Kongo people


Kongo / Bakongo

The Kongo people (Kongo: Esikongo, singular: MwisiKongo; also Bakongo, singular: Mukongo) are a Bantu ethnic group primarily defined as the speakers of Kikongo (Kongo languages)

Identification. The BaKongo, numbering three to four million, live in west-central Africa, in a roughly triangular area extending from Pointe-Noire, Reuplic of Congo (Brazzaville), in the north, to Luanda, Angola, in the south, and inland to Kinshasa, Democratic Reuplic of Congo (Kinshasa). The unitary character of the Kongo group and the identity of the various subgroups are artifacts of colonial rule and ethnography.

Kongo people map

Location. Neither the internal nor the external boundaries of the Kongo group can be defined with any precision. The northern part of the Kongo territory is forested, whereas the southern is mainly savanna grasslands with forest galleries. The Zaire (Congo) River fights its way to the sea by a series of cataracts from Malebo Pool, between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, through the rugged Crystal Mountains, whose elevations range from 200 to 400 meters. The vegetation does not differ from that of other parts of tropical Africa; the soil is predominantly lateritic, varying in fertility from the forested bottomlands to the coarse grass and sparse orchard-bush of nearly barren hills. The long dry season lasts from mid-May to September, the short rainy season from October to mid-December, the short dry season from mid-December to February, and the long rainy season from February to mid-May. The average temperature in Brazzaville is 25° C. Because the upper waters of the Zaire extend north of the equator, the flow of the river is fairly constant; high water levels occur in mid-December, low water levels between 15 July and 15 August. Until about 1900, the fauna included lions, hippopotamuses, leopards, elephants, several species of antelope, chimpanzees, giant otters, buffalo, gorillas, and snakes of many kinds, poisonous and nonpoisonous. Animals frequently hunted included wild pigs, cane-cutter rodents, civet cats, bats, and field rats. Fish abound in the rivers. Virtually all large animals except crocodiles have now been killed off by hunters and, since 1970, as a consequence of increasingly rapid destruction of forest habitats. Natural resources include petroleum (in the Cabinda enclave, on the coast) and noncommercial amounts of gold, bauxite, and copper.

Demography. In 1960 the Kongo population in Zaire (Belgian Congo) was approximately 951,000, not including the city of Kinshasa, whose population of 70,000 was about half Kongo. A similar number of BaKongo were located in Congo (formerly the French colony of Moyen Congo), with a corresponding concentration in Brazzaville. By 1970, the population of the major urban areas had tripled; it continued to grow thereafter, although, since 1990, there has been some return to rural areas, for economic and political reasons. Demographic information pertaining to the BaKongo of Angola is lacking; northern Angola was embroiled in civil war during most of the thirty years after 1960, when thousands of Kongo refugees moved temporarily to Zaire. In general, the BaKongo of Zaire are much better documented than those of either Angola or Congo.

Linguistic Affiliation. KiKongo is a Western Bantu language whose several dialects constitute Group H of M. Guthrie's classification. A form of KiKingo, called KiLeta, functions as a lingua franca for many Kongo-related peoples further east. The younger generation of BaKongo in Congo and Zaire, especially in the cities, speak only Lingala, which is increasingly becoming the national language of Zaire.



Besides the capital cities of Brazzaville (Congo) and Kinshasa (Zaire), the principal urban centers are the ports of Pointe-Noire, Matadi, and Borna. BaKongo predominate in the many towns of their home region but are also found in towns and cities throughout their respective countries. In their own rural areas, BaKongo live in scattered villages varying in population from a few dozen to a few hundred persons. Constructed of adobe, burned brick, or wattle and daub, with roofs of thatch or corrugated iron, the houses shelter single individuals or married couples. Usually, there are two rooms, the inner one reserved for sleeping and storage. A separate kitchen at the back of the house is the center of the female domain.



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Most men and many women work, or seek work, in urban areas for most of their working lives. The rural population consists disproportionately of children and elderly people. In urban areas, wages are rarely sufficient to support even a single individual; therefore, people depend on innumerable petty occupations, legal and illegal, to make ends meet. In rural areas, families export as much food to town as they can, earning cash with which to pay taxes and school fees and to buy hardware, clothes, and small luxuries. Domestic animals include goats, sheep, pigs, and poultry; commercial cattle ranches supply meat to the towns. The BaKongo grow manioc, several kinds of yam, maize, peanuts, and various pulses, as well as bananas, avocados, citrus fruits, and palm nuts. A major handicap to the rural economy is the expense and unreliability of transportation. After 1985, the national economy virtually disintegrated, leaving most BaKongo, urban and rural, in dire straits.

