Sunday, June 16, 2013


The  Mbundu also known as Northern Mbundu or Ambundu are Bantu-speaking people living in Angola's North-West, North of the river Kwanza. They are distinct from the Southern Mbundu or Ovimbundu people.  The Ambundu speak Kimbundu, and mostly also the official language of the country, Portuguese. They are the second biggest ethnic group in the country, with 2.4 million people in the latest count. The Ambundu nowadays live in the region stretching to the East from Angola's capital city of Luanda. They are predominant in the Bengo and Malanje provinces and in neighbouring parts of the Cuanza Norte and Cuanza Sul provinces. The head of the main Mbundu kingdom was called Ngola, which is the origin of the name of the country Angola.

                                Mbundu/Ambundu people of Angola

By the late 1960s, the Mbundu living in the cities, such as Luanda and Malanje, had adopted attributes of Portuguese lifestyle . Many had intermarried with Portuguese, which led to the creation of an entirely new class of mestiços. Those who received formal education and fully adopted Portuguese customs became assimilados.

The Mbundu were the MPLA's strongest supporters when the movement first formed in 1956. The MPLA's president, Agostinho Neto, was the son of a Mbundu Methodist pastor and a graduate of a Portuguese medical school. In the 1980s, the Mbundu were predominant in Luanda, Bengo, Cuanza Norte, Malanje, and northern Cuanza Sul provinces.

1975 Press Photo Dr. Agostino Neto, an Mbundu tribe man and the First Republic of Angola`s President

The American actor Chris Tucker discovered that his genealogical DNA test shows that he was of the Ambundu ethnic group on the  PBS special African American Lives.  Isaiah Washington, another American actor, has a genealogical DNA link to the Ambundu group through his paternal line.

chris tucker African-American actor, comedian and humanitarian is of Mbundu,Angola ancestry. DNA tested

 Mbundu people speak Kimbundu language which belongs to the Kimbundu Group of Bantu (Guthrie H21) and is spoken in the Angolan provinces of Luanda, Bengo, Malanje, and Cuauza-Norte. Kimbundu should not be confused with Umbundu. Kimbundu is second most spoken language in Angola.
DNA tested: Isaiah Washington is Mbundu, an Angolan tribe ancestry

There are ten dialects of Kimbundu, Ngola, Dembo, Jinga, Bondo, Bângala, Ibaco, Luanda, Quibala, Libolo, and Quissama. However, this classification is European, not Angolan. There is no way to accurately determine the variations in Kimbundu dialects, because most villages where the language is spoken have not been visited; and there appear to be no experts on this matter considering that Angola lacks professionals capable of providing solid information on this. Maho (2009) distinguishes two primary dialects: Kimbundu proper, or Ngola, and Mbamba, or Njinga.
Emilia Manuela Cordeiro Pires, Mbundi tribe woman and Miss Angola 2008

During the Portuguese colonial period, a 1919 decree banned the use of local languages in schools and made Portuguese obligatory. This heavily reduced the use of Kimbundu amongst educated and urban populations in favour of Portuguese. On the other hand, Kimbundu was learned by a significant part of the Portuguese population of the region, and many Kimbundu words passed into the everyday Portuguese spoken there. In the 1960s and 1970s, even white and racially mixed musical groups used to sing songs in Kimbundu, e.g. "Monami" and "Kamba iyami".
In part of the Malanje Province culturally "assimilated" Ambundu populations produced a mix of Kimbundu and Portuguese called Ambaca, whose speakers are called Ambaquistas.
File:Angola tribes 1970.jpg
The Kimbundu script was developed by Capuchin and Jesuit missionaries. While they produced many texts and grammars, most of them demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding or oversimplification of the Kimbundu language. The unfortunate effects of this are still felt today, though, since independence, great strides to elaborate and codify the orthography and grammar of the most important languages spoken in Angola, and recognised as "national languages", have been made.
Kimbundu uses the relatively shallow orthography standardized by the ruling MPLA for use in all Angolan "national languages". Important differences from the Portuguese-based orthography used by the colonizers include the omission of the consonant "r" (since there is no [r] in Kimbundu) and the rules governing vowel orthography (diphthongs are not allowed and vowels are thus changed to "w" or "y" depending on the environment). It has 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u), the u also having the function of a semi-vowel. Certain consonants are represented by two letters, such as mb in mbambi (gazelle), or nj in njila (bird). Some Kimbundu vocabs are muthu, "person", kima, "thing"; kudya, "food"; tubya, "fire"; lumbu, "wall" kamba, "friend." Some Kimbundu words were influential to Romance languages like Portuguese, with words like banjo (supposedly from mbanza), bwe, baza, kuatu, kamba, arimo, mleke, quilombo (from kilombo), quimbanda, tanga, xinga, bunda, etc

The Mbundu are one of the Bantu peoples. They had been arriving in the Angola region from the early Middle Ages on, but the biggest part of the immigration took place between the 13th and 16th century C.E.. Kimbundu is a West-Bantu language, and it is thought that the Mbundu have arrived from the North Africa rather than from the East Africa. The Bantu peoples brought agriculture with them. They built permanent villages, and traded with the (then) indigenous Pygmies and Khoi-San populations.
Mbunda people

