Mbunda People's Location
Mbunda Chiefs |
Mbunda Cultural Activities|
Origin of The Mbunda People, Migration History and The Kingdom
Bantu Migration Routes from Cush and the Island of Meroe
The Mbunda Migration Routes from Sudan
Around 1600 Most of southern and central Africa was sparsely populated. The Bantu ethnic groups were agricultural people. They kept herds of domestic cattle and goats. They knew how to plant and cultivate crops like millet, sorghum and cassava.
Central and southern Africa were far more sparsely populated. The people here were not mostly Bantu but the San or bushmen. They lived as hunter/gatherers. They roamed in small groups over large areas of land in order to hunt game and collect the fruits, nuts, grains and plants which they needed for food.
The agricultural skills of the Bantu allowed them to live in larger villages and their population grew. Inevitably as populations grew disputes would arise between different groups of people within the same ethnic group. If these disputes could not be resolved to the satisfaction of both sides then it was common that the disaffected group would decide to leave.
In the 1400s a group of Bantu people left what is now Sudan during the Bantu migration. Among these were the Mbunda, one of the oldest and biggest ethnic grouping in Southern Africa.
Establishment of The Mbunda Kingdom In Kola (Now Congo DRC)
The Mbunda Kingdom dates back
from well before the Mwantiyavwa Dynasty was established in
The Mbunda trace their origin
trekking southwards through Kola where they came in contact
with the Luba and Ruund Kingdoms.5
While in Kola, the Mbunda people's first Monarch was King (Mwene)
Nkuungu. When King (Mwene) Nkuungu died his daughter Naama
took over as the second Mbunda Monarch at the Palace of
Namampongwe. During the reign of Queen (Vamwene) Naama, the
following obligatory regulations for royalty were
Queen (Vamwene) Naama had four children; Nkonde (male), Chinguli (male), Yamvu (female) and Lukokesha Female).
It was also during her reign
that the Mbunda fought off groups of hostile pygmies (tumonapi)
who were described as very short people who did not grow any
crops nor domesticate any animals, but who were expert
trappers and hunters who shot wild game with poisoned arrows
(mingamba ya vulembe). They were also very skilful
collectors of seeds, leaves, berries, roots and the fruits
of wild plants.
Queen (Vamwene) Yamvu was enthroned to succeed her mother, the late Queen (Vamwene) Naama, as the third sovereign of the emerging Mbunda ethnic group and state. Following the death of Queen (Vamwene) Naama, her son, (Prince) Munamwene Nkonde, married his two sisters, respectively called Queen (Vamwene) Yamvu and Princess (Vamunamwene) Lukokesha.
Queen (Vamwene) Yamvu bore the
following offspring with her brother Nkonde:
Her sister Princess (Vamunamwene)
Lukokesha also bore the following offspring with her brother
Interaction With The Lunda and Luunda People
Ngungu elelo tambula kwendeye lelo,
Woo, tambula kwendeye!
According to the Mbunda custom of the time Queen (Vamwene) Yamvu should not have married. In the case where she did marry she should have surrendered the chieftainship to her brother Prince (Munamwene) Nkonde. Instead she surrendered the chieftainship to her Ruund (Luunda) husband. It is from this split that the Ruund (Luunda) chieftainship developed in the 15th century; the children of Prince (Munamwene) Nkonde with Queen (Vamwene) Yamvu descend to form the Ruund (Luunda) chieftainship of Mwantiyavwa.
In 1690 the Ruund (Luunda)
ruler adopted the style Mwaant Yaav [Mwaanta Yaava]
Mbunda Kingdom Re-Established At The Confluence Of Kwilu And Kasai Rivers, In The Now Congo DRC
Prince Nkonde led the majority of the disenchanted populace away from Namampongwe and later settled near the confluence of the Kwilu and Kasai rivers.7 Prince Nkonde was anxious to seek the guidance of his ancestral spirits concerning his leaving Kola in protest of Yamvu's violation of Mbunda custom. He went hunting and killed a roan antelope (meengo). The killing of such a magnificent beast signified that the ancestral spirits approved of his action and served as a censure of Yamvu's conduct.
It was during the reign of King (Mwene) Nkonde that the Mbunda resolved to migrate to new territories where they could search for fertile land and settle down to farm. A place where they could expand and consolidate the structures of their state and ethnic group.
