Mugambue people


Gambue / Mugambue / Gambo

Population & Ecosystem

25.000 Mugambue live in the feet of small rocky hills of Huila Plateau and in the forested plains south of Chibia (Angola).

Economy & Society

Mugambue people are cattle herders and also practice subsistence agriculture. Hunting is still practiced in forested areas. Mugambue blacksmiths have disappeared and now they purchase their hoes and machetes from neighbouring Khoisan blacksmiths or they purchase them in markets. Mugambue women still build and use wicker baskets and granaries. Mugambue society is ruled by a tribal chief who serves as the head of the clan followed by a headman. Serving under the headman are the elders. Conflicts are resolved by the elders and the headman. A diviner is also often called upon.

Culture & Religion

Mugambue speak Nyaneka language.

Mugambue combine their traditional religion related to the bull worshiping with Christianity. Nowadays only the elder generations wear the traditional attires with the exception of remote Mugambue groups in Cunene Province where one can find younger women with the clay traditional hairdo.

For traditional Mugambue women hairstyle is very important and meaningful. Mugambue women coat their hair with a mustard colour paste made of crushed yellowish stone, mixed with cow dung and herbs. Besides they decorate their hair with beads.

Mugambue women (mainly older women) also wear impressive necklaces (not as impressive as neighbouring Mumuila or Handa women’s ones). Once married they start to wear a set of stacked up bead necklaces, called vilanda. Mugambue women never take their necklace off and have to sleep with it. They use wooden headrests, some beautifully carved, to protect their hairstyles.