Royal Ceremonies and Festivals

Africa is a continent with three Government Monarchies and over 1000 Traditional Monarchies. These monarchies all differ in size, population, area coverage, traditions but uniquely they all have ceremonies and festivals to mark various life stages, celebrations and worship. Here is a incomplete compiled list of royal ceremonies and festivals in Africa. Click the links to learn more about them

Coronations

Visit this link to view – Coronations in Africa

Photo ; Courtsey

Royal weddings

Visit this link to view – African royal weddings

Photo ; Courtsey

Royal Funerals

Visit link toview – Royal Funerals

Photo ; Courtsey

Independence celebrations

Eswatini, Lesotho and Morocco celebrate the national day of Independence from the white man colonial rule

Incwala Ceremony– Kingdom of Eswatini

This is Eswatini’s most sacred cultural event. A ceremony that has lasted for hundreds of years, it is one of the last remaining examples of what was previously common practice in many African countries. It has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy. Although often translated as ‘first fruits festival’, the tasting of the first of the season’s bounty is only one part of this long rite. Essentially this is about cleansing and renewal, and – above all – celebrating kingship.

Visit link to view – Incwala

Photos : Daniel Toro

Umhlanga Reed Dance – Kingdom of Eswatini

This is Eswatini’s (Swaziland’s) best known cultural event, and has a more open feel than the Incwala. In this eight-day ceremony, young girls cut reeds, present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) – ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence – and then dance in celebration. Up to 40,000 girls take part, dressed up in brightly coloured attired – making it one of the biggest and most spectacular cultural events in Africa. It is held last week of August / first week of September in the Lobamba.

Visit link to view – Umhlanga

Photo ; Deelangza Photography

Umkhosi WeBuganu/Marula Festival – Kingdom of Eswatini

The Marula season usually begins each year in mid February and continues until May, bringing with it a celebration of the harvest of the marula fruit.

Photo ; Courtsey

Moshoeshoe Walk – Kingdom of Lesotho

Held annualy since 2007, the historic walk starts from Menkhoaneng in the Leribe district and ends in Thaba Bosiu, Maseru and has been hailed by Their Majesties King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso as a successful historic and international milestone for Basotho. The three-day journey of approximately 116km aims to re-kindle the spirit of unity among Basotho as it is embodied in the legacy left by the founder King Moshoeshoe I.

Photo ; Courtsey

King’s Birthday – Kingdom of Lesotho

It is a public holiday, July 17th  when the nation of Lesotho celebrates King Letsie III birthday in traditional attire. The King usually tours a district every annual birthday.

Photo : Lesotho times

Throne Day – Kingdom of Morocco

A national occasion currently celebrated on 30 July of each year, punctuated by several official and popular celebrations, it commemorates the day of the King’s accession to the throne. The date changes with the reign of different king. King addresses the nation on official State TV in a Throne Speech, giving an inventory of events and projects completed during the previous year, and discusses the future vision and foreign policies of the kingdom.

Photo ; Courtsey

Komjekejeke Festival/King Silamba Annual Commemoration – Ndebele Kingdom, South Africa

Komjekejeke festival or King Silamba annual commemoration is the largest royal event among the Ndebele people of Ndebele Kingdom, South Africa held annually in the first week of March. It involves remembrance of King Silamba of Ndebele, honouring the life and deeds of ancestral kings who ruled the Ndebele Nation, as well as showcasing ndebele culture and dances. It is hosted at Komjekejeke heritage site by King Makhosoke II of Ndebele, attended by various royals in South Africa. A place declared a heritage site in 1998 by the National Heritage Council of South Africa. In the 1960s, the Group Areas Act evicted people from KoMjekejeke until 1979 when the last group of settlers were removed. Due to the separate development policy based on apartheid practice, KoMjekejeke was declared a white man’s area and black people were prohibited to buy property in this area. The King Silamba Trust was established in 1985 with a sole purpose of buying this area and developing it for cultural benefits for AmaNdebele.

