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__NOTOC__ The Chokwe people, known by many other names (including Kioko, Bajokwe, Chibokwe, Kibokwe, Ciokwe, Cokwe or Badjok), are an
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
of
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
. They are found primarily in
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante "Angola Avante" (, ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Angola
, southwestern parts of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
(Kinshasa to Lualaba), and northwestern parts of
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia (Bemba language, Bemba:'' Icalo ca Zambia''; Tonga language (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tonga: ''Cisi ca Zambia''; Lozi language, Lozi: ''Naha ya Zambia''; Chewa language, Nyanja: ''Dziko la Zambia''), ...

Zambia
.Chowke people
Encyclopædia Britannica


Demographics and language

Estimated to be about 1.3 million, their language is usually referred to as Chokwe (or Kichokwe, Tshokwe), a
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
language in the Benue-Congo branch of Niger-Congo family of languages. Many also speak the official languages of their countries:
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
in
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia (Bemba language, Bemba:'' Icalo ca Zambia''; Tonga language (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tonga: ''Cisi ca Zambia''; Lozi language, Lozi: ''Naha ya Zambia''; Chewa language, Nyanja: ''Dziko la Zambia''), ...

Zambia
, in
Democratic Republic of Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (french: ...

Democratic Republic of Congo
, and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
(as first or second language) in Angola.


History

The Chokwe were once one of the twelve clans of the great of 17th- and 18th-century
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante "Angola Avante" (, ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Angola
. They were initially employed by Lunda nobles, eventually became independent when they refused to continue paying tribute to the Lunda emperor. Their successful trading and abundant resources caused them to be one of the wealthiest groups in Angola. By 1900, the Chokwe had dismantled the Lunda kingdom (also called the ''Mwata Yanvo'') altogether, using guns they had received in trade from the
Ovimbundu The Ovimbundu, also known as the Southern Mbundu, are a Bantu peoples, Bantu ethnic group who live on the Bié Plateau of central Angola and in the coastal strip west of these highlands. As the largest ethnic group in Angola, they make up almos ...
.
Chokwe language Chokwe is a Bantu language spoken by the Chokwe people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french ...
and influence then began to dominate northeastern Angola and spread among the Lunda peoples. As the wars and conflicts grew during the colonial era of the 19th and 20th centuries, both from Europeans from their west and the Swahili-Arabs from their east, they militarily responded and expanded further into northern Angola, Congo and into western Zambia. The Portuguese had virtually no contact with the Chokwe until the 1830s when the Chokwe traded
wax Waxes are a diverse class of organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, ...

wax
,
rubber Rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'', or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much" ...

rubber
and
ivory Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusk Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcification, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to Masticat ...
. The Portuguese brought an end to the dominance of the Chokwe people in the region, but the Chokwe people fought back. As a
prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...

prince
, Mwene Mbandu Kapova I of Mbunda played a significant role in the battle between the Chokwe and the Mbunda.


Slavery

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Chokwe people not only suffered from the consequences of slave capture and export, but themselves bought and kept slaves. The Lunda nobles of Angola employed the Chokwe people as soldiers and hunters, first to counter the violence and threats to indigenous political power brought by the colonial demand and export markets for slaves, but once the Chokwe people had the guns, training and ethnic coordination, they overthrew the Lunda and employed slaves on their own for farming and domestic work in the second half of the 19th-century and the early decades of the 20th. The slaves sourced from other ethnic groups of Africa became a prized possession sought by the Chokwe. In upper Zambezi river and Kasai regions particularly, they were once a victim of well armed Portuguese or Belgian raids from the West and Arab-Swahili raids from east (such as by
Tippu Tip Tippu Tip, or Tippu Tib (1832 – June 14, 1905), real name Ḥamad ibn Muḥammad ibn Jumʿah ibn Rajab ibn Muḥammad ibn Saʿīd al Murjabī ( ar, حمد بن محمد بن جمعة بن رجب بن محمد بن سعيد المرجبي), ...

