"For centuries the Mbukushu were the subordinates of the Barotse Kingdom. Fragmentation of the tribe in Zambia, Angola, Namibia and the Bechuanaland saw the Mbukushu migrating to the south to their current area in Ngamiland, Botswana. Even though they have been under the rule of many other peoples, the Mbukushu chiefs attained great prestige and a measure of independence as they were quite famous for their rainmaking ""abilities"". Notorious for this, the chiefs often played one tribe off against the other.Establishing regular ivory and slave trade with the Mambari, the Mbukushu reached the hight of their power in the mid nineteenth century. However, European administration greatly restricted their influence.
Emphasizing the matrilineal importance of women in society, girls go through a month long puberty ceremony. No ceremonies are held or celebrated for boys upon reaching manhood. When a boy wants to marry a girl he will ask her directly to become his wife. If the parents of both the boy and the girl agree they will send each other presents from time to time. Symbolism plays quite a part in the sending of gifts: a sleeping mat and firewood is sent to the girl's parents and if the engagement is acceptable they will send a pot of porridge to the boy's parents. Depending on whether the full bride wealth has been paid or not, the husband may do bride service for up to four years. Polygamy is permitted, but not always practised as one's wealth is a determining factor. The father is in charge of the household and the allocation of duties; however, the children belong to the mother's lineage.
Local communities on the fringes of the flood plains of the Okavango river of Ngamiland are made up of extended family homesteads. Homesteads of other tribes may also be found in a Mbukushu village. Each community is governed by a local chief. Being the leading agriculturalists, the Mbukushu plays a vital economic role in the development of Ngamiland.
Typical of animistic people groups, they believe in a High God, called Nyambi, who is far and, like the wind, is invisible. Also, they believe Nyambi is unconcerned with earthly matters and human beings. Spirits of the ancestors are believed to influence daily life. Two types of spirits are identified by the Mbukushu: the evil spirits who bring death, sickness, pestilence and poverty, and then there are the good ancestral spirits bring happiness, good health and prosperity. However, when the people do not observe their customs it is believed that the same good spirits will punish them with death and sickness."
- Country: Botswana
- Population (year): 1.5 million (1995)
- Major Religion: Christian
- Percent Christian: 62%
- Percent Evangelical: 4.4%
- Openness to Missionaries: Open
"1. HAVE THEY HEARD THE GOSPEL?
Who is Jesus Christ to them? 10% Believe Jesus is the Son of God
2. HAVE THEY RESPONDED TO THE GOSPEL?
Believers to population: 1 believer to every 10 persons (total believers - 300)(10%)
3. DO THEY HAVE A CHURCH?
Churches to population: 1 church for every ? persons (total churches - ?)
4. DOES THIS PEOPLE HAVE THE WORD OF GOD TRANSLATED INTO THEIR MOTHER TONGUE?
The New Testament was released in 1986.
5. ANY HINDRANCES TO SCRIPTURE DISTRIBUTION?
The remoteness and vastness of their area hinder distribution.
6. WHAT OTHER FORMS OF GOSPEL PRESENTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
7. ARE THEY RECEPTIVE TO CHANGE AND TO CHRISTIANITY?
It seems that the Mbukushu are slowly opening up.
8. DO THEY REQUIRE OUTSIDE (CROSS-CULTURAL) ASSISTANCE?
Yes, clear and understandable gospel presentations are needed."
*All figures are estimates