Ovimbundu and Kwanhama Kingdoms

Ovimbundu and Kwanhama Kingdoms

Between 1500 and 1700, the Ovimbundu peoples migrated from the north and east of Angola to the Benguela Plateau. They did not, however, consolidate their kingdoms, nor did their kings assert their sovereignty over the plateau until the eighteenth century, when some twenty-two kingdoms emerged. Thirteen of the kingdoms, including Biť, Bailundu, and Ciyaka, emerged as powerful entities, and the Ovimbundu acquired a reputation as the most successful traders of the Angolan interior. After the Portuguese conquered most of the Ovimbundu states in the late nineteenth century, the Portuguese colonial authorities directly or indirectly appointed Ovimbundu kings.

The Kwanhama, belonging to the Bantu-speaking group, established a kingdom early in the nineteenth century in the vicinity of the border with present-day Namibia. Kwanhama kings welcomed trade with Europeans, especially with Portuguese and German gun dealers. Feared even by the Portuguese, the well-armed Kwanhama developed a reputation as fierce warriors. Their kingdom survived until 1915, when a large Portuguese army invaded and defeated then.


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