The popular dance of mbumba in the 1980s

(This article was first published in 2001.)


A term In Chichewa language (Malawi, eastern Zambia. central Mozambique) referring to a person”s allegiance through kinship (literally: “za umwini munth” about the ownerchip of a person). If a male person”s sister marries and produces children, all her children constitute the mbumba of her brother whom they will address malume (= maternal uncle). And he will be the mwini-mbumba (= the owner of the mbumba), all those children will be his mbumba. The matrilineal social struture of the Achewa brings about this kind of bifurcation. It cannot be that the man in question would call the children of his elder or younger brothers mbumba ayanga (= my mbumba), he would call them ana anga (my children). In this society parental power projects from the malume to the mbumba. A man in the “owner” of his sister(s) children.

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