The Name “Chipeta” in Africa

While there is no apparent connection to the Ute or Spanish name of Ouray’s wife, Chipeta is a family or tribal name, in parts of Africa, particularly Malawi.
     The name Chipeta appears in letters written by Dr. David Livingstone during his travels in Africa in the 1860s. Copies of a few such letters were published on June 3, 1868 in the Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, California). 
          On February 1, 1867, from a stop at Bemba on the way to Zanzibar, Livingstone wrote to the Earl of Clarendon: 
“…The people…under different names as Kanthunda, Chipeta, Echewa, etc. Their land is high and cold; their huts are mattered all over, even on the roofs, for the sake of [illegible] by night. They are great agriculturists, and so many by number that one village is scarcely a mile from some other…”
          On February 2, 1867 Livingstone wrote to Sir Roderick Murchison from Bemba:
“…The Kanthunda live on the mountains that rise out of the plateges. The Chipeta live on the plains, the Eschewa still further north.  
          An August 29, 1999 article in The Seattle Times reports that the modern country of Malawi grew out of Livingstone’s 19th-century expedition.. “We think warmly of Dr. Livingstone,” said Sam Chipeta, a clerk in Lilongwe, the capital…He is basically known as a man who really helped with the abolition of the slave trade.”
          In the Chichewa language of Africa, chipeta means “tall grass or savanna“. The people who speak Chichewa trace their origins to the Maravi who migrated from the lower basin of the Congo in Central Africa and eventually settled in the land mass now covered by Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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