Wednesday, December 26, 2012

MUCUBAL PEOPLE: ANGOLAN ENDURING TRIBE AND THEIR FASHIONABLE OMPOTA HEADDRESS

Mucubal (also called Mucubai, Mucabale, Mugubale) people are a subgroup of the Herero ethnic group settling in Southern Angola.They are also Bantu speaking people. It is historically asserted that the Mucubals are originally from Kenya and are related to the Massais. 

                                                 Mucubal tribe beauty from Angola

They are semi nomadic pastoralists living as cattle raisers and engaged in agriculture. They live in a large area between the slopes of Chela Mounts in the north, and River Cunene to the south, where they are believed to have stopped during the Herero migration, about 300 years ago.


          Mucubal boy standing near Pediva hot springs - Angola
Pediva is an incredible spot in Angola: a big lake, with only Mucabal tribes around, and a mix of hot and cold springs waters. The best natural bath you can expect after days in the bush!
The tribes who live around start to live in a modern way as many have cheap chinese motorcycles.


The territory "Mucubal" extends along the slopes of the Serra da Chela after entering the Namib desert coming very close to Chiange. Their relations with the people Nhanheca Humbe, which also inhabit the region were always difficult because the Mucubals steal cattle too often to nhanhecas. This manifested contempt for them. During the War of 1939, the Portuguese defeated the heavily Mucubals and they confined themselves to Chela and the desert, leaving the Plateau people to peasants. The Mucubals never forgot this defeat and in 1975 when the South Africans invaded Angola the Mucubals placed themselves alongside the MPLA forces. hindering their links with Moçamedes and eventually stop them. There were always a people disobedient. When, in 1975, the South Africans invaded Angola, tried, after having built his rear in Lubango, liaise with Moçâmedes without succeed, because Mucubais upon realizing that there was a war of "whites against blacks", allied to blacks.


                                         Mucubal man with an awesome tribal hairstyle carrying his child
Mucubal have some very strong time-honored customs and traditions which they value so dearly. They are seriously interested in cattle,worship it and do not care about the rest of the world outside of the bush. As a custom, the Mucubals are not allowed to mention people’s name in public, except their parent’s names and specifically names of children. Married couples are not allowed to talk to each other in public, as long as she (a wife) hasn’t had children. They can only speak to each other in private.
                                                Mucubal people

 At their younger age,girls have their upper teeth sharpened and lower ones removed. In order to convince young girls to have their lower teeth removed, old men make them believe, that their teeth leave their mouth during the night, enters a hole dug to relieve themselves and return in their mouth covered with excrement.
                Mucubal Woman With Sharpened Teeth, Virie Area, Angola


                                                            Mucubal tribe girl,Virei,Angola


The family structure and organization is also very specific. The father has the authority and is the head of the family, although the matrilineal descent is considered more important, as they inherit through the mother's family. For example the son of the Soba -chieftain of the village-’s sister is the heir of the Soba.
                                              Mucubal women

 It is possible to be disowned by their father's family but not by their mother's because for them this link is sacred. The maternal uncle has to provide his nephew with an ox, called Remussungo. However a father provides his son with an ox, called Hupa.
                              Mucubal mother with child near Virei, Angola

 Mucubal can only get married with an outsider of the clan, although it cannot be with a member of another tribe like a Himba for example. Marriages of convenience are the rule most of the time. The fiancée is presented to her future husband during the Fico ceremony, when she is fourteen or less. This ceremony consists in a party with the two families during which presents are offered. 

                                             Mucubal Men Cooking And Eating Corn, Virie Area, Angola


The couple has to wait a few more years before consummating the marriage in the centre of the village. Mucubal men can have several wives and are also allowed to sell their wife, if they don’t get along with her or even if they want to earn money, as a woman can be worth 2 cows, which is about 2000 euros and represents a lot of money. For a first marriage a woman can even be worth 3 or 4 cows. 

                                                                      Mucubal couple

The oxen are the real base of support to this important ethnic group in Angola. A Mucubal is both richer and more important per the number of cattle they have. It can therefore be said that the cattle for any Mucubal is the ultimate expression of their wealth. 

                                    Mucubal woman with a partridge in her hand

Their nomadic lifestyle based on cycles. They roam about looking for greener pastures to feed their cattle/livestock and/or stays in the same place (where they settle their villages). This accounts for their religious customs and the funerary rites they follow. 
                         Mucubal elder and head of the tribe near Virei, Angola
      
Mucubal people believe in a God called Huku, Klaunga, Ndyambi. They also worship their ancestors' spirits called Oyo Handi and Ovi huku, which are considered inferior to their supreme divinity.


                       Mucubal tribe men having a conversation under a tree

Divination is very important in their culture. They use talismans and amulets to protect their herds or prevent adultery. Nevertheless Mucubal are not afraid of death. Funerals can last several days or weeks. They decorate their graves with cattle horns. 
                         Mucubal baby and his wood talisman - Angola by Eric Lafforgue, via Flickr


                                                     Mucubal Boy

The number of cows sacrificed are in relation with the importance of the deceased. This shows the importance of cattle in their culture. Cattle is only killed on special occasions, as Mucubal usually don’t eat meat but rather corn (when they manage to grow some), eggs, milk and chicken. 


