National African Language Resource Center
The Umbundu language was formed from different groups of people who slowly moved from the North and formed the local/regional groups there today, and have formed political units. They have developed a sophisticated agriculture, which
includes the breeding of small animals and cows. In the 16th century they took advantage of the Portuguese communities being established and formed trading routes/ agreements. With each
of the routes (caravans), each group became even more independent than they had been. They appointed professional leaders and diviners. The trade thrived on slavery. When slavery decreased around 1904, so did the trade, and finally ended in 1910. This also had somewhat to do with the way trade was conducted. Since the major railway was also built in 1904, the caravans began to die out
which meant that the leaders and diviners were not needed anymore.