Industrial Arts. In rural areas, some men weave baskets and mats, and a few continue the traditional techniques of ironworking; a few women make pots.

Trade. Villages within reach of a truck route may hold a market on Saturdays. Unlicensed traders bring manufactured goods from town for sale or barter, and may make cash advances to rural producers. In town, most women supplement their incomes by buying goods in small quantities and selling still smaller amounts, but a certain number have become successful wholesalers and importers.

Division of Labor. Although both women and men work for wages when they can, men predominate in the better-paying and more prestigious occupations. In rural areas, men cultivate forest crops, including fruit trees, whereas savanna crops are appropriate to women. Men hunt; women fish and catch small rodents.

Land Tenure. In principle, in Zaire all land belongs to the state, from which commercial developers may obtain use rights. In practice, in rural areas unattractive to capitalists, traditional rules of land tenure prevail. Land is owned by matrilineal descent groups called "houses" and is available for use to the members of the house, to in-marrying women, and to the children and grandchildren of male members. Fruit trees, also inherited matrilineally, are owned separately from the land on which they stand.



Kin Groups and Descent. In Zairean law, all traditional kinship groupings have been abolished and replaced by a modified type of European family. In practice, every MuKongo identifies himself by reference to his mother's clan and the village in which it is domiciled. Exogamous local sections of each matrilineal clan are divided into landowning houses, and these, in turn, into lineages functioning as inheritance groups.

Kinship Terminology. BaKongo can trace their relationship to others through only one of several routes, depending on the situation. Two persons occupying the same status with respect to any third party are said to be "siblings," mpangi. When reckoning is by clans, this principle generates a terminological pattern of the Crow type, in which mother's brother's daughter is equated with "child," mwana, and father's sister's daughter with "father," se. When reckoning is traced from individual to individual, the pattern becomes Hawaiian, meaning that all cousins are called "sibling." Most kinship terms apply to relatives of either sex.


Marriage and Family

Marriage. Monogamy is required by law, but many men have long-standing, quasi-domestic relationships with more than one woman. Traditionally, marriage with a classificatory patrilateral cross cousin was preferred, but no one may marry into a closely related lineage. Couples are expected to go through traditional wedding formalities, but official recognition is extended only to legally registered marriages. A man is obliged to support his children, whether he married their mother or not, and there is no status of illegitimacy.

Domestic Unit. By tradition, a married woman and man have separate budgets, the wife being responsible for the provision of food (except meat) and the husband for clothes and other bought goods. Each disposes independently of any surplus, but in Zaire the government favors making women dependent on their husbands. Children are raised cooperatively by neighboring and related women.

Inheritance. Increasingly, especially in urban areas, children inherit from their fathers.


Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Matrilineal descent groups of every level are led by a headman ( nkazi ) with at least nominal authority. Civil affairs, subject to traditional or "customary" regulation ( fu kia nsi ), are managed by committees consisting, as appropriate, of representatives of an individual's father's and mother's clans, along with patrifilial children and grandchildren. Such bilateral committees also represent the individual or his lineage at weddings, funerals, and lawsuits. In the conduct of such affairs, the skill of the orator ( nzonzi ), that is, the ability to influence the gathering by authoritative references to tradition and apt proverbs, is greatly esteemed. Official communications and conclusions are registered by exchanging symbolic gifts of food and money.

Political Organization. Indigenous chieftainship no longer has any effective existence, although, in Zaire, the government, for its own purposes, occasionally convenes people it regards as "customary chiefs." Local politics focuses on rights to land—that is, the rights of the "first occupant." Others who wish to use the land, acknowledging the primacy of the owning house, are supposed to be the descendants of slaves or refugees. Arguments about who is a slave and who is not depend on the recitation of tradition and pedigree, supported by the testimony of neighboring descent groups, and may drag on for generations. The basic unit of rural government in Zaire, roughly corresponding to a U.S. county, is the "collectivity," known in colonial times as the "sector" and, later, as the "commune." Its officers, elected or appointed as the policy of the day may decree, form the lowest rank of the national territorial bureaucracy, which is responsible for local taxation, road maintenance, and public order. The Kongo area in northern Angola has been ravaged by civil war for decades.

