Saturday, May 3, 2014


"African Traditional Religion: The People's Culture and the European Perception - Panorama - TakingITGlobal." African Traditional Religion: The People's Culture and the European Perception - Panorama - TakingITGlobal. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

"Angola Drainage - Flags, Maps, Economy, History, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System." Angola Drainage - Flags, Maps, Economy, History, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <>.

"BirdLife | Partnership for Nature and People." BirdLife | Partnership for Nature and People. N.p., 2014. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

Childs, Gladwyn Murray. Kinship and Character of the Ovimbundu: Being a Description of the Social Structure and Individual Development of the Ovimbundu of Angola, with Observations concerning the Bearing on the Enterprise of Christian Missions of Certain Phases of the Life and Culture. London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1969. Print.

Edwards, Adrian C. The Ovimbundu under Two Sovereignities a Study of Social Control and Social Change among a People of Angola. London: Published for the International African Institute by the Oxford UP, 1962. Print.

"Environment." Angola Today Environment Comments. N.p., 2014. Web. 04 May 2014. <>.

Evambi, Raul Kavita, and Merlin W. Ennis. "The Marriage Customs of the Ovimbundu." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 11.3 (1938): 342. Print.

Hambly, Wilfrid Dyson. "Occupational Ritual, Belief, and Custom among the Ovimbundu." American Anthropologist 36.2 (1934): 157-67. Print.

Heywood, Linda M. Contested Power in Angola, 1840s to the Present. Rochester, NY: U of Rochester, 2000. Print.

Heywood, Linda M. "Towards an Understanding of Modern Political Ideology in Africa: The Case of the Ovimbundu of Angola." The Journal of Modern African Studies 36.1 (1998): 139-67. Print.

"News and Features." EBird. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <>.

"UGS Angola." Geography, Climate and Nature in Angola. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <>.

"Unit Three: Studying Africa through the Humanities." Exploring Africa. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <>.

Ovimbundu Cultural Survival

The environment and whether or not it is being used properly largely affect the Ovimbundu culture. Many of the Ovimbundu people depend on the land to support them. However, forest and woodland make up just fewer than fifty percent of Angola and these areas are being destroyed over time. Deforestation is due to commercial logging, subsistence agriculture, trade in charcoal, and forced migration. Land degradation is also an issue that is being caused by unsustainable agriculture, mining, and overgrazing of rangelands. Wildlife was also widely destroyed because of the civil war in Angola and the massive amount of destruction that came along with it.
            Fishing is also another large aspect of Ovimbundu survival and coastal degradation and overfishing are threatening their culture.  Overfishing by local and even foreign fleets is threatening fish stocks and even going as far as causing extinction of some of the species of fish. Many of the Ovimbundu live along the western coast of Angola and fishing is how they make their living. Pollution from offshore oil production is also becoming a threat to the marine environment of Angola and causing issues for the Ovimbundu. If both the land and the marine environment continue to be destroyed, the Ovimbundu will have a hard time surviving.  
            Another factor that might become an issue for the Ovimbundu is the climate change. Reports suggest that the temperature of Angola is rising at the rate of 0.33 degrees Celsius per decade and annual rainfall is decreasing at an average rate of 2mm per month per decade. This may cause coastal lowlands to become vulnerable to rising sea levels over time. Also rising sea temperature could potentially threaten many fish species over time. All of these elements put together are working against the survival of this culture. 

