Mbunda language

Mbúùnda, Chimbúùnda
Native toAngola, Zambia
EthnicityMbunda people
Native speakers
260,000 (2000–2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mck – inclusive code
Individual codes:
yax – Yauma dialect
nkn – Nkangala dialect
Glottologmbun1249  Mbunda[2]
nkan1238  Nkangala[3]

Mbunda is a Bantu language of Angola and Zambia. There are several dialects: Katavola, Yauma,[5] Nkangala, Mbalango, Sango, Ciyengele ("Shamuka"), and Ndundu, all of which are closely related.[6] Mbunda was one of six languages selected by the Instituto de Línguas Nacionais (National Languages Institute) for an initial phase to establish spelling rules in 1980[7] to facilitate teaching in schools and promoting its use. [8][9]


Mbunda is similar to Luchazi, but has some differences in the consonants. Among other differences,[clarification needed] where Luchazi has /s, z/, Mbunda has /θ, ð/. Where Luchazi has /ts/, Mbunda has dental /t̪/.


Like other languages in eastern Angola and Zambia, Mbunda language has five contrastive vowels:

high i u
mid ɛ ɔ
low a


Voiced plosives only occur as prenasalized stops, where they contrast with aspirated plosives. Otherwise only tenuis plosives are found in Mbunda.[10]

Prenasalized consonants
Aspirated Breathy Voice Place of formation Sample Word Sound Translation
/mpʰ/ mp /mbʱ/ mb bilabial mbandu
/nt̪ʰ/ nths /nd̪ʱ/ ndthz dental ndthzili
/ntʰ/ nt /ndʱ/ nd alveolar ndolome
/ndʒ/ nj alveopalatal njamba
/ŋkʰ/ nk /ŋɡʱ/ ng velar ngonde


Graphic Representation Phonetic Symbol(*) Word Example Word Sound Translation
a /a/ angula
mb /mbʱ/ mbunga
ch (used with nouns)
or c
/tʃ/ cili
nd /nd/ ndumba
e /ɛ/ ewa
f /f/ fundanga
ng /ŋɡʱ/ ngombe
cow, ox
ŋ /ŋ/ ŋala
h /h/ hanja
i /i/ imanena
j /ʒ/ jombolola
k /k/ kovela
l /l/ lilonga
plate, dish
m /m/ mulonga
n /n/ naana
my mother
ndthz /nd̪/ ndthzita
nk /ŋkʰ/ nkuta
ny /ɲ/ or maybe /nʲ/ nyali
brother or sister-in-law
o /ɔ/ owo
that one
p /p/ putuka
mp /mpʰ/ mpulu
male animal
t /t/ tulo
asleep, sleepy
th /θ/ thimbu
ths /t̪/ thsa
thz /ð/ thzala
dress up
u /u/ uli
where is he (she)
v /β/ vwato
boat, canoe
w /w/ wahi
he (she) is not here
x /ʃ/ xwata
y /j/ yange
Orthographies of six languages of Angola,[11][12]


Mbunda is spoken by the Mbunda people of the Moxico Province and Cuando Cubango Province of Angola and western Zambia.[13] upon the migration of among others, the Ciyengele,[14]


The Mbunda language in Zambia Angola is not spoken exactly the same way. In Zambia it has a strong upper teeth contact with the tongue, to pronounce words like: "Mundthzindthzime" (shadow), "chithzalo" (dress), "Kuthsa" (death) and many more. The difficult sounds represented by TH.[15] Mbunda language in Angola and Namibia is spoken without the TH sounds, like in the Luchazi language;[16] the words above are pronounced as "Mutzitzime" (shadow), "chizalo" (cloth), "Kutsa" (death). Even within Zambia, the Mbunda language spoken by the Chiyengele group that migrated earlier is different from that spoken by the Mbunda group that fled into Zambia as a consequence of the Mbunda-Portuguese war of 1914. That is why the Mbunda language of the Chiyengele group, mainly found in Mongu, is nicknamed "Shamuka"[clarification needed],[17] heavily influenced by Lozi language. The same term can be attributed to the Mbunda language in Namibia, which is heavily influenced by the Nyemba and Luchazi languages.


