Time to eat... A group of women going to deliver Matebeto to a would be husband

By Martin Mwango
Zambian anthropology defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. Marriage is the first gift that God gave to human beings, the creator blessed it and gave us the power to be pro creators on earth. Hence, Marriage has accompanied the human story from the very Genesis. Each culture defines marriage life differently.

In the Zambian culture we have some marriage values that we cannot do without. There are values and beliefs that have been there for generations and these are rituals that prepare one for a good and long lasting marriage. Here are some of the traditions of our lovely Zambian culture, though I’m not here to discuss them more profoundly but just to give a brief hint of them. The process that leads to marriage consists of the following steps

1) Insalamu when two young people fall in love, the man takes the first step and takes the Insalamu (token) which shows the commitment he has towards a woman he intends to marry. The two families then accept and acknowledge the intention of their children.
2)Nkobekela is the period that goes from the time that the insalamu is accepted by the woman’s side up to marriage or wedding day. During this time the two partners get to know each other and their families better.
3) Amatebeto The woman’s family responds to the man’s side with amatebeto. It’s a ritual practice for social and union between the two families.The womans family prepares a feast for the mans family.

Before the wedding day, the elders organizes themselves to teach both the man and a woman traditional values on how to abide in their new marriage life.

In Zambia today we are slowly losing these traditions and in the end we shall forfeit our identity just because of the so called world globalization. Our marriages should not be influenced by any other cultures.Besides Westerners have their own way of interpreting marriage life.

Nowadays, there are lot of divorces in Zambia which was something very rare many years ago. Are we easily disregarding the traditional values we are taught in exchange for the frivolous western values. Do our women deserve divorce? Perhaps its the women who nowadays want to wear the pants in the home.When we stand up for gender and change of some cultural practices we have to be careful.For example, when people stood up in Zambia to fight for liberty of dressing, what has come out of this liberty? We have lost our dressing code and our identity. Zambian men and women, we need to go back to our roots and pick up our identity and have respect in our marriages.

Let’s not just rush to make a change without putting into consideration the effects it will give us tomorrow.

Touch not marriage, otherwise our families will soon become like that of westerners where marriage has become like a contract. God created man and a woman and he consecrated them for marriage life and our culture as taught us how to interpret marriage life.

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71 COMMENTS

    • I say thank and praise God for blessing you with a culture. Where there is a culture, there is civilization. Accumulate, Intergrate and assimilate your God-givenculture and practice it until its handed down to your children. Don’t call yourself Zambian if you want to do things the american or british way. If you insist, then migrate to the people whose culture you prefer to follow. Media and cultural, social and religious gatherings are the best platforms for imparting culture and keeping it alive. As a developing country, surely you have a department of Arts and culture yes? Who’s running this department? What’s the game plan to revive the culture of Zambia? Don’t know if you have community leaders or elders. They should lock horns to make this culture live on. Schools are not…

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  1. Iam watching African television stations for the first time in 20 years down here. Its mostly South African Television. Zambian TV is nowhere to be seen except sumthing called Mobi. However the SA TV stations give me a few Zambian features. Yesterday at noon I was watching Stand Up Zambia and couldn’t get the jokes. What r u guys laughing at in Mother Z? I couldn’t help noticing that the country has neglected an industry that’s booming here. Aren’t colleges ready to offer Drama and Arts up to now? If the comedians could be trained it will help government solve unemployment.

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  2. to “go back to our roots and pick up our identity” means going back to walking around in loin clothes (IMIBINDE) better still with out a stitch on, in otherwords, NAKED!!!

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  3. Nice comments Mr Mwango. The problem we have now is that every1 wants to be an American, and this is surely killing our culture. I blame the media and the entertainment industry for this. Before western Movies and music become a common place in Zambia, people embraced our culture, but its eroding at an unsustainable rate. (Its like even u mr Mwango u want to be an American bcoz you are using ‘pant’ instead of ‘trousers’ – pants is American. In Zambia we use British english).

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  4. LT delete that comment by that embecile @#1.I’m not bemba too but I see no reason to insult the author of this nice article.

