Luchazi language

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Native toAngola, Zambia
Native speakers
431,000 (2010-2014)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
 Angola (as "Nganguela" or "Ganguela")
Language codes
ISO 639-3lch – inclusive code
Individual codes:
lch – Luchazi
nba – Nyemba (Ngangela)
mfu – Mbwela
Glottologluch1239  Luchazi[2]
nyem1238  Nyemba[3]
mbwe1238  Mbwela[4]
K.13, K.12b, K.17[5]

Luchazi (Lucazi, Chiluchazi) is a Bantu language of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Zambia. Luchazi is the principal language of the Ngangela Group[6]. Ngangela is a term coined by the Vimbundu traders and missionaries in 18th century to describe the tribes occupying the area of eastern-central Angola[7]. Ngangela simply means people of the east. Ethnically distinct varieties, many of which are subsumed under the generic term Ngangela, are all "fully intelligible".[8] These are: Luchazi itself, Nyemba, Mbwela of Angola (Ambuella, Shimbwera, not to be confused with Mbwela of Zambia), Nkangala, Mbunda, Luimbi (Lwimbi), Yauma, Songo, Chimbandi[9][10] and Ngondzela.



The following table displays all the consonants in Luchazi:[11]

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-
Plosive voiceless p t 1 t͡ʃ k
prenasalized ᵐpʰ ᵐb ⁿtʰ ⁿd ᶮd͡ʒ ᵑkʰ ᵑɡ
Affricate t͡s1
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ2 h
voiced β z
Approximant l j w
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ2
^1 May not be actual phonemes.
^2 Occur rarely, may only exist in loanwords.

The position of the speech-organs in producing the consonants is different from the positions taken in producing the similar sounds in European languages. T and D, for example, are lower than in English but higher than in Portuguese. L is flatter-tongued than in either English or Portuguese. Practically all the consonants have similar differences. The language contains many consonantal glides, including the prenasalized plosives and the voiceless alveolar sibilant affricate (the ts sound).[12]

Vowels [13][edit]

Front Back
Mid ɛː ɔː
Diphthongs eɪ   aɪ   au   ia   ie
io   iu   ua   ue   ui   uo

The close front vowel (i), when occurring before another vowel, becomes a semi-consonant and is written y, unless it is immediately preceded by a consonant, when it remains i. Examples: yange, viange.

The vowels have the so-called Continental or Italian values. They are shorter when unstressed and are prolonged when doubled or when stressed at the end of a word.

  • The vowel a is Long when accented, as a in tata, nana.

Short when unstressed or before two consonants or y or s and in monosyllabic adverbs, as a in tata, paya, asa, hanga. Prolonged when doubled or stressed at the end of a word or syllable. Example: ku laako.

  • The vowel e is Long when accented, as a in heta, seza.

Short when unstressed, as a in hete, seze. Short with the value of e in henga, lenda before two consonants. Exceptions are hembo and membo (due to coalescence of vowels). Many words derived from Portuguese have the short vowel though not followed by two consonants. Examples: pena, papelo, luneta, ngehena, etc. Prolonged when stressed at the end of a word.

  • The vowel i is Long when accented, as e in tina, sika.

Short when unstressed or before two consonants, as e in citi, linga. In monosyllabics it is short, as i in it. Examples: ni, ndi. Prolonged when stressed. Examples: ti, fui.

  • The vowel o is Long when accented, as o in sota, koka.

Short when unstressed, as o in soko, loto. Short, with value of o in onga, yoya, kosa, luozi, ndo, before two consonants or y or s, and sometimes before z and in some monosyllables. The o is long in zoza and ngozi. Sometimes prolonged when stressed at the end of a word. Example: to.

  • The vowel u is Long when accented, as u in tuta, fula.

Short, when unstressed or before two consonants or before s, as u in futuka, mbunga, kusa.


Luchazi is written using the Latin alphabet, with most characters representing the same sound as in English, with some exceptions. c is pronounced like ch in church, n followed by k or g is always nasal like ng in ring, the sound of v is bilabial instead of labiodental.[6]


The Luchazi language, for reasons of greater speed in utterance and or economy of effort, has marked combinatory changes, that are harmonious to the ear of the Ngangela people. These changes are of three kinds: (1) coalescence of two vowels into one, (2) elision of a vowel or an entire syllable, and (3) umlaut (vowel mutation).


