Ambundu, Angolan Ethnic Group

Angolan ethnic group, Ambunu

The Ambundu or Mbundu are a Bantu people living in Angola’s North-West, North of the river Kwanza. 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. They are predominant in the Bengo and Malanje provinces and in neighboring parts of the Cuanza Norte and Cuanza Sul provinces. The head of the main Mbundu kingdom was called a Ngola, which is the origin of the name of the country Angola.

The Mbundu 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.. They brought agriculture with them. They built permanent villages, and traded with the indigenous Pygmies and Khoi-San populations.

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 matrilineal 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 neighboring peoples, like the Ovimbundu to the South, and the Bakongo to the North.


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