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Nyemba, Nyembas, or Vanyemba is what the Kavango 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 Luchazi, 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] but in a narrow sense is used specifically for Nyemba.[4] As a consequence of the Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974) 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 also referred to as Nyemba)[5] also immigrated to traditional Kavango territory, during the Angolan Civil War.[6]


  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. ^ 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
  5. ^ Bantu-Language.com
  6. ^ 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