Lunda and Chokwe Kingdoms

Lunda and Chokwe Kingdoms

The Lunda Kingdom lay east, beyond Matamba and Kasanje. It developed in the seventeenth century, and its center was in present-day Zaire's western Shaba Province (formerly Katanga Province). The Lunda Kingdom expanded by absorbing the chiefs of neighboring groups in the empire, rather than by deposing them. The Lunda consolidated their state by adopting an orderly system of succession and by gaining control of the trade caravans that passed through their kingdom.

The Portuguese hoped to deal directly with the Lunda for slaves and thus bypass the representatives of the Matamba and Kasanje, who acted as intermediaries. Apparently entertaining similar ideas, the Lunda attacked Matamba and Kasanje in the 1760s. The Lunda, however, proved no more successful than the Portuguese at totally subduing these Mbundu kingdoms.

The Chokwe, who, according to oral accounts, migrated from either central Africa or the Upper Kasai region in present-day Zaire, established themselves as trading intermediaries in eastern Angola in the middle of the nineteenth century. With guns that they obtained from the Ovimbundu, they attacked and destroyed the Lunda Kingdom in 1900. The Chokwe rapidly expanded their influence in the northeast and east, replacing the Lunda culture with their own language and customs.


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