The major factors which stimulated their migration were as follows:
They found the tropical forests an extremely hard and difficult place in which to struggle for their survival.
There was the cutting down and stumping of the very tall trees, as well as the digging out of their numerous roots, which was a physically taxing exercise.
These hardships were further compounded by the botanical scenario of countless wild plants which germinated and grew so luxuriantly and quickly that it was a relentless and onerous task to maintain the fields and gardens of varied crops as required.
Ruminants could not be domesticated, due to lack of grass for them to feed on, complicated by the presence of tse-tee fly which could be detrimental to their health.
The Mbunda also disliked the perpetual dewy atmospheric conditions (mbundu ya muchuvukila) which were accompanied by stifling, humidity and ceaseless rainfall (nyondthzi ya muchuvulila).
They also disliked the rocky soils (livu lya mamanya) and the lack of sufficient wild game and fish (lisholo) of which they were so fond.
Finally, they feared the rampant epidemics of small pox (mushongo wa lyale), which had taken a great toll of life amongst them.
The Majority Mbunda People Migrate Further Southwards Out of The Now Congo DRC
The Mbunda language spoken by the Mbunda group that remained in the DR Congo, entirely separated from the rest of their people, is of course a special case. Due to passage of time and interaction with other languages, it has become quite different from the variants spoken in Angola, Zambia and Namibia, and is today even considered as belongingi to a different linguistic category.8
Prior to their migration, scouts (tumenga) were sent forth to gather surveillance data and explore the geographical and other features of the territories beyond their areas of habitation. The scouting expedition, was lead by two Princes, namely, Prince (Munamwene) Chimbangala, and Prince (Munamwene) Chombe, who were both sons of King (Mwene) Nkonde respectively. Two other men of noble ranks, who comprised the expedition were, Mwata Chombe and Mwata Kapyangu.
The expedition explored a large area to the west and discovered an unknown river which they crossed and then went on to discover the valley of the Lwena river, a tributary of the Zambezi river whose source is in present day Angola. The scouts returned to the camp where the Mbunda were settled, near the confluence of the Kwilu and Kasai rivers. The expedition then tendered a favourable report to the king.
King (Mwene) Nkonde and his
subjects built a shrine for offering to their ancestral
spirits and authored the salutation as follows:
Prince Nkonde was enthroned as the fourth Mbunda monarch in a palace called Mapamba and, before his death, his son Prince Chinguli was enthroned as the fifth Monarch of the Mbunda.
King (Mwene) Nkonde, unable to travel due to old age sent his son Chinguli who had just taken over from him as the fifth Monarch to go south and search for better land for their settlement. This is the only time the Mbunda had two ruling Monarchs. King (Mwene) Chinguli was commissioned by his father to go out and seek new lands for the people. He led an expedition which travelled southwestwards (Mumbwela) in the direction of what is now called Namibia.
The First Migration Route Led By King Mwene Chinguli Cha Nkonde
Taking a more central route into the now Angola, the southwest of the confluence of Kwilu and Kasai river, King Mwene Chinguli traveled all the way south to the now Kwandu Kuvango fighting the Bushmen and replacing them in the new found lands with a trail of Mbunda descendants who later came to be called the Chimbandi, the Ngonjelo, the Humbi, the Lwimbi and the Nyemba. King (Mwene) Chinguli never returned to Kwilu/Kasai to report his new found settlement lands.
Chinguli's children were:
After a long wait and before the death of King (Mwene) Nkonde the fourth Monarch, King (Mwene) Chinguli's daughter Mbaao was installed as the sixth Monarch to replace the father. Queen (Vamwene) Mbaao was left with the responsibility to migrate the Mbunda to better settlement lands from Kwilu/Kasai.
During Queen (Vamwene) Mbaao's reign, the Mbunda embarked on their second migration expedition to the southeast of Kwilu and Kasai rivers.
