By Paul Shalala

As The Litunga was sailing from his flooded Lealui Palace to the upper land at Limulunga, dozens of able bodied Lozi men steering the Nalikwanda, the royal barge, through the Barotse Flood Plains.

One such paddler was 33 year old Muyunda Akufuna , a Lusaka-based Climate Change and Environmental activist who was among the youngest paddlers this year.

He is the founder and Executive Director of Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), a non governmental organization which is fighting to protect the environment in Zambia.

He founded YVE in 2011 and the organization has drawn it’s membership from among young activists from across Zambia.

Akufuna endured the nine hours journey deep in the Barotse Flood Plains and his physical stature helped him overcome the demands of the paddlers.

When Akufuna and his fellow paddlers arrived at Nayuma (landing bay) last night, they were received with loud ululations as it is not easy to paddle for so many hours.

He and others paddlers later performed the Kushowelela at Namoo (main arena), a victory dance for having beaten the ravages of water and the numerous channels they had to navigate on the way.

I must mention that every Lozi man, including myself, aspires to one day paddle The Nalikwanda and we count it a privilege to be chosen among a lucky few.

But who is this young paddler and where does he come from in Barotseland?

Akufuna is a Zanaco youth award winning climate change philanthropist.

He is a pan-africanist who is passionate about people and the environment and is currently studying for his Masters of Science in Environmental Management at the University of Lusaka.

His first name Akufuna is a Lozi name which means “they are troubling themselves”.

The name comes from Liyala village in the Barotse Flood Plains which is located near the Leauli Royal Village.

Akufuna Muyunda Ananyatele comes from the village called Nasaya in Siwito area under Chief Nalubutu.

His grandfather was the immediate past Chief Nalubutu, Gilbert Muyunda Ananyatele.

The name Akufuna is praised and sung in Luyana language as follows:

“Imbeti nanwe wa Liyala, imatambula noma nene wa sanopa, alikupatila nowela, ali ku munzi waye, alikupatila onge ali ku Liyala waye.”.

The simple translation to this song is that Akufuna was an advisor to the king.

When he puts on a genet skin, then he is on a mission to go and advise the King.

And when he puts on a leopard skin, then he is in his village Liyala

Akufuna the young paddler is also on that same mission, he paddled yesterday and his role is to serve the King.

In a few years time, I will also be ready to paddle the Nalikwanda.

Once I do that, I will now be fit to be called a Lozi man.

Yesterday, Akufuna paddled with prominent people such as State House Permanent Secretary Dr Oliver Kalabo, former Western Province Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu, Luena Member of Parliament Mubita Anakoka and Nkeyema District Commissioner Mayankwa Mukubesa.

First picture by Chellah Tukuta Photography


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