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Nyemba, Nyembas, or Vanyemba is what the Kavango people people of northern Namibia call immigrants who fled from Angola during the Angolan Civil War.

The Namibian term "nyemba" also refers to a dialect of the Angolan language Ngangela, which is further divided into dialects like Lutjazi, Nyemba, and Mbwela, to name a few. It does not include Yauma, Nkangala and Ndundu which are Mbunda dialects that are not part of the so-called Ngangela.[1][2]

Ngangela is a generic term for peoples east of the Central Highlands,[3] and it has a slightly derogatory meaning when applied by the western ethnic groups,[4] but in a narrow sense is used specifically for Nyemba.[5] As a consequence of the Mbunda people's resistance to Portuguese colonial occupation at the beginning of the 20th century in Angola,[6] and later because of the impact of the Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974), the decolonization conflict in Angola (1974/75),[7] and the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), a number of Mbunda took refuge in Zambia and in the Kavango region of Northern Namibia, in the west and east of Kavango Region, around Rundu and Nkurenkuru and Caprivi Strip. Many other Angolans (often referred to as Nyemba, which is in fact only one of many Angolan peoples)[8] also immigrated to traditional Kavango territory, following the Angolan Civil War and South West Africa (now Namibia), where they are called "Nyemba" by the local population.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bantu-Languages.com, citing Maniacky 1997
  2. ^ Not to be confused with the Ngangela language
  3. ^ José Redinha, Etnias e culturas de Angola, Luanda: Instituto de Investigalção Científica de Angola, 1975
  4. ^ Alvin W. Urquhart, Patterns of Settlement and Subsistence in Southwestern Angola, National Academies Press, 1963, p 10
  5. ^ Achim von Oppen, 1993, Terms of Trade and Terms of Trust: The History and Contexts of Pre-Colonial Market Production Around the Upper Zambezi and Kasai, p 31 ff
  6. ^ René Pélissier, La révolte des Bunda (1916-1917), pp. 408 - 412 (French for "the Mbunda revolt"), section footnotes citing sources: Luís Figueira, Princesa Negra: O preço da civilização em África, Coimbra Edição do autor, 1932
  7. ^ Franz-Wilhelm Heimer, Der Entkolonisierungskonflikt in Angola, Munich: Weltforum Verlag, 1979 ISBN 3-8039-0179-0
  8. ^ Bantu-Language.com
  9. ^ Inge Brinkman, "Violence, Exile and Ethnicity: Nyemba Refugees in Kaisosi and Kehemu (Rundu, Namibia)," Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 417-439. JSTOR