Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Official French
National Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba
Indigenous More than 200
Signed American Sign Language (Francophone African Sign Language)
Lingua franca French, Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba
The geographical distribution of the four national languages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Map - DR Congo, major languages.svg
The geographical distribution of the four national languages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a multilingual country where an estimated total of 242 languages are spoken. Ethnologue lists 215 living languages. [1] The official language, inherited from the colonial period, is French. Four indigenous languages have the status of national language: Kituba (called "Kikongo"), Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba.

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When the country was a Belgian colony, it had already instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period. French remains the official language in the Congolese government.

French

Knowledge of French language in the DRC in 2005 according to the OIF. Connaisance du francais en RDC (2005).PNG
Knowledge of French language in the DRC in 2005 according to the OIF.

French is the official language of the country since its colonial period under Belgian rule. Therefore, the variety of French used in the DRC has many similarities with Belgian French. French has been maintained as the official language since the time of independence because it is widely spoken in the capital of the country-Kinshasa, it belongs to none of the indigenous ethnic groups and eases communication between them as well as with the rest of the Francophonie, which includes many African countries. According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) can read and write in French. [2] In the capital city Kinshasa, 67% of the population can read and write French, and 68.5% can speak and understand it. [3] The Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has the largest French-speaking population of any country outside France.

Kikongo

The constitution says Kikongo is one of the national languages, but in fact it is a Kikongo-based creole, Kituba (Kikongo ya Leta "Kikongo of the government", Leta being derived from French l'État "the State") that is used in the constitution and by the administration in the provinces of Bas-Congo (which is inhabited by the Bakongo), Kwango, and Kwilu. Kituba has become a vernacular language in many urban centres including Kikwit, Bandundu, Matadi, Boma and Muanda.

Lingala

Lingala is a language which gained its modern form in the colonial period, with the push of missionaries to standardize and teach a local lingua franca . It was originally spoken in the upper Congo river area but rapidly spread to the middle Congo area and eventually became the major Bantu language in Kinshasa.

Lingala was made the official language of the army under Mobutu, but since the rebellions, the army has also used Swahili in the east. With the transition period and the consolidation of different armed groups into the Congolese Army, the linguistic policy has returned to its previous form and Lingala is again the official language of the Army.

Swahili

Swahili is the most widespread lingua franca spoken in Eastern Equatorial Africa. Many variations of Swahili are spoken in the country but the major one is Kingwana, sometimes called Copperbelt Swahili, especially in the Katanga area.

Tshiluba

The constitution does not specify which of the two major variations of Tshiluba is the national language. Luba-Kasai is spoken in the East Kasai Region (Luba people) and Luba-Lulua is used in the West Kasai Region among the Bena Lulua people. Luba-Kasai seems to be the language used by the administration. A related language, known as Luba-Katanga, is spoken in Katanga Province.

Sign languages

There are 12 deaf institutions in the country, and most teach French Sign Language or variations.[ citation needed ] American Sign Language is also practiced in the country.

Other languages

The most notable other languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are Mashi, Mongo, Lunda, Kilega, Tetela, Chokwe, Budza, Ngbandi, Lendu, Mangbetu, Yombe, Nande, Ngbaka, Zande, Lugbara and Komo. Considerable numbers of people in eastern Congo who came from Rwanda in either pre-colonial or recent times speak Kinyarwanda.

As of 2010 the government decided to include Portuguese as an optional language at schools as a response to Brazil's increasing influence on the continent, and of the growing and considerable Angolan and Mozambican immigrant communities. [4]

Among the various forms of slang spoken in the Congo, Indubil has been noted since around the 1960s [5] and continues to evolve today. [6]

Related Research Articles

Demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Luba-Kasai, also known as Western Luba, Bena-Lulua, Ciluba/Tshiluba, Luba-Lulua or Luva, is a Bantu language of Central Africa and a national language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alongside Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo ya leta.

Bandundu Province Province in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bandundu is one of eleven former provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It bordered the provinces of Kinshasa and Bas-Congo to the west, Équateur to the north, and Kasai-Occidental to the east. The provincial capital is also called Bandundu.

Kasai-Occidental Place in Kasai region, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kasaï-Occidental was one of the eleven provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1966 and 2015, when it was split into the Kasaï-Central and the Kasaï provinces.

Lubumbashi Provincial capital and city in Haut-Katanga, DR Congo

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Kongo language Bantu language spoken in Angola and Kongo

Kongo or Kikongo is one of the Bantu languages spoken by the Kongo people living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Angola and Gabon. It is a tonal language. It was spoken by many of those who were taken from the region and sold as slaves in the Americas. For this reason, while Kongo still is spoken in the above-mentioned countries, creolized forms of the language are found in ritual speech of Afro-American religions, especially in Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is also one of the sources of the Gullah language and the Palenquero creole in Colombia. The vast majority of present-day speakers live in Africa. There are roughly seven million native speakers of Kongo, with perhaps two million more who use it as a second language.