Vamwene Mbaao bore the
After the death of Queen (Vamwene)
Mbaao there arose a period of disquiet and tumult as a
result of the contentious factions which were involved in
the choosing of another sovereign ruler for the Mbunda
state. One faction advocated the candidature of Prince (Munamwene)
Luputa , who was one of Chinguli cha Nkonde's sons. The
other faction championed Princess (Vamunamwene) Kaamba, who
was one of Queen (Vamwene) Mbaao's daughters. In the royal
lobbying that ensued, Princess (Vamunamwene) Kaamba became
the choice of the Chifunkuto, which elected the Kings. The
Princess was enthroned as Queen (Vamwene) Kaamba. She was
the seventh Monarch to preside over the affairs of the
The Second Migration Route Led By Queen (Vamwene) Kaamba
In reminiscence of the
unfortunate fate that befell Princess (Vamunamwene) Mbayi,
the bereaved Mbunda named that river as the Lindonga lya
Mbayi. Through the passage of time, Lindonga lya Mbayi,
which literally means, "the great river of Mbayi", became
abbreviated to Lya Mbayi. To this day, the Mbunda still call
the Zambezi river "Lya Mbayi". The Mbunda are also reminded
of that fateful crossing of their distant forebears, with
the praise coined thus:
This was a very sandy area with small rivers which were all tributaries of the Zambezi River. Like the Zambezi these smaller rivers had very wide flood plains which were wonderful areas for grazing cattle. Even better the higher lands adjacent to the flood plains were ideal for planting their favorite crop, cassava. It was along these tributaries to the Zambezi that the first Mbunda decided to settle in what is now Angola.
This land was also prized by the bushmen who lived there. They survived by hunting the wildebeest which lived on the flood plains. They gathered food from the trees and plants which grew along the edge of the plains. They were disturbed by the presence of these newcomers. The Mbunda also liked to hunt wild beast. They also enjoyed the fruits nuts and grains they found growing along the plain.
The bushmen found the presence of the newcomers, the Mbunda, to be intolerable. It was plain to them that both groups could not remain there. The bushmen decided to attack the Mbunda. Their problem was that they were few in number. Their hunter gatherer methods never allowed them to live in groups larger than 15 to 20. The Mbunda were already establishing villages which were larger than that.
The bushmen were not warriors. Their energy was needed to hunt game. For them it had always been better to walk away from a fight. There was so much open land and their lives were dangerous enough without fighting other men. However this time they decided to fight. The Mbunda knew how to fight. They had fought skirmishes with bushmen all throughout their journey through the Congo. They expected they would have to fight to keep this new land in the now Angola. They were ready and confident. They had the bow and arrow and they were experts in its use.
The fighting did not last very long. The bushmen attacked the Mbunda in their village and were quickly driven off. The Mbunda chased the bushmen and killed all the men. They captured the women and children. The children were raised as Mbunda while the women were allocated out as wives. The women were very desired because of their large protruding buttocks and their yellow skin.
First Settlement Along Mithimoyi River, Re-Establishment of The Mbunda Kingdom and The Beginning of Mbundaland
The Mbunda set their first capital at Mithimoyi. However, the need for more settlement land was still vital to the quickly growing population. Queen (Vamwene) Kaamba decided to send some more Mbunda to search for more settlement land to the south. That group of Mbunda settled at nearby river region called Luchathzi. These were later called after that river as Luchazis. However, some of this group moved westwards to Chimbandi, finding the descendants of King (Mwene) Chinguli who chased them. In their flight they sung a song, "Mutemba twatuye, vaile ku Chimbandi vanakatunta lusi, meaning, "Mutemba let us leave, those that migrated to Chimbandi came running in their flight". During this flight, they also made a fire in a process called "Chimvweka".
The Mbunda prospered and the land along these western tributaries of the Zambezi was their home.
The two route migrations of the Mbunda from the confluence of Kwilu and Kasai rivers gave way to a thirteen (13) Mbunda descendant family of Mbunda Mathzi, the Chimbandi, the Humbi, the Ngonjelo, the Luimbi, the Nyemba, the Luchazi, the Sango, the Mbalango, the Nkangala, the Yauma, the Ndundu and the Mashaka.
The Mbunda eventually moved southwards to a larger settlement, where the Mbunda Kingdom continued to flourish in what became known as Mbundaland from Lungevungu river to what is now Cuando Cubango Province, with Lumbala Nguimbo becaming their capital.
