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.


My father = Tata :|titles=Bemba

Our father = Shifwe :|titles=Bemba

Your father = Wiso (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your father = Wishinwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her father  = Wishi :|titles=Bemba

Their father = Shibo :|titles=Bemba



My mother = Mayo :|titles=Bemba

Our mother = Nyinefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your mother = Noko (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your mother = Nyinenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her mother = Nyina :|titles=Bemba

Their mother = Nyinabo :|titles=Bemba





My Brother  = Munyinane :|titles=Bemba

Our Brother  = Munyinefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Brother  = Munonko (or Munyinobe) (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Brother  = Munyinenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Brother  = Munyina :|titles=Bemba

Their Brother  = Munyinabo :|titles=Bemba



SISTER = Nkashi


Sister relating to sister

My Sister  = Nkashi nandi :|titles=Bemba

Our Sister  = Nkashi nensu :|titles=Bemba

Your Sister  = Nkashi nobe (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Sister  = Nkashi nenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Sister  = Nkashi nankwe :|titles=Bemba

Their Sister  = Nkashi nabo :|titles=Bemba



Brother relating to sister:

My Sister  = Nkashi yandi :|titles=Bemba

Our Sister  = Nkashi yesu :|titles=Bemba

Your Sister  = Nkashi yobe (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Sister  = Nkashi yenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Sister  = Nkashi yakwe :|titles=Bemba

Their Sister  = Nkashi yabo :|titles=Bemba



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


My Uncle (paternal) = Tata mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Our Uncle (paternal) = Shifwe mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Your Uncle (paternal) = Wiso mwaice (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Uncle (paternal) = Shinwe mwaice (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Uncle (paternal) = Wishi mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Their Uncle (paternal) = Shibo mwaice :|titles=Bemba



AUNTIE (paternal) Mayosenge


My Auntie (paternal) = Mayosenge :|titles=Bemba

Our Auntie (paternal) = Nasengefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Auntie (paternal) = Nokosenge (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Auntie (paternal) = Nasengenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Auntie (paternal) = Nasenge :|titles=Bemba

Their Auntie (paternal) = Nasengebo :|titles=Bemba



UNCLE (maternal) = Yama

My Uncle (maternal)  = Yama :|titles=Bemba

Our Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Uncle (maternal)  = Nokolume (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Uncle (maternal)  = Nalume :|titles=Bemba

Their Uncle (maternal)  = Nalumebo :|titles=Bemba



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

My Auntie (maternal) = Mayo mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Our Auntie (maternal) = Nyinefwe mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Your Auntie (maternal) = Noko mwaice (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Auntie (maternal) = Nyinenwe mwaice (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Auntie (maternal) = Nyina mwaice :|titles=Bemba

Their Auntie (maternal) = Nyinabo mwaice :|titles=Bemba




My Grandfather = Shikulu :|titles=Bemba

Our Grandfather = Shikulwifwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Grandfather = Sokulu (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Grandfather = Shikulwinwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Grandfather = Shikulu :|titles=Bemba

Their Grandfather = Shikulwibo :|titles=Bemba




My Grandmother = Mama :|titles=Bemba

Our Grandmother = Nakulwifwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Grandmother = Nokokulu (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Grandmother = Nakulwinwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Grandmother = Nakulu :|titles=Bemba

Their Grandmother = Nakulwibo :|titles=Bemba



FATHER-IN-LAW  = Tatafyala

My Father-in-law = Tatafyala :|titles=Bemba

Our Father-in-law =  Shifyalefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Father-in-law =  Sofyala (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Father-in-law =  Shifyalenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Father-in-law =  Shifyala :|titles=Bemba

Their Father-in-law = Shifyalebo :|titles=Bemba



SON-IN-LAW  = Tatafyala

My Son-in-law = Tatafyala :|titles=Bemba

Our Son-in-law =  Shifyalefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Son-in-law =  Sofyala (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Son-in-law =  Shifyalenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Son-in-law =  Shifyala :|titles=Bemba

Their Son-in-law = Shifyalebo :|titles=Bemba



MOTHER-IN-LAW = Mamafyala


My Mother-in-law = Mamafyala :|titles=Bemba

Our Mother-in-law =  Nafyalefwe :|titles=Bemba

Your Mother-in-law = Nokofyala (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Mother-in-law =  Nafyalenwe (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Mother-in-law =  Nafyala :|titles=Bemba

Their Mother-in-law =  Nafyalebo :|titles=Bemba



HUSBAND = Mulume

My Husband = Mulume wandi :|titles=Bemba

Our Husband = Mulume wesu :|titles=Bemba

Your Husband = Mulume obe (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Husband = Mulume wenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

Her Husband = Mulume wakwe :|titles=Bemba

Their Husband = Mulume wabo :|titles=Bemba



SPOUSE (Husband or Wife) = Mwina mwandi

My Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwinamwandi  :|titles=Bemba

Our Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wesu :|titles=Bemba

Your Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina mobe (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Spouse  (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His Spouse  (Husband or Wife) = Mwinamwakwe :|titles=Bemba

Their Spouse (Husband or Wife) = Mwina wabo :|titles=Bemba



WIFE = Mukashi

My Wife =  Mukashi wandi :|titles=Bemba

Our Wife =  Mukashi wesu :|titles=Bemba

Your Wife =  Mukashi obe (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Wife =  Mukashi wenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Wife = Muakashi wakwe :|titles=Bemba

Their Wife =  Mukashi wabo  :|titles=Bemba



FRIEND = Munandi

My Friend = Munandi :|titles=Bemba

Our Friend =  Munensu :|titles=Bemba

Your Friend = Munobe (or Mubiyo) (sing.) :|titles=Bemba

Your Friend = Munenu (pl.) :|titles=Bemba

His or Her Friend =  Munankwe (or Mubiye) :|titles=Bemba

Their Friend = Munabo  :|titles=Bemba









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