Lunda Empire, historic Bantu- speaking African state founded in the 16th century in the region of the upper Kasai River (now in northeastern Angola and Western Democratic Republic of the Congo). Although the Lunda people had lived in the area from early times, invaders coming west from Luba founded their empire.

The strength of the kingdom enabled it to conquer the territory of other tribes, especially to the east. In the eighteenth century, a number of migrations took place as far as the region to the South of Lake Tanganyika. The Bemba people of Northern Zambia descended from Luba migrants who arrived in Zambia throughout the seventeenth century. At the same time, a Lunda chief and warrior called Mwata Kazembe set up an Eastern Lunda Kingdom in the valley of the Luapula River.

The kingdom became a confederation of a number of chieftainships that enjoyed a degree of local autonomy as long as tributes were paid, with Mwata Yamvo as Paramount ruler and a ruling council following the Luba model to assist with administration. Initially, the core of what would become the Lunda confederation was a commune called a N’Gaange in the Kilunda ( kiyaka- kipunu) language. It was ruled over by a monarch called the Mwane -a-n’ Gaange. One of these rulers, ilunga TTshibinda, Came from the nation of Luba where his brother ruled and married a royal woman from a nation to their south. Their son became the first Paramount ruler of the Lunda, creating the title of Mwane-a-Yamvu.

The Lunda Kingdom controlled some 150,000km² by 1680. The state doubled in size to around 300,000km² at its height in the nineteenth century. The Mwane-a-Yamvo of Lunda became powerful militarily from their base of 175,000 inhabitants. Along with this military strength through sheer numbers, the Lunda Kingdom also received Muslim military advisors and Kabambare. Through marriage with descendants of the Luba Kings, they gained political ties.

The economic pursuits of Lunda people is dictated by the region in which they live. Those who live along the rivers and ponds, which are common in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo are fishermen. Since the 17th century, trade between the Lunda and the Shaba province to the east had played an important role in regional economics. During the height of Lunda influence, their traders played an important role in the slave and ivory trade that moved goods and people from Central Africa to the coasts for international export.

It is believed that the Lunda may have at one time been patrilineal, but as they conquered and incorporated various ethnic groups that were matrilineal, their political system transformed to reflect a preference for matrilineal descent.

The kingdom of Lunda came to an end in the nineteenth century, when the Chokwe, who was armed with guns, invaded it. The Chokwe then established their own kingdom with their language and customs. Lunda chiefs and people continued to live in the Lunda heartland but were diminished in power.

At the start of the colonial era (1884), the Lunda heartland was divided between Portuguese, Angola, king Leopold II of Belgium’s Congo Free State and the British in North – Western Rhodesia, which became Angola, DR Congo and Zambia respectively.

The Lunda groups in Northern Rhodesia were led by two prominent chiefs; (Ishindi and Kazembe kazembi), with Ishindi establishing his kingdom in the North-Western of the country and Kazembe in the North- East.



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