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Ethnic & Cultural Groups: Bemba People pf Zambia


The Bemba reside in the northeastern part of Zambia. They are a matrilineal group, which means they trace their descent through the mother’s line. They belong to a larger ethnic group referred to as the Central Bantu. The Bemba came to northeastern Zambia during the great Bantu migrations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and organized themselves into a united government. Their chief was known as Chitimukulu (the Great Tree), and he was served by lesser chiefs that belonged to the royal Crocodile clan, a clan that is part of the Bemba ethnic group. Taking members from other Bemba speaking groups was an act of war – FYI. The Bemba were seen as a warlike and fearsome. Approximately 36 percent (or 3.1 million) of Zambians are Bemba or speak the Bemba language.

In Zambia, people speak a number of languages. Most of the languages originate from the Bantu language family. They share a similar vocabulary, but for the most part, a speaker of one dialect cannot understand another. Therefore, many Zambians are speak multiple languages. They speak their maternal language along with several other languages.


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