Social Control. Elders are believed to exercise a kind of witchcraft on behalf of their dependents, but also to use it against them should they feel that their wishes have been ignored. They may also be accused of misusing this power. Witchcraft capacity ( kundu ) is said to be acquired from other witches for a fee, ultimately requiring the sacrifice of a relative to be "eaten" by the witch coven.

Conflict. The BaKongo have a reputation as a nonviolent people. Physical violence is, in fact, rare among them, although they think of themselves as under constant attack by hostile relatives and neighbors, "witches" exercising occult powers. Appropriate committees of elders mediate disputes, and diviners may be consulted in serious cases; often the diviner is a "prophet" ( ngunza ) of a Christian denomination.


Religion and Expressive Culture

The BaKongo are Christians, mostly Catholic, but with a strong Protestant minority in all three countries, affiliated with British, U.S., and Swedish evangelical missions. Church-related schools and hospitals provide the best available education and medical care. Between 10 and 15 percent of the population belong to local Pentecostal churches, most of which trace their origin to the celebrated Kongo prophet Simon Kimbangu, who preached and healed the sick for a few months in 1921 before being imprisoned for life by the Belgian authorities. His son Joseph Diangienda (deceased) founded and led the now international Church of Jesus Christ on the Earth by the Prophet Simon Kimbangu. Kimbanguist-related movements have included Khakism in Congo in the 1930s and Tokoism in Angola in the 1950s.

Arts. Indigenous arts, including sculpture and music, have been almost entirely suppressed by European influence. The traditional pentatonic scale can still be heard in the songs of women, especially as sung at funerals and in connection with the cult of twins. A variety of percussion instruments and idiophones (drums, silt gongs, clapperless bells, rattles) are employed at parties and religious services. In Kinshasa, the BaKongo contribute substantially to Zaire's internationally famous popular dance music.

Medicine. BaKongo of all walks of life commonly consult healers and magical experts ( nganga ) to deal with not only illnesses but also afflictions such as marital disputes, unemployment, traffic accidents, and theft. Such experts, concentrated in the towns, include non-BaKongo. A distinction is made between afflictions sent by God, which are "natural," and those in which an element of witchcraft is involved. Sufferers and their families commonly essay a series of treatments for the same problem, visiting both the diviner and the hospital.

Death and Afterlife. Funerals are important occasions of social gathering and family expenditure. Ideally, the bodies of the dead should be taken back to their natal villages if death occurs in town. Cemeteries are considered to be dangerous places, not to be visited casually. The land of the dead is thought of as situated on the other side of a body of water, sometimes identified with the Atlantic. The life of the dead continues that of the living in another place but inverts it, in such a way that to the dead, who become white, nighttime is daylight. All exceptional powers among the living are thought to be obtained from the dead, either legitimately, as in the case of chiefs and elders, or illegitimately, in the case of witches. In modern belief, benevolent powers from the land of the dead tend to be consolidated under the name "Holy Spirit," and evil powers as "Satan."


Types of Art

The most prolific art form from this area is the nkisi objects, which come in all shapes, mediums, and sizes. The stratification of Kongo society resulted in much of the art being geared toward those of high status, and the nkisi figures were one of the only forms available to everyone.

