Lunda [key], ethnic group of central Africa. The Lunda speak a Bantu language and now live in S Congo (Kinshasa), E Angola, and N Zambia. In the 16th cent. Lunda living near the upper Lulua and Kasai rivers assimilated political ideas from the Luba (especially regarding divine kingship and bureaucratic administration) and formed a kingdom ruled by the mwata yamvo, or king. The kingdom grew powerful, partly through trade (especially for firearms) with the Portuguese in Angola, and by the 18th cent. had expanded to include most of the area between the Kwango and Luangwa rivers. At the same time, dissident Lunda migrated eastward; some of them founded the kingdom of the Mwata Kazembe, centered near the Luapula River, which was a flourishing trading state in the period from the late 18th to the early 19th cent. Both kingdoms declined with the establishment of European rule in the late 19th cent.
See J. Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (1966).
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