Visit link – Komjekejeke

Photo ; Courtsey

Abissa Festival – Nzima Kotoko people, Ivory Coast

Abissa festival is a royal event of the Nzima Kotoko people of Cote d’ivore or Ivory Coast and neighbouring Ghana, West Africa. This festival is a festival of forgiveness and rebirth taking place in end of October and beginning of November. It is held at Grand Bassam Town which is also the capital of the Kingdom of Nzima Kotoko people. It is graced by HM King of Nzima Kotoko currently King Desire Awuola Amon Tanoe and his Queen. The king arrives carried in a pallaquin escorted by a dancing girl. Various groups dance adoorned in traditional kente cloth and body art work. The event is usually attended by both young and old and is considered a free period to call out the wrong doers who confess and are forgiven.

Visit link – Abbisa Festival

Photo : Franck Olivier Photography

Olojo Festival – Yoruba people of Ile Ife, Nigeria

Olojo festival is a celebration of the Ogun God who is said to have been a son of ododuwa the ancestor of yoruba people.
It starts with a 7 day seclusion of the king or Ooni of Ife where he connects with ancestors and the gods to pray for his people. After 7 days he emerges with the kings crown and visits various shrines and celebrations.The final celebration involved a grand reception at the Ooni of Ife palace with royal guests from around Nigeria.

Photo ; Courtsey

Kuomboka Ceremony – Kingdom of Barotseland, Zambia

Africa’s most unique water royal festival, Kuomboka Ceremony takes place in Zambia in the Kingdom of Barotseland of the Lozi people. The ceremony called kuomboka means getting out of water is when the King (Litunga) of Barotseland kingdom or Lozi people moves from his Leaui summer palace which floods during the rainy season to his Limulunga winter palace located in higher grounds. The King’s sister Litunga la mboela also moves in a similar way later. Hundreds of regiments compete early and the best boat sailors are selected to sail the King. Families and general public living in these areas also move to higher grounds. It is the largest Tourist attraction traditional ceremony in zambia and attracts international & local visitors.

Visit link – Kuomboka ceremony 2022

Photo ; Courtsey

Eyo Festival – Yoruba Lagos, Nigeria

The Eyo festival also known as the Adamu Orisa play is a Yoruba festival indigenous to Lagos Nigeria . In ancient times it was held to escort souls of the departed,the King of Lagos or Chief and also to usher in a new King .It is now being observed as a tourist event and it is traditionally performed in Lagos . The Eyo masquerades are costumed dancers who represent the spirit of the dead and are referred to in Yoruba as ”Agogoro”,they come out during the festival dressed in white regalia and carrying white staff On Eyo day , the main highway in the heart of Lagos  from the end of Carter bridge to Tinubu square is closed to traffic , this allows procession from Idumota to the Iga Iduganan palace . Eyo festival and its Socio Cultural symbolism being rooted in the tradition and custom of the people of Lagos has become one of the foremost Festivals in Nigeria and it is also the cultural monument of Lagos .The elegance and theatretical display of the festival thrills those in attendance , it also contributes Economically to its local communities. Certain practices are not permitted amongst people during the festival. Some of the prohibited things include smoking, wearing of sandals, riding motorcycles, and bicycles, making the ‘Suku’ hairstyle, women are not allowed to use head ties, and selfies with the masquerades amongst others. Also, it is a taboo to wear the Eyo costume overnight or to cross a lagoon or river.

Umkhosi Womhlanga Zulu Reed Dance – Zulu Kingdom, South Africa

It is an annual ceremony celebrated by the Zulu nation of South Africa in September. The main event takes place at the
Zulu Royal Residence, eNyokeni palace in KwaNongoma, and the subsequent part takes place at eMachobeni palace in Ngwavuma. The aim is to celebrate the maiden’s purity while they are being prepared for womanhood, at the same time giving the King and the nation a spectacle to marvel at, and motivate the young maidens through words and joyfulness. It promotes Celibacy and helps reduce hiv aids. It is similar to Umhlanga in Eswatini. The Zulu also have

Umkhosi Wamaganu (First Fruits)

Umkhosi Wesivivane (Women’s Month)

Umkhosi Woselwa (Young Men)

Commemoration of the battle of Isandlwana

Umkhosi WeLembe / King Shaka Day

Photo ; Courtsey

Battle of Isandlwana Commemoration – Zulu Kingdom, South Africa

This commenoration marks the battle fought on 22nd January 1879, where the Zulus wiped out a substantial British force during the Anglo Zulu war on the Nquthu battlefields. It is a day to celebrate victory against land dispossession, human rights violation and crime against humanity.

