Who are the Mamboru?

no-photoThe Mamboru people live on the northwestern coast of Sumba, just south of Flores. Sumba is in East Nusa Tenggara Province. Much of interior Sumba consists of extensive plateaus, with scattered, irregular hills, particularly in the western part. The climate is hot and dry. The Mamboru people are closely related to the Wanukaka, Lamboya and Anakalangu, but their languages are completely different.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Their livelihood is primarily a combination of small-scale farming and raising livestock. They also barter and trade for items they do not have. Their crops are mainly rice and corn. Recently they have used irrigation systems that bring water across the valleys for farming. The family leaders have the goal of collecting wealth through owning water buffalo and horses, as well as acquiring cloth and jewelry. Mamboru people earn honor by conducting traditional and religious ceremonies. During the ceremonies the entire family displays their wealth.

Traditionally, Mamboru people recognize two divisions of society: tau kabihu (humans) and tau ata (slaves). These divisions determine one’s land rights and place in society. The tau ata are prisoners of war and people who have broken laws so are no longer considered part of the tau kabihu. These two classes of society are passed down from the parents to each new generation. They are still a large factor is determining one’s status in society.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most of the Mamboru people adhere to the animistic belief system of their ancestors. They have stories and myths that have been passed down through the generations, which are often retold in night time gatherings. These stories and myths are about the history of the earth’s creation, the origin of man, and how people were dispersed to different areas and formed the first clans. The Mamboru people carefully obey and follow their holy laws and have special religious ceremonies to guard the harmony between humans and spirits. Although 40% of the population claim to be Christian, only 1% are Evangelical.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mamboru people need better physical and non-physical development. There is still a great need for schools and health clinics in the area to improve their quality of life. They also do not have the Bible in their own language.

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