Lamba language

Lamba is a language found in Zambia and is commonly spoken in the Copperbelt. There are about 210,000 native speakers in the northern parts of Zambia and southern fringes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lamba is also spoken in Lusaka, mainly because many speakers have migrated there for jobs. Lamba is a Bantu language. (In fact, "mu ntu" means "one person" in Lamba and "ba ntu" means "two or more people".) Depending on who does the counting, Zambia has between 42 and 78 local languages besides English – see Languages of Zambia for further details. Some people might say Lamba is a dialect of Bemba. Though the two languages share many words, they are not as close as say Cockney and Haitian Creole are to English or French.

Maho (2009) lists the Lima (Bulima) and Temba varieties as distinct languages.

Native toZambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo
EthnicityLamba people
Native speakers
200,000 in Zambia (2010 census)[1]
unknown but smaller number in DRC
Language codes
ISO 639-2lam
ISO 639-3lam


  1. ^ Lamba at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lamba". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
Bemba language

The Bemba language, ChiBemba (also Cibemba, Ichibemba, Icibemba and Chiwemba), is a Bantu language spoken primarily in north-eastern Zambia by the Bemba people and as a lingua franca by about 18 related ethnic groups, including the Bisa people of Mpika and Lake Bangweulu, and to a lesser extent in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Botswana. Including all its dialects, Bemba is the most spoken indigenous Bantu language and a lingua franca in Zambia where the Bemba form the largest ethnic group. The Lamba language is closely related and some people consider it a dialect of Bemba.

Clement Martyn Doke

Clement Martyn Doke (16 May 1893 in Bristol, United Kingdom – 24 February 1980 in East London, South Africa) was a South African linguist working mainly on African languages. Realizing that the grammatical structures of Bantu languages are quite different from those of European languages, he was one of the first African linguists of his time to abandon the Euro-centric approach to language description for a more locally grounded one. A most prolific writer, he published a string of grammars, several dictionaries, comparative work, and a history of Bantu linguistics.


Lamba may refer to:

Lamba (surname)

Lamba (Faroe Islands), a small village

Lamba, Shetland, an uninhabited island in the Shetland Islands

Lamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lamba, Togo

Jad people (Lamba), a community found in Himachal Pradesh

Lamba people, a major ethnic group of Togo

Lamba people (Zambia), an ethnic group of Zambia

Lamba language, a language of Zambia

Lamba (garment), traditional garment of Madagascar

A type of Pinisi, Indonesian boat

Lamba people (Zambia)

According to Clement M. Doke, the Lamba kingdom' (chiefdom) is estimated to have been established in the 16th century, between 1585 – 1889. The founder of the tribe is believed to have been a female known as Chembo Kasako Chimbala. She was the youngest wife of the Great King Mwati Yamvwa of the Luba-Lunda kingdom; she did not accept being part of a polygamous marriage, so she fled with her son Chembo and settled in what is today known as: Lambaland (Ilamba) on the Copperbelt at Nkashiba Kabena Mofya (Lake of the Mofya clan), commonly known as St Anthony because the Catholics built a church there. The Kingdom grew and spread into the Southern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the Katanga Province, a province equally rich in copper. Therefore, whether you are in Zambia or in DRC, the copperbelt of both countries is squarely Lambaland (Ilamba).

Lamba is ‘the act of humbling oneself’. The Lambas are generally very humble people in nature. ‘The people are divided into a number of exogamous clans and the clan descent is matrilineal. The Lambas may be described as hunting agriculturists. Physically, they are of medium built and remarkably robust and strong. Linguistically the Lambas belong to the Central Bantu Group of which ubulamba is a typical example. Their language is remarkably rich in folk- and proverb-lore and they take great delight in talking. Practically every Lamba is a born orator, unafraid to voice his views, no matter what size the assembly may be’ (Doke 1931: 28-29).

Ruling clans

There is one main ruling clan namely:

Abena Mishishi (hair clan)

The following are Abena Mishishi chiefs of Ilamba (Lambaland):

Chief Mushili (Zambia) – Designated Senior Chief officially by the Colonial government by mistake and the mistake was adopted by the Zambian government, but to the Lambas at all levels of discussion, Senior Chief Mushili is their Paramount chief and is accorded respect by all the Lamba people and chiefs accordingly.

Chief Lesa (Zambia)

Chief Selenje (Zambia)

Chief Kalilele (Zambia)

Chief Mkambo (Zambia)

Chief Mukutuma (Zambia)

Chief Shibuchinga (Zambia)

Chief Nkana (Zambia)

Chief Shimukunami (Zambia)

Chief Chikola (Zambia)

Chief Musaka (Zambia)

Chief Chiwala (Zambia)

Chief Saili (DRC) (Lumbembe village)

Chief Katala (DRC) (Mokambo village)

Chief Mfundamina (DRC) (Mfundamina and Nshinshimuka villages)

Chief Kombo (DRC) (between Mokambo and Lubumbashi rural areas)

Chief Katanga (DRC) (Katanga Province is named after the Lamba Chief) (Lubumbashi rural areas).

Chief Nsakanya (DRC) (Sakania rural area)Abena kashishi (rope clan)

Chief Kaponda (DRC) (Kipushi and Kolwezi rural areas)

Chief Nshindaika (DRC) (Likasi rural area)Abena Nyendwa (Leg Clan)

Chief Ndubeni (Zambia)

Chief Lumpuma (Zambia)

Chief Malembeka (Zambia)

Chief Kalunkumya (Zambia)

Chief Fungulwe (Zambia)Abena Nsoka (Serpent clan)

Chief Machiya (Zambia)Abena Bwali (Nshima clan)

Chief Chilukusha (Zambia)In total there are 25 Lamba chiefs: 4 female chiefs and 13 male chiefs in Zambia and 8 chiefs in the DRC.

In the past, the chief had the power of life and death and in certain circumstances he/she would order someone to be jailed, executed or be sold into slavery and that was without doubt. That authority was inherited and over time, that has been enshrined in all of the people that have grown up in that culture. Despite many years of urbanization, the Lambas still maintain their culture and traditions. However to understand their practices; one must analyze them through the lenses of the Lambas themselves.

As early as 1931, Doke had the following confession to make about the Lambas:

…understand better the people and their point of view…this is a record of the thoughts and lives of the people as far I can observe them, unaffected by Christianizing and the influence of Western civilization….I can only say that I wish I had more knowledge of the significance of the native customs when I first went to work among the Lambas. I should have been saved from many grievous mistakes and many misjudgments. The ability to see through the Bantu eyes will give the missionary and the officials’ better understanding and more sympathy with the people, and a greater ability to gain their confidence (Doke 1931: 9).

List of linguists

A linguist in the academic sense is a person who studies natural language (an academic discipline known as linguistics). Ambiguously, the word is sometimes also used to refer to a polyglot (one who knows several languages), or a grammarian (a scholar of grammar), but these two uses of the word are distinct (and one does not have to be a polyglot in order to be an academic linguist). The following is a list of notable linguists in the academic sense.

Outline of Zambia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Zambia:

Zambia – landlocked sovereign country located in Southern Africa. Zambia has been inhabited for thousands of years by hunter-gatherers and migrating tribes. After sporadic visits by European explorers starting in the 18th century, Zambia was gradually claimed and occupied by the British as protectorate of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. On 24 October 1964, the protectorate gained independence with the new name of Zambia, derived from the Zambezi river which flows through the country. After independence the country moved towards a system of one party rule with Kenneth Kaunda as president. Kaunda dominated Zambian politics until multiparty elections were held in 1991.

Official language
Regional languages
Indigenous languages
Sign languages


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