The Kuba People of the congo

Kuba, or Bakuba, are a cluster of about 16 Bantu speaking groups in Southeastern Congo (Kinshasa), living between the Kasai and Sankuru rivers. They cultivate maize, Cassava, millet, peanuts and beans as staples. They grow raffia and oil palms, raise corn as a cash crop, and hunt and fish.

AFRICAN HISTORY

deangichukie

7/16/2022 2 min read

Kuba, or Bakuba, are a cluster of about 16 Bantu speaking groups in Southeastern Congo (Kinshasa), living between the Kasai and Sankuru rivers. They cultivate maize, Cassava, millet, peanuts and beans as staples. They grow raffia and oil palms, raise corn as a cash crop, and hunt and fish.

They have kept aloof from modern life, and few have emigrated or engage in European-style occupations. The groups are divided into lineages related through matrilineal descent; the lineages are segments of numerous dispersed clans. The Kuba are united in a kingdom, ruled by the central Bushongo group, which emerged about 1600. The kingdom is a federation of chiefdoms, each ruled by a chief and two or three councils that represent the general population and noble clans. The ruling Bushongo chief is king by divine right. Uniting factors include bonds of common culture and group feeling, a royal army, and a common administration.

The kingdom began as a collection of several chiefdoms of various ethnic groups with no real central authority. In approximately 1625, an individual from outside the area known as Shyaam a-Mbul a Ngoong assumed the position of one of the area rulers and united all the chiefdoms under his leadership. Tradition states that Shyaam a-Mbul was the adopted son of a Kuba queen. He left the Kuba region to find enlightenment in the Pende and Kongo kingdoms to the west. After learning all he could from these states, he returned to Kuba to form the empire's political, social and economic foundations.

The Kuba government was reorganized toward a merit-based title system, but power still remained firmly in the hands of the aristocracy. It was controlled by a king called the nyim who belonged to the Bushoong clan. The king was responsible to a court council of all the Kuba subgroups, who were represented equally before the king by their elites.

The Kingdom reached its apex during the mid-19th century. Europeans first reached the area in 1884. Because of the kingdom's relative isolation, it was not as affected by the slave trade. The current reigning monarch, Kot-a-Mbweeky III, has been on the throne since 1968.

The Kuba believed in Bumba the Sky Father who spewed out the sun, moon, stars, and planets. He also created life with the Earth Mother. However these were somewhat distant deities, and the Kuba placed more immediate concern in a supernatural being named Woot, who named the animals and other things. Woot was the first human and bringer of civilization. The Kuba are sometimes known as the "Children of Woot. Nearly all objects of daily use are decorated, and carved wooden figurines, initiation masks, cups, and beautifully embroidered hand-woven raffia cloth are especially prized for export.