The name Mwangi (pronounced MWAN-gi) is given to a group of related but ultimately different ethnicities who inhabit the west coast of Garund in the north, down through the jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, and all the way to the southern reaches of the continent.
The appearance of the Mwangi people mainly depends on which subgroup they belong to. The four main groups are Zenj, Bonuwat, Mauxi, and Bekyar. There are certain generalities that are true of all the varied Mwangi. Their skin is always dark, varying from dusky through grey to coal black skin tones. Their hair is always black though it is worn in a variety of styles. There is no one Mwangi style of clothing as it varies with the tribes and their location.
Though their history varies from tribe to tribe, the Mwangi people share one aspect of their history: they are descendants of what must have once been a vast empire located in central Garund. Huge ruins of ancient fortresses and temples still dot the forested interior of the Mwangi Expanse, and the hills of the Shattered Range. Little is known of this ancient kingdom, and the modern Mwangi avoid these ancient ruins as they feel some strange pull from them. The Bekyar people in particular are known for their fear of these ancient sites. The oldest of these ruins is the city of Mzali, where a mummified king of this ancient civilization, Walkena, has returned to life and wants to reclaim the lost empire's former glory.
There is no single, united Mwangi culture. Each of the four main ethnic groups (the Bekyars, the Bonuwat, the Mauxi, and the Zenj) has its own set of beliefs and traditions. Most prefer inter-linked tribal structures, though the Mauxi people of Thuvia do not. Opinions are divided as to whether the Caldaru and Lergeni of the Mwangi Expanse are related to any of the other groups, are separate sub-groups in their own right, or not actually part of the Mwangi peoples at all. Non-Garundi people often have trouble telling the four main ethnic groups apart, as the Mwangi have only recently begun venturing beyond their homelands. Each of the ethnic groups has its own religious traditions; Mwangi who have been raised outside of Garund generally follow the local gods.
Least known of the four major subgroups, the Bekyar live in southern Garund, from Desolation Cape to Sargava, and are prominent slavers and traders. Bekyar are extremely tall, many reaching seven feet in height. Their skin varies in color from dark brown to black, and they wear their wiry hair long, often in elaborate coifs. They are known to be demon worshipers, primarily following Angazhan, Dagon, and Zura. Common Bekyar tribes include the Bandu and the Yemba.
The Bonuwat are seafarers, and as such are often the group most encountered by the outside world. The Mwangi found in ports such as Bloodcove or the Shackles tend to be Bonuwat. They are excellent fishermen and sailors. They worship a janiform version of Gozreh and Desna which they call Shimye-Magalla. Bonuwat are of average height, with wide mouths and swarthy or dusky skin. Their hair is often straight, and they favor colorful, exotic clothing such as vests and baggy pantaloons. Bonuwat names include many that they have adopted from other cultures through trade. Bonuwat tribes include the Ijo and the Ombo.
The Mauxi are native to Thuvia and speak Osiriani as well as Polyglot. The ruling caste of Thuvia includes some Mauxi. They tend to be more withdrawn and taciturn; most deny any connection to the other Mwangi groups, but some of the younger Mauxi hearken back to their tribal ancestry and copy the dress of other Mwangi groups. Mauxi are tall, with straight hair and ashen skin.
The Zenj are believed to be the most common of the Mwangi, living in hundreds of small tribes in the jungles and savannas of the Mwangi Expanse. Some of the tribes live in villages alongside the region's many rivers, while others are nomadic herders who graze their cattle or goats in the Expanse's grasslands and hills. Jungle tribes tend to be patriarchal, while savanna tribes lean toward matriarchy. The two types are on friendly terms but avoid intermarriage. The Zenj are below average height, with slender, muscular frames and wiry black hair. Their simple clothing is made from animal hides or plant fibers. Many Zenj follow an ancient tradition of shamanism. Three of the best-known Zenj tribes are the Kalabuta, the Mulaa, and the Bas'o.
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