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Precolonial Communities of Southwestern Africa

Precolonial Communities of Southwestern Africa

This study is the first attempt to reconstruct the precolonial history of the Owambo communities in Southwestern Africa over the period between 1600-1920.
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Title: Precolonial Communities of Southwestern Africa
Subtitle: A History of Owambo Kingdoms 1600-1920
Author: Frieda-Nela Williams
Series: ARCHEIA NO. 16
Publisher: National Archives of Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia 1991
ISBN 0869762419 / ISBN 0-86976-241-9
Softcover, 15x21 cm, 204 pages, several maps and figures

Description:

This study is the first attempt to reconstruct the precolonial history of the Owambo people over the period between 1600-1920. The Owambos are a Bantu-speaking people, belonging to the south-western Bantu language group, with a population of over 700.000. They inhabit the geographical area between 16° and 20° latitude and 14° and 18° longitude. Owamboland is bounded by the Okavangoland in the east, the Kaokoland in the west, the Hereroland in the south and the Handa country in the north. These borderlines were still valid until the southern line was altered during the "Scramble" for Africa, when German colonialists extended their spheres of interest toward 18°50' longitude in 1890.

Thus, the name South-Westem Africa is applied in this study to a geographical entity which covers areas between southern Angola and northern Namibia, rather than a political region. However, it was not easy to choose a theme aimed at studying Africa's pre-colonial period in the field of history, for several reasons. Historians until this day recognize history as a subject which is based on documentary evidence. As a result, the field of oral tradition which forms the major source of precolonial African history is caught up in the theoretical and methodological differences between orthodox historians on the one hand, and social anthropologists on the other.

Content: Precolonial Communities of Southwestern Africa

Editor's foreword
Preface by the author
Orthography and special terms
Abbreviations
List of maps and figures
1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. Collecting Oral Tradition
1.1.1. Starting the Operation
1.1.2. Field Problems
1.1.3. Reliability of Informants
1.1.4. Preservation of Owambo Oral Tradition
1.1.5. Ways and Means of Transmission
1.2. Oral Tradition and Historical Research
1.2.1. Oral Tradition and African Historical Research
1.2.2. Interplay between Owambo Oral and Written Data
1.2.3. Research Work on the Owambo People
1.2.4. Formulation of Research Problems
1.2.5. The Methodology
2. ECOLOGY AND THE EVOLUTION OF OWAMBO SOCIETY
2.1. Man and his Environment
2.2. Owambo Historical Environment
2.2.1. Environment and Subsistence
2.2.2. Hunting and Gathering
2.2.3. Pastoralism
2.2.4. Agriculture and Land Usufruct
2.3. Population
2.3.1. Distribution of the Population
2.3.2. The Owambo Homestead
2.3.3. Neighbourhood
3. MIGRATION AND SETTLEMENT
3.1. Theories of Bantu Migration
3.2. Origin of the Name Owambo
3.3. Nangombe and Kanzi - The Myth of Genesis
3.4. Owambo Traditions of Origin
4. OWAMBO-RELATED AND NEIGHBOURING PEOPLE
4.1. Ethnic and Linguistic Origin
4.2. The Herero-speaking People
4.3. The People of Okavango
4.4. The Nyaneka-Nkumbi People
4.5. Aakwankala - The Early Occupants
5. HISTORICAL EVENTS AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN OWAMBOLAND
5.1. Foundation of Kingdoms
5.1.1. Legends and the Foundation of Kingdoms
5.1.2. Origin of Similar African Kingdoms
5.1.3. Origin of Kingdoms According to Traditions
5.2. Emergence of Political Institutions
5.2.1. Religious Ideology - the Meaning Behind Royal Power
5.2.2. Enthronement of the King
5.2.3. Structures and Functions of Kingdoms
6. DEVELOPMENT OF OWAMBO KINGDOMS (1700-1860)
6.1. Ondonga: Years of Consolidation of Power
6.2. Uukwanyama: Rise of a Kingdom before Mweshipandeka
6.3. Uukwambi: Foreign Influence to 1875
6.4. Ongandjera: Secrets of its Power
6.5. Ombalantu: A People's Democracy
6.6. Uukwaluudhi: People of the Same Stock
6.7. Ombandja: Before the Portuguese Expansion
7. OWAMBOLAND AND THE EUROPEAN EXPANSION 1860-1920
7.1. Ondonga - A Kingdom at the Crossroads
7.1.1. Shikongo and Shipanga: A Power Struggle
7.1.2. Kambonde and Nehale: A Secession Dispute
7.1.3. Colonial Expansion and Ondonga Internal Conflict
7.2. Uukwanyama - A Kingdom Under Siege
7.2.1. Portuguese-German Expansion
7.2.2. Mandume: An Endless Resistance
7.3. Ongandjera - Years of Political Rivalry and Recovery
7.4. Uukwambi - Last Years of Royal Power
7.4.1. Negumbo: Rescue of Royal Power
7.4.2. A Kingdom Without an Heir
7.5. Ombandja - Shahula: A Name that Means "An End"
8. CONCLUSIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDICES

I Owambo Population Estimates before 1900
II The Owambo Agricultural Year
III The Owambo Homestead
IV A Comparison Between Owambo, Kwangari-Mbundja and Nyaneka-Nkumbi Clans
V Traditional Laws and Social Norms of Owambo Kingdoms
(a) Traditional Laws
(b) Social Norms
VI Royal Genealogies of Owambo Kingdoms
(a) Ondonga
(b) Uukwanyama
(c) Uukwambi
(d) Ongandjera
(e) Uukwaluudhi
VII Personal Data of Informants
(a) Emil Liljeblad's Informants (1930-32)
(b) Frieda-Nela Williams' Informants (1987-1990)
INDEX
LIST OF FIGURES

1. Distribution of Ecological Formations in the Owambo Region
2. Agricultural Calendar of the Owambo Region
3. Power Relations in an Owambo Kingdom
LIST OF MAPS
1. Territorial Extent of Owamboland since 1885
2. Potential Movement of early Iron Age Streams into Southern Africa
3. The Routes of Bantu Migration
4. Internal Migration and the Owambo Expansion
5. Owambo Linguistic and Ethnic Related People
6. Owambo and her Neighbours


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