Black Mamba Dreams and Muzungu Things is a blog by my fellow LIFE 2017 volunteer based in Luapula Province. While Northwest Province borders the Democratic Republic of Congo on its northeast side, Luapula borders on the west. Both provinces have distinct similarities, such as higher than average rainfall and less NGO involvement. Luapula even has pockets of Lunda toward the border! But, despite these similarities, every province has distinct cultural differences, expounded by the fact that Luapula is a Bemba majority province and Bemba is the language overwhelmingly spoken there. Language innocuously shapes almost every aspect of out lives, and even though Bantu languages are clumped together, they’re very distinct from eachother.
Ok, enough rambling. Here’s Catherine Grace’s thoughts on Bemba in relation to community entry!
The Kawacha is a Bemba word meaning the sound of light. With this being an autosynthistic word, it goes to express how the Bemba language, while not always considered a highly sophisticated and written modern language, achieves a deep meaning using its traditional tonal structure. Depending on how it is said it can mean kawacha for money, kawacha for when the street lights come on, or kawacha for when the sun is rising; all determined by the tone of the word. While this comes easily for a native language speaker, I have to rely mainly on the context of the conversation to have any idea what someone is referring to and yet I am often still left doubting if I know what’s going on.
When talking money or indalama, as we call it here, I like to abbreviate and call it kwach. The kwach in its easiest conversion is currently…
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