chapter  III
Chieftainship
ByBronislaw Stefaniszyn
Pages 22

The Ambo hold an intermediate position between a political society of the Zulu-Bemba type and stateless tribes of the Nuer-Tallensi type. Socially approved self-help in Ambo society is evident in the institution of the seizing of hostages, nkole. To recover a debt a man could seize a woman or a child from the territory of the debtor's chief. There are five Ambo chiefdoms: Mboloma, Mboshya, Mwape, Lwembe and Chisomo. All these are ruled by matrilineages of the Nyendwa clan. The Ambo chief becomes 'divine' only through and after death, as a shade with far greater power than shades of commoners. Among the Ambo, as among their neighbours, the amount of splendour and ceremonial in the funeral accorded to the dead was commensurate with the dignity of the deceased. Chikwashya's duty is to bury the bones of the dead Mboloma, to feed and to let out the chief changed into a lion, and to perform sacrifices on chiefs' graves.