The Mbundu society consisted of local communities until the 14th century. Their society has always been matrilineal. Land was inherited matrilineally, and the descent system was matrilineal as well. Boys used to go and live in the villages of their maternal uncles, so as to preserve a matrilinear core to the village. Theoretically, the lineage was projected onto status, instead of individuals, which gave the system some flexibility. This feature is not found with neighbouring peoples, like the Ovimbundu to the South, and the Bakongo to the North.
The name Mbundu was first used by the Bakongo, before it was adopted by the Mbundu themselves. The first king of Kongo occupied part of the Mbundu territories from 1370, and turned it into his province MPemba. He made MBanza Kongo his capital there. Later on the Mbundu kingdom of Matamba became Kongo's vassal. Around 1500 C.E., Kongo also had claims on NDongo and Kisama, near the Kwanza river.
Shortly after the Portuguese explorer  Cão made his initial contact with the Kongo Kingdom of northern Angola in 1483, he established links farther south with Ndongo--an African state less advanced than Kongo that was made up of Kimbundu-speaking people. Their ruler, who was tributary to the manikongo, was called the ngola a kiluanje  (1515-56) was the most prominent leader of the potentate of the Old Kingdom of Ndongo, being known as The Ngola Kiluanje Inene (Great Ngola). The Ngola Kiluanje Inene founded a dynasty that later was to come to know as the Kingdom of Angola. The term "Ngola" in turn has roots in the term "Ngolo," which in Kimbundu (language of the people Ambundo) means "strength", the same term in Kikongo (Bakongo people's language) means "rigor, strength, fortitude, or strength."
Throughout most of the sixteenth century, Portugal's relations with Ndongo were overshadowed by its dealings with Kongo. Some historians, citing the disruptions the Portuguese caused in Kongo society, believe that Ndongo benefited from the lack of Portuguese interest. It was not until after the founding of Luanda in 1576 that Portugal's exploration into the area of present-day Angola rivaled its trade and commerce in Kongo. Furthermore, it was only in the early seventeenth century that the importance of the colony Portugal established came to exceed that of Kongo.
Ngola Nzingha of Matamba

Although officially ignored by Lisbon, the Angolan colony was the center of disputes, usually concerning the slave trade, between local Portuguese traders and the Mbundu people, who inhabited Ndongo. But by mid-century, the favorable attention the ngola received from Portuguese trade or missionary groups angered the manikongo, who in 1556 sent an army against the Ndongo Kingdom. The forces of the ngola defeated the Kongo army, encouraging him to declare his independence from Kongo and appeal to Portugal for military support. In 1560 Lisbon responded by sending an expedition to Angola, but in the interim the ngola who had requested Portuguese support had died, and his successor took captive four members of the expedition. After the hostage taking, Lisbon routinely employed military force in dealing with the Ndongo Kingdom. This resulted in a major eastward migration of Mbundu people and the subsequent establishment of other kingdoms.

Following the founding of Luanda, Paulo Dias carried out a series of bloody military campaigns that contributed to Ndongo resentment of Europeans. Dias founded several forts east of Luanda, but--indicative of Portugal's declining status as a world power--he was unable to gain firm control of the land around them. Dias died in 1579 without having conquered the Ndongo Kingdom.

Dias's successors made slow progress up the Cuanza River, meeting constant African resistance. By 1604 they reached Cambambe, where they learned that the presumed silver mines did not exist. The failure of the Portuguese to find mineral wealth changed their outlook on the Angolan colony. Slave taking, which had been incidental to the quest for the mines, then became the major economic motivation for expansion and extension of Portuguese authority. In search of slaves, the Portuguese pushed farther into Ndongo country, establishing a fort a short distance from Massangano, itself about 175 kilometers east of Angola's Atlantic coast. The consequent fighting with the Ndongo generated a stream of slaves who were shipped to the coast. Following a period of Ndongo diplomatic initiatives toward Lisbon in the 1620s, relations degenerated into a state of war.
NZinga MBandi was a deceased NDongo ngola's sister. Bypassing the reigning ngola, she negotiated a peace treaty with the Portuguese. The treaty gave substantial trade and religious advantages to Portugal, but delivered Nzinga the throne in NDongo. After five years, she had to flee from Portuguese troops to Matamba. She became queen of Matamba, a kingdom which was traditionally led by women, and turned it into the most powerful state in the region, and a big exporter of slaves. Matamba, and neighboring Kasanje, had monopolies in the slave trade, and started falling apart in the 19th century when this trade lost in importance. The rise of a new trade in ivory, rubber and wax, which avoided the old monopolies, reduced the power of central authority in the Mbundu states in this century.
The Portuguese had defeated Matamba in 1836, and had advanced to Kasanje by the middle of the century. Their actual influence, however, was quite limited due to the lack of people, money, and an efficient military. The Mbundu had opportunities to revolt or negotiate liberties. This changed at the end of the 19th century. European countries forced, out of economic, strategic, and nationalistic considerations, a tighter control over African territories. To protect their interests, the Portuguese sent a number of military expeditions into the areas, which they considered to be their colonies, and brought them under actual control. The last Mbundu tribe to be defeated were the NDembo. It took the Portuguese three years to subdue a NDembo revolt in 1910. In 1917 all of their territory was occupied, and became part of the Portuguese colony of Angola.

Mbundu economy was greatly changed and damaged during Portuguese occupation in Angola. Many Mbundu farmers lost their land and were forced into farm labor. others were forced to produce cash crop. Only areas that produced export crops received colonial attention. As a result of these new uses for land, subsistence farming declined.

Today,however, the system of traditional Mbundu farming continues to focus with the family as workers. they have combined new crops with traditional ones, thereby increasing their food supply.
Mbundu girl selling pineapple,Cuanda,Angola

Main carbohydrate staple(s): “The staple foods include cassava (a plant with an edible root), corn, millet (a small-seeded grain), sorghum (a grassy plant that yields a grain used alone or to make syrup), beans, sweet potatoes, rice, wheat, and bananas.”
Main protein-lipid sources: fish, chicken, or meat. “Mbundu make use of their abundant fresh and saltwater fish. One dish, calulu, combines fresh and dried fish. A favorite dish is cabidela, chicken's blood eaten with rice and cassava dough.”

                            Mbundu farmer with her hoe

Urban dwelling Mbundu are dependent on wage earning jobs. Unemployment is high. Those who have jobs work in the modern sector of the economy, such as factories and service industries. Some are civil servants for government.

 Sexual division of production: Women are especially important in selling food and firewood, and men predominate in trade in arms, diamonds, and spare parts. Most of the people who work in the transport and building sectors are men.

                                          Mbundu boy carrying crate

Land tenure:
 “Access to land is difficult. There is not a land shortage, but not all arable land is under cultivation. This problem is caused by the fact that war prevents farmers from going to their fields and often forces people to flee before the harvest. In times of relative calm, land mines render traveling to and working on the land dangerous. Both the MPLA and UNITA have restricted the freedom of movement of the population and imposed rules to curb mobility in specific areas or during certain parts of the day. “
 Ceramics: “The traditional arts have played an important part in cultural rituals marking such passages as birth or death, childhood to adulthood, and the harvest and hunting seasons. In producing masks and other items from bronze, ivory, wood, malachite, or ceramics, each ethnolinguistic group has distinct styles. For example, the ritual masks created by the Lunda-Chokwe represent such figures from their mythology as Princess Lweji and Prince Tschibinda-Ilunga.”

Social structure
Among the Mbundu, the matrilineage survived centuries of change in other institutions. Membership in and loyalty to it was of great importance. The lineage supported the individual in material and nonmaterial ways because most land was lineage domain, access to it required lineage membership, and communication between the living and their ancestors, crucial to traditional religion, was mediated through the lineage.
Mbundu woman,Angola

The Mbundu lineage differed from Bakongo and Ovimbundu groups in its underlying theory; it consisted not of individuals but of statuses or titles filled by living persons. In this system, a Mbundu could move from one status to another, thus acquiring a different set of relationships. How, in fact, this theoretical system affected interpersonal relationships between biological kin has not been described, however.

The Mbundu matrilineage was in some respects a dispersed unit, but a core group maintained a lineage village to which its members returned, either at a particular stage in their lives or for brief visits. Women went to the villages of their husbands, and their children were raised there. The girls, as their mothers had done, then joined their own husbands. The young men, however, went to the lineage village to join their mothers' brothers. The mothers' brothers and their sisters' sons formed the more or less permanent core of the lineage community, visited from time to time by the women of the lineage who, as they grew old, might come to live the rest of their lives there. After a time, when the senior mother's brother who headed the matrilineage died, some of the younger men would go off to found their own villages. A man then became the senior male in a new lineage, the members of which would be his sisters and his sisters' sons. One of these younger men might, however, remain in the old village and succeed the senior mother's brother in the latter's status and take on his role completely, thus perpetuating the older lineage. According to one account, the functioning lineage probably has a genealogical depth of three to four generations: a man, his sister's adult sons, and the latter's younger but married sister's sons. How this unit encompasses the range of statuses characteristic of the matrilineage in Mbundu theory is not altogether clear.
Chris Tucker with his mum. Tucker is of Mbundu tribe ancestry

Socio-Political organization and interaction
 Mean local residential (village) group size: “The Mbundu (village) may be composed of five to five hundred households. On flat sites the villages tend to be circular and palisaded whereas in broken terrain the villages are irregular in outline and plan. Most villages are divided into several compounds, each containing one to three households. In large villages the compounds are grouped inwards.”

      King Mbandu III takes his royal seat in the main arena, accompanied by his two Mbunda Paramount Chiefs in Mbundaland, Paramount Chief Kangamba Ka Thapeyo from Municipio de Kangamba (Kangamba District) and Paramount Chief Ngimbu ya Vukolo, from Municipio dos Bundas (Lumbala Nguimbo)

 Political system: (chiefs, clans etc, wealth or status classes): “According to one account, the functioning lineage probably has a genealogical depth of three to four generations: a man, his sister's adult sons, and the latter's younger but married sister's sons. How this unit encompasses the range of statuses characteristic of the matrilineage in Mbundu theory is not altogether clear.”  The heads of the family in the community are the ngundas.
 Village and house organization: “The Mbundu (village) may be composed of five to five hundred households. On flat sites the villages tend to be circular and palisaded whereas in broken terrain the villages are irregular in outline and plan. Most villages are .divided into several compounds, each containing one to three households. In large villages the compounds are grouped inwards”

                           Mbundu people
Individual difficulties are attributed to witchcraft, sorcery, or the acts of ancestral or nature spirits. The determination is usually made by a diviner, a specialist whose personal power and use of material objects are held to be generally benevolent (although there are cases in which a diviner may be accused of sorcery) and whose sensitivity to patterns of stress and strain in the community help him or her arrive at a diagnosis. A diviner-- widely called a kimbanda--may also have extensive knowledge of herbal medicine, and at least part of the work of the kimbanda is devoted to the application of that knowledge.

      Huge snake on Mbundu land of Luanda at the compound of Exxon Mobile. You will notice from the insulators in the first photo this is an electrified fence.

The kimbanda is said to have inherited or acquired the ability to communicate with spirits. In many cases, the acquisition of such power follows illness and possession by a specific spirit. The proficiency and degree of specialization of diviners varies widely. Some will deal only with particular symptoms; others enjoy broad repute and may include more than one village, or even more than one province, in their rounds.
Mbundu Kimbanda male devotee with Vititi Mpaka 
and his turtle shell game 
of Vititi Nkobo

The greater the reputation of the kimbanda, the more he or she charges for services. This widespread term for diviner/healer has entered into local Portuguese, and so central is the role of the kimbanda to the complex of beliefs and practices characterizing most indigenous religions that some sources, such as the Jornal de Angola, have applied the term kimbandism to indigenous systems when cataloging Angolan religions.

In general, the belief in spirits (ancestral or natural), witches, and sorcerers is associated with a worldview that leaves no room for the accidental. Whether events are favorable or adverse, responsibility for them can in principle be attributed to a causal agent. If things go well, the correct ritual has been performed to placate the spirits or invoke their help. If things go badly, the correct ritual has not been performed, or a spirit has been otherwise provoked, or malevolent individuals have succeeded in breaching whatever protective (magical) measures have been taken against them. This outlook often persisted in Angola among individuals who had been influenced by Christianity or secular education. With some changes in particulars, it seemed to pervade urban areas, where a kimbanda rarely lacked clients.

                           Kimbanda Temple

Missionary effect: “The majority of the Kimbundu have had some exposure to Catholicism, but few have had the opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel in a language and manner they can understand. Catholicism coming from the Portuguese colonists is by far the strongest Christian influence they have received, with its primary influences being felt in the 19th and 20th centuries.”
Isaiah Washington in African dress

Passage rituals (birth, death, puberty, seasonal):
 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. There is also an onset for female initiation once puberty is reached. Both rituals are public and the whole village participates.

MBUNDU MASK, ANGOLA Carved wood with incised linear and geometric design, classic coffee bean eyes, and well-defined cheeks, early to mid-20th c. Such masks are worn during the initiation of young men into adulthood. (Provenance: David Roth, New York).

Cultural material (art, music, games):
 “Percussion, wind, and string instruments are found throughout Angola. Maracas (saxi) are made by drilling a few small holes in dried gourds and placing dried seeds or glass beads inside. The box lute (chilhumba) is played during long journeys.”

Ceremonial/Ritual adornment: The use of these ceremonial masks is always accompanied with music and storytelling, both of which have developed in important ways.
Actor Isaiah Washington in native African dress. He is of Mbundu tribe ancestry

Adornment (beads, feathers, lip plates, etc.):
In the towns and cities, Western-style clothing is common, though some people still wear traditional clothing. The villages remain more traditional, where women wear panos, African wraparound batik garments. Dressing up for parties and special occasions in the cities almost certainly means wearing Western-style outfits. Youth prefer casual jeans and Tshirts, except for special occasions.

Death and afterlife beliefs
 “Traditional Angolan religions believe in a close connection with the spirit of dead ancestors. They believe that ancestors play a part in the lives of the living. Therefore, the spirits of dead ancestors remain prominent members of the community. Ancestral worship is a common thread through many indigenous religions. It is considered that not revering the dead can jeopardize the living. It is thought that people must appease the ancestors so that they do not harm the living. It is believed that ancestors can bring famine, plague, disease, personal loss, and other catastrophes”

              Mbundu DNA tested Chris Tucker

                              Kingdom of Ndongo
The Kingdom of Ndongo, formerly known as Dongo or Angola, is the name of an early-modern African state located in what is modern day Angola. Ndongo was built by the Northern Mbundu people, a Bantu-speaking people inhabiting northern Angola.
The Kingdom of Ndongo is first recorded in the sixteenth century. It was one of a number of vassal states to Kongo that existed in the region, though Ndongo was the most powerful of these with a king called the Ngola.
Statue of Queen Nzingha

Little is known of the kingdom in the early sixteenth century. "Angola" was listed among the titles of the King of Kongo in 1535, so it is likely that it was in somewhat subordinate to Kongo. Its own oral traditions, collected in the late sixteenth century, particularly by the Jesuit Baltasar Barreira, described the founder of the kingdom, Ngola Kiluanje, also known as "Ngola Inene", as a migrant from Kongo.
Social and Political Structure
The Mbundu-speaking region was known as the land of Mbundu, and according to late sixteenth century accounts, it was divided into 736 small political units ruled by sobas. These sobas and their territories (called murinda) were compact groupings of villages (senzala or libatas, probably following the Kikongo term divata) surrounding a small central town (mbanza).
These political units were often grouped into larger units called kanda and sometimes provinces. Larger kingdoms may have emerged in earlier times, but in the sixteenth century most of these regions had been united by the rulers of Ndongo. Ndongo's capital city was called Kabasa, located on the highlands near modern-day N'dalatando. This was a large town, holding as many as 50,000 people in its densely populated district.
The king of Ndongo and the leaders of the various provinces ruled with a council of powerful nobles, the macota, and had an administration headed by the tendala, a judicial figure, and the ngolambole, a military leader. In Ndongo itself, the ruler had an even larger group of bureaucrats, including a quartermaster called kilunda and another similar official called the mwene kudya.
Social structure was anchored on the ana murinda ("children of the murinda") or free commoners. In addition to the commoners, there were two servile groups  – the ijiko (sing., kijiko), unfree commoners who were permanently attached to the land as serfs, and the abika (sing., mubika) or salable slaves.

Rise of Ndongo
The kingdom of Ndongo was a tributary to the kingdom of Kongo along with various other polities outside of Kongo proper. The Mbundu in the south and the BaKongo in the north were always at odds, but Kongo managed to exact tribute from these states since before the coming of the Portuguese.
Seeds of Independence[edit]
In 1518 the kingdom of Ndongo sent an embassy to Portugal asking for missionaries and (indirectly) for recognition as independent of Kongo. A Portuguese mission arrived in Ndongo in 1520 but local disputes and perhaps Kongo pressure forced the missionaries to withdraw. Afonso I of Kongo took the missionaries to Kongo and left his own priest in Ndongo.

War of 1556
Around 1556 Ndongo sent another mission to Portugal seeking military assistance and offering to be baptized, even though Portuguese officials at the time doubted the religious sincerity. In 1901, E.G. Ravenstein claimed that this mission was the result of a war between Kongo and Ndongo, in which Ndongo won and claimed its independence, which was subsequently repeated by Jan Vansina in 1966 and then others, but this appears to have been a misreading of the original sources. Ndongo may well have seen the mission as a sort of declaration of independence, since Kongo's response to the 1518 mission suggests that it still maintained sufficient control to prevent it being an independent move.
In any case, the second Portuguese mission arrived at the mouth of the Kwanza in 1560, headed by Paulo Dias de Novais, grandson of the famous explorer Bartolomeu Dias, and including several Jesuit priests including Francisco de Gouveia. This mission also failed and Dias de Novais returned to Portugal in 1564, leaving Gouveia behind.

The Portuguese Colony of Angola
By the time of the third mission in 1571, the King of Portugal Sebastian I had decided to charge Dias de Novais with the conquest and subjugation of the "Kingdom of Angola", authorizing him to govern the region, bring in settlers, and built forts. Dias de Novais arrived in Luanda by arrangement with Kongo's king Álvaro I in recompense for Portugal's assistance against the Jaga. Unable to conquer any territory on his own,[citation needed] Dias de Novais made alliances with both Kongo and Ndongo, serving as a mercenary army.

The First Portuguese-Ndongo War
In 1579, jealous Portuguese merchants who had settled in Kongo, led by Francisco Barbuda, advised Njinga Ndambi Kilombo kia Kasenda that Portugal intended to take over his country. Acting on this intelligence and advice, Njinga Ndambi tricked the Portuguese forces into an ambush and massacred them at his capital.
The war that followed witnessed a Kongo invasion which was narrowly defeated in 1580, and a Portuguese offensive up the Kwanza river, resulting in the founding of their fort at Massangano in 1582. A number of sobas switched their allegiance to Portugal and soon many of the coastal provinces were joined to the colony. By 1590, the Portuguese decided to attack the core of Ndongo, and sent an army against Kabasa itself. Ndongo, however, had recently sealed an alliance with nearby Matamba, and the Portuguese force was crushed. Following this defeat, Ndongo made a counteroffensive, and many of the formerly pro-Portuguese sobas returned to Ndongo. But Portugal managed to retain much of the land they had gained in the earlier wars, and in 1599, Portugal and Ndongo formalized their border.

The Imbangala Period
During the early seventeenth century an uneasy peace held between Portugal and Ndongo. Portuguese continued their expansion along the Kwanza, founding the presidio of Cambambe in 1602, and attempted, whenever possible to meddle in Ndongo's politics, especially as it concerned Ndongo's tenuous hold on Kisama and other lands south of the Kwanza River. In the course of their activities in the region south of the Kwanza the Portuguese came into contact with the Imbangala, a rootless group of nomadic raiders who were ravaging the country. In 1615, the temporary Angolan governor Bento Banha Cardoso encouraged some Imbangala to cross the river and enter Portuguese service, and with their help he expanded the colony along the Lukala River, north of Ndongo.
In 1617 the new governor Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos, after first rejecting the use of Imbangala troops, committed himself to the alliance and began aggressive campaigns against Ndongo. Thanks to the help of Imbangala bands commanded by Kasanje, Kasa, and others, he was able to invade Ndongo, sack the capital and forced King Ngola Mbandi to take refuge on the island of Kindonga in the Kwanza River. Thousands of Ndongo subjects were taken prisoner, and Mendes de Vasconcelos sought unsuccessfully to create a puppet government to allow Portuguese rule.
Mendes de Vasconcelos' successors, João Correia de Sousa tried to make a peace with Ndongo, and in 1621, Ngola Mbandi sent his sister, Nzinga Mbandi to Luanda to negotiate on his behalf. She negotiated a peace treaty in which Portugal agreed to withdraw its advance fort of Ambaca on the Lukala, which had served as a base for the invasion of Ndongo, return a large number of captive ijiko to Ndongo, and force the Imbangala bands who were still ravaging Ndongo to leave. In exchange Ngola Mbandi would leave the island and reestablish himself at the capital and become a Portuguese vassal, paying 100 slaves per year as tribute.
However, João Correia de Sousa became involved in a disastrous war with Kongo and in the aftermath was expelled from the colony by angry citizens. His temporary successor, the bishop, was unable to execute the treaty, and it was then left to the new governor, Fernão de Sousa to settle matters when he came in 1624.

The Rise of Queen Nzinga
Portugal's failure to honor its treaty took a toll on Ngola Mbandi, and in desperation, he committed suicide, leaving the country in the hands of his sister Nzinga, who was to serve as regent for his minor son, then in the protective custody of the Imbangala leader Kaza, who had left Portuguese service and joined with Ndongo. Nzinga, however, only briefly served as regent, and had the young son murdered and succeeded to the throne as ruling queen.
Father Giovanni took this opportunity to reopen negotiations with Nzinga, whose legitimacy he questioned. He refused to return the Ijiko, and insisted that Njinga first acknowledge Portuguese sovereignty. Although Nzinga was prepared to do this, she would not leave the island until her full control was established and the Ijiko returned. When the Portuguese refused, Nzinga encouraged them to run away and enter her service. The dispute over the Ijiko led to war in 1626, and Sousa's army was able to oust Nzinga from Kidonga, but not to capture her.
Sousa felt confident enough at this point to declare Nzinga deposed and convened some sobas who had supported her to re-elect as new king Hari a Kiluanji, lord of the rocky fortress of Mpungo a Ndongo (or Pungo Andongo) in 1626, but he died in the smallpox epidemic that broke out as a result of the war, and was replaced by Filipe Hari a Ngola.
Nzinga refused to recognize Hari a Ngola claiming that he was of slave origin and not eligible to reign. She reoccupied Kindonga and began mobilizing support of all the sobas opposed to Hari a Angola and Portuguese rule, leading to a second war with Portugal. Sousa's army defeated Nzinga again in 1628, once again forcing her to flee the islands. Nzinga narrowly escaped capture, at one point having to descend into the Baixa de Cassange on ropes with only a few hundred of her followers remaining.
Desperate, Nzinga joined her forces with the Imbangala band of Kasanje, who forced her to accept a humiliating position as wife and give up her royal regalia. Nevertheless, she was able to win one of his supporters, subsequently known as Nzinga Mona (or Nzinga's son) away and rebuild her army. Using this support, Nzinga moved northward and captured the Kingdom of Matamba which became her base, even as she sent a detachment to reoccupy the Kindonga Islands, now sacred because her brother's remains were buried there.
At this point the history of Nzinga become that of Matamba, and her career can be followed in that country.

Ndongo under Filipe Hari a Ndongo's Dynasty
Filipe I served the Portuguese loyally in the following decades, even when the Portuguese made a separate peace with Nzinga in 1639. His troops were the largest component in the army the Portuguese used to make conquests and to consolidate their rule in the Dembos area to the north. When the Dutch invaded Brazil, Filipe served against them, forming the bulk of the forces that defended the rump colony at Masangano, though he suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Nzinga's army with its Dutch allies in 1647 at the Battle of Kombi.
Following the expulsion of the Dutch, however, Filipe began to feel that the Portuguese were not giving him his full due. He became involved in disputes with them over his subordinates and jurisdiction, even as his forces marched into disastrous wars in Kisama and the Dembos. His son and successor was equally disappointed, especially following the Portuguese treaty with Ndongo which recognized Nzinga as queen of Ndongo and Matamba in 1657, leaving him feeling dishonored as only ruler of Pungo a Ndongo. In 1670, therefore he revolted, and after a long siege, his fortress fell to the Portuguese army in 1671, thus effectively ending Ndongo as an independent kingdom.

                                               Kingdom of Matamba
The Kingdom of Matamba (1631–1744) was a pre-colonial African state located in what is now the Baixa de Cassange region of Malanje Province of modern day Angola. It was a powerful kingdom that long resisted Portuguese colonisation attempts and was only integrated into Angola in the late nineteenth century.