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  5. There is definately need for serious intervention from the relevant authorities or perhaps political will from those in govt concerning zambian marriages. This is one topic that touches my heart as I never thought that divorce will knock on my household despite two decades of marriage. Whether it is I or my partner at fault is not the main issue here but rather the understanding and application of our values in this holy institution of marriage.
    In the quest of empowering one another, women financial freedom, equal rights, freedom of speech, social media,etc..our generation has unfortunately lost those which the holy scriptures or traditional commandent us to preserve. Iam currently residing in a foreign country & it is very alarming to see the divorce rate of Zambians.

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  6. # 1 good observation but wrong xpression.This is a good article but very poorly researched.you know zambia is not bemba land and everything should not be interpreted in bemba.Maybe with a lettle more of research of marriage in these other tribes could ve opened your eyes to the bigger picture.

    Next time do more research please.

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  7. #7, really there is need for our govrmt to intern in marriage life. #1 don’t expect the author to writ what is in your head,, there is need for all zambians to do researches in my aspects, just do your reach and teach us something here

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  8. “Do our women deserve divorce?” The author makes it sound like it’s always the man’s decision to get a divorce. What if the woman was cheated on, which happens often in Zed? Should the woman stay in the marriage for the sake of marriage? Is the woman not allowed to have any pride and stand up for herself?
    As a Zambian, I believe that the change in culture is inevitable in a world of globalization. If we want to get out of the rut as a developing nation, we naturally have to start becoming a world player, which may mean forgoing some traditions.

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  9. Zambian might be a country on its own but its never an “island” and so it can not be spared from the changes that Earth at large has and is still experiencing. It changes with every Generation that is replaced. No human has control over that. Nature has its own ways of balancing things.

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  10. Comment 1 point accepted. There was need for more research on the part of the author or at least the title should have read as pointed out in comment 9. Even in the academic world, one cannot take one district as a sample and generalise the findings to the whole country. Its simply unethical.

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  11. # 1 is the crazy being indeed.Why should someone rush to using unprintables when trying to present a point ? Nice article tho i think more it is not very conclusive.Yal right high time we went back to wearing imibinde and eating amasuku for breakfast.

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  12. Even if the author picked the bemba practice he hasn’t even done much research into it and this piece is quite ill informed.The marriage(zambian bemba) is a lot more than what this poor piece of literature has captured.

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  13. This article is so poorly researched that it should not even find itself on LT to start with. Martin, please dont waste our time, I would give you 20%

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  14. No.1. It is not fair to react the way you have done. Hold you peace and give constructive advise. not bad language. We need to be good to each other especially that the lord has seen us this far almost into 2011. Be happy and joyous as well. But yes your point taken.

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  15. i would advice that talking about keeping our identity does not tells to go back kumibinde as you put it guys something to be kept as our identity wht is our identity? what is connection on i mibinde with marrige life?

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  16. culture in this day and era I cannot understand a man who has a foreskin on his dick. to me thats very cardinal. It can only start from their then move to other issues. All my kids are done meaning ready for adulthood they wont have to stand the pain of removing it when they are old. hey this subject talks about culture and thats what I mean. no sex with uncircumscised manhood

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  17. Its sad that such narrowly research can be published as the truth. As much as I appreciate the reality in content, the author is supposed to cite other traditions for Zambia is not bemba land. In zambia it is a growing tendency to think that whatever is bemba is national. Let us improve on our national diversity.

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  18. #1 is so correct. How can the author generalize marriage in Zambia like that. If you showed this story to a foreigner, they would think the same. So do some research next time or cite your sources and say this is only for a certain tribe.

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  19. #1 – Surely come on – do you really need to insult because someone has expressed a different opinion from yours? You have a good point though. The author has described a Bemba Marriage. He actually left one step. Before Amatebeto there is what is called Icilanga mulilo – a stage where the ladies family says you can now come and eat in our house! In the cultural loss people are mixing up Amatebeto which are given to someone who has stayed in marriage for a long time to Icilangamulilo which is given to a man who may not even be married yet to the lady. It is just a welcome meal to say you are free to eat in our home. While Amatebeto is like a thank you meal for having looked after our daughter well.

