states, the BaTonga therefore mixed freely and interchanged some cultural aspects.

It therefore becomes difficult to ascertain which aspect came from which group.  Infact these people
were still one until the completion of the Kariba Dam in the 1950s. Young women had beautiful marks tattooed on the front side of their tender thighs. This process also called for endurance as the tatoos made the ladies to bleed. One might tend to wonder as to how the art of beauty was practised amongst the people of the valley. With the use of a razor blades, young ladies marked with sun shaped marks which developed from the knee region upwards towards the hip. One other stuff was prepared .This stuff looked  like fine mud and was reddish in colour.  At special occasions young ladies smeared this stuff which was called ''musila'' all over their bodies. So this appearance was so admirable with young ladies.

Young men at this time joined the world of  beauty by receiving marks on their chicks and the centre of their foreheads. These marks on their faces resembled the shape of a new moon. They also made holes through the ear lobes. 

The people of the valley have had different forms of traditional dances that catered for entertainment whilst other forms were held at funerals, memorial services, spirit cleansing and ancestral worshipping .

Written by Alfa Sialubange (former teacher)
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