The Ovimbundu, also known as the Southetrn Mbundu, are Bantu ethnic group who live in the Bie Plateau of central Angola and in the coastal strip west of these highlands. Ovimbundu make up almost 40 percent of the country’s population. Majority of Ovimbundu follows Christianity, however, some still retain beliefs and practices from African traditional religion.
They speak Umbundu, a Bantu language of the Niger-Congo language family and Portuguese as second language.
The Ovimbundu were formerly traders with other African peoples and Portuguese. Each trading caravan had professional leader and diviner. Large-scale trading declined with the suppression of the slave trade and construction of Benguela Railway in 1904. In the following years, the Ovimbundu completely changed their economy to cash crop production of corn, sold to rapidly increasing network of Portuguese traders.
The Ovimbundu are notable to have provided the major popular support for Jonas Savimbi and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNITA was in opposition as the rival movement of MPLA during the Angolan Civil War of 1975 to 2002. Until today, UNITA, is an opposition political party.