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  20. Our culture identity comprises the following: But the list is not conclusive. 1. The belief in and practicing of witchcraft 2. Eating from clay pots, 3. Finkubala and Tute for Bembas, Mbewa for Easterners, Hopani and Buhobe for Lozis, Buntele for Tongas e.t.c and never the steak you moderners chew 4. The beauty of a woman lies in her large b.u.ttocks and not the skeletons they call super medels 5. trousers are for men 6. Women are shy, they neither expose thier navels nor propose love to men e.t.c. In short bloggers, the preservation of culture so mentioned in the article refers not to the mibindes or compulsory circumcision of males. Its about Africans accepting their identity as a unique people. Our biggest problem as Africans is this evil of colonialism which was forced upon us.

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  21. Given the space on this forum, i don`t blame Mwango for this poorly researched article. Marriages are getting dissolved everywhere and the divorce rate is gone up world. While others may blame it on the cultures, cultures are also brought to test because of inter-marriages. Other factors affecting dissolution of marriages include but not limited to; the love for material things, a well informed society and women taking up roles the were exclusively for men. We now have women bread-winners, independent women who chase after young guys and house-man who have no jobs and are being kept by their wives. The diaspora saga is also another factor.

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  22. I support N# 1 poorly researched article stupid i.dio.t. Zambia will never be Bemba Land nether will any piece of it be Barotseland. But rather Nothern province and Western province respectively.

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  23. What is imibenda? what is amasuku? the author has atleast defined, Insalamu, Nkolobeka and amatobetato. People please stop asuming that everyone understands Bemba. If you write such an article, you should also translate the words in vernecular to other Zambian languages or atleast to the official language.

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  24. #20 I love my covered dick. I figure if God wanted me to have one uncovered, he could have done it without me going under the knife. And let me share with you why I am convinced that that cover has a purpose. As I enter the ntwanikani, I just love the natural way the ntwanikani uncovers my dick. The feeling is a killer and I wouldn’t give it up for nothing. Ala ndonfwa wonderful and I end up wondering whether everybody else feels the way I do. Sister, don’t let me go there. Kuntu lakulembe ibuku. Ikalafye nakalubale obe uyo wansunga mu ng’anda!

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  25. Am suprised by the insults being blogged here. Its a known fact whether some of you agree or not that the most common and popular culture in Zambia is the Bemba culture. From music, weddings even to language. If you are not happy with the facts I suggest you go hang! Even most if not all of Zambia’s soccer heroes such as Kalu, Chitalu, Wisdom Chansa, Charles Musonda, Efford Chabala are or were all Bemba. Finkubala Bemba, Chikanda Bemba even the name Zambia was given by a Bemba the late Simon Kapwepwe. Accept that the rest of you are minorities!!!

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  26. Viva # 1. #32 you also an I.D.I.O.T. you see why we are forced to insult, it is coz of people like #32 who think that Bemba is a power house. it does not mean that coz you were colonized first then you look at others as minority. wake-up guy if you are not exposed to other cultures don,t think that other cultures are nowhere. The Lusaka Times you are also the ones make us insult. how can you allow this article without even scrutinizing it? please don’t just pick any article from the bin and post it here. there are many different people from different cultures who read this site so put articles that are holistic not just rubbish. how can you call bemba superstition as Zambian culture. come on be academic and diplomatic for once.

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  27. Culture and appreciation of one’s own values is key in the development of a nation. Sit and reflect, those of us in the UK will have heard and known that the Indians and Chinese have higher levels of academic achievement in the UK and this is attributed to being close to their culture values and customs. May be we need to be reconsidering the way we look at things.

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  28. I’m not Bemba but i think they have it backwards.Shouldn’t nkobekela come first? You get to know each other and their families first then if it is a good fit you proceed on to insalamu and commitment then marriage.Maybe then divorce is increasing despite the inffluence of western culture and more to do with the culture of marrying before you know your partner well.Ndoa bila imani.

