Kingdom of Lunda

From Chalo Chatu, Zambia online encyclopedia

Lunda shown in the lower middle of the map in pink.

The Kingdom of Lunda (c. 1665–1887), was a pre-colonial African confederation of states in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, north-eastern Angola and northwestern Zambia. Its central state was in Katanga.


Initially the core of what would become the Lunda kingdom was a simple village called a gaand in the KiLunda language. It was ruled over by a king called the Mwaanta Gaand or Mwaantaangaand.

One of these rulers, Ilunga Tshibinda, came from the kingdom of Luba where his brother ruled and married a princess from an area to the south. Their son became the first paramount ruler of the Luunda creating the title of Mwanta Yaav (1665).


The Lunda Empire extended away from the Kingdom of Lunda and across South-Central Africa

The Lunda Kingdom controlled some 150,000 km2 by 1680. The state doubled in size to around 300,000 km2 at its height in the nineteenth century.[1] The Mwata Yamvos of Lunda became powerful militarily from their base of 175,000 inhabitants. Through marriage with descendants of the Luba kings, they gained political ties.

The Lunda people were able to settle and colonialize other areas and tribes, thus extending their kingdom through southwest Katanga into Angola and north-western Zambia, and eastwards across Katanga into what is now the Luapula Province of Zambia. The kingdom became a confederation of a number of chieftainships that enjoyed a degree of local autonomy (as long as tributes were paid), with Mwata Yamvo as paramount ruler and a ruling council (following the Luba model) to assist with administration.

The strength of the kingdom enabled it to conquer the territory of other tribes, especially to the east. In the eighteenth century a number of migrations took place as far as the region to the south of Lake Tanganyika. The Bemba people of Northern Zambia descended from Luba migrants who arrived in Zambia throughout the seventeenth century. At the same time, a Lunda chief and warrior called Mwata Kazembe set up an Eastern Lunda kingdom in the valley of the Luapula River.


The kingdom of Lunda came to an end in the nineteenth century, when it was invaded by the Chokwe, who were armed with guns. The Chokwe then established their own kingdom with their language and customs. Lunda chiefs and people continued to live in the Lunda heartland but were diminished in power.

At the start of the colonial era (1884), the Lunda heartland was divided between Portuguese Angola, King Leopold II of Belgium's Congo Free State and the British in North-Western Rhodesia, which became Angola, DR Congo and Zambia respectively.

See also


  1. Thornton, page 104
  1. Pogge, Im Reich des Muata Jamwo (Berl. 1880);
  2. Buchner, Das Reich des Muata Jamwo (in "Deutsche Geographische Blätter", Brem. 1883


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Further reading

  • LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 1989f "Lunda and Chokwe Kingdoms" IN Country Study: Angola (October 2005) [www]
  • Art and Life in Africa Project, The University of Iowa School of Art and Art History: "Lunda Information." 03 Nov. 1998.