Origins and early history
The first documentary mention of the Kingdom of Matamba is a reference to it giving tribute to the King of Kongo, then Afonso I of Kongo, in 1530. In 1535 Afonso subsequently mentioned Matamba as one of the regions over which he ruled as king in his titles. There is no further information on the kingdom's early history and modern oral traditions do not seem to illuminate this at the present state of research. However, it does not seem likely that Kongo had any more than a light and symbolic presence in Matamba, and its rulers were probably quite independent. Matamba undoubtedly had closer relations with its south southeastern neighbor Ndongo, then a powerful kingdom as well as with Kongo.
During the mid-sixteenth century Matamba was ruled by an unknown queen, who received missionaries from Kongo, then a Christian kingdom, dispatched by King Diogo I (1545–1561). Though this queen received the missionaries and perhaps allowed them to preach, there is no indication that the kingdom converted to Christianity.
The arrival of the Portuguese colonists under Paulo Dias de Novais in Luanda in 1575 altered the political situation as the Portuguese immediately became involved in Ndongo's affairs, and war broke out between Ndongo and Portugal in 1579. Although Matamba played a small role in the early wars, the threat of a Portuguese victory stirred the ruler of Matamaba (probably a king named Kambolo Matamba) to intervene. He sent an army to aid Ndongo against the Portuguese, and with these forces the combined armies were able to defeat and rout Portuguese forces at the Battle of the Lukala in 1590.

Portuguese attacks and Ndongo's conquest
In 1618 the Portuguese governor of Angola, Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos, launched a large scale attack on Ndongo, using newly acquired Imbangala allies. The allied Imbangala, mercenary soldiers from south of the Kwanza River, turned the day and allowed Mendes de Vasconcelos' forces to sack Ndongo's capital and pillage the country. During the following two years, Mendes de Vasconcelos' son João led a detachment of Portuguese and Imbangala forces into Matamba where they did great damage. During this time the Imbangala band of Kasanje deserted the Portuguese and continued a campaign of destruction in Matamba. Thousands of Matamba subjects were killed and thousands more deported to the Americas. It is during this period, for example that the ethnonym "Matamba" appears in slave inventories in Spanish America in considerable numbers.
Ndongo continued to suffer attacks from Portuguese forces, and in 1624 Queen Njinga Mbandi (also known as Nzinga) took over as ruler of that country. She continued the war unsuccessfully against Portugal and was forced to flee the country in 1626 and then again in 1629. During her second flight Njinga entered Matamba and her forces routed the army of Matamba's ruler, Queen Mwongo Matamba, capturing her and taking her prisoner. From at least 1631 onward, Njinga made Matamba her capital, joining it to the Kingdom of Ndongo.

The Joint Kingdom of Matamba and Ndongo: Njinga and her successors

Queen Njinga ruled in Matamba from 1631 until her death in 1663. During this time she integrated the country into her domains and thousands of her former subjects who had fled Portuguese attacks with her settled there. She made several wars against Kasanje especially in 1634-5. In 1639 she received a Portuguese peace mission which did not achieve a treaty, but did reestablish relations between her and the Portuguese. When the Dutch took over Luanda in 1641, Njinga immediately sent ambassadors to make an alliance with them. During these years, she moved her capital from Matamba to Kavanga, where she conducted operations against the Portuguese. Though Ndongo forces won a significant victory over the Portuguese in at the Battle of Kombi in 1647, nearly forcing them to abandon the country and laying siege to their inland capital of Masangano, a Portuguese relief force led by Salvador de Sá in 1648 drove out the Dutch and forced Njinga to return to Matamba. Although she maintained a symbolic capital at Kindonga, an island in the Kwanza River where she and her predecessor had ruled, the real capital was at the town of Matamba (Santa Maria de Matamba). Njinga had been baptized as Ana de Sousa while in Luanda in 1622, and in 1654 she began peace overtures to Portugal.
Njinga hoped that a peaceful relationship with Portugal would allow her to settle her kingdom and determine a successor, as she had no children. She formed a close alliance with a related family, whose leader João Guterres Ngola Kanini, became one of her most important councillors. She was also anxious to remove Imbangala forces, led by Njinga Mona, from her army and place them under her direct control. For this reason she also sought to reconcile with the Catholic Church. This strategy was successful, she signed a peace treaty in 1657 and Italian Capuchin missionaries began working in her lands. They regarded Njinga in her later days as a model Christian and thousands of Matamba subjects were baptized.
However, reintegration in the Christian community did not solve her problems, and there were still troubling issues of succession. The church refused to recognize a dynastic marriage between João Guterres and her sister Barbara, because Guterres had a wife at the Portuguese fort of Mbaka where he had once been prisoner. Similarly, although the non and even anti-Christian Imbanagala allowed Njinga to alter some of their customs, Njinga Mona's power was unchecked in the army.

Civil War
After Njinga's death, a period of tension, punctuated by civil war, broke out. Barbara succeeded Njinga, but was killed by forces loyal to Njinga Mona in 1666. João Guterres managed to temporarily oust Njinga Mona in 1669, but was defeated and killed in 1670. Njinga Mona would rule the kingdom until João Guterres' son, Francisco, oustedand killed Njinga Mona becoming ruler in 1680.
Battle of Katole [edit]
Main article: Battle of Katole
In 1681 Francisco became involved in a war with neighboring Kasanje, in which he sought to promote the interests of one of the candidates to the throne. The Portuguese intervened in this war and invaded Matamba with a force of over 40,000 troops, the largest military force Portugal had even mobilized in Angola. The army penetrated to Katole, where Francisco launched a successful dawn attack on 4 September 1681, inflicting heavy casualties on the Portuguese army. However, Imbangala forces in the Portuguese army managed to stiffen resistance, and in the ensuing battle, Francisco and several of his relatives were killed. The Portuguese army, having suffered heavy losses withdrew to Ambaca and then to Masangano.