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  29. #32 Malik,
    I am one of those who disagree with your misleading ‘statistics’ and the laughable claim that the commonest and popular culture in Zambia is the Bemba culture. Are you sure that in Eastern, Western, Southern, ..etc.. they sing, speak your language? Your Bemba soccer heroes, could they be the reason why football in Zambia is not progressing? The most weird one is about the naming of the country Zambia by the late politician Mr Kapwepwe, I don’t think the logic here.
    I sincerely hope that you are not telling us that Bembas are very good at imposing themselves on others, this seems to be the basis of your views. I however agree with you totally on the sad use of insults on this blog, it’s sickening.

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  30. Okay people I have the solution to which tribe is the most supreme. ZAMBIA IS MAMBWELAND! We the Mambwe’s secretly rule. Mbala mafia. Avivio kwene!

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  31. Can any of you monkeys here arguing about Bemba culture being popular tell us what the fack you do in your tribal marriages? Even Umunkoyo and Ifisashi is Bemba. Accept that your to ma tribes are small and impact less on Zambian culture period. Ba Kolwe imwe!!!

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  32. Tell me of a popular Lozi song? Tonga song? Soccer hero? Even Cha Cha Cha to chase away the colonialists was formed by Bembas whilst Lozis and there cousins sold the rest of the land to the BSA company. Bamulyansamba!!!

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  33. Evening bloggers

    Nice article. And no need to fire guns at the author. After all, ALL African customs in general resemble each other on account of their concept of anthropology and spirituality.

    So if the author chooses to single out one particular Zambian ethnic group to represent Zambian marriage culture, why should it be a problem to you?

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  34. One wonders who is actually exhibitting idiocy here since contrary to #1’s disapproval, the author in paragraph one covered his back by stating that ‘Each culture defines marriage life differently.’

    Therefore, you have to read into that and see that there is room for other tribal definitions and descriptions, with all the varying details.

    If you are so interested in the thesis here presented, why not complement or suppliment what the author has started? I mean team up with the writer so that together you can come up with a through piece on the topic.

    Don’t demean each other. If you respect yourselves as a people, outsiders will also respect you.

    Have a peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year. Remember to vote responsibly for Zambia’s today and future.

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  35. “Here are some of the traditions of our lovely Zambian culture, though I’m not here to discuss them more profoundly but just to give a brief hint of them. The process that leads to marriage consists of the following steps”
    TO ALL THOSE HOW KNOW WHAT THIS SENTENCE MEANS, SHOULD NOT GO TRIBAL ABOUT THE ARTICLE. ITS MERELY AN EXAMPLE THOUGH ONLY ONE WAS GIVEN BUT IN THE CONTEXT SHOULD HAVE GIVE MORE THAN ONE EXAMPLE. LEARN ENGLISH GUYS AND INSAULTS ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO CANNOT MAKE SENSE OF WHATS BEING DISCUSSED

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  36. #23 @Mwebantu Thanks for clarifying what amatebeto and ichilanga mulilo are. its tribes copying the wonderful bemba culture that are confusing the two. #32 Kekeke

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  37. Africans are trying to lose throw away their culture and in America blacks are trying to find theirs because as a slave people we lost it. We dont know if we Bemba xhosa zulu nothing. We long to know the ways however carnal they seem to Africans. @ 20 how does foreskin make u carnal? its skin not morals my dad is American and not circumsized. Divorce in America is not a problem of womens rights its a moral problem not even cultural.My parents have been married for 36yrsMy grandparents almost 65. America is not what is shown in the media but no on believes that until they come here just as Africa is not a continent of spear throwing men & topless sagging breasted women. Embrace your culture. you don’t miss the water until your well runs dry

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  38. Mwango, thanks for the ‘sample’ of our culture.
    To add on palwa Matebeto… I learnt that they vary: Amatebeto before the wedding is actually a celebration to introduce the husband-to-be to the foods that the wife is well able to cook and that he would feed on when he visists his in-laws. The real name is ‘ICILANGA MULILO’

    “Amatebeto’ are also done to recognise the goodness of a sone in law, a daughter in law.

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  39. can you try to put yourselves in the shoes of mr Mwango? And try to reflect or talk about how you get married in you culture as lozi kaonde, ngoni, tumbuka …… in Zambia? Here Mwango was not trying to put across something cardinal and he seems it coming from his experience. What he knows about marriege in Bemba culture which found in Zambia. So insults only show your maturity and how you culture teeches you over respect of others. we can only adivice logically not illogically i think most of we are in green pastures that means you well open minded like intelletuals we need to show in our argument on certain issues like this. The article was not researched but wrote through what Mr Mwango know about how the get married in Zambia as Bemba culture amd traditions he not an outsider!