Tippu Tip
also known as Hamad bin Muhammad el Murjebi); later, the Chokwe people joined the violence and victimized others by capturing and shipping out a substantial number of captured slaves for financial gains, as well as purchasing and keeping slave women in their own homes from the profits of their craft work. According to Achim von Oppen, the use of slaves among the Chokwe people was likely a cultural reality on a small scale, before the enormous growth in slave capture and trading activity for the Atlantic colonial market. The old practice had origins in inter-village disputes particularly after injury or murder, where the victim village sought revenge or a slave in compensation for the loss. In cases of giving up a person, it would preferably be a transfer of a child as a slave from the village that caused the loss. As the demand and financial returns of slave trade to the colonial markets grew, many slaves were captured or otherwise passed through the Chokwe controlled territory. They would allow the movement of slave men to continue west towards the ports in cooperation with the Portuguese, while women were often kept. This practice continued long after slavery was banned in Europe and the United States, but the demand for workers elsewhere such as in South America, the Caribbean, Swahili-Arabs,
Oman Oman ( ; ar, عُمَان ' ), officially the Sultanate of Oman ( ar, سلْطنةُ عُمان ), is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Formerly a maritime empire, Oman is the oldest continuously in ...

Oman
i and other colonial plantations market continued, feeding a smuggled slaves market. European explorers who visited the Chokwe villages in early 20th-century reported that a majority of the women there were slaves in polygamous households and a cause of their population boom. In certain regions, like other ethnic groups and Europeans, the Chokwe people used slaves to raid their neighbors for lucrative ivory stockpiles for exports as well as to counter the raids by militarized Arab-Swahili gangs seeking ivory stockpiles and tribute payments.


Society and culture

They are regionally famous for their exceptional crafts work, particularly with baskets, pottery, mask carving, statues, stools and other handicrafts. The art work include utilitarian objects, but often integrates Chokwe mythologies, oral history and spiritual beliefs. For example, the culture hero ''Chibinda Ilunga'' who married a Lunda woman and took over power is an often sculpted figure. The ''Cikungu'' art personifies the collective power of Chokwe's ancestors, while ''Mwana po'' figurines depict the guardians of fertility and procreation. The ''Ngombo'' figurines have been traditionally a part of divining spirits who are shaken to tell causes of illness, misfortune, not having babies and other problems faced by a family or a village. Both chiefs and village groups are found in the Chokwe culture. Villages consist of company compounds with square huts or circular grass-houses with a central space that serves as the meeting place for the villagers. The Chokwe are traditionally a matrilineal society, but where the woman moves to live with her husband's family after wedding. Polygyny has been a historic practice usually limited to the chief or a wealthy family. The traditional religious beliefs of the Chokwe center around ancestor spirits worship. In groups where chiefs exist, they are considered the representative of god Kalunga or Nzambi, therefore revered and called ''Mwanangana'' or "overseer of the land." There is sometimes perceived to be a spiritual connection between works of arts such as handicrafts and carved objects and ancestors, as well as god Kalunga or Nzambi. With the colonial era, Chowke converted to Christianity en masse yet the original beliefs were retained to produce a syncretism of beliefs and practices. They have, for example, continued their spirit-rituals from pre-Christian era, as well maintained their elaborate rites-of-passage ceremonies particularly to mark the entry into adulthood by men and women.


In popular culture

A Chokwe statue, Chokwe body carvings, blood diamonds, and the Chokwe people figure into the plotline of
Donna Leon Donna Leon (; born September 28, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey Montclair () is a township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in ...

Donna Leon
's 14th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery novel, '' Blood From a Stone'' (2005).


See also

* Chikunga


References


Further reading

*Areia, M. L. Rodrigues de. ''Chokwe and their Bantu neighbours''. Zürich: Jean David & Gerhard Merzeder, 2003. *Areia, M. L. Rodrigues de, and Roland Kaehr. ''Les masques: collections d'Angola 2''. Collections du Musée d'ethnographie de Neuchâtel 7. Neuchâtel: Musée d'ethnographie, 2009. *Bastin, Marie Louise. ''Art décoratif tshokwe''. 2 vols. Lisboa: Companhia de Diamantes de Angola, Serviços Culturais, 1961. *Bastin, Marie Louise. ''La sculpture tshokwe''. Meudon: A. et F. Chaffin, 1982. *Cerqueira, Ivo Benjamin. ''Vida social indígena na colónia de Angola: usos e costumes''. Lisboa: Divisão de Publicações e Biblioteca, Agência Geral das Colónias, 1947. *Delachaux, Théodore, and Charles-E. Thiébaud. ''Pays et peuples d'Angola: études, souvenirs''. Neuchâtel: Éditions Victor Attinger, 1934. *Jordán, Manuel, ed. ''Chokwe!: art and initiation among Chowke and related peoples''. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1998. *Wastiau, Boris. ''Chokwe''. Milan: 5 Continents, 2006.


External links


Photo documents of chokwe art and information to other objects of African tribal art

Largest chokwe language resource on the web (Mofeko)
{{Authority control Chokwe Ethnic groups in Angola Ethnic groups in Zambia Ethnic groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Ethnic groups in Namibia