|2,546,000 (2000 est.)|
|Tumbuka, Malawi Tonga language, Chewa language|
|Christianity, Tumbuka mythology|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Tonga people of Malawi|
The Tumbuka (or, Kamanga, Batumbuka and Matumbuka) is a Bantu ethnic group found in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.Tumbuka is classified as a part of the Bantu language family, and with origins in a geographic region between the Dwangwa River to the south, the North Rukuru River to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, and the Luangwa River. They are found in the valleys near the rivers, lake as well as the highlands of Nyika Plateau, where they are frequently referred to as Henga although this is strictly speaking the name of a subdivision.
The Tumbuka people can further be distinguished into several smaller tribes with related yet distinct heritages headed by different sub-chiefs who are all under the paramount chief Chikulamayembe. These subgroupings include the Henga, Poka and kamanga.[ citation needed ]
To set record straight, the Tumbuka tribe was one of the small tribes who originated from Luba in what is currently known as Democratic Republic of Congo. That was before any formal government setup and they had been staying the for hundreds of years after breaking away from the bantu tribes in upper central africa.
The Tumbuka tribe and other small tribes were driven out of Luba by a Worrior tribe know as Kongolo tribe the tribe that merged with the tribes that remained in Luba after they tried to subdue the Tumbuka people and failed.
Various estimates suggest that over two million Tumbuka speakers live in north Malawi, northeast Zambia and Tanzania.Ethnologue estimates a total of 2,546,000 Tumbuka speakers in 2000. However, Ember et al. estimate that about an additional million Tumbuka people live in central and southern African countries such as Tanzania because of the diffusion of Tumbuka people as migrant labor.
The Tumbuka language, also called chiTumbuka,is a Bantu language, similar to many other Bantu languages in structure and vocabulary. It is classified as a central Bantu language in the Niger-Congo family, and it has many dialects. The Tumbuka are collectively known as ŵaTumbuka and one is called "mutumbuka" meaning one of the Tumbuka tribe. The Tumbuka language is closely related to the Tonga language and it has been suggested that they originally formed a single group of mutually intelligible dialects until different missionaries treated two such dialects as the standard Tumbuka and Tonga languages.
Before a British protectorate was created over Nyasaland, there were many ethnic groups in what is now Malawi's Northern Region including a substantial group culturally-related people, scattered widely and loosely organized under largely autonomous village headmen who spoke dialects of the Tumbuka language. Missionaries in the late 19th century standardised these languages into a relatively small number of groups, and chose the standardised Tumbuka language as the usual medium for teaching in the north of the country, in preference to the Ngoni, Tonga or Ngonde languages which were also prominent in the area. By the start of the 20th century, the Ngoni and Ngonde languages were in decline, although Tonga was more resilient.
In 1968, Tumbuka was abolished as an official language, as a medium of instruction and in examinations, and the secondary school entrance system was manipulated to assist candidates from the Central Region and disadvantage those from the Northern Region.Some of those that objected to the ban on the use of Tumbuka were arrested or harassed but both the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and the Catholic Church continued to preach and use religious texts in Tumbuka in the Northern Region.
After the advent of multi-party democracy, Tumbuka language programmes began to be broadcast on national radio in 1994 but a 1996 proposal for the reintroduced of Tumbuka as a medium for teaching in the first four years of compulsory education has not been fully implemented.One effect of the failure to restore the Tumbuka language as the standard language of the Northern Region is that speakers of other languages in the region, the Tonga, Ngonde and even the little-spoken Ngoni language are now seeking parity with Tumbuka.
