Internal structure

The internal organization of the Mvele follows a hierarchical order beginning from the smallest to the biggest group that is; from the family up to the tribe.

The family: For the Mvele people, the family is constituted of group of èpersons who are related by blood. These people come from the same parent with respect to a hierarchical order which goes from the eldest to the last born. These share the same wealth when it comes to pass on heritage. There exist different types of family; we have the nuclear family which is the smallest entity made up of the father, mother and her children. Another type is the extended family which is a group of nuclear families which originate from the same grandfather. The other type is lineage which is constituted of many extended families of related blood.

The Mvele people were ignorant about social organization the way it is today. The social and political structure expressed a lack of centralized political system meaning they used a decentralized system of government. The family head often played both the roles of religious head and family leader in their respective families.

What the people from the Mvele tribe had at first was a leader which they called “Zomlo”. This person was a patriarch and believed to be the holder of ancestral knowledge. The “Zomlo” was not put in place by some kind of voting or appointment. There were the elders of the society who due to circumstances the tribe was actually facing, handed to one of the patriarch the responsibilities of the “Zomlo”.

It is with the failure of the European colonizers to infiltrate the Mvele society that the latter introduced the administrative organization of the traditional society as we have it today. So the issue of these colonizers was to find reliable speakers who could serve as a sort of middle man between the colonial administration and the traditional society. All these led to the creation of the first administrative unit with the appointment of the first administrator who were now known as traditional chiefs. For many years this chiefdom remained without head because the colonizers destroyed those one who did not follow their instructions. It is just of recent that the village administrative head was restored. In order to bring more closely the administration to the people being administered, these traditional chiefs then created sub-administrative units and appointed heads to those units.

The administrative organization planned by the European colonizers to facilitate their on-going affairs was as follows;

The village: In some cases, the village corresponds to aclan in the traditional organization while in other cases; it follows a geographic cut down which did not take into consideration family links. We can find members of different clans in the same village while we can also get members of the same clan in many villages.

At the top of each village is the chiefdom headed by administrative personnel known as the village chief or 3rd degree traditional chief. This leader is chosen between the inhabitants of the village through elections administered by the administrative authority who will then enthrone the newly elected chief. Although we formally see this aspect as a form of election, this is not always the case. What is actually done looks more  like a kind of  succession and it the outgoing chief who while still alive take time even if it is orally to choose which of his sons will be his successor.

The group: This is the collection of villages ranging from two to seven at least. Just as the village, groups are separated by geographic frontiers. At the head of each group is found a chief of group known as 2nd degree chief. The latter is also put in place as the 3rd degree chief and the ceremony is supervised by an administrative personnel.

The Canton: A Canton is an administrative unit composed of more than one group. At the head of each canton is the 1st degree chief or superior chief. The latter is appointed by the minister of Administration and decentralization. It is this established administrative offices brought in during the colonization period that now serve as the official link between the national government and the people of the Mvele tribe. The government uses this as a kind of social control on the Mvele and through these offices ,  and tries to develop these regions of the county.

Rank in the Mvele Society

In the Mvele tribe, land is synonym to riches. A person’s importance, influence or even social rank is determined by the amount of land (i.e. land itself, animals and many others) in his possession.. There are three fundamental things that a man had which showed his influence or importance in the society. There is his house, the number of wives in he has and the work he has.

Sanctions and social Control

Although there now exist laws which sanction those who try to behave abnormally in the Mvele society, the traditional way of sanctioning is still presently practiced. Sanctions in this society are stratified in a way depending on what a person has done and there exists negative and positive sanctions in this community. There exist extreme and intermediary sanctions as far as negative sanctions are concerned. Extreme sanctions is referred to as ostracism and in case someone was found guilty of ostracism, he or she is banished from the land. A person victim of ostracism, is not allowed to do anything in the village and during this period, life is very difficult for the victim. Intermediary sanctions involved things like adultery and when someone is victim of adultery, there is public debate held for the victim to determine what the person has to do or give as sanctions. Depending on the degree of the thing, the person has to give things like wine, coq or sometimes a big sheep. Also, when one was found guilty of committing a crime or was looked upon as a possible source of nuisance and problems to the society, the person was reported to the “Zomlo”, the patriarchal leader. When the “Zomlo” though it necessary to talk to the individual concerned, the latter was brought to him. The “Zomlo” then tried his best to bring him or her to reasoning. In case the concerned did not take the leader’s advice, a meeting was held assembling the patriarch of the village and a decision was made as to what sanction was to be given to the individual.  There is no execution as punishment in this land they either banish you from the land or ask you to give something depending on the degree of what you have done.

Concerning positive sanctions, the patriarch leader rewards those who behave well in the community by giving them a title in the village. In some cases, those who act positively, that is those who do some positive actions in the village like constructing schools and things of the sort, are attributed some tittles in the royal palace.


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