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date: 26 February 2021


  • Moya Aliya Malamusi


Politically oriented vocal music in the Chicheŵa (Chewa) language of Malawi, eastern Zambia and central Mozambique. Mbumba rose to prominence during the era of Malawi's first president, Kamuzu Banda (1964–94), who referred to the women of Malawi who supported him at political rallies as mbumba. The term, in its original meaning, refers to a person’s allegiance through kinship (za umwini-munthu = literally: ‘about the ownership of a person’). If a man’s sister marries and produces children, all her children constitute the mbumba of her brother whom they will address as malume (maternal uncle), and he will be the mwini-mbumba (the owner of the mbumba), i.e. all those children will be his mbumba. In the Acheŵa society parental power projects from the malume to the mbumba. A man is thus the ‘owner’ of the children of his sister(s).

The term as used in a musical context eventually referred to songs praising the leader of Malawi, and they were regularly sung at meetings and political events at which he appeared. ...

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