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  40. gentlemen and ladies lets cultivate a spirit of love by avoiding insults. the problem with us zambians is that we always think in the negative no wonder the country can’t pick up despite it being rich in resources.

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  41. To comment on what #30 just posted: for me removing the cover was not for traditional, but medical reasons. Ive ****ed with the cover and without the cover. The sensation is basically the same. The only one who can tell the difference is your woman….well, mine enjoys it more..so we need the ladies whove ****ed both covered dicks and uncovered dicks to confirm which one of the two is better, more hygienic, doesnt smell and are confortable to have in their MOUTHS….

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  42. I think this good article lacks a good research…the writer himself …….. concetreted on three elements 1Insalamu
    2)Nkobekela
    3) Amatebeto
    Those three elements are in zambian tradional the likes of bemba….bemba is not zambia but is inside zambia…you are wrong to say marriage in zambia …it was good if you said …how bemba pipo marry each other…..Good article but bad topic……..i think you rethink on this one because you will mislead many popi espercially those who are waek in knowing their tradition………..Good work but rethink

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  43. dora..1 and lady gaga ..20 dont show your ignorance on public pretending you know beterthan others.we understnd Mwango didn’t research much on this matter but he did not comfirm that all zambians marry through the said process or procedure. regardless of lozi,tumbuka,nsenga,mambwe,bemba,luvale,lamba etc.we are all zambians with interconnected way of living and practice.he put it in a clear and logical way that;”mariage can be defined in many ways according to their respective tribes. for you lady gaga whats the connection with your circumsition and this article can you invent yourself an article here.dora you are also generarising that zambians sometimes can be identified by witchcraft are you proud of it? lets just help MWANGO to come up with many researches..bravo mwango!!

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  44. the article should perhaps have read marriage in some parts of zambia,the names may sound bemba but in all tribes they have something in common,ba dora siliya who ever maybe using this name, colonisation had its woes but even without it cultures, changes as people aquire more knowledge in their surrounding,its good for african women to be volumtous but thats no excuse for clinical obesity where doctors dig blindly with a needle just to find a vein, believing in withcraft is not a culture, its an evil practise found all over the world just like, theft and murder, culture is a collective of ideas,customs and socal behaviour of a particular people or society,zambians eat nshima we can all agree with, as zambians we dont have a definite type of clothing which define us,though the lozis do.

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  45. # 2…..the thing with stand up comedy from Zed you have to think very hard to get the joke.think its the worst on television.in the end the jokers become the jokes eg so called MC Wabwino.you cant be a master at all man.Music and work is enuf for you,don’t became a clown

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  46. ala #30 u are funny mwadi.i think culture serves to keep people trapped in unhappy marriages.personally if it is not working, im out.

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  47. The title and the description in the article do not rhyme.  I am Bemba and what the writer is talking about is a Bemba marriage, not every tribe in Zambia.  C’mon, do your research again properly by visiting every tribe in Zambia and getting facts about their marriages.

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  48. This for \Bembas not for all people in Zambia…..Next time be specific to say “Bemba Marriege steps in Zambia” not Zambian marriege….

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  49. Thank you for this article. I am a Canadian and appreciate this brief explaination of the historical value and relavance of marriage in Zambia. Good stuff 🙂

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  50. People who have not travelled think their moms are the best cooks! That’s the problem with Bembas! You tu ma whack and silly traditions and your ati Marriage in Zambia! Oh pulease! Get reading! Get exposed! Travel more!

    There is a more detailed book by is it Prof. Chondoka or something. It details marriages in Zambia.

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  51. amatebeto is a traditional ceremony done after 10years of being married.the ichilanga mulilo is the one practiced to show the groom to be wat fud he wil be xpecting frm the womans side

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  52. Comment:you don’t have to complain on language usage.maybe the auther is bemba by tribe.though aba bemba balayumfwa(a belief).

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