Coalescence occurs when the inseparable pronoun (nominative or objective), or the tense particles na or ka precede a verb beginning with a vowel. The preposition na coalesces with the following pronoun if the latter begins with a vowel, and the negating particle ka coalesces with the inseparable pronoun of the third person singular. The general rules are:

Coalescence of Vowel Example
a coalesces with a forming a nambe (na ambe)
a coalesces with e forming e veca (va eca)
a coalesces with i forming e u nemi (u na imi)
a coalesces with o forming o voca (va oca)
a coalesces with u forming o vi noumu (vi na umu)
i coalesces with i forming i ime (i ime)
u coalesces with u forming u ume (u ume)

Some VaLuchazi tend to coalesce k and i forming c, as landacana for landakiana.


A number of nouns beginning with li drop this prefix when preceded by the locatives ha, ku or mu. Examples: hembo (ha limbo), kuihia (ku lihia), muzimo (mu lizimo), muilu (mu lilu), etc. Some nouns, which originally had the prefix li, have lost it, but it reappears in the alliterative concord. Examples: sisa liange (originally lisisa liange).

  • i before a vowel is elided after c and also after j in the personal pronoun Nji. Examples: cana (ciana), cu (ci u), ca (ci a), njamba (Nji amba), nju hasa (Nji u hasa), etc.

The personal pronoun, third person singular, is elided before the tense particle na, but if the indicative pronoun precedes it, it reoccurs. Examples: na handeka, but, vi a na handeka.

  • m before b as in mbuatama, m before p as in mpano, n before g as in ngandalo, and n before t as in ntiengu, are scarcely audible when not immediately preceded by a vowel, but are to be distinctly heard in the body of a sentence.

Coalescence and elision are also very common in the case of the personal possessive pronouns and certain nouns expressing relationships. Examples: tatetu (tata yetu), sukuluange (sukulu yange), kukueni (kuku yeni), muanetu (muana uetu), yaliange (yala yange), mpanjenu (mpanji yenu), etc. The copula is always suppressed after the noun muana, and often after muntu. Examples: muana mpanga (muana ua mpanga), Muntu cilema (Muntu ua cilema), etc.


The change of a root vowel sound by the influence of a vowel in a following syllable is noted when the negative particle ka precedes the inseparable pronoun u, when the preposition na precedes a pronoun beginning with u, and when the copulative particle is followed by a pronoun beginning with u, etc. Examples: ko u hasa (ka u hasa), no uze (na uze), no ukeuo (na ukeuo), ndoho yo uze (ndoho ya uze), yo u keze (ya u keze), etc.


In most European languages stress is the chief element in accent and the elementary and secondary are the only ones usually indicated, and stress is therefore often made a synonym for accent. But in the treatment of the Luchazi language such usage is not sufficient. There are two kinds of accent:

Stress Accent (Emphatic or Dynamic)[19][edit]

The stress regularly falls upon the penultimate (next to the last) syllable, except in some foreign words. As a rule, the addition of a suffix causes the accent to move forward to the new penult. This is called rhythmic stress as compared with the former, which is called etymological stress. However, the addition of the locative and other enclitic suffixes does not change the stress except in the negative conjugation. In the latter the addition of the enclitics causes the stress to move to the preceding syllable. Example: Nja vuíleko — ka nja vuiléko. In the case of monosyllabic verbs the accent falls upon the preceding monosyllable. Example: U ye. The monosyllabic adverbs always receive the accent. Example: Ci vuka tó.

Semantic Tone, Intonation, Pitch, Musical Chromatic Accent[20][edit]

Semantic tone is a very important feature of the Luchazi language as it serves to distinguish homographs and tenses. Examples: kanda, not yet; ku kanda, to forbid; ku kanda, to dig up peanuts (groundnuts); nja tava, I assented (in the indefinite past); nja tava, I assented (just now); nja ku panga, I have worked habitually (past tense of frequentative mood); nja ku panga, I shall work (immediate future tense of indicative mood).

Sometimes the stress accent and the musical accent fall on the same syllable but very often they are separated. When a strong musical accent falls on the antepenultima or preantepenultima, a weak musical accent usually falls on the ultima. Perhaps in time the scale of tone or pitch may be worked out so as to permit a scientific marking of its quality. If we take the homographs ku vumbika (to bury rubbish) and ku vumbika (to show honour or grace to), as examples, calling the united stress and musical accents of the first homograph "1" (as being the strongest), then in the second homograph the stress accent will be lower or "2", the strongest musical accent will be "3", the weak musical accent of the ultima will be "4" and the unaccented antepenultima will be "5".

