AVANI Boma – September 2018
Along the Zambezi River and in the AVANI Resort a Boma provides a traditional Zambian experience in dining and entertainment. The word Boma was introduced into Zambia from East Africa and was the place where the British administration, in the old days, would meet the chiefs and village heads to discuss issues. After those discussions there would often be a meal with dance and music.
Although it is possible to have a serious discussion at the AVANI Boma it is more likely that the guests go there to dine and enjoy traditional entertainment.
Bernie and I joined Joyce from AVANI to experience the AVANI Boma. We were whisked off by Presley in a golf cart along the pathways through the grounds to the entrance to the Boma.
Walking along the footpath into the Boma, there is a range of curios for sale as well as a hut where a Sangoma (traditional medicine man) sits and another hut for hair braiding. We were welcomed with a local drink and then continued on to watch the marimba band which was playing on the stage.
The food is displayed on several counters and includes a range of Zambian food like nshima and rape, as well as international food – oxtail stew, rice, potatoes, lamb or crocodile stew and barbequed meat. The waiter brought us a Mosi beer and we went off to collect a medley of salads. This was followed by, for me, nshima, gravy and barbequed chicken; for Bernie it was nshima and rape. And sadly, we were tempted by the desserts and filled our dishes with apple crumble, fruit salad and cheesecake!
Tucking into our meal, we were, all the while, being entertained. After the marimba band had completed their set, the drummers came on. The drummers and the accompanying dancers and singers had a vast repertoire, with entertainment styled on several of Zambia’s ethnic groups. At one point a Makishi dancer came on running around the tables, dancing as he went. (We often get Makishi men on the streets in town and the children love them, following them around the suburbs.)
There was a fire-eating man who sat on the ground with a bowl of fireballs and proceeded to eat them, even inviting diners to have a go themselves … no-one took up the offer.
It is common during Zambian dances that members of the audience get up and join the dancers. It is a great way to test dance skills and also to get some exercise and work off some of the weight put on during the meal. One of the diners was pulled onto the stage and, once there, had a great time.
One dance was that of a young girl who was undergoing the rite of passage to adulthood when she is taken away from the village and taught how to look after her future family.
Throughout the performances, the compère gave us a short introduction to each piece which made it relevant and interesting.
The AVANI Boma is open for guests and any visitor or resident of Livingstone. It is a fun evening with great food. And, in my opinion, is highly recommended. Apart from the food, the entertainment is real and not in any way commercialized. It is a special Zambian way to end the day, under the stars, with friends and family.