Introduction / History
The Mamboru people live on the northwestern coast of the island of Sumba just south of the island of Flores. Sumba is in the East Nusa Tenggara Province and part of the Nusa Tenggara chain of islands.Much of inteerior Sumba consists of extensive plateaus, with scattered, irregular hills, particularly in the western part. The climate is hot and dry. As a result, most of the population lives on the interior plateaus, where extensive grasslands support grazing and small scale agriculture.The Mamboru people are closely related to the Wanukaka, Lamboya and Anakalangu but their languages are mutually unintelligible. Language and culture are the primary differences between the people who live in east Sumba, the Kambera people, and those in west Sumba, the Mamboru and Waweya people. One early 20th century observer of the situation in Sumba (Witkamp) was greatly struck by limited knowledge of the island that could be expected of the ordinary Sumba person: Often the people had no names for peaks that were clearly in view and were ignorant also of the names of villages that were easily visible in the distance.
What are Their Lives Like?
The livelihood of the Mamboru people 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 in the manner of owning water buffalo and horses, as well as acquiring cloth and jewelry. Honor for Mamboru people can be earned by conducting traditional and religious ceremonies. During the ceremonies the entire family takes this opportunity to display their wealth. The traditional culture of the Mamboru people recognizes 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 consist of prisoners of war and people who have broken traditional laws and are no longer considered part of the tau kabihu. These two classes of society are passed down from the parents to each new generation, and even today are a large factor is determining one's status in society.
What are Their Beliefs?
The majority of the Mamboru people adhere to the belief system of their ancestors, which is animistic. 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 (he was lowered from the heavens to a mountaintop), 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.
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 to be built in the area to improve their quality of life.
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