                     Mucubals with a slaughtered cow preparing for a sacrifice 

They don’t eat any fish because according to the legend, one of their chieftains was brought to the sea by the Portuguese and never came back. So they think that fish kills men. 
         Mucubal people celebrating their animal sacrifice by drumming,singing and dancing at Virei,Angola

Like the vast majority of African peoples, the Mucubals also practice a tradition strongly rooted circumcision of young people. The ceremony of circumcision is performed regularly and is an event of great significance, it being the feast of the initiation of young Mucubals, a sort of passage of young people to the status of youths. 
       Mucubal people celebrating their animal sacrifice by drumming,singing and dancing at Virei,Angola

Women use mupeque oil, a yellow dried fruit crushed and boiled from which they just drink juice but do no eat pulp. They also eat small red berries with a pepper taste that they boil. In order to show they are hungry Mucubal mimic the gesture we do when we brush our teeth. Mucubal especially women, are famous for the way they dress. The latter wear an original and unique headdress called the Ompota.




It is made of a wicker framework, traditionally filled with a bunch of tied cow tails, decorated with buttons, shells, zippers and beads. But tradition is disappearing as some women use modern stuff to fill their ompota headdress. One was using a Barbie doll box! Women whether they are married or not can wear jewels. Ornaments like iron anklets, called Othivela, and armlets, called Othingo, are worn by girls as well as adult women.
              Mucubal Woman Using A Barbie Package To Make Her Ompota Headdress, Virie Area, Angola

 Mucubal women are also famous for the string they have around their breast, called oyonduthi, which is used as a bra. Women use to smoke tobacco (that they keep in a snuffbox called boceta) in pipes called opessi.
Mucubal woman smoking her pipe

 There are several ways of saying hello. "Okamene" means good morning", "Tchou"is what a woman answers to a greeting and "Mba" is the word a man answers back to a woman saying hello to him. 

                                             Mucubal tribe girl from Angola

                                            Mucubal women at a festival

                                       Mukubal Girl Carrying Her Brother in a Dik Dik skin, Angola

                                           Huts In Mud In A Mucubal Village, Angola

                                      Mucubal people (Circa 1930`s)

Mucubals and their colorfulheadgear/headscarfs

Mucubal especially women, are famous for the way they dress. The latter wear an original and unique headdress called the Ompota. It is made of a wicker framework, traditionally filled with a bunch of tied cow tails, decorated with buttons, shells, zippers and beads. But tradition is disappearing as some women use barbie dolls boxes to cram their ompota headdress. Women whether they are married or not can wear jewels. Ornaments like iron anklets, called Othivela, and armlets, called Othingo, are worn by girls as well as adult women. Mucubal women are also famous for the string they have around their breast, called oyonduthi, which is used as a bra. Women use to smoke tobacco (that they keep in a snuffbox called boceta) in pipes called opessi.
                                      Mucubal Beauty

                                              Mucubal headscarf

                              Smiling Mukubal Girl With Ompota Headdress, Virie Area, Angola

                         Mucubal Woman With Ompota Headdress, Virie Area, Angola

                                                  Mucubal woman wearing their traditional colorful headscarf

                                Mucubal mother breastfeeding her baby

                               Mucubal women during a festivity near Virei, Angola

                                              Mucubal woman - Angola

                                                         Macubal woman

                           Mukubal With Sharpened Teeth, Virie Area, Angola

                               Mucubal Woman Holding Her Baby, Virie Area, Angola

                                       Beautiful Mucubal mother and baby with ompota on the head - Angola

                                                  Mucubal woman


                                          Mucubal Woman With Her Baby, Angola

                              Mucubal girl

                           Mukubal Kid Doing High Jumping, Angola

                                                Mucubal Girls With Ompota Headdress,Angola

                                          Mucubal woman and her baby on the street

                                    Mucubal woman


                                    Smiling Mucubal girl

                                                 Mucubal tribe girl - Angola

                                        Mukubal Woman With Ompota Headdress, Angola





                                      Mukubal Girl, Virie Area, Angola

                                      Mucubal Woman With Ompota Headdress, Virie Area, Angola


                          Mucubal Man, Virie Area, Angola

                      Mucubal woman (Circa 1930)

                     Mucubal woman

               Mucubal woman and her kids

The Doba (Mucubal Tribal Village Chief) and his Wife, at Age 88, demonstrate their 
continuously deep Love by intimately holding Hands. They show that this is very well 
possibe even after over 60 Years of Marriage.

                   Mucubal woman

                    Mucubal tribe man


Pregnant Mucubal Woman With Ompota Headdress, Virie Area, Angola


                           Mucubal woman (circa 1950)

                                                     Mucubal headdress

                                                                Happy Mucubal woman - Angola

                                                                          Mucubal woman


                                   
Mucubal woman on the way to market.
                          Mucubal woman smoking pipe

                    Mucubal woman and her child (Circa 1950)

             Mucubal women have enduring spirit. They travel long distance to market


   
Mucubal mother and son - Angola | She is the daughter of the Soba, the chief of the village. | © Eric Lafforgue
                              Mucubal women at a social function

                                                     Mucubal women (Circa 1950)

             
Old Mucubal chief - Angola

































































                       Mucubal village


1 comment: