The Makonde numbering 500,000 are a matrilineal people who are located on both sides of the Ruvuma River, which forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. In the traditional homelands of the Makonde the primary source of food comes from slash and burn farming. Crops include maize, sorghum, and cassava. This is often supplemented by hunting. Important decisions are made by a chief supported by a council. Clan members meet only for the ancestral cult and to celebrate initiations. The Makonde believe in a world of ancestor spirits and in malevolent spirits who make an appearance during the ceremonies that close initiation rites; these rites are deemed very important.
Makonde are superb wood carvers. They are renown for their masks, statues and prestige items. Stools represent one of the most important art forms in Africa. They connote succession of chiefs, status, power and communication with the ancestors. Notice Makonde mask like faces carved on the sides of the stool