The Kavango people, also known as the vaKavango, are a Bantu ethnic group that resides on the Namibian side of the Namibian–Angolan border along the Kavango River. They are mainly riverine living people, but about 20% reside in the dry inland. Their livelihood is based on fishery, livestock-keeping and cropping (mainly pearl millet). The Kavango Region of Namibia is named after the people.
In traditional politics they are divided into five kingdoms (Kwangali, Mbunza, Shambyu, Gciriku and Mbukushu), each headed by a hompa or fumu, both meaning "king". Traditional law is still in use and legitimized by the Namibian constitution. The Kavango people are matrilinear. The most common language spoken is RuKwangali (in Kwangali and Mbunza territory); also spoken are Shambyu, Gciriku, and Mbukushu in the corresponding territories. Their religion is mainly Christian although traditional elements still have a place.
The extended family concept
Ekoro is a very important social relation in kinship systems of Kavango. It may be roughly referred to as an extended family, but it is more than that. It is a social relation dominantly rooted in clan and it is not necessarily determined by blood connections. The clans are ranked according to seniority, and whoever belongs to a junior clan (irrespective of age) is deemed young by those in the senior clan. There is a command of respect and high level of obedience towards the senior clan. Other people can also become clan members by seeking allegiance due to various unifying circumstances such as floods or war.
- Martin Ngodji (March 2010). "Thesis: The Applicability of the Translatability & Interpretation Theory of Sanneh & Bediako: The Case of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (North)" (PDF). University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. pp. 230–231. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
- Eckl, Andreas. "Serving the Kavango Sovereigns' Political Interests. The Beginnings of the Catholic Mission in Northern Namibia", LFM. Social sciences & missions no.14, July 2004, pp. 9–46.