Kananga Provincial capital and city in Kasai-Central, DR Congo

Kananga, formerly known as Luluabourg or Luluaburg, is the capital city of the Kasai-Central Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was the capital of the former Kasaï-Occidental Province. It is the fourth most populous urban area in the country, with an estimated population of 1,458,000 in 2020.

South Kasai 1960–1962 unrecognised state in Africa

South Kasai was an unrecognised secessionist state within the Republic of the Congo which was semi-independent between 1960 and 1962. Initially proposed as only a province, South Kasai sought full autonomy in similar circumstances to the much larger neighbouring state of Katanga, to its south, during the political turmoil arising from the independence of the Belgian Congo known as the Congo Crisis. Unlike Katanga, however, South Kasai did not explicitly declare full independence from the Republic of the Congo or reject Congolese sovereignty.

Culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely diverse, reflecting the great diversity and different customs which exist in the country. Congolese culture combines the influence of tradition to the region, but also combines influences from abroad which arrived during the era of colonization and has continued to have a strong influence, without destroying the individuality of many tribal' customs.

Kituba is a widely used lingua franca in Central Africa. It is a creole language based on Kikongo, a Bantu language. It is a national language in Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Languages of the African Union

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Index of Democratic Republic of the Congo–related articles Wikipedia index

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Luba-Katanga, also known as Luba-Shaba and Kiluba, is one of the two major Bantu languages spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo called "Luba". It is spoken mostly in the south-east area of the country by the Luba people.

Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) former sovereign state in Central Africa

The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa, created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was also known as Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its northwestern neighbor, which is also called the Republic of the Congo, alternatively known as "Congo-Brazzaville". In 1964, the state's official name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the two countries continued to be distinguished by their capitals; with the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa in 1966, it became also known as Congo-Kinshasa. After Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country, it became the Republic of Zaire in 1971. It would again become the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997. The period between 1960 and 1965 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic.

Ferdinand Kazadi Lupeleka was a Congolese politician from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kazadi was a founding member of the College of Commissioners where he had been appointed General Commissioner of National Defense by President Joseph Mobutu, during the Congo Crisis in 1960. In 1969, he was appointed Commissioner of State for Public Matters and Territorial Management. He was elected Deputy Commissioner of the People on three occasions.

Mass media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mass media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are both nationally and internationally state owned and operated.

The official language of the Republic of Congo is French. Other languages are mainly Bantu languages, and the two national languages in the country are Kituba and Lingala, followed by Bateke (16.9%), Mbochi (13.1%), and more than forty other languages, including languages spoken by Pygmies (1.4%), which are not Bantu languages.

Lulua people

The Lulua people are a Bantu ethnic group settled along the Lulua River valley in south central Kasai-Occidental province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lulua are in fact a collection of small groups whose home bordered by the larger Luba state and the related Songye people and Chokwe people, with whom they share a very similar culture, history, and language.

Tshilenge District

Tshilenge District was one of the districts of former Kasai-Oriental province (1966–2015) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While it enclosed the city of Mbuji-Mayi, the city was administered independently. As specified under Article 2 of the country's 2006 Constitution, in 2015 the district was merged with the city of Mbuji-Mayi to form the new province Kasai Oriental. The capital of the province is Mbuji-Mayi.

Katanda Territory Territory in Kasai-Oriental, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Katanda Territory is one of five territories which, along with the city of Mbuji-Mayi, constitute the current Congolese province of Kasai-Oriental. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is made up of 192 territories and 20 cities which are grouped in 26 provinces including Kinshasa, the capital city. Katanda Territory is sectioned into four sectors: Baluba-Lubilanji, Mutwayi, Nsangu, and Tshitolo. The territory is also endowed with three towns. Katanda Town is the headquarters of both Katanda Territory and Baluba-Lubilanji Sector as well; this town is located on the top of the hill in the Bena Nshimba Grouping. Tshala town, in the Bakwa Ndaba Grouping, is also famous because of its power station on the Tshala River that supplies power to Mbuji-Mayi city and its neighborhoods. So, Tshitenge Town which is well known for its diamond businesses is in the Bena Nshimba Grouping.

References

  1. Languages of Democratic Republic of the Congo, ethnologue.com
  2. Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (2014). La langue française dans le monde 2014. Paris: Éditions Nathan. p. 17. ISBN   978-2-09-882654-0. Archived from the original on 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  3. Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (2014). La langue française dans le monde 2014. Paris: Éditions Nathan. p. 30. ISBN   978-2-09-882654-0. Archived from the original on 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  4. TSF. (July 4th). Português adoptado como língua opcional nas escolas da RD Congo , accessed on July 4, 2010
  5. "Ghetto Blaster : Et la rumba congolaise rythma les indépendances" . Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  6. Georges Mulumbwa Mutambwa. "The spread of Indubil through DR Congo: context and modalities". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2011.

Further reading