Photo ; Solo Ndlovu

Utomo Obong – Efik people, Nigeria

Utomo Obong is a celebrated event on which various communities of the Efik Kingdom come out to pay homage to the Obong(King) of Calabar. It is a very colourful, magnificent and grand occasion with dispaly of efik culture and traditional dressing. This event usually takes place in the month of December and has in attendance over 10,000 persons, drawn from 58 Efik clans and over 270 villages in the Efik Eburutu kingdom. The first Utomo Obong ceremony took place in 2012 as a spontaneous gathering of the Royal houses who felt the need to celebrate and encourage their King,who had been fearless and forthright in defending his people against oppression in any form. In order to make it clear that this homage is to the person of the King and not to the stool, the event takes place in the personal residence of the Obong and not in the official Palace. It has grown to such an extent that government has recognised it as a major tourism spectacle and put it in the christmas calendar for residents and visitors to plan ahead to attend

Photo ; Courtsey

Hogbetsotso Za – Anlo people, Ghana

Hogbetsotso Festival is celebrated by the people of Anlo in the Volta Region of Ghana. The celebration starts in the month of November at Anloga, which is the traditional and ritual capital of the Anlo state. There are many ceremonies associated with the festival, including a peace-making period where all outstanding problems are supposed to be resolved. This is a purification ceremony of the traditional stool and a period of general cleaning when the villages are swept and rubbish burnt. This cleaning ceremony begins at the Volta Estuary and goes on for days until it finally reaches the Mono River in the Republic of Benin. An essential aspect of the festival is a durbar of chiefs and the people. The King or Awomefia of Anlo and his Chiefs dress in very colouful regalia and sit in state to receive homage from their subjects. Dancing, singing and general merry-making go on throughout the festival. The main durbar always take place on the first Saturday of November in Anloga, the traditional home of the Anlo–speaking Ewes in the Volta Region. The durbar forms a significant part of the week–long Hogbetsotso festival which commemorates the migration of the Anlo – Ewes from the ancient walled city of Notsie in present day Northern Togo to their present settlement.

Photo ; Courtsey

Pondo Culture and Heritage Festival – Mpondo Kingdom, South Africa

Mpondo/Pondo Culture and Heritage Festival has taken place annually since 2006 celebrating the amaMpondo people of South Africa

Photo ; Courtsey

Nguon Festival – Bamoun Kingdom, Cameroon

Nguon festival is celebrated every two years by the Bamoun people of Cameroon at Foumban , the capital of the Bamoun Kingdom. The Nguon festivities are spread over 7 days, with each day marked by several activities such as traditional dances, ritual ceremonies, conferences, and great food showcasing the richness of the Bamoun culture. During the Nguon, the Bamoun people gather to express their ideas and grievances. The pinnacle of the festivities occurs when the King is deposed, judged on his governance and achievements for the last two years and eventually reinstated. Talk about an example of democracy! The Nguon thus allows the king to connect with his people; it is a time when the distinctions and hereditary privilege classes cease to exist.

Photo ; Courtsey

Akwasidae Festival – Ashanti people, Ghana

Photo ; Courtsey

Umhlangano wa Maseko – Maseko Ngoni people, Malawi

An event of honouring the ancestors, The festival that involves Mkhwisulo sacrificial ceremony at the National Monument of late Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani Chikuse I, paying of homage to the fallen King who died in 1896 and cultural dances among other activities. Their Monarch Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani V leads the ceremony.

