A language of Zambia

Alternate Names
Chibemba, Chiwemba, Cibemba, Ichibemba, Wemba

3,300,000 in Zambia (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001), decreasing. 741,000 Bemba, 32,000 Luunda, 5,190 Shila, 26,400 Tabwa, 16,800 Cishinga, 28,200 Kabende, 6,710 Mukulu, 42,600 Ng’umbo, 14,000 Twa-Unga (1969 census). Population total all countries: 3,600,000.


North, Copperbelt and Luapula provinces. Also in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). De facto provincial language in North, Copperbelt, and Luapula provinces.


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

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. All ages. Positive attitudes.

Language Development
Taught in primary schools. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Dictionary. Bible: 1956–1983.
Braille script. Latin script, primary usage.
Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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