Kazembe is a traditional kingdom in modern-day Zambia. Southeastern Congo For more than 250 years Kazembe has been an influential kingdom or chieftainship of the Kiluba- Chibemba speaking the Swahili language, a mixture of Arabic and the traditional African language people or Eastern Luba- Lunda people of south-central Africa (also known as the Luba, Luunda, Eastern Luba-Lunda, and Luba-Lunda-Kazembe). Its position on trade routes in a well-watered, relatively fertile and well-populated area of forestry, fishery and agricultural resources drew expeditions by traders and explorers (such as Scottish missionary David Livingstone) who called it variously Kasembe, Cazembe and Casembe.
Known by the title Mwata or Mulopwe, now equivalent to 'Paramount Chief', the chieftainship with its annual Mutomboko festival stands out in the Luapula Valley and Lake Mweru in present-day Zambia, though its history in colonial times is an example of how Europeans divided traditional kingdoms and tribes without regard to the consequences.
Kazembe (or Kasembe) is a name used for Mwata Kazembe's town in the Luapula Province of Zambia, especially on maps and in the Zambian postal service (as PO Kazembe). However, the correct name for the town is Mwansabombwe ("where Mwansa works") and this is the one used by its or Luba or Chibemba-speaking inhabitants. They may refer in English to "Kazembe's Village" or just "Kazembe", as traditionally a settlement is named after the chief or headman, rather than the location. The Luba-Lunda shared with many tribes the custom (now discontinued) of moving to another village or a new site on the death of the chief. Historical references to a village or town may actually be to a different location. For instance when the explorer David Livingstone visited Mwata Kazembe in 1867 and 1868, "Casembe's town", as he wrote it, was further north at the town now called Kanyembo.
Mwansabombwe is situated where the Ngona River enters the swamps of the Luapula River south of Lake Mweru. A number of channels through the swamps and lagoons connect to the main river channel about 5 km away, facilitating fishing and trade (mainly illicit) with DR Congo. The town lies close to the middle point of the main artery of the Luapula Province, the tarred road informally known as the 'Valley Road' running from Mansa to Nchelenge, and connecting southwards first to the "Samfya Road" (from Mansa to Serenje) and then to the Great North Road at Serenje. A tarred road also connects eastwards via Mbereshi to the northern Zambian plateau at Kawambwa.
These features and its status since the 1890s as Mwata Kazembe's capital make Mwansabombwe one of the largest centres of trade, population and culture in the Luapula Valley with a population estimated at 50,000. It retains a rural and traditional African character relatively unmarked by the colonial era leading to it being called the "largest village in central Africa".
Kazembe is a traditional kingdom in modern-day Zambia. Kazembe may also refer to
- Kazembe (Mwansabombwe), a town in Zambia
- Eunice Kazembe (1952–2013), Malawian politician
- Mihayo Kazembe (born 1976), football player from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Raphael Kazembe (born 1947), Malawian cyclist