Luchazi

The Luchazi and Chokwe are ‘cousins’.  They left the Lunda Empire during the same migration.  See the quote from Lewis Gann in the section under the Chokwe. 

The Luchazi were farmers and moved to an area south of the Chokwe.  As farmers they planted cassava, bananas and millet.  They also knew how to tend bees and traded beeswax (then used for making candles) with the Portuguese or their intermediaries.  Later, they also became known for the production of rubber which could be traded with the Portuguese.  Obviously, therefore, although being good farmers they were well aware of the advantages of growing cash crops to exchange for imported goods. 

To read more: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/tribes-of-zambia/angola/luchazi/

Chokwe

The Chokwe are a breakaway group of the Lunda people. 

From Lewis Gann:

The Chokwe, Lwena, Luchazi, Lwimbi, Songo and Ovimbundu peoples of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia have related histories, cultural traits and cosmologies, which they embed in distinct ways in a shared visual vocabulary.

According to some accounts, the groups derive from a shared ancestry, when, in the late 1500s or early 1600s, a Lunda senior chief, named either Yala Muaku or Konde, opted to appoint his daughter Lweji, as his successor. His two sons, Chinguli and Chinyama, left the court upset and, with their followers, migrated to other territories, conquering and intermarrying with other peoples. Their settlements and those established by their descendants eventually engendered distinct ethnicities, including the Chokwe, Lwena, Luchazi, Lwimbi and others.

To read more: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/tribes-of-zambia/angola/chokwe/

Lozi

The Lozi people were originally called the Aluyi.  It is thought that they arrived in the Barotse Floodplain in the 1700s.  Legend has it that a Lunda princess left the Lunda empire with a few followers.  First they settled near present-day Kabompo but then moved further south onto the plain.  The floodplain was an excellent environment for their subsistence farming with plenty of fish in the river and, once the floods had subsided, the ground was rich and fertile for the growing of crops and grazing for cattle.  Another advantage of the Zambezi River was that it provided easy access to all the land along the rivers by boat. 

The Aluyi were very successful and eventually began to conquer neighbouring tribes.  Using the river, they gained access to the lands around the Zambezi River into present-day Botswana and Namibia.  They reached the Victoria Falls and beyond into Tongaland, to the confluence of the Kafue and Zambezi rivers and even into present-day Zimbabwe. 

In 1838 the Aluyi were themselves conquered by the Kololo people from the south.  At the time there was a succession dispute between the families of the leaders of the Aluyi and they were weak and divided.  The Kololo were a Sotho-speaking clan that had fled from the warring tribes of Shaka Zulu.  They had trekked north through Botswana, causing chaos as they passed through each tribal area. Initially, they had settled near present-day Kalomo, but then moved onto the floodplain, taking control of the Aluyi. 

To read more, go to https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/lozi/

Bisa

The Bisa people are a well-established clan in Zambia.  They are one of the first to be mentioned in Lacerda’s journals. 

He passed the night of the seventeenth on the bank of the Ruanga (Northern Arangoa) River, which is also passed by boats.  During these days his only food was raw millet and beans of sorts.  At the Ruanga River ends the nation of the Vaviza (Muizas) and begins that of the Marave. 

This quote is from 1798 by Dionizio Rebello Curvo, when describing Lacerda’s journey.   The Vaviza (Muizas) are the Bisa.  The Marave are the Chewa.  The Ruaga or Arangoa is the Luangwa River.

It is estimated that the Bisa left the Luba Empire about the same time as the Bemba, around 1650.  They travelled east and found new lands around Lake Bangweulu and beyond.  They had no paramount chief so were a loosely-connected tribe through language and customs.

To continue reading go to https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/tribes-of-zambia/bisa/

Bemba

The Bemba were members of the Luba empire in the Congo basin and were part of the Ng’andu (Crocodile) clan.  It is thought that they left there in or before 1650, migrating east to an area around present-day Kasama.  There they settled as subsistence farmers.  For the next 150 years the Bemba were poor and disorganised.  The land was not very fertile and they had little resources with which to barter.  Tsetse fly was also present so they did not keep cattle.  Farming implements like hoes were brought in from the Lungu in the north; salt was acquired from the Bisa in the south. 

