Landscape

About 14 kilometres west of the Kavango capital Rundu you can find a place unlike any other: The Living Museum of the Mbunza, a traditional school for culture and at the same time a communal business for the local people of the Kavango. With this sustainable project they will be able to preserve their traditional culture and to generate an additional income.

 

Fascinating Kavango culture An essential part of the interactive program of the Living Museum is the demonstration (and preservation) of the fishing and land cultivating culture of the Mbunza. The traditional presentation covers everything from everyday life (traditional cuisine, fire making, basket and mat weaving, etc.) to bushwalks and fishing and finally to highly specialised techniques like blacksmithing, pottery and the making of drums. The spoken language is Rukwangali, the most common language in the Kavango area.

 

Ethnology of the Mbunza

 

The Mbunza are one of five ethnic groups of Bantu people living in the Kavango area on both sides of the Okavango River in Namibia and Angola.

 

Social life of the Mbunza

 

The social structures of the Mbunza are ruled by matrilineal inheritance.  All socially important duties of the community are performed by relatives of the female lineage. Within the Mbunza we find eight clans. A clan consists of members that can trace their common origin to long gone ancestors. The clan members live scattered over the whole tribal area and they do not form a territorial, political or religious entity.  King and Queen are determined by heritage and as traditional leaders they play an important political and social role in the life of the Kavango until today.

 

History of the Mbunza

 

Originally the Kavango settled at the big lakes in East Africa before they stared moving southwest until they reached Mashi at the upper Kwando in today’s Zambia. During the 16th and 18th century they immigrated into the Kavango area. Today the majority of the Kavango live directly at the Okavango River. As the Kavango area was one of the last areas influenced by the structuring programs of the former colonial rulers, a large part of the traditional culture of the Kavango survived until today. Presently the Mbunza still have a versatile culture including fishing, agriculture and woodcarving and they have a strong social network to pass on their traditional knowledge.