Bemba Lesson 5 – Family Relationships

Like all Zambian communities, the Bemba people have a close-knitted extended family life. This is reflected in the detailed terminology used to describe interpersonal relationships. An example of this is the fact that the terms to describe uncles and aunties refer to them as "small father" or "small mother." 

Cousins are effectively referred to as brother or sister.

In general, elder people are referred to as "father" or "mother", or as "grandfather" or "grandmother." This is a reflection of the level of respect children are taught to show towards total strangers. It came as no surprise that even a "Kabova" (street hustler) arguing with a lady on a bus at KMB Bus Stop, "Ba mami ine nshyakwata amano, kuti namu tuka." ( = Mam, I am not a sensible person, I might end up insulting you")  

Sadly, this aspect of relationships is being relentlessly erroded in urban environments. 

Here are some more Bemba words for you.

FATHER = Tata

My father = Tata

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Our father = Shifwe 

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Your father = Wiso (sing.) 

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Your father = Wishinwe (pl.) 

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His or Her father  = Wishi 

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Their father = Shibo 

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MOTHER = Mayo

My mother = Mayo 

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Our mother = Nyinefwe 

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Your mother = Noko (sing.) 

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Your mother = Nyinenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her mother = Nyina 

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Their mother = Nyinabo 

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BROTHER = Ndume

 

My Brother  = Munyinane 

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Our Brother  = Munyinefwe 

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Your Brother  = Munonko (or Munyinobe) (sing.) 

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Your Brother  = Munyinenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Brother  = Munyina 

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Their Brother  = Munyinabo 

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SISTER = Nkashi

 

Sister relating to sister

My Sister  = Nkashi nandi 

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Our Sister  = Nkashi nensu 

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Your Sister  = Nkashi nobe (sing.) 

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Your Sister  = Nkashi nenu (pl.) 

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His or Her Sister  = Nkashi nankwe 

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Their Sister  = Nkashi nabo 

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Brother relating to sister:

My Sister  = Nkashi yandi 

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Our Sister  = Nkashi yesu 

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Your Sister  = Nkashi yobe (sing.) 

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Your Sister  = Nkashi yenu (pl.) 

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His or Her Sister  = Nkashi yakwe 

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Their Sister  = Nkashi yabo 

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UNCLE (paternal) = Tata mwaice ("small father")

 

My Uncle (paternal) = Tata mwaice 

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Our Uncle (paternal) = Shifwe mwaice 

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Your Uncle (paternal) = Wiso mwaice (sing.) 

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Your Uncle (paternal) = Shinwe mwaice (pl.) 

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His or Her Uncle (paternal) = Wishi mwaice 

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Their Uncle (paternal) = Shibo mwaice 

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AUNTIE (paternal) Mayosenge

 

My Auntie (paternal) = Mayosenge 

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Our Auntie (paternal) = Nasengefwe 

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Your Auntie (paternal) = Nokosenge (sing.) 

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Your Auntie (paternal) = Nasengenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Auntie (paternal) = Nasenge 

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Their Auntie (paternal) = Nasengebo 

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UNCLE (maternal) = Yama

My Uncle (maternal)  = Yama 

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Our Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumefwe 

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Your Uncle (maternal)  = Nokolume (sing.) 

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Your Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Uncle (maternal)  = Nalume 

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Their Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumebo 

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AUNTIE (maternal) = Mayo mwaice ("small mother")

My Auntie (maternal) = Mayo mwaice 

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Our Auntie (maternal) = Nyinefwe mwaice 

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Your Auntie (maternal) = Noko mwaice (sing.) 

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Your Auntie (maternal) = Nyinenwe mwaice (pl.) 

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His or Her Auntie (maternal) = Nyina mwaice 

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Their Auntie (maternal) = Nyinabo mwaice 

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GRANDFATHER = Shikulu

My Grandfather = Shikulu 

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Our Grandfather = Shikulwifwe 

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Your Grandfather = Sokulu (sing.) 

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Your Grandfather = Shikulwinwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Grandfather = Shikulu 

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Their Grandfather = Shikulwibo 

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GRANDMOTHER = Mama

My Grandmother = Mama 

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Our Grandmother = Nakulwifwe 

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Your Grandmother = Nokokulu (sing.) 

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Your Grandmother = Nakulwinwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Grandmother = Nakulu 

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Their Grandmother = Nakulwibo 

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FATHER-IN-LAW  = Tatafyala

My Father-in-law = Tatafyala 

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Our Father-in-law =  Shifyalefwe 

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Your Father-in-law =  Sofyala (sing.) 

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Your Father-in-law =  Shifyalenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Father-in-law =  Shifyala 

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Their Father-in-law = Shifyalebo 

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SON-IN-LAW  = Tatafyala

My Son-in-law = Tatafyala 

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Our Son-in-law =  Shifyalefwe 

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Your Son-in-law =  Sofyala (sing.) 

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Your Son-in-law =  Shifyalenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Son-in-law =  Shifyala 

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Their Son-in-law = Shifyalebo 

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MOTHER-IN-LAW = Mamafyala

 

My Mother-in-law = Mamafyala 

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Our Mother-in-law =  Nafyalefwe 

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Your Mother-in-law = Nokofyala (sing.) 

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Your Mother-in-law =  Nafyalenwe (pl.) 

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His or Her Mother-in-law =  Nafyala 

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Their Mother-in-law =  Nafyalebo 

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HUSBAND = Mulume

My Husband = Mulume wandi 

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Our Husband = Mulume wesu 

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Your Husband = Mulume obe (sing.) 

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Your Husband = Mulume wenu (pl.) 

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Her Husband = Mulume wakwe 

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Their Husband = Mulume wabo 

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SPOUSE (Husband or Wife) = Mwina mwandi

My Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwinamwandi  

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Our Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wesu 

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Your Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina mobe (sing.) 

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Your Spouse  (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wenu (pl.) 

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His Spouse  (Husband or Wife) = Mwinamwakwe 

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Their Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wabo 

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WIFE = Mukashi

My Wife =  Mukashi wandi 

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Our Wife =  Mukashi wesu 

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Your Wife =  Mukashi obe (sing.) 

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Your Wife =  Mukashi wenu (pl.) 

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His or Her Wife = Muakashi wakwe 

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Their Wife =  Mukashi wabo  

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FRIEND = Munandi

My Friend = Munandi 

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Our Friend =  Munensu 

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Your Friend = Munobe (or Mubiyo) (sing.) 

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Your Friend = Munenu (pl.) 

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His or Her Friend =  Munankwe (or Mubiye) 

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Their Friend = Munabo  

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