To read more: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/tribes-of-zambia/bemba/

Ila

The Ila are one of the first Bantu to arrive in present-day Zambia.  It is thought that they came from the northeast, around the Great Lakes, between 1200 and 1300 AD.  If asked, the Ila would say ‘they descended’ about their origins, because, even to them, their arrival in Ilaland is not known.  Some of the elders point to weather-worn rocks near Namwala, saying that the indentations in the rocks are those made by the footprints of their ancestors. 

To read more: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/ila/

Chikunda

The Chikunda (Achikunda) have their origins in present-day Mozambique.  The Portuguese had vast estates, known as Prazos, and they used slaves and ex-slaves as security guards and hunters.  They trained the men in military tactics and gave them guns.  These men became expert elephant hunters and were known as the Chikunda.  Although these men were from different ethnic groups from the interior of Africa, they developed their own language and culture. 

At the beginning of the 1800s the Portuguese estates began to crumble and many of the workers were sold as slaves.  Seeing the writing on the wall, groups of Chikunda fled up the Zambezi River. 

To read more, go to https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/chikunda/

Tumbuka

The Tumbuka have their origins in present-day Malawi.  They were one of the original clans to move into the region from the north around the Great Lakes.  It is likely that they arrived in the 1300s. 

According to their legend, they were part of a Snake Cult.  The Tumbuka god was named Chiuta or Leza who contacted the people through a spirit named Chikang’ombe.  Chikang’ombe had various homes which were guarded by a priest of the Mkandawire clan.  The spirit, Chikang’ombe, could take on various living forms, one of which was a male snake. 

To read more: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/tumbuka/

Lamba

Like many tribes, the legend of their beginnings is by their god.  In the case of the Lamba, their god was named Luchyele.

From Lamba Legend and History, Doke:

Luchyele is said to have come from the east ‘arranging’ the whole country, rivers, hills, anthills, trees and grass.  He came with numbers of people, planting the tribes and communities in their respective places, and passed on to the westward.  Curious markings on the sandstone in the Itabwa plain, not far from Chiwala’s village and Ndola township, are pointed out as being the footprints of Luchyele and his people as they passed.  It is said that the stones then were soft like mud, but that as soon as Luchyele had passed the mud hardened, and the marks have been preserved ever since. 

The oral tradition of the Lamba people is that, at first, they had no chief until a man, Chipimpi arrived with this sister.  The sister, Kawunda Shimanjemanje, had devised a plan to steal seed from the Luba people.  She grew her hair long and while working in the Luba gardens managed to take seeds and hide them in her hair.  When she and Chimpimpi came to Lambaland, she was able to plant the seeds and grow excellent crops.  So impressed were the people that they chose Chimpimpi as their chief.

To read more, go to: https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/lamba/

Senga

The following information comes from Marvin Miracle’s article on ‘Migration of the Northern Rhodesian Senga’, published in 1963. 

It would seem that the Senga, Bisa and Bemba all left the Lunda empire during the reign of a particularly bad king, Mwata Yamvo.  The Lunda king had his palace at a place called Uluwa.

Family clans under Lunda government were given one particular task to carry out.  The Bemba were part of the Nandu or crocodile clan whose duty was to sweep the royal village.  The Bisa (Ngona or mushroom) clan were tasked with preparing millet for the royal brew.  It is not known what duties were allocated to the Senga clan. According to the opinion of Marvin Miracle the Senga left the Lunda Empire first.  Their planning to leave took several years but eventually, one night, the men fled and travelled east.  During their migration they stopped for a long time and it was during this time that the Bemba and Bisa clans also fled the Lunda Empire.  When the Senga continued their migration east, they came to meet up with the Bisa who had settled there.

To read more, go to https://traditionalzambia.home.blog/senga/