The Tumbuka probably entered the area between the Luangwa valley and northern Lake Malawi in the 15th century. At the start of the 18th century, they formed a number of groups, of which the Henga was one, living in small, independent communities without a central organisation, spread thinly over this area.By the mid-18th century, traders dressed “as Arabs”, although coming from the Unyamwezi region of what is now Tanzania were involved in trading for ivory and to some extent slaves as far inland as the Luangwa valley. They formed alliances with groups of Henga, and their leader established the Chikulamayembe Dynasty ruling a federation of small chiefdoms However, by the 1830s, this Chikulamaybe dynasty was in decline and the area reverted to a state of political and military disorganisation
The large elephant herds of the region attracted groups of coastal Swahili ivory hunters and traders followed in the colonial era by European ivory traders.In the 1840s, Swahili Arabs entered northern Malawi region, with Jumbe Salim bin Abdallah establishing a trading centre at Nkhotakota near Lake Malawi. Jumbe Abdallah's trade in slaves to satisfy the demand for slaves on Zanzibar plantations of cloves and for the Middle East triggered raids and violence against the Tumbuka people. A male slave was known as muzga or kapolo, while a chituntulu meant a young female slave.
The rising demand for ivory in the European market led to conflicts to control the export trade, resulting in greater social distinctions and politically centralized chiefdoms among the Tumbuka. These ruling groups collapsed around 1855, when the highly militarized warriors of the Ngoni ethnic group from South Africa arrived seeking agricultural slaves and recruits, in addition to those acquired by the Swahili traders.
The Ngoni of Mbelwa (also known as M'mbelwa) were a branch of Zwangendaba’s Ngoni, which began its migration from South Africa between 1819 and 1822, eventually reaching southern Tanzania and remained there until Zwangendaba's death in the mid-1840s. After this, his followers split into several groups, one of which under his son Mbelwa settled permanently in what is now the Mzimba district of northern Malawi around 1855.Mbelwa's Ngoni treated the Henga as subjects, exacting tribute and taking captives through raiding. These captives were rarely sold to the Swahili traders, but retained as unfree agricultural workers or enrolled in Ngoni regiments. Some of these Henga conscript soldiers revolted and fled north, entering Ngonde territory around 1881, where the Ngonde settled them as a buffer against their enemies.
The Swahili traders had built most of their stockades in the area in which the Henga had been settled and, after the African Lakes Company set up a trading base at Karonga, and as the threat of Ngoni raids had declined, the usefulness of Henga and Swahili to the Ngonde state lessened. Both groups were aliens among the Ngonde majority, and were suspicious of cooperation between the company and Ngonde, so they allied with each other. The alliance of the Swahili and the Henga faced a rival alliance between the Ngonde and the African Lakes Company which eventually led to the so-called Karonga War between them, a series of skirmishes and sieges of stockades between 1887 and 1889
The Ngoni invasion led initially to a devastation of the Tumbuka people,through the death, destruction, loss of family members, abandonment of the settled valleys, and disruption of their traditional agricultural methods as the Tumbuka people hid in mountains, small islands, and marshes to escape from the violence associated with large-scale human raids and elephant hunting. It also led to intermingling and intermarriage between the people of Tumbuka and the Ngoni cultures.
The British explorer David Livingstone wrote about the Lake Malawi region in 1858, mentioning slavery of the Tumbuka people both to the export of slaves to satisfy the Arab demand as well as domestic slavery in the form of "debt settlement".Christian missionaries arrived in this region in the 1870s.
In 1895 British-led forces defeated the slave trader Mlozi at Karonga, ending the slave trade there.Although a British protectorate over what is now Malawi was proclaimed in 1891, the Northern Ngoni only finally accepted British rule in 1904, when the Tumbuka people ceased to be their vassals or returned from where they had taken refuge to their original homes. A Chikulamayembe paramount chief was restored to office in 1907, and Tumbuka culture reasserted itself. The education provided by Scottish-run missions at several sites in the Northern Region of Nyasaland was more eagerly embraced by the Tumbuka and Tonga peoples, whose earlier social organisation and religion had suffered from the attacks of slave raiders and Ngoni, than by the Ngoni and Ngonde peoples, who retained these institutions intact, and more mission schools were opened among the Tumbuka than any other group in Nyasaland. The education that these schools provided not only reached a greater numbers of pupils but was also superior to that found in other parts of the protectorate, although other Scottish missionaries at Blantyre Mission also provided educational advancement for some southerners. Those that these missions trained became an educated African elite, who found employment as teachers, in the colonial civil service or in commerce, and whose political aim was African advancement to higher positions in the administration. In contrast, the Yao people in the south, who included many Muslims excluded from Christian education, and Chewa people in the centre, where fewer missions had been founded, were less affected by these political aspirations.
