Nkwichi Blog

Under the Mango Tree

Numerous local people do not know what the laws of the country they live in, nor do they speak or understand the official language of their own country, but there’s a law and language that is common to all… It is not the constitution that provides certainties for many; these are provided by nature and by custom. The Manda Wilderness rural villages are small lake shore communities ruled from within, and usually these laws and rules are applied under a tree… a mango tree!

The village chief, the Regulo, will sort things out, with or without a little help from the Nduna, the witch doctor (feiticeiro), the healer (curandeiro), or the Secretary (this one represents the Government). The seat of power here, untouched by thousands of years of strife towards democracy elsewhere, is outstandingly democratic. Not only African villages like the ones in the Manda Wilderness region evolved their own democracy, these villages have a form of democracy that actually works, that truly represents its people, and that gives chances of equality to all members of the community.

The villagers here seat under a mango tree, discuss whatever problems they or the villages have and they sort them out. The most important village meetings take place under its shade, and it plays an integral part in the tradição harbouring ancestral spirits and advising the village chiefs.

All there is to know must be discussed under a mango tree. Weddings, family problems, religious or traditional events, diseases, village’s needs, foreigners visiting their village, violence, a woman becoming pregnant for the first time, etc. You name it and all the villagers make their way to the mango tree. It is also a form of entertainment.

The most common and interesting events are the traditional ceremonies like the Chiombuo, Chuoda or the Nghanda. Because these ones involve a lot of music and dancing, obviously they are much more attractive to attend then a meeting concerning a divorce. The traditional ceremony like the Chiombuo happens in December when villagers appeal for the rains to come and to provide them good crops. The Chuoda is later after when they harvest their crops and celebrate their good fortune and it’s only the women that gather with their colourful Capulanas under the mango tree in a frenetic and inebriating dance. But the men are also entitled to celebrate their prosperity and there is when the Nghanda ceremony befalls.

There’s a lot to discover yet about this fabulous and enticing culture and you are all invited!