The Mbunda Kingdom To Expand Southwards To Cuando Cubango Under King Mwene Kathangila Ka Mukenge - The Twelfth Monarch
Shatukila Kathangila mwaya (repeated
The Mbunda Kingdom Continues To Expand: The First Mbunda Kings Move From Mithimoyi On The Upper Zambezi To Settle In The Lungevungu Valley - Under King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda; The Thirteenth Monarch
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda was the thirteenth sovereign ruler of the Mbunda ethnic group. He left the Mithimoyi chieftainship to his young brother, Chief Mwene Chingumbe. His uncle, King Mwene Kathangila and his brother King Mwene Yambayamba left him south of Lyambai river called Mithimoyi. King Mwene Kathangila was first to leave, then King Mwene Yambayamba followed.
KingMwene Yambayamba Kapanda gathered his important councillor (Vimyata), and his Prime Minister (Mwato) Likupekupe and traveled south to the Lungevungu river. Minor Mbunda chiefs and Vimyata had been sent by King Mwene Yambayamba's predecessors, to settle in the Lungevungu valley and country long before King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda himself moved there from the Upper Zambezi. King Mwene Lweembe lwa Chingwanja and his regent son King Mwene Katete had sent:
All of these belong to the Mbunda Mathzi (Katavola),10 the central royal lineage of the Mbunda monarch. This language is not to be confused with Ngangela. In fact "Ngangela is one of the ethnographic classification categories invented during colonial times in a series of African countries which do not correspond to one people held together by a common social identity".
Mbunda people preferred re soil, they didn't want to settle in whitish soil to the east of Lungevungu river. The King and his people followed Lungevungu river to the west until they found the reddish mbunda soil at the confluence of Luyo and Lungevungu rivers. Where Luyo joins Lungevungu river, thats where King Yambayamba built his Palace, which they named Livambi. The Palace was surrounded in a fence, hence the Palace and its fence was named 'Chimpaka cha Livambi' (Livambi fence). The moving of King Yambayamba Kapanda from Mithimoyi, at the Luena area of the Upper Zambezi, to the Lungevungu river and country was a historical landmark in the history of the Mbunda people.
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda reached the Lungevungu at a place not far from its confluence with the Zambezi and stayed on the northern side of the river for some time. This was at the time that King Mboo was ruling the Aluyi of Barotseland.
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda
and his followers decided to scout for land up the
Lungevungu river. He followed the Lungevungu north-west
until they found the reddish mbunda soil11
(livu lya mbunda) at the
confluence of the Luyo tributary and the Lungevungu river. "Livu
lya mbunda" is the reddish brown soil from which the Mbunda
people derive the name of their ethnic group VaMbunda;
people of the reddish-brown soil. They were known by the
name of Mbunda even before they came to the Lungevungu.
At the confluence of the Luyo and the Lungevungu, King Yambayamba Kapanda built a fortified capital called 'Chimpaka cha Livambi'. It was from Livambi that King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda took conquering and occupation expeditions which brought the country between the Lungevungu, Kembo-Kwandu confluence, Kwitu northern area under his control and the country between the Kwandu, the Luanginga and the Lungevungu, west of Barotseland also came under King Yambayamba Kapanda and his Mbunda people.
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda Expands The Mbunda Kingdom Territories, Further South
At this time most of the Mbunda people were still at Mithimoyi and Luena areas under Chief Mwene Chingumbe, the younger brother of King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda. In the Upper Zambezi, the Mbunda people lived alongside the Mbwela, many of whom were absorbed into the expanding Mbunda culture. mbunda oral tradition does not mention any conflicts between the Mbunda and the Mbwela ("Mbwela" means people of the east in the Mbunda languange). The new lands which King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda claimed and occupied were almost uninhabited except for camps of intinerant Bushmen living in scattered groups.
KingMwene Yambayamba Kapanda ka Chioola the thirteen Mbunda monarch engaged them in fighting and stopped them from moving eastward into the country the Mbunda people had already claimed and occupied (two centuries earlier). These ethnic groups turned and followed the Kwitu river with their chiefs. King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda left Nobleman (Mwata Chuma and some warriors to settle and rule that country for him on the Kunte river, which marked the western frontier of the Mbundaland.
