Lozi - Orientation

Identification. Concentrated around the Zambezi River plain lying at 14°30′ to 16°00′ S by 23°00′ E, the Lozi consist of a number of interrelated ethnic groups located along the Zambezi River in Barotse Province of western Zambia. As used here, the term "Lozi" refers both to the Lozi proper and to those groups that have become subject to and assimilated into the Lozi proper. These groups include the Kwanda, Malcoma (Bamakoma), Mbowe (Mamboe), Mishulundu, Muenyi (Mwenyi), Mwanga, Ndundulu, Nygengo, Shanjo, and Simaa. In addition to being members of the Lozi-dominated Barotse Kingdom, these peoples share similar customs, speak the Lozi language (Kololo), and intermarry. The Barotse Kingdom incorporated a number of other ethnic groups, such as the Tonga, Lukolwe, and Subia, but these groups have remained somewhat distinct in language and customs.

Demography. Population data for the Lozi are poor, based mainly on estimates, and do not lend themselves to an assessment of demographic trends. Figures for the whole of Barotse Province (including non-Lozi) place the population at 295,741 in 1938 and 361,905 in 1963. The 1938 estimates suggest figures of about 67,000 for the Lozi ethnic group itself and 105,000 for the Luyana group (the Lozi and related groups that consider themselves to have common origins). If assimilated peoples are included, the Lozi population in 1938 reached over 160,000. More recent estimates place the Lozi at 380,800 in Zambia (1986); 8,070 in Zimbabwe (1969), and 50,000 in Mozambique (1988).

Linguistic Affiliation. Lozi (Kololo) is the common language of Barotse Province, although many inhabitants speak other Bantu languages as well. Lozi has been classified as a Bantu language of the Benue-Congo Family, within the larger Niger-Congo Group. The Lozi language derives largely from the Sotho dialect spoken by the Kololo, who conquered the Lozi, but it exhibits some modifications, especially in phonetics and vocabulary.

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