Southern Mbundu people
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The Ovimbundu, also known as the Southern Mbundu, are 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 ...
ethnic group who live on the
Bié Plateau Image:Location Bié.PNG, Bié Plateau The Bié Plateau or Central Plateau of Angola is a plateau that occupies most of central Angola. The elevation of the plateau is from 1,520 m to 1,830 m. Several major rivers originate from the plateau such as ...
of central
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante"() , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Luanda , religion = , religion_year = 2015 , religion_ref = , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , o ...

Angola
and in the coastal strip west of these highlands. As the largest ethnic group in Angola, they make up almost 40 percent of the country's population. Overwhelmingly the Ovimbundu follow
Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose coming as the was in the (called the in Christ ...

Christianity
, mainly the ''Igreja Evangélica Congregacional de Angola (IECA)'', founded by American missionaries, and the Catholic Church. However, some still retain beliefs and practices from
African traditional religions The traditional African religions or traditional beliefs and practices of African people are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions.Encyclopedia of African Religion (Sage, 2009) Molefi Kete Asante Generally, these ...
.


History

The origins of the Ovimbundu are
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 ...
populations who drifted in from the North, over the last millennium, and formed local/regional groups which slowly became political units and foci of social identity: M'Balundu, Sele, Wambo, Bieno and others. They developed a sophisticated agriculture, completed by the breeding of small animals (chicken, goats, swine) as well as of a modicum of cows bought from the farmer-herders to the South ( Nyaneka-Nkhumbi, Ovambo). Incisive change came about when the Portuguese established a colonial bridgehead in
Benguela Benguela (; Umbundu: Luombaka) is a city in western Angola, capital of Benguela Province. Benguela is one of Angola's most populous cities with a population of 555,124 in the city and 561,775 in the municipality, at the 2014 census. History Port ...

Benguela
, in the 16th century. Several of the small "kingdoms" saw their advantage in organising an intense caravan trade between Benguela and peoples of the East, in particular the Chokwe, the
LuvaleThe Luvale people, also spelled Lovale, Balovale, Lubale, as well as Lwena or Luena in Angola , national_anthem = " Angola Avante"() , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Luanda , religion = , religion_year ...
and the Mbunda, from whom they obtained wax, rubber, honey and ivory. Each trading caravan had a professional leader and diviner. Trade agreements that had linked the independent chiefdoms led to the development of regional specializations, including metalwork and cornmeal production. Slavery and the slave trade were also an integral part of Ovimbundu societies. Caravan trading declined with the suppression of the slave trade and, more importantly, the construction of the Benguela Railway in 1904, and came to an end shortly after 1910. In the following years, the Ovimbundu completely changed their economy to cash crop production of corn, sold to a rapidly increasing network of Portuguese traders. However, because of their demographic growth, and because significant portions of their lands were appropriated by Europeans for coffee, sisal and other plantations, many Ovimbundu started to work as paid labour, mainly on European plantations in their own region or in Northwest Angola, but also in Namibian mines. The Ovimbundu are the main social basis of UNITA, an anti-colonial movement that fought against the Portuguese from 1966 to 1974, was an adversary of the rival movement MPLA during the Angolan Civil War of 1975 to 2002, and is at present an opposition political party.The founder and historical leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, was an Ocimbundu of the Bieno group. During the Civil War the two major cities located in Umbundu territory, Huambo and Kuito, were to a large extent destroyed by the MPLA and UNITA respectively, as were a considerable number of villages and much infrastructure (roads, railways, bridges etc.). Many people died, and many others fled to cities either in their own area (
Benguela Benguela (; Umbundu: Luombaka) is a city in western Angola, capital of Benguela Province. Benguela is one of Angola's most populous cities with a population of 555,124 in the city and 561,775 in the municipality, at the 2014 census. History Port ...

Benguela
, Lobito) or in distant areas (mainly Luanda and its surroundings, but also Lubango). During long periods parts of Umbundu territory were under UNITA control. Since 2002, considerable efforts at reconstruction have been made - by the government, interested in national reconciliation, but to a large extent by the people themselves, by the churches and by a variety of NGOs. A significant proportion of the "internally displaced" Ovimbundu have returned to their places of origin, where traditional forms of social organization have often survived or then been reconstituted. However, larger or smaller Ovimbundu communities have remained in many cities outside their habitat, so that a significant part of this people is now scattered all over Angola. In political terms, the Angolan parliamentary elections of 2008 reflected an important shift in Ovimbundu loyalty: while most of them had voted UNITA in the previous (1992) election, their majority now voted MPLA - because (after the death of Jonas Savimbi) UNITA had lost much of its credibility, but also because strengthening UNITA was seen as implying the risk of a renewal of armed violence.


See also

*Cingolo *Citata *Civula *Ciyaka *Ekekete *Kingdom of Ndulu *Ngalangi


References


Further reading

* Gladwyn Murray Childs, ''Umbundu Kinship and Character'', London: Oxford University Press, 1949 * Adrian Edwards, ''The Ovimbundu Under Two Sovereignties: A Study of Social Control and Social Change Among a People of Angola'', London: Oxford University Press, 1962 * Linda Heywood, ''Contested Power in Angola, 1940s to the Present'', Rochester/NY: University of Rochester Press, 2000 (A scholarly political history of the Ovimbundu) * Didier Péclard, "Les incertitudes de la nation en Angola: Aux racines sociales de l'UNITA", Paris: Karthala, 2015


External links


Ovimbundu Britannica OnlineNação Ovimbundu
{{authority control Southern Mbundu, Ethnic groups in Angola Bantu peoples