At Lyamuya pool on the Kwandu river, King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda met a party of hostile Bushmen who attacked them. These Bushmen, under their leader Chishiwile used their usual poisoned arrows in their hit and run fashion. The Mbunda hunted down the Bushmen for two days and wiped out their band. Chishiwile was captured and beheaded. King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda left Nobleman Mwata Chondela with some warriors to settle and rule the Lyamuya Pool area. From that time the Bushmen have known the Mbunda people as their superiors, saying: "A person of the village, because they are people of the bush" (Munu-wa-limbo, mwafwa vakevo vanu va shwata). There have been pockets of Bushmen to the south of the Mbundaland since the days of King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda, but they have not made troubles. Most Bushmen have retreated further south and avoided contact with the Mbunda people.
From Lyamuya, King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda and his party made his way north towards the Luanginga river. He reached Luanginga at a point far south-east of the Tembwashange rapids. Having seen the river for the first time, he explored it upstream until the party came to the rapids which the Mbunda people call Chipupa cha Tembwashange. King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda was satisfied that the course of the river lay through the land he had explored and claimed for himself and his people.
King Mwene Yambayamba
Kapanda's Iron Works
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda ka
Chioola and his iron workers established iron smelters at
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda and his iron workers supervised the iron works which produced iron for tools, weapons and for trade with neighbouring countries: to the south: Kwanyama, Ngali and Mashi; to the east: Luyi, Nyengo and Makoma and to the north, Luvale. In exchange the Mbunda got cattle from the Kwanyama and the Ngali, fish from the Luvale and Luyi and the Makoma. The Mbunda were not fishermen, traditionally they were game hunters and meat was their favourite relish to vilya, the staple porridge (the thick porridge made of cassava (lupa) or bulrush millet (mashangu) or finger-millet (luku); maize (mundele) was rarely grown. However, the Mbunda Yauma, who prefered to live on the plains were, and still are, great fishermen. Among the Mbunda they were also the greatest producers of maize, pumpkins, cucumbers and beans.
Yambayamba Kapanda, the thirteenth King of the Mbunda people centralized the Mbunda people from a scattered tribal group into a strong and united tribe with an identity of their own. He acquired a large territory where they multiplied and became a dominant nationality respected and recognized by the surrounding tribal groups. One had to think twice before he would dare to wage a war against the Mbunda Kings like Yambayamba.
Before his death, King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda called all the important heads of families and Noblemen (Vimvata) to a Royal Court (Mandthzembi) at his Livambi capital his brother Chief Mwene Chingumbe and his Prime Minister Mwato Nkombwe Lilema were there.
King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda addressed the Royal Court (Mandthzembi ) in the following words which have been handed down by word of mouth in the Mbunda royal hierarchy to this day:
He instructed his councillors to take his brother, and eventual successor, Chief Mwene Chingumbe on a tour of the then new Mbunda country. Prime Minister Mwato Likupekupe, of King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda who had accompanied King Mwene Yambayamba Kapanda on the first journey of occupation of the Mbunda country was chosen to lead the tour of showing Chief Mwene Chingumbe the new country. Chief Mwene Chingumbe went round the Mbunda country led by Mwato Likupekupe and other Noblemen chosen from Livambi and from Lilembalemba.
These are of Chief Mwene Muundu of Chief Mwene Mahongo, and Chief Mwene Kandala of Chief Mwene Mbambi. These are the ones that migrated to Mbalango area, at the confluence of Lungevungu and Lwanginga rivers;
These are of Chief Mwene Mwiinga, a son of
Mbiya who in turn, was a son of Kalomo and who was fathered
by Mushanya. They assumed the name, for migrating to the
higher lands of the valleys of Kwandu river such as "Chunga
cha Kembo", "Chunga cha Ndeke" and "Chunga cha Chikeleti";
These are of the Chief Mwene Kavavu, who was
born of Chief Mwene Ntongo, the son of Chief Mwene
Thingithingi. They assumed the name, for migrating from the
valleys into nkangala forests with scattered trees;
These are of Chief Mwene Kambembe, the son of Nkuvwa, and who had Yembe for his father. They assumed the name, for migrating from the valleys to ndundu or boundary of the valley and forests.
These are of Chief Mwene Chikololo, a son of Muthandi, the daughter of Kafwilo. They assumed the name, for migrating from the valleys to mashaka forests or densely think forests.
These were the progeny of intermarriages
between the Mbunda and the Luvale; on the other side of the
Lungevungu and Lutembwe rivers.
These are of Chief Mwene Chitengi Chingumbe Chiyengele. They migrated from Mbundaland during the reign of King Mwene Ngonga Chiteta I, to settle in Barotseland.
Ngangela Or Mbunda Group?
What Is Ngangela And The Origin Of The Name?
Today some unofficial Angola Tribal maps show Eastern Angola as occupied by Ngangela.
Ngangela As A Tribe: These tribal maps are misleading because Ngangela is not a tribe but a derogatory name which also means Eastern.15 It is also reflective of Portuguese colonialists' oppression on Mbunda and clear intent to wipe out the ethnic group completely out of Angola.
Ngangela As A Language: Missionery Emil Pearson created Ngangela as a standard language by mixing Mbunda, Luchazi, Luvale and Luimbi languages, to allow a single translation of the Bible for the four communities.16 As a result, Mbunda as a National Language in Angola has been disappearing from a list of six: KIKONGO, KIMBUNDU, UMBUNDU, CHOKWE, MBUNDA AND KWANYAMA according to the Official Gazette No: 3/87 of May 23, 1987 following a resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers.17
Status Of Mbunda language In Angola
Mbunda language was chosen as one of the six National languages in Angola for development of orthographies and facilitate teaching it in schools in 1980 by the Institute of National languages in Angola. The Mbunda desk at the Institute of National languages in Luanda, Angola was represented by Camarada Justino Frederico Katwiya, a teacher of Mbunda National language.24 However, after Camarada Justino Frederico Katwiya's retirement, the Mbunda desk at the Institution has remained vacant to-date. The lack of representation by the Mbunda people caused other ethnic groups with representation at higher levels of decision making to substitute Mbunda language with Ngangela language, and systematically, Mbunda programming as a National language was removed from the Public Television of Angola (TPA), even on National and some community radio stations and replaced with Ngangela. However, recent pronouncements from the authorities indicate that the anormally is receiving some attention.
The language area of MBUNDA has changed:27 Initially it was between the right bank of the river Lungue-Bungo on the way to the border with the Republic of Zambia, and along the rivers Luconha, Cuvangui up to Cuando, namely the munipality of Cuando, the commune of Cangombe, along the Cuando River to the border with the current Republic of Zambia.
Currently its area in Angola was restricted due to:
The current Mbunda language area in Angola is confined in the city of MBundas in Lumbala Nguimbo, comprising the communes of Luvuei, Lutembo,Mussuma, Ninda and Cumi.
First Mbunda People Voluntary Migration To Barotseland
In 1795, some Mbunda started migrating to Barotseland.28 These Mbunda did not run away from any wars in Mbundaland. The boundary between Mbundaland to the west and Barotseland to the east then was Zambezi river. In the first immigration, some of the Mbunda with their Chiefs, Mwene Mundu, Mwene Kandala, and Mwene Chiyengele29 respectively, decided to move closer to Zambezi River under a friendship pact with Lozi Litunga, Mulambwa Santulu. Mwene Chitengi Chingumbe Chiyengele, the third Mbunda Chief to immigrate to Zambia came with his royal regalia as the 15th Monarch in frustration, after succeeding his father King Chingumbe cha Chioola, the 14th Mbunda Monarch instead of a nephew as per Mbunda custom. In his absence in Mbundaland, the Mbunda replaced him with King Ngonga I Chiteta as the 16th Monarch and a rightful successor to the thrown as a nephew. Mongu
By the late 1800s the British began expanding their colonial territory northwards from South Africa through Zimbabwe into Zambia. They became aware of the Zambezi River when David Livingstone led his expedition down the river in 1869. These Mbundas became part of the Barotseland Protectorate which was recognized by the British.
The Portuguese also were expanding. They had established ports in Angola along the Atlantic coast during the 1600s. In the late 1800s they were extending their colonies inward toward the Zambezi River. The British recognized and feared this expansion of Portuguese territory. To counter it they established an outpost at the confluence of the Luanginga and Lweti rivers. These two rivers are tributaries of the Zambezi and lie west of the Zambezi. This British outpost was called Kalabo and it was the only British post west of the Zambezi.
Fall of The Mbunda Kingdom and Portuguese Occupation of Mbundaland
In 1914, the Portuguese colonialists abducted the twentieth (21st) Mbunda Monarch, King Mbandu Lyondthi Kapova (Kathima Mishambo) and imposed Prince (Munamwene) Kazungo Shanda as the 22nd Mbunda Monarch. Little did King Mbandu Lyondthi Kapova (Kathima Mishambo) know that his nephew was an ambitious traitor and would not follow the King's instructions. King Mbandu Lyondthi Kapova, his Prime Minister (Mwato wa Mwene) Shwana Mbambale, his two personal physicians and special aides, Mwata Kambalameko and Mwata Vitumbi, some important courtiers as well as a number of his bodyguards were kidnapped and taken away in 1914 by Portuguese colonial troops mounted on horsebacks. This resulted in a war named "The Kolongongo War". This is a war the Portuguese Colonialists fought on horse backs against the Mbunda,30 .
The Mbunda waged a fierce armed campaigns in their desperate bid to maintain their independence of Portuguese subjugation. They new how to fight. They were a fearless, strong and brave people. However, as time elapsed, the Portuguese forces gained an upper hand in the war because they were continuously provisioned with gunpowder for their guns. The embattled Mbunda, who did not posses the know-how essential to the making of gunpowder eventually found the muzzle-loaders to be absolutely useless. They had to increasingly rely on their bows and arrows as well as a few other traditional arms which were suited for warfare only at close quarters. Superior Portuguese firepower took a heavy toll of the increasingly dispirited Mbunda, some of whom began to throw their muzzle-loaders in the rivers for lack of gunpowder. The war lasted up to 1929 and dislodged the Mbunda Kingdom and the Portuguese took over Mbundaland to be part of Angola.
Mbunda People Flee To Barotseland and South-West Africa (Namibia) - Second Migration
This caused some Mbundas to migrate to Namibia and a second immigration of Mbundas to Barotseland. However, many Mbundas in Namibia call themselves Ngangelas.
The Mbunda who lived in Barotseland prospered. They were welcomed and respected by the Aluyi. The Aluyi and their leader, the Litunga especially prized the Mbunda for their ability to fight. When the Luvale also known as Lovale invaded Barotseland from the north the Litunga instructed the Mbunda to counter the invasion.31 The battle was a complete victory for the Mbundas They killed all of the Luvale warriors except for a few. These few were left alive so they could return to the Luvale villages and report about what happens when you do battle with the Mbunda.
The rejoicing Mbunda warriors then cut off the heads of their victims and carried them on top of sticks. They ran singing all the way to Lilundu, the capital of Barotseland and the home of the Litunga Mulambwa. When the Aluyi saw this crowd of the Mbunda warriors carrying sticks with the heads on top they panicked and ran away. They didn't realize the Mbunda were coming to celebrate with them. They thought they were the next victims.
After this defeat the Luvale never attacked the Aluyi for their cattle. King Mulambwa now knew of the fighting ability of the Mbunda and confirmed Mwene Chitengi Chiyengele's right to stay in Bulozi as the Senior Mbunda Chief. King Mulambwa decided to cement the bond of friendship between the Aluyi and the Mbunda.
The Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty In Barotseland
On a specially appointed occasion, in the presence of King Mulambwa, Aluyana and Mbunda royalty, Aluyana and Mbunda elders and Aluyana and Mbunda public, Mwene Chitengi Chiyengele was ceremonially given a sharp pointed pole called mulombwe while the following ten points were explained orally, forming the famous Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty:
1). We give you this sharp-pointed pole to replace those poles with rounded tops for your royal
palace. It is only your palace which will be built with sharp poles called milombwe.
2). Your royal drum (Kenda na Vafwa) and royal xylophone (Kamuyongole) should be played in your
palace, when you visit others and whenever you come to this capital.
3). It is only you who will use a royal flywistch of the eland.
4). You are free to continue to teach your people your language and culture; you will not be forced
to take our language and culture.
5). There shall never be an Aluyi person who enslaves a Mbunda and no Mbunda shall enslave an
6). You are not forced to live on the Barotse plain but free to live in the forests.
7). You are free to cultivate cassava, yams and millet in the multitude that you wish.
8). In military and political matters you should be allied with the Aluyi.
9). Never fight among one another, but love one another. Finally.
10). Respect chieftainship and the elders.
