FIRST Lady Thandiwe Banda has hailed the diverse and rich culture and traditions that the country has to offer.
Speaking in Lusaka on Saturday evening during the Builile traditional ceremony fundraising dinner, Mrs Banda said the country's culture and tradition needed to be preserved and valued.
She said there was need for more resources to be channeled to the department of Cultural Affairs, in order to preserve the country's rich cultural values and traditions.
Mrs Banda said the Builile traditional ceremony was not just about celebrating the harvest, but that it also showcased skills of the Bwile people such as salt making, swimming, fishing, and other practices synonymous to the people of Chiengi District.
"Builile is also about self reliance and food production, and it shows the uniqueness of the people of the Ba Ansa clan," she said.
She called for more people to adopt the culture of offering support towards the country's vast traditional ceremonies.
And speaking earlier, Builile traditional ceremony fundraising committee chairperson Hobday Kabwe said the association hoped to raise about K136 million from the various fundraising ventures ahead of the ceremony to be held in August this year.
Mr Kabwe said the Builile traditional ceremony could be dated back to the colonial era, saying that the traditional ceremony added value to the economic standing of Chiengi District.
"Chiengi's economic potential still remains untapped. The potential to improve the abundant water resources, put Chiengi at a perfect location for the establishment of farm blocks," he said.
Mr Kabwe called upon the Government to consider putting up farm blocks in the area, as a way of boosting the export of agriculture produce to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He also called on the government to include Chiengi as part of the Northern Circuit tourism destinations.
He called on corporate society and other well-wishers to consider offering their support to the sporting activities such as swimming, in Chiengi.
Mr Kabwe commended ZAIN, Multi-Choice, Food Reserve Agency, NATSAVE, ZESCO and other corporate entities for their support towards the ceremony.
And a representative of the Bwile Royal Establishment Benson Chishimba, said 'Bwile' came from 'Ubwile', which means self reliance, saying that it encouraged the Bwile people to be self reliant in food production.
He said the Bwile people migrated from the Luba-Lunda people of the DRC, saying that the Paramount Chief of the Bwile people in both Zambia and the DRC, was Chief Nkweto of the DRC.
Also present at the occasion, were Defence Minister Kalombo Mwansa, wife of Republican Vice-president Ireen Kunda, and spouses of Cabinet and deputy ministers.
And a total of K23 million was raised from pledges from those who attended the occasion, while the First Lady pledged K 2 million, Dr Mwansa pledged K2 million, and Mrs Kunda pledged K2 million on behalf of the minister's spouses club.
Other pledges included KK5 million from ZESCO, while the House of Chiefs pledged K150,000.
FRA pledged 50 kilogramme by 25 bags of breakfast mealie meal, and 50 kilogramme by 40 bags of rice, and pledged to cater for transport for people going to the ceremony.
The Builile traditional ceremony is celebrated by the Bwile people of Senior Chief Puta of Chiengi District.