February 17, 2010
This blog fulfills two purposes. First, it is meant to connect you to significant internet resources available about the Makonde people. Second, it should serve as a general introduction to Makonde culture and history.
I tried to find internet material that had a primary focus on the Makonde people. Some websites simply mention the Makonde, but a few demonstrate significant interest in the Makonde particularly. I did not rank these websites but have tried to link you to all that I have found helpful. Look beside the links at the bottom of each page for notes that give you an idea about the website’s contents.
I am personally invested in the Makonde because they are my neighbors. I live in their region and am learning their language.
February 11, 2010
The Makonde are an ethnic group from the Mtwara Region of southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique East Africa. They are a people of the plateau: first dwelling on the Mueda Plateau in Mozambique and then also on the Newala Plateau of Tanzania. These plateaus have encouraged isolation from the early colonizers and slave traders of the Middle East and Europe; in fact, not until 1920 did the Makonde fall under colonial power. Partially as a result of this isolation the Makonde people have maintained a large part of their cultural heritage. Some of this heritage includes their coming-of-age ceremonies, tattooing, scarification, and most famously, their wood carvings. Their carvings include figures, masks, and household objects, many of which are portrayals of the Makonde tribal spirits or “shetani.” The vernacular language is ChiMakonde, but they also speak Portuguese in Mozambique, English in Tanzania, and Swahili in both countries. The Makonde population in Tanzania is 1,140,000 (2001) and in Mozambique it is 233,358 (1997).