One cannot overemphasize the importance of acquiring correct accentuation. Some words are highly accented, and as vuzaluke (madness) and ntsenkulu (ancient times); while others seem almost devoid of tone quality, as pandakanenuko (add to it) and vusikumukilo (descent).

The last syllable of verbs in the singular of the imperative mode is often accented, and so is the final syllable of demonstrative pronouns when the speaker wishes to indicate the more or less exact location of the object referred to. This is usually accompanied with a raising of the head and a pointing with the lips. Examples: panga, linga, kuze, cize.

For emphasis the final syllable of a verb may be changed to e and accented strongly, the tone being prolonged, as Tua pangele pange (We worked a very long time). In calling to someone the voice is raised on the last syllable. Often e is substituted for the final syllable or added to it. If the distance be great, ho is added (the voice being dropped on ho).

Grammar[21] [22][edit]

The Noun[23][edit]

The nouns are inflected by means of prefixes to show number or state. The noun consists of two parts: the root (or stem) and the prefix. There are eight main classes of nouns distinguished from one another by their singular and plural prefixes. This classification of nouns is an arbitrary division. Since classes 3, 4 and 5 take the same plural prefix in most cases, they might be looked upon as one class. Or, classes 4, 5 and 7 might be split up into six classes instead of three. Most nouns belonging to the eight classes and their subclasses have both singular and plural prefixes, but there are many nouns that have only the singular and others that have only the plural.

Class Singular Prefix Plural Prefix Proto-Bantu Class
1 mu- va-
2 mu- mi-
3 vu- ma-
4 li ma-
5 lu- zi-
6 ci- vi-
7 (lost) zi-
8 ka- tu-
  • Class 1 (mu- va): this is called the Personal Class because nouns referring to persons belong to it. But in the Luchazi all animate beings take the pronouns and often the alliterative concord of this class, so it might be called the Animate Class. Even some inanimate and abstract things, which in the native mind have taken on transcending importance, belong to it, as Ndonga, tuhia, tulo and tusina.
  • Class 2 (mu- mi): This might be called the Vegetable Kingdom Class, as most words for plants belong to it.
  • Class 3 (vu- ma): Most abstract nouns belong to this class and usually have no plural. Words may be made abstract by substituting vu- for the regular prefix, as mukuendze (young man), vukuendze (young manhood).
  • Class 4 (li- ma): The singular prefix li may be prefixed to other roots to give augmentative meaning, as vuta (gun), lita (large gun or cannon). ma- prefixed to another noun or root gives the meaning of great size or quantity. Words like tanga and sisa have lost their singular prefix but retain the pronoun and alliterative concord.
  • Class 5 (lu- ma) and (zi-): This is one of the most irregular of classes. There are several nouns that take both plurals, as lungano plural mangano or zingano. There are other nouns which retain their singular prefix in the plural and the plural prefix is added to it, as lumana- plural malumana; lupula- plural malupula; luindza- plural maluindza but, lusiho- plural masiho or malusiho.
  • Class 6 (ci- vi): This is one of the largest classes and next to Class 1 is the most important. It has been called the Thing Class, as the names of most the common articles belong to it. It also contains about a hundred words referring to persons and another hundred referring to animals, but these have been formed into a subclass of Class 1. There are more than a hundred abstract nouns in this class which are not usually used in the plural, as cilemo (love), cizindo (hate), etc. ci- and vi- may also be prefixed to other nouns to show contempt in the same manner as lu-.
  • Class 7 (lost)- (zi- or vi-): As there is usually no prefix in the singular this has been called the Lost Prefix Class. a few words like inca and intso have retained the prefix i, and in the Nyemba language this prefix is common. Subclasses C and D under Class 1 may have belonged to this class originally as they still use its prefix with the possessive pronoun. A few words take the plural prefix vi- but this may be due to contact with the VaMbunda who use vi- altogether.
  • Class 8 (ka- tu): This is the Diminutive Class. Words may be made diminutive by substituting ka- for the regular prefix or prefixing it to the regular prefix. Examples: lilonga (plate), kalilonga (small plate). ka- is also depreciative, as kafueto (poor pay or little pay). tu- must always be used when a plural prefix is retained. Examples: tumema (a little water), tuvantsi (a few fish).

In addition to the eight main classes and the subclasses there are the locative classes and the verbal noun class. These may be simple or be complex compounds as to structure.

