Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents


Peoples of the Southern Uplands: Kasai-Shaba


Zebra, common in the savanna regions of central and southern Zaire
Courtesy Zaire National Tourism Office


A square-shaped thatched roof hut, typical of the Kasai-Oriental Region, provides shelter against the heavy rains.

Extending across much of the southern savanna east of the middle reaches of the Kasai River are the Tshiluba- and Kilubaspeaking peoples. (Kiluba is the language of the Luba-Katanga as distinct from Tshiluba, the language spoken by the Luba-Kasai.) Vansina distinguishes three clusters: the Luba-Katanga--comprising the Luba-Katanga proper, the Kaniok, the Kalundwe, and the Lomotwa; the Luba-Kasai--comprising the Luba-Kasai proper, the Lulua, the Luntu, the Binji, the Mputu, and the North Kete; and the Songye-- comprising the Songye proper and the Bangu-Bangu. losely related to the Luba-Katanga and living to their east are the Hemba, separately distinguished chiefly because, unlike the others, they are matrilineal.

All of these peoples appear to have shared a tradition of chieftainship, but it was among the Luba-Katanga that more complex centralized states emerged as early as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Elsewhere, the people and territory over which a chief ruled were much more restricted, and even among the Luba-Katanga local chiefs had a substantial degree of autonomy.

Data as of December 1993