Numerical counting in Mbunda follows the usual numerals but in Mbunda words. Fill ups are easily made using small numerals.

Names and meanings[]

Mbunda names are many; listed are the ones commonly used.[18] They can be given either to a male or female, except a very few that are for females only and have been indicated here by (f). Some Mbunda names are similar to those of other nationalities which also have their roots in the Luba Kingdom, such as Kaunda, Katongo, Kavanda, Mulenga, Muvanga, Mwila, Kavunda, Kalunga, Muti, Chiinga, Kavalata, Chiti, Nkonde and others. Also similar to Mbunda names are Chipoya, Chipango, Musole, Kayata, Ngambo, Kawengo, Kapisa and Musumali, found in other ethnic groups which trace their origins to Mwantiyavwa the king of the Ruund. These similarities give further evidence that Mbunda people interacted with the Kingdom of Lunda and Kingdom of Luba,[19] in the 15th century. The commonly used Mbunda names are as follows:

1. Viemba (Vyemba) meaning medicines.

2. Vulungi meaning trekking to new settlement

3. Chendamundali meaning tourist, (vacendamundali-plural).

4. Chalula meaning someone who found (picked) a lost thing.

5. Chambato meaning a bridegroom.

6. Changoco meaning a useless person.

7. Changano meaning an "I don't care" person.

8. Chavaya meaning a destitute person.

9. Chikatu meaning source.

10. Chilala meaning cruelty.

11. Chiinga meaning substitute or substitution.

12. Chiingi meaning the substitute wife from same family as first wife.

13. Chilindo meaning the float of fish net.

14. Chilombo meaning a place where things are put to soak or dye.

15. Chilunda meaning the second born.

16. Chimbali meaning the slave of a white person.

17. Chimbinde meaning a cantankerous person, cruel.

18. Chindele meaning a white person.

19. Chindumba meaning a kind of hair plait.

20. Chingumbe meaning a strong and healthy man. Name of the 14th Mbunda King who ruled Mbundaland in the 17th century in what is now Angola.

21. Chingunde meaning moroseness, sullenness.

22. Chingwali meaning a shackle for the head, a fetter.

23. Chinjenge meaning to be left in hardship.

24. Chinunga meaning an articulated joint.

25. Chinyundu meaning a beehive smoker (to rid the hive of bees).

26. Chioola meaning a quiet person; sober.

27. Chipango meaning the fence built for a woman giving birth.

28. Chipipa meaning to swish or whip through the air.

29. Chipoya meaning a machile or hammock.

30. Chiputa meaning a type of shrub; bush.

31. Chixwaxwa (Chishwashwa) meaning an empty light shell.

32. Chiti meaning wood or tree.

33. Chitumbo meaning a big heap of soil.

34. Chitundu meaning a type of plant with an edible tuber.

35. Chiyengele meaning a red cloth belt. Name of the Senior Mbunda Chief in Bulozi, declared by King Mulena Mulambwa of the Aluyi people.

36. Chiyengo meaning big barrel.

37. Chuma meaning thing.

38. Kaalu meaning a surviving twin.

39. Kavavu meaning June.

40. Kafunya meaning a presumptuous person.

41. Kafuti meaning the child born after twins.

42. Kailu meaning the child born after five children's death, regarded as a "returned" person.

43. Kaliki meaning the chief's storehouse.

44. Kaliye meaning being lonely.

45. Kalimbwe (vulimbwe) meaning a person using birdlime to catch birds.

46. Kalumbu, for females, meaning a stray person who has lost her good character.

47. Kaliata (Kalyata) meaning a person who oppresses others.

48. Kaliangu (Kalyangu) meaning a kind of jester or masked dancer.

49. Kamana meaning a wise person.

50. Kanjengo meaning white cloth.

51. Kankondo meaning a kind of weasel that eats fowls.

52. Kanjonja meaning a type of gun; flintlock.

53. Kanunga meaning a small joint.

54. Kapatitho (Kapatiso) meaning bolt fastener.

55. Kapitha (Kapisa) meaning a person who refuses to help because he is miserly and stingy or who burns something.

56. Kaxweka (Kashweka) meaning a hidden thing.

57. Kaxukwe (Kashukwe) meaning August.

58. Kathoka (Kasoka) meaning a person who loads the gun; rams the charge into the gun.

59. Kathonda (Kasonda) (vuthampu - vusampu) meaning a kind of coiffure.

60. Katavola meaning a person who tears something apart. Name of the famous 20th Mbunda King who fought and defeated the Chokwe people in what is now Angola.

61. Katota meaning a person who knocks or hammers on something.

62. Katongo meaning a wanderer.

63. Kaulembi (kulamba) meaning a person who goes to appeal for help.

64. Kavindama meaning an unfortunate person.

65. Kavunda meaning a person who smears the concrete floor.

66. Kawengo meaning the spirit of a deceased woman.

67. Kayando meaning a sufferer, trouble.

68. Kayawe meaning a cunning person.

69. Kayongo meaning the spirit of a deceased man.

70. Kathzungo (Kazungo) meaning noise or racket. Name of the 22nd Mbunda King who was installed by the Portuguese colonialists, after abducting King Mwene Mbandu I Lyondthzi Kapova, the 21st Monarch of Mbundaland in what is now Angola.

71. Kufuna meaning to and fro. (Not Mbunda by origin but used today).

72. Kalunga meaning God.

73. Kuunga meaning to gather.

74. Kuvangu, see Kawengo.

75. Lifuti meaning country. Name of the 23rd Mbunda King and the first to be installed by the Mbunda people after the restoration of the Mbunda monarchy in what is now Angola, since the abduction of the 21st Mbunda King who resisted the Portuguese occupation of Mbundaland in 1914.

76. Likonge meaning a kind of water grass.

77. Liongo meaning a river reed.

78. Livindamo meaning an unlucky village or place.

79. Luvinda meaning hard luck or misfortune.

80. Liwoyo meaning racket, noise.

81. Lumbala is the name of a river in eastern Angola.

82. Liato (Lyato) meaning a big canoe.

83. Liunda (Lyunda) meaning grove.

84. Maamba meaning evil spirits possessing people.

85. Makayi meaning bracelets.

86. Makalu meaning a brave person.

87. Makuwa from (kulikuwa) meaning someone who shouts when rejoicing.

88. Maliti meaning a type of rifle, a single loader.

89. Manjolo meaning tubular anklets.

90. Manyenga meaning a worried person, also means to render fat.

91. Mathambo (Masambo) meaning small wires.

92. Matheka (Maseka), see Makayi.

93. Mathumba (Masumba) meaning crescent shaped medallions.

94. Mbaita (f) meaning please pass, to allow to pass.

95. Mbalili (f) meaning keg, barrel.

96. Mbambale meaning the spinning device used by Mbunda.

97. Mbandu meaning sore. Name of the 21st Mbunda King who resisted the Portuguese occupation of Mbundaland in 1914 in what is now Angola.

98. Mbundi (f) meaning a fetish stick.

99. Mukovoto meaning a talkative person.

100. Mukuve meaning a kind of tree for bark rope.

101. Mukwita meaning a passer-by; to pass by.

102. Mulenga meaning a piece of wood split off a tree struck by thunder and lightning.

103. Mulemba meaning a kind of tree that produces rubber.

104. Mulikita meaning great big-game hunter, also boxer.

105. Muliata (Mulyata), see Kaliata (Kalyata).

106. Mundanya, see Mathumba (Masumba).

107. Mundu (kaundu) meaning medicine rubbed on the body to make it impervious to bullets. Name of the first Mbunda Chief who migrated to Bulozi in the 16th century.

108. Mundthzimba meaning an ignorant person.

109. Mununga meaning a person who joins things together.

110. Muthando (Musando) meaning millet.

111. Muthangu (Musangu) meaning a resurrected person.

112. Muxova (Mushova) (f) meaning mixed things.

113. Muxuwa (Mushuwa) (f) meaning a tree with little leaves, see mulemba.

114. Muthompa (Musompa) meaning a judge.

115. Muti (chiti) meaning tree.

116. Muvanga meaning a kind of shrub; also means firstborn.

117. Muwae (f) meaning beauty.

118. Muyeva, see Katongo.

119. Muyenga meaning to render fat or beeswax.

120. Muyombo (muxaa - mushaa) meaning a type of fetish stick.

121. Mwila meaning grass.

122. Ndandula meaning he must follow.

123. Ndombelo meaning a young girl who pounds white maize into theke (seke) which is used in ritual offerings (nombelo) to ancestral spirits.

124. Ndumba meaning lion.

125. Ngeve meaning female twins.

126. Ngongola, see Katota.

127. Nguvu meaning male twins; also hippopotamus.

128. Njamba, meaning elder of the twins; also elephant.

129. Nkumbwa meaning ostrich.

130. Nyumbu meaning a type of swamp reed.

131. Nyundu meaning otter.

132. Thakulo (Sakulo) meaning a kind of grass used for thatching.

133. Theke (Seke) meaning white maize meal used for offerings to ancestral spirits.

134. Xanda (Shanda), meaning battle, honey badger. Name of the 22nd Mbunda King who was installed by the Portuguese colonialists, after abducting King Mwene Mbandu I Lyondthzi Kapova, the 21st Monarch of Mbundaland in what is now Angola.

135. Wacama, the abbreviation of (waca manene) meaning you like something very much.

136. Wampata meaning an argumentative or stubborn person.

See also[]


  1. ^ Mbunda at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Yauma dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Nkangala dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mbunda". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nkangala". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  5. ^ Bantu-Languages.com, citing Maniacky 1997
  6. ^ Bantu-Languages.com, citing Maniacky 1997
  7. ^ http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/mbun1249 For additional sources
  8. ^ Resolution adopted by Council of Ministers - Official Gazette No. 3/87 of May 1987
  9. ^ Angola Harmonização das línguas bantu dificultada pela fonética e grafia
  10. ^ Tusona: Luchazi Ideographs : a Graphic Tradition of West-Central Africa By Gerhard Kubik, page 300
  11. ^ História da criação dos alfabetos em línguas nacionais, edições 70 - Portugal (History of the creation of alphabets in national languages, 70th ions - Portugal)
  12. ^ Tusona: Luchazi Ideographs : a Graphic Tradition of West-Central Africa By Gerhard Kubik, pages 291
  13. ^ The elites of Barotseland, 1878-1969: a political history of Zambia's Western Province: a. Gerald L. Caplan ISBN 0900966386 Publisher: C. Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 1970
  14. ^ Bantu-Languages.com, citing Maniacky 1997
  15. ^ A.W, July 1, 1917, A Comparative Vocabulary of Sikololo-Silui-Simbunda, African Affairs, Oxford University Press
  16. ^ Tusona: Luchazi Ideographs : a Graphic Tradition of West-Central Africa By Gerhard Kubik, pages 291, 292
  17. ^ Bantu-Languages.com, citing Maniacky 1997
  18. ^ name="google4"
  19. ^ Almanac of African Peoples & Nations, page 523. By Muḥammad Zuhdī Yakan, Transaction Publishers, Rutgers - The State University, 35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, New Jersey 008854-8042 ISBN 1-56000-433-9,


Coordinates: 14°06′44″S 21°26′07″E / 14.11222°S 21.43528°E / -14.11222; 21.43528 Category:Populated places in Cuando Cubango Province