Published November 8, 2019
This video was recorded by Hangi Méthodes Bulebe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Shabunda Lega is one of two primary varieties of the Lega dialect cluster, the other being Mwenga Lega, neither of which are mutually intelligible. Ethnologue considers Bembe to belong to the same dialect continuum, along with Kanu which appears to be a dialect of Shabunda. Gengele is considered a Shabunda-based creole. Shabunda Lega is spoken in the Shabunda territory, part of the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lega people were originally migrants to what is today Uganda, where they arrived in the 16th century. The Lega are hunter-gatherers, living off the forest of the Ulindi valley. They are polytheistic, and while they have no centralized authority among tribes, within them there is clear yet complex social hierarchy including a chief and his family sharing high rank. Historically the Lega people have been forced by their colonizers to produce manioc, bananas, and rice, which has disrupted their traditional way of life. Lega-Shabunda is spoken by around 400,000 people. It is a Southern Bantoid language within the Atlantic-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.