Queen Verónica
Francisco Guterres was succeeded by his sister Verónica I Guterres Kandala Kingwanga, whose long rule from 1681 to 1721 consolidated the control of the Guterres dynasty and created a lasting precedent for female rulers. Verónica was apparently a pious Christian, but also a fervent believer in Matamba's independence. In order to forestall another Portuguese invasion, Verónica sent an embassy to Luanda that negotiated a peace treaty, signed 7 September 1683. In it she accepted nominal vassalage, agreed to return Portuguese prisoners taken at the battle of Katole, allowed missionaries into the country and permitted agents of Portuguese free passage through her lands. She also agreed to acknowledge the independence of Kasanje and to renounce all claims on the country and to pay 200 slaves over 4 years as compensation.
Verónica, however, was not really cowed, and within a few years was advancing claims as Queen of Ndongo and Matamba that rivaled those of her predecessor Njinga. In the process of asserting her claims she was drawn into wars with Portugal in 1689 and again in 1692-3. She also sought some sort of alliance with Kongo in 1706. These wars and the raiding in between major operations led to serious depopulation on the western edges of her domains.
Verónica appears to have been anxious to reestablish a Christian mission in the country, abandoned following the death of Njinga and the civil war that followed. However, in spite of her various entreaties, the mission was not reestablished.

The Portuguese invasion of 1744
When Verónica died in 1721 she was succeeded by her son Afonso I Álvares de Pontes. During his reign the northern district of Holo seceded from Matamba to form its own kingdom and entered into relations with Portugal. As a result of Matamba's attempts to prevent the secession and Portuguese trade with the rebel province, relations between Matamba and the Portuguese colony deteriorated. Ana II (Ana I was Queen Njinga as Matamba accepted the Christian names of former rulers and their dynasty), who came to power in 1741, faced a Portuguese invasion in 1744. The invasion of Matamba by Portuguese forces in 1744 was one of their largest military operations in the eighteenth century. In the course of their attack, Matamba's army inflicted a serious defeat on the Portuguese, but in spite of this, a remnant of the army managed to reach the capital of Matamba. In order to avoid a long war and to get them to withdraw, Ana II signed a treaty of vassalage with Portugal which renewed points conceded by Verónica in 1683. While the treaty allowed Portugal to claim Matamba as a vassal, and opened up Matamba to Portuguese trade, it had little effect on the real sovereignty of Matmaba, or indeed in the conduct of trade. Ana II, like Verónica before her, was interested in developing Matamba as a Christian country, routinely sending letters to the Capuchin prefect of Congo and Angola or the Portuguese authorities requesting missionaries come and establish permanent bases in her country. While the country was visited by missionaries from Cahenda and also from the Barefoot Carmelites, a permanent mission was not established.

The Divided Kingdom
Ana II died in 1756 and a civil war broke out at that time among rival contenders for the throne, during which Verónica II ruled briefly for a time but she was overthrown sometime after 1758, leaving Ana III on the throne. Ana III was in turn overthrown by Kalwete ka Mbandi, a military leader. Kalwete won the war, and was baptized as Francisco II upon taking the throne. However, two of Ana's daughters, Kamana and Murili escaped the civil war, took refuge in the ancient capital of Ndongo on the Kindonga islands and successfully resisted Francisco II's attempts to oust them. From this base Queen Kamana created a rival kingdom, and in 1767 tried unsuccessfully to obtain Portuguese help against her rival. While the Portuguese governor of the time, Francisco Innocencio de Sousa Coutinho granted her asylum and instructed his officials to respect her and her position, he did not favor direct intervention in affairs in the eastern part of the Portuguese zone. Kamana's son and successor did manage to end the division of the country by successfully recovering the capital and being crowned as king of Matamba in around 1810.


  1. Images 2, 8 and 18 you have used are not for Ambundu people. These images are for the Mbunda people southeast of Angola at their ceremony in the Mbunda capital of Lumbala Nguimbo. Please check this link: Please note that these images are copyright protected and therefore verification and permission should be obtained to avoid miss application like in this case.

    Coordinator, The Mbunda Kingdom Research and Advisory Council.

  2. Wow this is lovely

    Good day!In need of help, my name is mehluli dube am 23years of age and am in search of my true self in flesh, my fathers name is gabriel a brother to charles and others, my concern is much more on my culture.I have known this for years and it never stayed well within me I was born and raised in south africa but my roots are in angola in chitata village, my grandpa is thomas chiloya a father to gabriel, who I guess lived around chitata during chief joseph lawlensi, ngangawe shongolol ngalanga province of of ku wangu if am not mistaken and his granpa was kadunero njamba/njaba and his brother was soma chiloya! His mother ngumba n father chiloya. I want to be me I want to boast about what I know as this world is not my home I don't want to live this world without throwing a stone to the grave yards of my ancestors.Yours teary!!!(Own giving name vencedora chiloya find me on facebook Mehluli advocate Chiloya 079 168 3991 please help