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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2019 (85) > Plain sailing

Plain sailing

Long-neglected, Liuwa Plain, on the western boundary of Zambia, is one of Africa’s most underhyped yet rewarding national parks, in part because it is so little visited. It offers an exciting wildlife experience for visitors to the Victoria Falls who are feeling intrepid.

For three years, the rains didn’t come. The channels which criss-crossed Barotseland dried up and the thunderous Maoma drums which summoned the royal oarsmen to the Litunga’s palace stayed silent. The Litunga, King of the Lozi, could not travel by royal barge from Lealui to his residence at Limulunga, because without a river in spate, how could he perform the symbolic ‘getting out of the water’ ceremony, the Kuomboka?

But Lady Liuwa, the lioness incarnated from the daughter of a Lozi elder, Mambeti, listened to the Lozis’ prayers. She waited, resisted, survived, as she had done for almost two decades in the face of every adversity. She hung on, the grand old lady and guardian of Liuwa Plain, until the rains finally returned. And then she slipped away. Lady Liuwa’s death marked an ending, and a new beginning as the Liuwa Plains were restored to life.

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