The Kimbundu are a historic ethnic group found in the country of Angola. European colonialists often called them the North Mbundu; however,they prefer the term Kimbundu. Their area of concentration is across a wide swath of the Angolanprovinces of Malanga, Cuanza Norte, Bengo,Cuanza Sul, and Luanda. Known for their highly developed sense of culture, the Kimbundu believe in exercising all efforts to maintain community.
According to their oral traditions, the Kimbundu have been in the same area for more than 2,000 years. There are some reports that they migrated to this area during the 1400s, but this latter conclusion is probably a result of their interaction with the Portuguese. In other words, because the Portuguese met them in their current territory, they assumed that the Kimbundu had to have come from somewhere else because the Europeans had developed an elaborate argument around African migration from the East to the South. Of course,
the Portuguese came to Angola as traders, missionaries, and conquerors during the 15th century and
discovered the beautifully articulated artistic, ceremonial, and creative culture of the Kimbundu.
Related in political and social ways to the Ndongo culture, the Kimbundu culture places a lot of emphasis on familial and ancestral relationships, communal responsibilities, and the spiritual world.
As one of the groups that fought the Portuguese to prevent the slave trade, the Kimbundu established a record of resistance against conquest and the slave trade that lasted for more than 100 years. They finally succumbed to the Portuguese in 1671. After that time, some of the Kimbundu people adopted many of the ways of the European Christians.
The Portuguese continued to deplete the number of Kimbundu through wars and the slave trade. Many Kimbundu were taken to the Americas and forced into slavery. In fact, the Portuguese colonial administration of Angola
succeeded the slave lords and established a Hell on Earth for the Kimbundu and other ethnic groups. When the resistance began in earnest against the Portuguese, it was the Kimbundu who were the core of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. They were able to force the Portuguese out of the country by 1975.
Like other people in Africa, the Kimbundu spiritual values have been battered by the need of the people to defend themselves against the encroachments of the West. Although they retain a strong sense of relationships with each other and the unseen ancestors, they are competing with the remnants of the colonial conquerors for the survival of their culture. Despite this, they have managed to add words to the Western languages such as canary, gorilla, chimpanzee, boogie, bongo, funky, marimba, mojo, gumbo, zebra, and zombie.
Molefi Kete Asante