Visit link – Umhlangano wa Maseko Ceremony

Photo ; Courtsey

Kulamba Ceremony – Chewa Kingdom, Zambia

Kulamba ceremony is a traditional annual event of the Chewa people which is held every August at Mkaika royal Palace in Zambia. Chewa people are a bantu ethnic group found in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and collectively form the Chewa Kingdom, a traditional monarchy headed by a King called Gawa Undi. The current king is Gawa Undi XI. Kulamba is a intricate ceremony whereby over 200 chiefs from the three countries where Chewa live, come to update the Gawa Undi about the affairs of the kingdom as well as paying homage to the king.

Visit link – Kulamba Ceremony

Photo ; Courtsey

Gani Festival – Gumel Emirate, Nigeria

Gani Festival is a festival today celebrated in Gumel Emirate, Nigeria hosted by HRH Emir of Gumel. In history, the festival involved the Emir inspected the military prowess of his Emirate. Historically the festival is a community gathering summoned by the ruler to asses the resources and skills that abound in his domain. It is also an opportunity for the Amir to assess the military capability of his kingdom and appreciate newly introduced innovations during the year.Indeed in the olden days Ghani Festival is both a social and military assembly of people from various Emirates of the Northern Nigeria. They converge and interacts with one another in an atmosphere of celebration annually. Gani festival as the most celebrated simply means GANI MU GANA 

Photo ; Courtsey

Kyabazinga Day – Busoga Kingdom, Uganda

Kyabazinga day is celebrated annually on February 11 as a commemoration of when the 11 Busoga chiefdoms came together in 1939 to form Busoga kingdom and appointed a King or Isebantu Kyabazinga as monarch. The event was attended by current Kyabazinga (King) William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV of Busoga kingdom, Uganda, other dignitaries and public

Visit link – Kyabazinga Day

Photo ; Courtsey

Umtheto Cultural Festival – Jele Ngoni people, Malawi

Photo ; Courtsey

Lwindii Ceremony – Leya people, Zambia

It is a thanksgiving ceremony to appease the gods for the good rains and haverst. Senior Chief Mukuni of Leya people of Zambia and HRH Bedyango officiate the Lwindii ceremony at Simukale royal shrine to celebrate the end of the harvest season

Photo ; Courtsey

Kabaka Birthday Run – Buganda Kingdom, Uganda

The Kabaka Birthday Run is an annual event that forms part of the celebrations to mark the birthday of Kabaka(King) Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda Kingdom Uganda. It is Uganda’s largest sport event with over 100 000 attending every year. The run is part of the Kabaka’s five-year campaign to increase the uptake of HIV testing and treatment services, with a particular focus on men and boys. It has yielded remarkable results in the Buganda region, with new HIV infections down more than in any other region of Uganda over the last few years. 

Photo ; Courtsey

Ohum Festival – Akyem Abuakwa people, Ghana

Ohum Festival is a traditional festival celebrated by Akuapems and Akyems in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The festival is celebrated on a Tuesday/Wednesdays in September or October depending on the month Ohumkan festival was celebrated. Prior to it celebration, a two week ban on noise-making is imposed. The Akyems thank their creator for blessing their land with the Birim river. They use products from their lands and the river as symbols to remember their ancestors who struggled and persevered in keeping their society intact. The people give pledges to continue the tradition and to keep their kingdom strong and free with prosperity and peace during the festival. They give pledge of allegiance to their king and his sub-chiefs and elders for their leadership and guidance. Ohumkyire is celebrated to give thanks to God for the New Yam Harvest and sake His favour in the coming year. Also to celebrate the Akyem Nation

Photo ; Courtsey

Ncwala Ceremony – Mpezeni Ngoni people, Zambia

N’cwala Ceremony hosted once a year is held every last Saturday of the month of February by the Ngoni people just outside of Chipata, Zambia. The event is a festival honoring the first harvest of the year. The food is offered to the Paramount Chief Mpezeni IV. There is dancing and presentations. Outside the arena were about 100,000 people looking at all the market stalls. It was revived in 1980 by late Paramount Chief Mpezeni III