  • verbal Nouns The verbal nouns take the pronouns and the alliterative concord of the ci class. Example: ku-tsa ceni ci li ku hiehi (his death is near).
  • The locative Class: They are based upon the three prepositions ha, ku and mu. Ha has reference to time or place and means "at, on, when, by, through or upon." Ku usually indicates motion to, from or at. Mu denotes position, usually interior position, as "in, within, to or from within."

There are many subclasses and these are classified according to their alliterative concord, but even in this there is a lack of homogeneity, as a number of these nouns will take two sets of harmonic particles, using one set with the possessive pronouns and another set with other modifiers. The leading subclasses are:

Subclass Singular Prefix Plural Prefix
a ka- va-
b ka- tu-
c (lost) va-
d i- va-
e mu- vami-
f ci- vi-
g lu- valu-
h Sa- VaSa-
i Nia- VaNia-

The Alliterative Concord[24][edit]

There are three parts namely: the Class Prefix, the Harmonic Copula, and the Adjective Prefix as seen in the tables below.


Class Noun Prefix Copula Adjective Prefix
1 mu- ua mu-
2 mu- ua u-
3 vu- vua vu-
4 li- lia li-
5 lu- lua lu-
6 ci- ca ci-
7 i- ya i-
8 ka- ka ka-
Verbal Noun ku- ca ci-
Locatives ha- ha ha-
Locatives ku- kua ku-
Locatives mu- mua mu-


Class Noun Prefix Copula Adjective Prefix
1 va- va va-
2 mi- ya i-
3 ma- a a-
4 ma- a a-
5 ma- a a-
6 vi- via vi-
7 zi- zia zi-
8 tu- tua tu-

The Pronoun[25] [26][edit]

The classification is according to the structure of Luchazi and does not follow the European grammatical systems.

The Separable or Absolute Pronoun[27] [28][edit]

It may be used independently of the verb, after prepositions, when the verb is understood but not expressed, in a compound subject or object, in comparisons, for emphasis, and with the intensive pronoun "self". Examples: Yange (singular), Yetu (plural)

Class Singular Plural
1 ikeye, yakeye, likeye, liakeye vakevo
2 ukeuo ikeyo
3 vukevuo akeo
4 likelio akeo
5 lukeluo akeo, zikezio
6 cikeco vikevio
7 ikeyo zikezio, vikevio
8 kakeko tuketuo
Verbal Noun cikeco -
Locatives hakeho -
Locatives kukekuo -
Locatives mukemuo -

The Inseparable Pronoun[29][edit]

It is always used as the immediate subject of a verb and is never omitted except in the imperative mode. It may be used with the verb understood, viz Nji muntu (I am a person/human). The objective form of the pronoun is used in the accusative and also in the dative when no preposition is used. In the following table, of the three forms of the pronoun shown in the Nominative case, the first is the one used with most tenses whether past, present or future; the second is used with some past tenses, some present and future; the third is used in the habitual mood and the conditional.

Class Nominative - Singular Objective - Singular Nominative - Plural Objective - Plural
1 a, u ua, a ue,e mu va, va, ve va
2 u, ua, ue u i, ya, ye i
3 vu, vua, vue vu a, a, e, a
4 li, lia, lie li a, a, e a
5 lu, lua, lue lu a, a, e a
- - - zi, zia, zie zi
6 ci, ca, ce ci vi, via, vie vi
7 i, ya, ye i zi, zia, zie zi
- - - vi, via, vie vi
8 ka, ka, ke ka tu, tua, tue tu
Verbal Noun ci, ca, ce vi - -
Locatives ha, ha, he ha - -
Loc. ku, kua, kue ku - -
Loc. mu, mua, mue mu - -

The Positive Indicative Pronoun[30][edit]

It is conjunctive since it connects a clause to its antecedent. It is demonstrative in that its main force seems to be to point out or emphasize its antecedent.

Class Singular Plural
1 i, ya va
2 u, ua i, ya
3 vu, vua a
4 li, lia a
5 lu, lua a, zi, zia
6 ci, ca vi, via
7 i, ya zi, zia, vi, via
8 ka tu, tua
Verbal Noun ci, ca -
Locatives ha -
Locatives ku, kua -
Locatives mu, mua -

The pronoun of Class 1 may be used for all persons. As to whether you should use the simpler form (i, u, vu, li) or the form with -a (ya, ua, vua, lia), depends on the speaker.

The Negative Indicative Pronoun[31][edit]

It is often followed by the interrogative pronouns iya (who) or -ka (which, what) with the prefix of the class referred to. With the preposition nga, the negative indicative pronoun forms ants etc., which is used in conditional verbal construction.