Ovimbundu MIgrations and Diaspora

Many of the Ovimbundu were forced to take out labor contracts from 1961 to 1974 and become migrants because of the increase in cost of living. About twenty-five percent of the Ovimbundu able-bodied males were migrating on labor contracts to coffee plantations for one to two years. Due to government wartime policies that took place from 1969 to 1973 cost of living increased by seventy-nine percent.
Another issue during this time was that in certain regions of the highlands, officials had made it easier for Ovimbundu land to be purchased by Europeans. At this point in time the Ovimbundu even became paid labor for the Europeans on their own land. After the UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) fought against the Portuguese from 1966 to 1974, the Angolan civil war took place from 1975 to 2002.
            During the civil war the cities of Huambo and Kuito were almost completely destroyed. Both of these cities were in the Ovimbundu region. This caused many of the Ovimbundu to flee to other cities. Some of these cities were still in their own area but some were also in very distant areas. After the civil war ended in 2002 many of the cities have been reconstructed or are being rebuilt. However, even though many of the Ovimbundu have returned to their original land since the war has ended, a lot still remain in the cities they fled to outside of their homeland. This has caused a lot of the Ovimbundu to now be scattered all over different parts of Angola. 

The Ovimbundu and their Neighbors

Angola is divided into regions based on the different tribes or cultures. There are more than one hundred different ethnic groups and languages in Angola. The three largest groups of Angola are the Ovimbundu, Bakongo, and Mbundu. The Ovimbundu are located in west-central Angola and are located south of the Mbundu. Bordering the Ovimbundu on the east is the Nganguela and on the south there are the Herero, Ovambo, and Nyaneka-Humbe.
            The Mbundu border the Ovimbundu to the north and are the second largest ethnic group in Angola, the first being the Ovimbundu. The language the Mbundu speak is Kimbundu and make up about twenty-fiver percent of the population in Angola. The Mbundu were one of the MPLA’s (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) strongest supporters. This was because the president of the MPLA was the son of an Mbundu. Today these people can be found in Luanda, Bengo, Malanje, Cuanza Norte, and northern Cuanza Sul provinces.
            To the east of the Ovimbundu are the Nganguela. This is a small ethnic group, but Nganguela is actually a term given to the people living to the east and southeast by the Ovimbundu. These people actually hate being called this term because it can have a slight derogatory meaning when applied by the western ethnic group. These people live off of the breeding small animals, agriculture, and the gathering of wild fruit, honey, and other food items. Some people actually believe them to be an extension of the Ovimbundu because they live so close but this group is actually very distinct when it comes to culture, language, and social identity.
The Herero, Ovambo, and Nyaneka-Humbe create the southern border for the Ovimbundu. All of these groups put together still make up only a very small portion of the overall population in Angola. The Herero are not like other Bantu groups in that they primarily make their living tending livestock instead of farming. The Ovambo and the Nyaneka-Humbe are also cattle herders but they farm as well.
Overall the Ovimbundu are very much the dominant ethnicity in the country of Angola. However, when it comes to how these people relate with other ethnic groups I was not able to find much information at all.

Birds of the Ovimbundu

Angola has 899 different species of birds. Seven hundred and forty-six of these species are land birds, twenty-seven are sea birds, and one hundred and forty-one are water birds. Also two hundred and four of these species are migratory. Angola does not have any species of birds that are extinct or any species of birds that are extinct in the wild. Only one species is critically threatened and this is known as the Tristan Albatross. However, fourteen species are endangered and eleven are vulnerable. Also twenty species are near threatened. Four of the more common species of birds found in Angola are the African Openbill, the Village Weaver, the African Darter, the White-faced Whistling-Duck, and the Cattle Egret. Benguela, which is part of the Ovimbundu region, has thirty-four different species of birds. Two of these birds also include the Long-tailed Cormorant and the Cattle Egret.

African Openbill
This species can be found in freshwater wetlands such as swamps, marshes, rice fields, the backwaters of lakes or rivers, and flood plains. It can also be found in areas such as grassland or moist savanna and even forest clearings on occasion. This species diet mainly consists of snails, freshwater mussels, frogs, crabs, worms, fish, and insects.