Photo ; Courtsey

Ofala Festival – Onitsha Kingdom, Nigeria

The Onitsha Ofala festival dates back to about 700 years ago and is celebrated only once a year, precisely in the month of October. Four days before the festival, the Igwe goes into seclusion. He retreats to commune with his ancestors, and to thank them for protecting him and his subjects for the past one year as well as pray for peace and prosperity in the year to come.On the day of the festival, the Obi makes three appearances. After the early morning rituals, the trumpeters announce his entry before he shows up, fully dressed in his royal regalia, highlighted with the royal crown (okpu ododo), acknowledging the crowd that would have gathered by waving at all the directions to the people and then returns inside.During the second outing, the trumpets are blown again and the Obi comes out and seats on his throne. This is followed by the entrance of the red-capped chiefs (ndi-Ichie) also well-dressed in their traditional attires in batches, according to their village music and in order of seniority, proceed to pay homage to the Obi by kneeling down to bow before him and sing his praises, after which he now performs the function of Iwa-ji (celebration of the first yam) to mark the official declaration of harvest season. After this, the Igwe (Obi) returns into the inner chambers before he finally comes out the third time. At the third entry, the royal music plays and sets, the rhythm for Obi’s dancing (egwu ota) as he makes his appearance, amid cheers and praises from the crowd, he steps into the arena and dances to the tune of the drummers. He dances in turns with his first wife, his first son and first daughter and returns to his throne giving way to a parade of dances by different groups such as titled men, the Otu Odu Association, age-grade groups, friends and well-wishers all dressed in colourful traditional apparels. It serves as a rites of renewal of the king or Obi.The term ofala, is derived from two Igbo words – ofo (authority) and ala (land).The festival is celebrated within two days mostly in October by the king or Obi.

Photo ; Courtsey

Ine Aho Festival – Issele Uku Kingdom, Nigeria

The Ine-aho, which is an annual event in Issele-Uku is a replica of the Igue festival of the ancient Benin Kingdom; a yearly gathering of the sons and daughters of the kingdom from home and abroad, irrespective of status, age and gender, for the purpose of celebrating their sustenance in the preceding year, as well as appreciating the year’s bumper harvest from the farms. Ine-aho is indeed a highly spiritual festival that entails over five days of preparation. Within this period, the traditional ruler leads his Chiefs and the people through rigorous processes of purification, cleansing and sanctifications. These are done with the active spiritual guidance of the Chief Priest. It is always a period of absolute peace, tranquility, devoid of any kind of fight, quarrels or distractions in the kingdom.

Photo ; Courtsey

Seed Blessing ceremony – Luhwindja, DRC Congo

Seed blessing ceemony coincides with plnting or harvesting seasons among many african communities

Photo ; Courtsey

Chakwela Makumba ceremony – Soli people, Zambia

The Chakwela Makumba traditional ceremony is a royal ceremony held annually in October by the Soli people of Zambia led by their Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II. During the Chakwela Makumbi, literally translating to “pulling down the clouds”, Chieftainess Makumbi pleads with the ancestral spirits to bless her people with rain. Among her many tasks during the event, Chieftainess Nkomeshya kicks off the farming season by being the first to plant a seed

Photo ; Lusaka Times

Osun Osogbo festival – Yoruba of Osogbo, Nigeria

Osun ososgbo festival is a annual religious festival held every august by the Yoruba people of Osogbo, Nigeria led by their local king, Ataoja of Osogbo. It is celebrated at the Osun sacred grove, in the worship of the goddess of fertility (OSUN). Osun Osogbo is among the last of the sacred forests and was inscribed to UNESCO world heritage sites in 2005 due to its significance. The Osun-Osogbo Festival itself is a two-week-long programme. The traditional cleansing of Osogbo is called ‘Iwopopo’, which is followed after three days by the lighting of the 500-year-old sixteen-point lamp called ‘Ina Olojumerindinlogun'(16 face lamp). Then comes the ‘Iboriade’, an assemblage of the crowns of the past rulers, the Ataojas of Osogbo, for blessings. The Festival culminates in a procession to the shrine in the sacred grove where a large crowd builds up. Drumming, dancing, musical performing, wearing of elaborate costumes, speaking of the Yoruba language, recitation of praise poetry, and so on add pomp and colour to the proceedings. This event is led by the sitting Ataoja of Osogbo along with a ritualized performer called the Arugba(calabash carrier) and a committee of priestesses, who reenact the very first meeting between Oluwatimilehin and Yeye Osun. Arugba is played by a young woman of a kingly lineage and offers the sacrifice to the deity.