In the pre-colonial period, the Tumbuka people, like most of the people of what became Nyasaland relied on subsistence farming to support their families.During the first three decades of colonial rule, commercial agriculture developed both on European-owned states and the smallholdings of African peasants in the southern and central parts of the protectorate. However, attempts to introduce commercial agriculture into the Northern Region were frustrated by a lack of suitable crops and high transport costs arising from its distance from the available markets. As early as the 1880s, Tumbuka and Tonga men began to leave the region to work as porters and estate workers in the Southern Region of Nyasaland and, once those Tumbuka that had received a mission education reached adulthood, they travelled to Southern Rhodesia and South Africa where their literacy and numeracy commanded much high wages than they could earn in within Nyasaland. Although the colonial government was concerned about the scale of labour migration, it was a virtual necessity for many in the north of the country where there were few alternatives besides subsistence agriculture. The colonial government were concerned that the Tumbuka-speaking areas had become the "Dead North" of the country but only invested small amounts in developing infrastructure or promoting commercial crops
One supporter of the underdevelopment hypothesis blames the impoverishment and stagnation of Tumbuka-speaking areas on a step-by-step process that started in the middle of the 19th century when the Indian Ocean ivory and slave trade created a demand for imported goods and prompted social differentiation within their traditional societies.This was worsened by the mid-19th century incursion of Ngoni people, which caused a further loss of status of among the Tumbuka people, who become Ngoni serfs or refugees with limited access to land. Ngoni agricultural practices of shifting or slash-and-burn cultivation and overstocking cattle were said to impoverish the soil and promoted the spread of the tsetse fly. According to Vail, the effect of the Ngoni invasions was exacerbated during the period of colonial rule up to 1939 as, at best, local African men in the "Dead North" of Nyasaland had little choice but to become labour migrants and, at worst, their recruitment for the mines, farms and other employers of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa was forced.
Much of Vail's account of environmental degradation in Northern Nyasaland is based on the views of 19th century missionaries who regarded Ngoni farming practices as environmentally destructive, wasteful and therefore morally wrong, although modern agronomists believe shifting cultivation may be efficient and sympathetic to the environment.His suggestions that both the recruitment of labour and the consumption of foreign goods was forced on the Tumbuka, seem overstated, and the first labour migrancy from this area was entirely voluntary and, in later years, was more often disapproved of by the Nyasaland government than promoted by them. Since independence, the economic conditions of the Tumbuka people have remained largely unchanged, their political power limited given the numerous ethnic groups in this region of Africa.
Levi Mumba, Charles Chinula and many of the leading figures in organisations that later became part of Nyasaland African Congress, or of Congress itself, were Tumbuka-speaking northerners or graduates of Blantyre Mission. This movement ultimately gained independence for Malawi in 1964.
After in 1963, in preparation for independence, Tumbuka speakers took a majority of the ministerial posts in the government of Hastings Banda. Shortly after independence, in the 1964 Cabinet Crisis, the demands of these ministers for more rapid Africanisation, a key demand of the mission-educated elite, led to their resignation or sacking and in many cases their exile. In the aftermath of this, Banda purged their supporters and other Tumbuka speakers from positions of influence and replaced them with Chewa nominees from the Central Region, at the same time promoting the Chewa culture as the only authentic Malawian culture.
Even before colonial rule was established, Christian missionaries arrived amongst Tumbuka people. Thomas Cullen Young was one of the first missionaries to publish on the culture in Notes on the history of the Tumbuka-Kamanga peoples in the Northern Province of Nyasaland.To help the conversion process, hymnbook and mythologies of Christianity were written into Tumbuka language, into a Tumbuka hymnbook. In contemporary times, the Tumbuka people are officially Christian, but they retain their traditional beliefs and folklores.
The Tumbuka people have had a sophisticated traditional religion. It included the concept of a supreme creator called Chiuta symbolizing the sun, who Tumbuka faith holds was "self created and all knowing".This religious belief has yield a rich mythology filled with morals. In a manner similar to neighboring regions of Africa, the Tumbuka have also revered ancestor worship, spirit possession, witchcraft and similar practices. Their spirit possession and witchcraft is related to folk therapies for illnesses. This practice is locally called Vimbuza, includes a therapeutic dance performed by those possessed, and this is a part of modern syncretistic Christianity observed by the Tumbuka people.
The Tumbuka people have been rural, living in villages or dispersed agnatically related clusters of rectangular thatched houses. A circular thatched granaries and kitchen would traditionally be a part of each household. The male members would spend their time mostly in a part of the house called Mpara and females in Ntanganini. In the crop season, family members dispersed, sometimes residing in isolated thatched houses near the cultivated land.
In the contemporary era, the primary staple crops of the Tumbuka people are maize, cassava, millet, and beans, along with a variety of pumpkins, vegetables, and fruits such as bananas and oranges as supplements often grown by Tumbuka women. Men have tended to be migrant workers. In the past, the farming was done manually using hoes. During the colonial rule, ox-drawn plows were introduced. Citemene , or slash and burn agriculture by small farmers is a modern era practice and continues among the Tumbuka people.
Vimbuza (pl. of Chimbuza) is a term used among the Tumbuka-speaking peoples of northern Malawi and eastern Zambia to describe several classes of possessive spirits, the embodied states of illness they produce in a person, and the therapeutic drumming, music, dance, and ritual that is performed to remedy the symptoms.As a cultural practice, Vimbuza is a local version of a more widespread therapeutic complex known as ngoma, which is found throughout much of central and southern Africa and has been the focus of important scholarship by John M. Janzen and others, and even earlier by Victor Turner in his writings about Ndembu drums of affliction.
Vimbuza, in the traditional Tumbuka people's belief, are category of spirits that cause illnesses, a concept that according to James Peoples and Garrick Bailey is similar to "bodily humours" in early European texts. The Vimbuza causes imbalance in the hot and cold forces within the human body, whose healing process, to Tumbuka people, is a ritual dance with singing and music.The UNESCO inscribed the ritualistic Vimbuza dance as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. The musical instruments that accompany the Vimbuza includes a Ng’oma or “drums of affliction”. A healer diagnoses spirit possession, and with the patient undertakes dance healing ritual treatment over several weeks or months.The dance tries to bring the patient into a trance, while the songs call the spirits to help. Men participate by creating drum rhythms that are spirit-specific and sometimes as the healer. Vimbuza, states UNESCO, creates a "space for patients to dance their disease”.
The Vimbuza tradition is effectively a set of practices and beliefs of which the Vimbuza dance is part; is a traditional healing procedure, to cure psychological illnesses as well as exorcise demons. In some places it is specifically called mkhalachitatu Vimbuza. Mkhalachitatu Vimbuza is one of the names given to Vimbuza dances performed as an exorcism rite when one is possessed by demons or evil spirits.
It is predominantly performed in Rumphi, but has spread to Mzimba, Karonga, Kasungu and other districts. The dance is also performed in Nkhata Bay where it is called masyabi and here it incorporates indigenous variations.
The History of Malawi covers the area of present-day Malawi. The region was once part of the Maravi Empire. In colonial times, the territory was ruled by the British, under whose control it was known first as British Central Africa and later Nyasaland. It became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The country achieved full independence, as Malawi, in 1964. After independence, Malawi was ruled as a one-party state under Hastings Banda until 1994.
The British Central Africa Protectorate (BCA) was a British protectorate proclaimed in 1889 and ratified in 1891 that occupied the same area as present-day Malawi: it was renamed Nyasaland in 1907. British interest in the area arose from visits made by David Livingstone from 1858 onward during his exploration of the Zambezi area. This encouraged missionary activity that started in the 1860s, undertaken by the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland, and which was followed by a small number of settlers. The Portuguese government attempted to claim much of the area in which the missionaries and settlers operated, but this was disputed by the British government. To forestall a Portuguese expedition claiming effective occupation, a protectorate was proclaimed, first over the south of this area, then over the whole of it in 1889. After negotiations with the Portuguese and German governments on its boundaries, the protectorate was formally ratified by the British government in May 1891.
Sir Henry Hamilton Johnston, known as Harry Johnston, was a British explorer, botanist, artist, colonial administrator, and linguist who travelled widely in Africa and spoke many African languages. He published 40 books on African subjects and was one of the key players in the Scramble for Africa that occurred at the end of the 19th century.
Karonga is a township in the Karonga District in Northern Region of Malawi. Located on the western shore of Lake Nyasa, it was established as a slaving centre sometime before 1877. As of 2018 estimates, Karonga has a population of 61,609. The common and major language spoken in this district is the Tumbuka language, which is also a regional language of Northen Malawi.
The Tumbuka language is a Bantu language which is spoken in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania. It is also known as Chitumbuka or Citumbuka — the chi- prefix in front of Tumbuka means "in the manner of", and is understood in this case to mean "the language of the Tumbuka people". Tumbuka belongs to the same language group as Chewa and Sena.
The African Lakes Corporation plc was a British company originally set-up in 1877 by Scottish businessmen to co-operate with Presbyterian missions in what is now Malawi. Despite its original connections with the Free Church of Scotland, it operated its businesses in Africa on a commercial rather than a philanthropic basis. It had political ambitions in the 1880s to control part of Central Africa and engaged in armed conflict with Swahili traders. Its businesses in the colonial era included water transport on the lakes and rivers of Central Africa, wholesale and retail trading including the operation of general stores, labour recruitment, landowning and later an automotive business. The company later diversified, but suffered an economic decline in the 1990s and was liquidated in 2007. One of the last Directors of the company kindly bought the records of the company and donated them to Glasgow University Archive Services, where they are still available for research.
Karonga is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The district covers an area of 3,355 km.² and has a population of 365,028. It is a border district between Malawi and Tanzania, mainly occupied by the Tumbuka and Nkhonde tribes. Other tribes include Henga tribe.
The Yao people are a major Bantu ethnic and linguistic group based at the southern end of Lake Malawi. They played an important role in the history of Southeast Africa, notably in the 19th century. The Yao are a predominantly Muslim-faith group of about two million, whose homelands encompass the countries of Malawi, the north of Mozambique, and the Ruvuma and Mtwara Regions of Tanzania. The Yao have a strong cultural identity, transcending national borders.
The Ngoni people are an ethnic group living in the present-day Southern African countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. The Ngoni trace their origins to the Nguni and Zulu people of kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The displacement of the Ngoni people in the great scattering following the Zulu wars had repercussions in social reorganization as far north as Malawi and Zambia.
Sir Alfred Sharpe was Commissioner and Consul-General for the British Central Africa Protectorate and first Governor of Nyasaland.
Robert Laws FRGS FRSGS (1851–1934) was a Scottish missionary who headed the Livingstonia mission in the Nyasaland Protectorate for more than 50 years. The mission played a crucial role in educating Africans during the colonial era. It emphasized skills with which the pupils could become self-sufficient in trade, agriculture or industry as opposed to working as subordinates to European settlers. Laws supported the aspirations of political leaders such as Simon Muhango and Levi Zililo Mumba, both educated at Livingstonia schools.
Levi Zililo Mumba was a leading local politician and the first President of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) during the period of British colonial rule in Nyasaland, which became the independent state of Malawi in 1964. Mumba was probably the most important figure in the development of Malawi politics between World War I and World War II.
The Chikulamayembe are a dynasty of kings established among the Tumbuka people in the Nkhamanga-Henga area of Northern Malawi. The Chikulamayembe originally ruled from around 1805, becoming weaker from the 1830s and losing power by the 1870s and their dynasty was re-established in 1907.
John Buchanan (1855–1896), was a Scottish horticulturist who went to Central Africa, now Malawi, in 1876 as a lay member of the missionary party that established Blantyre Mission. Buchanan came to Central Africa as an ambitious artisan: his character was described as dour and devout but also as restlessly ambitious, and he saw in Central Africa a gateway to personal achievement. He started a mission farm on the site of Zomba, Malawi but was dismissed from the mission in 1881 for brutality. From being a disgraced missionary, Buchanan first became a very influential planter owning, with his brothers, extensive estates in Zomba District. He then achieved the highest position he could in the British administration as Acting British Consul to Central Africa from 1887 to 1891. In that capacity declared a protectorate over the Shire Highlands in 1889 to pre-empt a Portuguese expedition that intended to claim sovereignty over that region. In 1891, the Shire Highlands became part of the British Central Africa Protectorate. John Buchanan died at Chinde in Mozambique in March 1896 on his way to visit Scotland, and his estates were later acquired by the Blantyre and East Africa Ltd.
The Blackman's Church of Africa Presbyterian is an independent Presbyterian denomination in Malawi. Each of its three founding pastors had been educated at the Livingstonia, Malawi mission and ordained as ministers of the Scottish missionary-led Presbyterian church based there. Although the Livingstonia mission was transferred to its present site in 1878, the missionaries were very cautious about ordaining African ministers. A theological course was established there in 1896 to train African ministers and the first two students completed it by 1900, but the first ordinations were not carried out until 1914. Of the students involved in the course between 1900 and 1914, only around half were ever ordained, on average, about ten years after completing the course, the other half were suspended, resigned or died. Donald Fraser, one of the leading Scottish missionaries, considered that the theological education of African candidates for ordination was insufficient without an "established christian character", which could only be proven through a lengthy probation. Although all three of the founders were ordained, all fell foul of the church establishment and left to form independent churches.
The name Karonga War is given to a number of armed clashes that took place between mid-1887 and mid-1889 near Karonga at the northern end of Lake Malawi in what is now Malawi between a Scottish trading concern called the African Lakes Company Limited and elements of the Ngonde people on one side and Swahili traders and their Henga allies on the other. In the 19th century, it was referred to as the “Arab War”, despite few actual Arabs being involved. Although these conflicts predate formal endorsement of a British Central Africa Protectorate west of Lake Malawi in 1891, European involvement, both by the African Lakes Company and by Germans attempting to prevent Swahili slave trading around Lake Tanganyika in German East Africa, had upset the previous balance between the Ngonde and their neighbours and created the conditions for this conflict.
Boston Jaston Soko, is a professor at Mzuzu University in the French section of the Faculty of Education's department of Languages and Literature. He has taught in several universities on French language as well as French literature. He has written for over four decades on African literature in French language as well as in English. Prof. Soko is also a chair-person of the Ngoni cultural heritage association known as Mzimba Heritage Association. He coined the name for the Ngoni Cultural Festival which is called "uMthetho". The name was approved by the Executive and His Majesty Inkosi ya Makosi M'mbelwa IV in 2004. Professor Soko's work is much praised and appreciated for contributing to the promotion of the French language in the Republic of Malawi as well as promoting Malawian literature. He "has been very active in research in African Literatures, teaching the African novel of French expression, negritude poetry, and oral literature".
Thomas Cullen Young (1880–1955) was a Scottish Presbyterian anthropologist and missionary, who first started his missionary work in Malawi at the Livingstonia Mission in 1904. During his missionary career, he emphasised learning the customs and wisdom of the local population to contribute towards a greater understanding of missionary work, as well as the importance of consideration of the African lifestyle.
Leroy Vail whose birth name was Hazen Leroy Vail was an American specialist in African studies and educator who specialized in the history and linguistics of Central Africa and later extended his interests to Southern Africa. He taught in universities in Malawi, Zambia and the United States and his research in the first two countries inclined him toward the view that Central Africa underwent a period of underdevelopment that began in the mid-19th century and accelerated under colonial rule. After his return to the United States, he cooperated with Landeg White on studies of colonial Mozambique and on the value of African poetry and songs as a source of oral history.
The Jumbes of Nkhotakota were a dynasty of Swahili Arab traders based in Nkhotakota, on the western shore of Lake Malawi. They were running an East-West caravan trade, exchanging cloths from the Swahili coast for ivory and slaves. They introduced the Muslim faith and culture in the Nkhotakota area and were the first to grow rice and coconuts in the region.