A language of Zambia

Alternate Names
Chibemba, Chiwemba, Cibemba, Ichibemba, Icibemba, Wemba

3,810,000 in Zambia (2010 census), decreasing. 3,730,000 Bemba, 12,800 Chishinga, 37,900 Kabende, 15,000 Lunda, 1,680 Mukulu, 11,500 Unga (2010 census). Population total all countries: 4,110,000.


Eastern, Luapula, and Northern provinces; possibly Copperbelt province.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). De facto provincial language in North, Copperbelt, and Luapula provinces.Town Bemba is a widely used lingua franca in urban areas, with higher social status than other languages except English [eng], and is used for educational and administrative purposes.


Chishinga, Kabende, Lembue, Lomotua (Lomotwa), Lunda (Luapula), Mukulu, Ngoma, Ng’umbo, Nwesi, Town Bemba, Twa of Bangweulu, Unga. Town Bemba has a Bemba base with heavy code mixing with English and neighboring Bantu languages.



Language Use

All ages. Positive attitudes.

Language Development
Taught in primary schools. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1956–2003.

Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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