Glossary of Terms

Áfu – Spirit of the deceased ancestor who returns to the world to guide, assist, protect and educate members of the community on important occasions.

Akishi – Masked character representing the spirit of a deceased ancestor who has returned to the world of the living to guide, assist and protect the village during important occasions. Pronounced “a-KEY-shee”. (Plural: Makishi).

Albino – A person born with deficient pigmentation (color) in their skin, hair and eyes. Often the skin is of a milky hue and the eyes are pink.

Angola – A country in Southwest Africa bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). Angola gained independence from Portugal colonization in 1975but fought a brutal civil war between 1975 and 2002.

Astral Body – A type of spirit form believed to coexist with the human physical body.

Chingelyengelye – A diamond-shaped geometric pattern used among the Chokwe and related people. The pattern has a triangle on each corner and symbolizes a sacred connection to the divine principle. Some historians claim that the symbol came into use based upon contact with the Portuguese, however, there is no evidence to substantiate that claim.  Pronounced “chen-gel-yen-GEL-yeh”.

Chikunza – A sacred mask used by the Chokwe to symbolize power and authority. Pronounced “chee-KHUN-zah”.

Chokwe – A prominent tribe and ethnic group in Angola. Members also reside in the bordering countries of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Civil War – A war that is fought between different factions within the same country.

Colonization – The process by which one country controls the land and resources of another country.

Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) – A country in Central Africa which gained its independence from Belgium colonization in 1960. Formerly Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, and Zaire.

Cowrie Shells – A white or brightly marked shell used for divination or currency in parts of Africa.

Diviner – One who has the ability to foretell future events by supernatural means.

Divination – The art of foretelling future events or revealing occult knowledge by a supernatural agency such as an oracle.

Emaciated – Extremely thin, especially as a result of starvation.

Immigrant – A person entering a country for the purpose of permanent residence.

Egypt – A country in northeast Africa famous for its ancient monuments and historic civilization.

Emigrant – A person who leaves a country or region to relocate in another.

Enigma – Something that cannot be satisfactorily explained.

Expatriate – A person who voluntarily leaves or is forcefully removed from their native country to become a citizen of another.

FNLA(National Front for the Liberation of Angola) Revolutionary political party that fought to liberate Angola from the colonial rule of Portugal.

Initiation – A ceremony, ritual, test, or period of instruction with which a new member is admitted to an organization or body of knowledge.

Katanga (Shaba) – A province of present day Democratic Republic of Congo which borders Angola and Zambia. The area attempted to break away from the country (Zaire) immediately after its independence from Belgium. Today, the province is known as Shaba.

Leopold – A King of Belgium who is credited with colonizing and establishing the Congo Free State in 1885 but which is known today as the Democratic Republic of Congo. King Leopold is known for the brutality with which he ruled the Congo, amassing millions of dollars in personal fortune at the expense of millions of lives of the Congolese people.

MPLA(Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) Revolutionary political party that fought to liberate Angola from the colonial rule of Portugal.

Mukanda – A manhood initiation ritual among the Chokwe and related ethnic groups of Angola, Zambia, and Congo for boys that have come of age. The process usually took place during the dry season and lasted for several months. Pronounced “mu-KHAN-dah”.

Ndebele (Matabele) –An ethnic group of modern day Zimbabwe. The group split from the Zulus of South Africa in the 1820’s and re-settled in modern day Zimbabwe. Pronounced “n-deh-BEH-le”.

N’ganga – A traditional healer or Diviner among the Chokwe and related ethnic groups. Sometimes consulted to counteract evil spirits or illnesses.

Ngoma – A goatskin-covered drum used in celebrations and for communication purposes.

Oklahoma – One of the 50 states that make up the United States of America. Located in the south central region of the USA and is bordered primarily by Texas, Kansas and Arkansas.

Occult – Relating to supernatural influences and phenomena.

Oracle – A person or medium through which one can talk to God to receive a divine communication or revelation.

Portugal – A country located in southwest Europe which colonized Angola and Brazil.

Portuguese – Primary language spoken by the people of Portugal, Angola and Brazil.

Pwevo ( Pwo) – An ancestral reference representative of the archetypical woman among the Chokwe people, often represented by a mask. Pronounced “PWEH-vo”.

Reservation – A parcel of land that was reserved for the Native American Indian tribes after being forced to move from their ancestral land by the U.S. Government.

Ritual – A detailed method of procedure for performing a religious ceremony.

Rites of Passage – A ritual or ceremony signifying an event in a person’s life indicating a transition from one stage to another such as from adolescence to manhood.

Sorcerer – A person who seeks to control and use the forces of nature or magic powers.

Subconscious – The part of the mind below the level of conscious perception.

Tundanji – The title given to Mukanda initiates while they are away at the initiation camp. Pronounced “toon-DHAN-jee”.

UNITA(National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) Political organization and revolutionary movement in Angola which initially began fighting to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule, then later fought the Angolan government led by the MPLA.

Wanga – Evil spirits or supernatural elements among the Chokwe and related ethnic groups that may be called upon by sorcerers for specific purposes.

Zambia – A country in Southern Africa which gained its independence from colonization by England in 1964. Formerly Northern Rhodesia.

Zimbabwe – A country in Southern Africa which gained its independence from colonization by England in 1985. Formerly Rhodesia.


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