By Nsama Musonda Kearns
There is celebration in Samfya District of Luapula Province, the local people are once again preparing themselves for an abundance of fish and feasting which occasionally takes place as long as after a decade when the water gods release the migratory insects locally known as “Ubunfuku.”
Swarming from between the swamps and marshy water of Chilubi and Lunga Islands near “Kumboyalubambe” these tiny mosquito like insects emerge in millions covering the entire sky, causing an eclipse of their own as they fly over and land on the waters of Lake Bangweulu to the jubilation of fish which flag off the week of feasting before they land in the in the people’s pots.
This is the time when natives near the lake call out to each other saying, “Samfya impoto!” the famous phrase from which Samfya got its name from. Unlike Locusts or mosquitoes, these insects are not harmful to humans, but they are dangerous to fishermen as they breakout an expectedly, flying into their eyes and mouth, and in some unfortunate circumstances causing death. They also affect the growth of fruits such as mangoes as they form webs around the trees as they fall out.
Lasting about 2 to 3 hours in air transit, everything has to come to a standstill as they cause a blackout, but this is nothing for the native people of Samfya because after the darkness comes the feasting. The fish becomes amazingly abundant and apparently very tasty because the insects provides a rare oily protein that make Samfya fish so tasty it cannot be compared to any other fish in Zambia.
The water gods receive their praise, amalumbo to praise the ancestors for remembering them and sending them Ubunfuku to mark the beginning of a plentiful fishing season. Whether this rare occasion causes fish depletion, remains a mystery and all I know is am heading home to Luapula to enjoy the Fish! Imbowa, insangula, imintesa, utobombola….Kwesu kwaliwamisha eko tulya iminofu yambowa!