The Enclitic Pronoun[32][edit]

It is made up of the indicative pronoun plus the particle o, except in the singular of Class 1, which is irregular.

Class Singular Plural
1 -ye -vo
2 -uo -yo
3 -vuo -o
4 -lio -o
5 -luo -o
- - -zio
6 -co -vio
7 -yo -zio
- - -vio
8 -ko -tuo
Verbal Noun -co -
Locative -ho -
Locative -kuo, -ko -
Locative -muo, -mo -

There is a general enclitic -ndzo, which may be suffixed to nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, etc., to give the meaning of "then" with strong emphasis. Examples: angendzo, vikandzo.

The Possessive Pronoun[33][edit]

The rule is: the enclitic pronoun of the possessor follows the copula of the thing possessed. -ange (singular) -etu (plural), -ove (singular) -enu (plural), -eni (singular) -avo (plural). For the remaining classes the possessive is the same as the enclitic.

The Intensive or Emphatic Pronoun[34][edit]

It consists of the indicative pronoun plus the constant vene. This pronoun is also used with a noun or the enclitic pronoun to show possession, as ivenevio, vaveneneco, ivene, vavene. An a is often added to the stem when it shows possession, as ivenea, vaveneaco,

The Reflexive and Reciprocal Prefix li[edit]

Li is not a pronoun but a particle prefixed to verbs to give them a reflexive or reciprocal meaning.

The Relative Pronoun[35][edit]

The Pronoun is mukua (Plural vakua), some grammarians consider it a demonstrative pronoun.

The Interrogative Pronoun[36][edit]

The interrogative pronouns, who, which, and what, are rendered by iya (plural veya) and vika. Others are lika, muka, ueya, vueya.

The indefinite Pronoun[37][edit]

The indefinite pronoun include vose, uose, viose, vamo, umosi, nkala, ku, uahi, viahi, cipue

The Demonstrative Pronoun[38][edit]

There are four groups of simple demonstrative pronoun with their corresponding plural.

Class Group 1 - Singular Group 2 - Singular Group 3 - Singular Group 4 - Singular Group 1 - Plural Group 2 - Plural Group 3 - Plural Group 4 - Plural
1 uno ou ouo, oo uze vano ava ovo vaze
2 uno ou ouo uze ino eyi oyo ize
3 vuno ovu ovuo vuze ano aa oo aze
4 lino eli olio lize ano aa oo aze
5 luno olu oluo luze ano aa oo aze
5 zino ezi ozio zize
6 cino eci oco cize vino evi ovio vize
7 ino eyi oyo ize zino ezi ozio zize
7 vino evi ovio vize
8 kano aka oko kaze tuno otu otuo tuze
Verbal noun cino eci oco kaze
Locative hano aha oho haze
Locative kuno oku okuo, oko kuze
Locative muno omu omuo, omo muze

As a rule the demonstrative pronoun follows the noun it modifies, as cifuti cino, muti ou, but sometimes for emphasis it is placed before, as uno muaka, eli litangua.


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  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Luchazi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nyemba". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mbwela". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  6. ^ a b Emil Pearson, "Luchazi Grammar", pp. 5
  7. ^ Gerhard Kubik and Moses Yotamu, 1998, "The Luchazi People. Their History and Chieftaincy", pp. 16, 123
  8. ^ Nyemba at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  9. ^ Emil Pearson, "People of the Aurora"
  10. ^ Emil Pearson, "Tales of the Aurora"
  11. ^ Gerhard Kubik, 2006, Tusona: Luchazi Ideographs : a Graphic Tradition of West-Central Africa, pp. 300, 303
  12. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 5, 6, 7
  13. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 5, 6, 7
  14. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 7: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  15. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 7: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  16. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 7: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  17. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 8: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  18. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 8: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  19. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 8: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  20. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 9: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  21. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp.10: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  22. ^ Axel Fleisch, Lucazi grammar: a morphosemantic analysis, pp. 53: Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 2000
  23. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 10: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  24. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp.18: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  25. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 18: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  26. ^ Axel Fleisch, Lucazi grammar: a morphosemantic analysis, pp. 83
  27. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 19: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  28. ^ Axel Fleisch, Lucazi grammar: a morphosemantic analysis, p. 83
  29. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 20: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  30. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 21: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  31. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 22: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  32. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 23: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  33. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 24: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  34. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, p. 25: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  35. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 26: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  36. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 26: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  37. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 26: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication
  38. ^ Emil Pearson, Luchazi Grammar, pp. 28: Africa Evangelical Fellowship Publication