Long-tailed Cormorant       
            The Long-tailed Cormorant can be found in areas where there are sheltered waters with trees, vegetation, and sloping shores. This species also likes floodwaters and freshwater habitats excluding fast-flowing streams. They like slow flowing rivers, creeks, swamps, lagoons, ponds, lakes, and thickets. When it comes to diet, the Long-tailed Cormorant mainly eats fish but also will eat frogs, aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and even sometimes, small birds.
African Darter          
            The African Darter can be found in shallow, inland freshwater, slow flowing rivers, and lakes. It can also sometimes be found in reservoirs, swamps, and streams. This species usually avoids marine habitats but rarely can be found in coastal lagoons and shallow tidal inlets. The African Darter needs trees and bushes for roosting and has a diet that mainly consists of fish but will also eat aquatic insects, water snakes, crustaceans, amphibians, and mollusks. 

   Cattle Egret    
            The Cattle Egret is found in open grassy areas. These areas include open savanna grassland, meadows, dry fields, livestock pastures, flood plains, rice fields, freshwater swamps, shallow marshes, and even ponds, small rivers, and streams. This species may inhabit marine or forested areas but this is rather rare. The Cattle Egret’s diet mainly consists of insects. This includes beetles, locusts, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and centipedes. However, frogs, mollusks, fish, worms, spiders, lizards, small birds, rodents, and crustaceans are also eaten. 

Ovimbundu Worldview

The Ovimbundu world-view is determined greatly by their religious beliefs and practices. The Ovimbundu overwhelmingly follow Christianity but some also mix these beliefs with indigenous African religions. The Ovimbundu acknowledge the existence of one high God. They believe that this one high God is the creator of all things, is all knowing, all-powerful, sustains creation, supports justice, and rules over the entire universe. However, the Ovimbundu also mix these beliefs with traditional African beliefs because they acknowledge different spirits and the impact they have on their lives.
            Traditional African religions acknowledge both ancestral spirits and nature spirits. Once an ancestor dies their spirit continues to be present in the lives of both their family and community. It is believed that these ancestral spirits communicate with God on behalf of those still living. However, these spirits must be honored with appropriate rituals and members of their family or community must not engage in inappropriate behavior if these spirits are expected to look favorably upon them. These spirits are looked up to for assistance during times of economic and social misfortune but if the spirits are displeased with their families or communities they will withdraw their protection and willingness to seek God’s blessing on them.
            Nature spirits are also a large part of traditional African religions. Nature spirits are those that live in nature such as the sky, river, lakes, rocks, trees, mountains, and oceans. The spirits that live in the skies control rain, which is extremely important because rain is essential in the raising of crops and animals. Other water spirits that may live in river, lakes, or oceans control the fish and wildlife that live in these bodies of water, which are a food source for the people. Both nature spirits and ancestral spirits are considered to be good because they help provide for and protect the people. The people honor these good spirits by practicing different ceremonies and rituals.
            Just like many other religions the Ovimbundu believe in good spirits and bad spirits. God and good spirits will bless the people because of good behavior but they will also cause suffering and misfortune if inappropriate behavior takes place in individuals or communities. It is believed that bad or evil spirits can cause suffering such as illness, famine, or drought. During these times individuals and communities are made aware of their bad behavior and they also look to good spirits to provide protection against these evil spirits. 

World of the Ovimbundu
The Ovimbundu mainly make their living based off of where they live in Angola. The Ovimbundu, as previously mentioned, live in either the central highlands and along the plateau, or along the western coast of Angola. Those that live along the western coast mainly make their living off of the marine environment. The main industry in this area is fishing.
Those that live along the plateau and the central highlands mainly focus on agriculture. The main economic activity in this area is from farming, which consists of crops like rice, coffee, corn, and beans, as well as various others. The Ovimbundu also hunt and raise livestock, which included cows, sheep, and goats. The amount of cattle that a family has is actually a way of measuring wealth among the Ovimbundu, however very few families have large herds that they own.
            The Ovimbundu family generally consists on one male, his wife or several wives, and their dependent children. The men and sometimes children will do the hunting and the farming. Some children also go to school but it is once again only available for certain families. After the civil war many families and the culture altogether continue to struggle because a large portion of their land was destroyed during the war and this has brought about much poverty in Angola.