Photo ; Retakefilm

New Yam Festival – Igbo people, Nigeria

New Yam festival is celebrated by all the communities in Igbo land, Nigeria and beyond by over 50 million people. It is an annual cultural festival by the Igbo people held at the end of the rainy season in early August and October. The celebration is a very culturally based occasion, tying individual Igbo communities together as essentially agrarian and dependent on yam. Yams are the first crop to be harvested, and are the most important crop of the region

Photo ; Courtesy

Fes Music Festival – Kingdom of Morocco

Fes World Festival of Sacred Music (Festival des Musiques Sacrées du Monde) is an annual music festival that is held for a week in FesMorocco. Under the high patronage of His Majesty Mohamed VI, the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music and its Forum which were set up in 1994 and 2001 respectively, come within the scholarly, artistic and spiritual tradition of the city of Fez. Ever since its inception, this event has witnessed growing success. In 2001, the UNO declared the Festival as one of the most outstanding  events that is contributing to the dialogue of civilizations.

Photo ; Courtesy

Fetu Afahye Festival – Oguaa people, Ghana

Fetu Afahye is an annual festival celebrated by the Oguaa people and chiefs of Cape Coast Traditional Area in the Central Region of Ghana. Once upon a time there had been a plague in Cape Coast as history has it. This was devastating and as such demanded that the people of Cape Coast call for an intervention from their gods. However, it is believed that the inhabitants of Cape Coast and its environs were able to eliminate this plague with the help of their gods, hence, the name “Fetu” – originally Efin Tu (“doing away with dirt”). It is also observed to commemorate a bumper harvest from the sea as well as performing rituals to thank the 77 gods of Oguaa Traditional Area

Photo ; Yawe Pare

Omagongo Festival – Uukwaluudhi Kingdom, Namibia

The Oshituthi shomagongo, marula fruit festival is a celebration that lasts two to three days between March and April, uniting the eight Ovambo communities of northern Namibia through the consumption of omagongo, a beverage made from marula fruit. In preparation for the festival, men carve wooden goblets and small serving gourds, and tools from cattle horns to pierce the fruit. Meanwhile, women make the baskets and clay pots used for processing omagongo, gather the ripened fruit with the help of young people, and extract and ferment the juice in clay pots for two to seven days. During the process, they discuss issues that affect them, such as family problems, sing traditional songs, recite poems and share knowledge about basketry and pottery-making. Processing the marula fruits brings old and young people together to share knowledge and skills, which are transmitted informally through observation, active participation and emulation. Once the fermentation process is complete, community members and guests are served omagongo and traditional cuisine. The festival is a relaxed social gathering during which communities and guests socialize, sing and dance, and men recite histories.

Samu Lya Moomba Lwiindi traditional ceremony, Chieftaincy Choongo, Monze, Zambia

Mulhakho wa Alhomwe Festival – Lhomwe people, Malawi

Mulhako Wa Alhomwe festival, an annual gathering for Lhomwe People from Malawi and Mozambique. The grouping was established in 2007 by former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika and has had the annual event each year in October led by their monarch Mwene wa mamwene

Chiwanja Cha Ayao cultural festival – Yao people, Malawi

Chiwanja cha Ayao is an annual cultural festival held by the Yao people of Malawi as well as seeing the attendance of other Yao from Tanzania and Mozambique.

 Photo ; Abel ikiloni, Mana

Karonga Chitipa Cultural festival – Malawi

Karonga Chitipa cultural festival is a traditional ceremony thet celebrates the culture of the Ngonde people of Karonga and Chitipa districts led by their monarch paramount chief Kyungu.

More to be added

© The African Royal Families. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: