RUNDU – Few written records of history, life, customs and rituals is available on Kavango cultures.
It is alarming to think that, if we do not keep records now, our rich history will one day disappear and be forever lost to future generations to come.
As with many African cultures, very few people know the history of Kwangali and Mbunza Kavango cultures, the two sister royal kingdoms from 1500 to 1900.
The Kwangali and the Mbunza tribes are matriarchal and are sister kingdoms of the Kapango and Mate, who originated in East and Central Africa and settled at Makuzu ga Muntenda.
Today these two sister kingdoms speak one common language, Rukwangali.
Many tales and proverbs of the Kwangali expressed that the Kwangali people came from Handa or Masi.
That place is described as having large water or sea.
It is where they made contact with Arab traders who gave them a ‘pearl’, symbolising fortune and power.
This period dates back to 1300 – 1400 when the Kwangali people split from the Ndebeles, the Sothos, the Masai and the Hereros. However, the reason for the split was not given.
The historical information of the Moslem invasion in northern Africa, for example Nubian (Ethiopia) and Egypt, was one of the primary reasons in the search for pasture and grazing areas.
The Kwangali have been described as people who possessed large herds of cattle, therefore, they were looking for a suitable place where they could settle without disturbance.
Another reason for the immigration from Eastern to Southern Africa was ethnic wars. According to oral history these people travelled as five groups along the Zambezi River up to the Kavango River.
They called themselves the Kavango, The name means, “a small, beautiful living place” and it is a name which they gave to the river which flows from Angola to Botwana. Along the Kavango River the five groups split.
These tribes that split are, namely, Va- kwangali, Vambunza, Vasambyu, Vagciriku and Vambukushu.
Although each tribe has its own history about how they arrived in the Kavango, their source might be the same from the Kwangali who proceeded west from the Kavango River towards the Atlantic Ocean.