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MBUNDA MUKANDA CEREMONY                            



The mukanda ceremony and process is held during the dry season (May-October) and lasts anywhere from three to five months. It is a rite of passage into manhood      

When the boys of the region are of age and the numbers warrant it, the elders will meet and decide on holding a mukanda. A host village where the mukanda enclosure will be built, is selected - usually the one with the most boys. The night before the start of the Mukanda plenty of food and millet beer is prepared for festivities. A whole night of revelry takes place. The boys are  snatched away from the festivities for circumcision, at a special place outside the village already chosen as the site of the mukanda encampment. The site is chosen for proximity to the village so the boys and the village can communicate by song.  Drums beat loudly so the screams of the boys can be drowned out. The village doctor or a chikethzi (circumcision doctor) performs the circumcision. Thereafter, the Mukanda Camp is built of branches and bushes and will be home to the boys for the next few months.                                  


For the first two weeks of the mukanda, elder village guardians tend to initiates, allowing for their wounds to heal. It is a very private affair and few may enter the mukanda camp. Magical carved pegs are placed at different areas around the camp to push back bad forces and evil spirits. Sticks with animal blood are also erected at different points around the camp. These are there to warn women and the uncircumcised that they are not permitted beyond this point. Transgressors are whipped with sticks and pushed back or circumcised if they managed to reach the mukanda camp. This is the time that a few masked makithi make their appearance. The makithi are the spirits of deceased ancestors who have returned to the world of the living to guide, assist and protect the boys and the village during this time of transition. The masked ancestor spirits go from village to village announcing that the Mukanda is near. The whole region has a festive yet tense air to it.                     


During this period the the boys or "students" are forced to follow the rules very strictly. Obedience and discipline are crucial. The elders ensure that discipline towards them, the attendants and the boy's parents is instilled. The boys are also taught about adult life. They are taught wood-carving, weaving, and basketry. Singing and dancing are taught for hours or end. In fact, lots of chorus singing takes place between the Mukanda camp and the village with the boys signing and the elders and mother responding in song or ululating. Certain songs are sung both at sunrise and at dusk. Dancing is a must and is taught continuously. They repeat the dancing which involves the twisting of the legs and the waist many times a day, days on end. It is a very serious affair and only excellence is accepted.                        


Once the healing process has taken place, the boys are led to the river for purification. The boys are seen for the first time by uninitiated boys and girls as they bathe for the first time. Masked makithi are present to celebrate the event and to push back over eager mothers.  They are also instructed on what is taboo - and never to divulge the secrets of the Mukanda school.


On the surface one sees the circumcision, the discipline, and the training of adult life. On the other level the mukanda is a covenant with the ancestors. The boys are now "dead" to their childhood and have entered the realm of adults and direct communion with their ancestors. It is a significant religious affair.


More makithi now make their appearance at regular intervals in the region during the whole duration of the mukanda ceremony.  at the encampment to assist in the teaching and dancing of the boys, at the purification of the boys and at the end of the of the Mukanda. They also go to the villages to get food, money and other necessities for the mukanda and its occupants. The Mukanda process is felt, and experienced by the whole community. It is a communal event. One that engulfs the region every 5-8 years. The Mbunda Speaking People boast of being the major stakeholder on all Mukanda Makithi Practicing Tribes. They have not less than fifty (50) different Masked makithi.  These are: 1) Linyampa (which other tribes have renamed Mupala), 2) Kateye, 3) Likulukulenge, 4) Ndthzingi, 5) Bujuke, 6) Hungu, 7) Mwe-Lindeho, 8) Mwe-Litwe, 9) Mwe-Bitumbi, 10) Munguli, 11) Ndumba, 12) Limunga, 13) Sachihongo, 14) Lyaanda, 15) Mwe-Likupe, 16) Kaluwe, 17) Kanyengenyenge, 18) Libwelubwelu, 19) Mukwetunga-Kayongo, 20) Chendamundali, 21) Lyathindumuka, 22) Pindole, 23) Isha-Bukolo, 24) Chindanda, 25) Chithzangathzanga, 26) Mulombwe, 27) Ina-Mabunda, 28) Chawa, 29) Kambimbindonga, 30) Kapango, 31) Mbalambamba, 32) Kajenjela, 33) Kumbengu, 34) Malanda, 35) Simonda (for mocking Lozi people), 36) Kalumba, 37) Chitanga, 38) Chimbanda, 39) Chikedtzhi, 40) Kapata Moyo Walelo, 41) Lyandenga (which other tribes have renamed Kaipu), 42) Lyamama, 43) Nkumbwe, 44) Likopitu (depicting a war helicopter in Angola). 45) Njamba, 46) Ngolo, 47) Ntebe, 48) Chindele, 49) Shewa, 50) Limbilimbili, 51) Malanda, 52) Shole, 53) Chitoka, 54) Chitapa, 55) Limbondo, 56) Tumbinda, 57) Ntyengu and 58) Ndambala.          See More........               


The last phase (graduation) of the Mukanda takes place at the end of the dry season (Oct. -Nov.) Lots of millet beer and food is prepared the days before. Scores of masked makithi make their appearance for the festivities. They roam the villages dancing and performing, adding to the tension and excitement of the big day. On the eve of the day of graduation, the boys are taken one last time down to the river for their purification. They then return to the camp. In the evening the night of great festivities and expectation from mothers start. A lot of singing and dancing goes on for the whole night in the village. Men make their final singing and reminding the boys or graduates of their oaths not to divulge the secrets of the mukanda school while a group of women ululate in unison with the men in the mukanda camp, half way between the village and the camp. Later at night, the boys dressed in tree back fibre kilt skirts, well designed grass hats and adorned with geometric symbols on their bodies, are led out of the enclosure in single file and eventually led in single file into the village. Behind them at day break, the Mukanda enclosure is set ablaze. All the secrets of the ritual go up in the roaring flames while the attendants and elders dance and shout into the beginning of the new day celebrating the new life of the young men. At the village the boys sit down on special mats and food and presents are given to them. They dance and perform all day, proudly showing their public dance. The dance that they have been taught day in and day out. This is a huge celebration that goes on into the wee hours of the morning, marking the end of the Mukanda Ceremony.          




   Fire engulfs the Mukanda enclosure, consuming it away with all its secrets


Origin of Mbunda Mukanda,    Read More.............


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His Majesty King Mbandu IV,
Joćo Pedro Mussole
of The Mbunda People
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