In this way the relationship between the Aluyi and the Mbunda was defined and developed and continues to this day. The views of King Mulambwa recognized the Mbunda contribution to the historical development of Bulozi.32 This and other factors earned Mbunda to be represented on the Barotse National Council.33
Secondly, the Mbunda fought alongside Aluyi34 in the Aluyi/Makololo war in 1830, which ousted the Makololo rule on the Aluyi.35 This led to the establishment of the Mbunda Chieftainship at Lukwakwa under Senior Chief Sikufele36 now in Kabompo District, being a descendant of Mulambwa and a Mbunda wife. The Makololo from the south introduced the Lozi language spoken not only in Western Province today but also Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Caprivi Strip.
In the 1880s the Litunga decided he wanted to grab the cattle which belonged to his neighbors to the east, the Tonga.37 He sent all his warriors eastward to chase off the Tonga and return with their cattle. The heart of his army were the Mbunda.38 Again the Mbunda were successful as the Tonga could not compete. The Tonga had no defense against the Mbundas' skill with a bow and arrow. The Tonga fought only briefly before they ran away. The Lozis with the Mbunda in the lead returned to Barotseland to present the Litunga with over one million cattle. This is where the Lozi/Mbunda and Tonga Cousinship originates from.
Later the Kaonde/Lozi war which Lozis lost in the first battle, but warn with the help of the Mbunda war machinery, where Mbunda Chief Kasimba of Kalumwange played a major role resulting in the Mbunda Chieftainship having firmly been established there at the confluence of the Lalafuta and Kyamenge in 1893, opposite Chief Mushima Njivumina of the Kaonde.
All this proved the fighting supremacy of the Mbunda in fighting alongside the Aluyi41 and in honoring the Mulambwa/Chiyengele Treaty, Mbundas remained the true allies of the Aluyi both in military and political matters.
Tribal warfare was discouraged during the colonial rule by the British. The Mbunda lived peacefully. They tended their cattle and grew cassava, maize and rice. Many of the men left their homes to work in the mines of South Africa. When independence from British rule came in 1964 this practice was discouraged. The men were then recruited to work on the sugar plantations of Zambia. They were much sought after due to their reputation as reliable workers.
Under Portuguese Colonial Persecution Mbunda People Join MPLA In Liberation War - The Third Mbunda Migration
The Mbunda that remained in Mbundaland which was now part of Angola continued with hardship of the Portuguese colonialists. In 1961 an upraising against forced cotton cultivation, culminated into liberation war. With encouragement from Agostinho Neto, leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the Mbunda were determined to avenge the persecution they experienced at the hands of the Portuguese colonialists. Most of the Mbunda joined the ranks of the MPLA42 and gave up their lives for the liberation of Angola and their Mbundaland which was mainly fought in their home territory. The liberation war caused the second wave of the Mbunda fleeing to other Provinces of Angola, Zambia and Namibia.
Mbunda People Fight Alongside MPLA In Angola Civil War In Their Territory - Fourth Mbunda Migration
Independence came to Angola in November 1975 and with independence came civil war Angolan Civil War. Again many Mbundas fled Angola to relocate in nearby western Zambia, this marked the third and fourth wave of Mbunda immigration to the now Western Province of Zambia. These refugees were related to those Mbundas who were already living around Kalabo, Senanga, Mongu, Kaoma, Lukulu and Kabompo in Zambia. They were welcomed there and fit in easily.
The Mbunda have maintained most of their old traditions. They still respect their ancestors. They have "coming of age" rituals for both boys (Mukanda and their not less than fifty (50) Makishi artifacts) Read... and girls (Litungu or Bwali) Read... They still rely on cattle and cassava for their food. Men carry weapons such as bow and arrows, spears or machetes when they travel away from their villages. Women still create baskets from the root of the makenge bush and of course these baskets are the finest in the world. See...
28 The elites of Barotseland, 1878-1969: a political history of Zambia's Western Province: a. Gerald L. Caplan ISBN 0-
900966-38-6 Publisher: C. Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 1970
30 Ren� P�lissier, La r�volte des Bunda (1916-1917), pp. 408 - 412 (French for "the Mbunda revolt"), section footnotes
citing sources: Lu�s Figueira, Princesa Negra: O pre�o da civiliza��o em �frica, Coimbra Edi��o do autor, 1932
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