Kongo people art Kongo people art Kongo people art Kongo people art

Religion: A Supreme God

The Bakongo, like the other Bantu ethnic groups, believe in a Supreme Being. In Central West Africa, this Supreme Being is called Nzambi, Nzambe, Njambe, Anambia, etc. All these names derive from the same root which, according to Swedish missionary and ethnographer Karl Edvard Laman, seems to signify the true light phenomenon of the beginning, the dazzling light, the light of the sky. The same root is found in the words my-nya, i-nyi, mw-ini, the light of the sun, the light of day. The word Nzarnbi seems to signify the “distributor of light”, the Being who sends the light of day, the one who lights the dawn through the firmament, the one who extends the rainbow in its totality. Often the words (attributes) Mpungu, Nene, Mpungu Tulendo, are attributed to Nzambi. Mpungu comes from Mungu which means sky (compare mongo: high mountain). Nzambi Mpungu Tulendo could be translated as: “The Almighty Distributor of Light in the Sky (the High)”. This Nzambi name is the same as Chambi, which the ancestors of the Bakongo kept when they left the country of Chari in southern Sudan. This name has been preserved by several tribes who went from Chari to Central West Africa. We meet him also among the Bateke and the Herero. Nzambi Mpungu lives in the sky. Nobody created it. “Nzambi is the largest, the oldest, we are all small and weak. Nzambi is in heaven, say the Bakongo. In myths, Nzambi Mpungu is mentioned as the Creator God of all things. He created the sky, the earth, the mountains, the rivers, the forests. He created the wild animals and also created the man with clay. The proverbs, which are as old if not older than the myths, speak of Nzambi. They are not very numerous, but this can be explained by the fact that the name of God, Nzambi, was taboo in the old days and could not be used in everyday conversation. Nevertheless, the proverbs, even few, are of great importance when we try to understand the belief of the Bakongo in a Supreme God, Nzambi, and his relationship with man and the worship of fetishes? Some of these rituals are found only in the ritual of nganga nkisi (priest of the nkisi) when he treats the sick; they express the belief of the people concerning the limited value of the nkisi and the important part that Nzambi, the Supreme Being. No god-nkisi could cure the sick if Nzambi did not treat them at the same time.



Many of these mysterious things in reverence are taboo, such as certain foods, certain animals, certain plants, and some things all considered to be filled with power and can be dangerous to society or to the individual. The “priest”, the diviner, the chief are taboo and others may become taboo in certain circumstances and on certain occasions. Examples: the body, the warrior, the hunter and the fisherman. There are also taboos inside many social institutions like marriage, etc. Things that are taboo become so because of their nature or through prohibitions by priests.
The taboo of fear is used to strengthen power. For example, the leader’s orders must be obeyed since the leader is taboo. In this same example, we see that fear is the foundation of obedience.
When we examine the conception of taboos, we enter very deeply into the nature of primitive religion, more than in many other areas of their beliefs. The taboo is not only a dangerous thing, it is also considered contagious, something separate, sanctified. In the conception of taboos, we also find the beginning of the notion of saint and defiled. It is sometimes difficult to say which is indicated. The taboo makes it clear to the native what is good and what is wrong, what is supernatural and hence must be feared, observed and obeyed in order to avoid misfortune as well as subsequent fines, so that the disaster can be distant. The taboo is called nlongo among the Bakongo and it is the best word to express the idea of “put aside”, “discarded”, something that cannot be eaten or used. If the taboo is violated, the culprit becomes dishonoured. The opposite of taboo is the ordinary, something that can be freely used. The word nlongo should not be used as holy in the sense of “pure”, saints, “Holy Spirit”, it is the word Vedila that should be used, which means “to be pure”. The Bakongo say that nlongo, taboo, is a commandment, a prohibition through which they protect the body, the village, the animals, that is to say on the condition that they obey all taboos. The reason why taboos are imposed is to ensure well-being and luck. Those who strictly follow the rules of bunlongo are lucky on earth and will be well received by ancestors in the world of the dead. Violating the rules of taboos will have the opposite effect. The ancestors are the guardians of the taboos, and it is from them that the punishment will come if they are not observed. There are other commandments, rules and laws among the Bakongo, which are not taboos. There is a clear difference in the vocabulary between violating taboos and violating other laws. To violate the commandments or the laws, they speak of “killing” the law or “lowering” the law kulula mwina; but to violate taboos, they use the word “rendering soiled”, “impure”, “polluted” sumuna. It is this word that has been adopted by Christian teaching for the verb “to sin”, the noun being sumu or more exactly disumu, the plural being masumu. Taboos are absolute and cannot be altered. There is no excuse if they are violated. We are guilty and we feel guilty. As soon as someone is consecrated to nkisi with his taboos, he has put a very heavy burden on his conscience through a law that must be respected. Thus is born the feeling of responsibility. When someone breaks the rules, he feels guilty and stays until the reparation has taken place through the sacrifices.



Real totemism – in the sense of an animal, a plant, etc. special magic for each individual, family or clan – is not common among the Bakongo. A father, however, can tell his child, indicating a certain animal: “This is your kinkonko (totem) protect it well, do not send it to the village to steal the roosters because it could be killed and the therefore you will die too”
According to the Bakongo belief, animals have, besides special qualities, a hidden inner life, nsala, that man can take and incorporate into his soul in order to strengthen it and prolong his life. They call it bonga kibulu (take the power, soul or vitality of the animal) or bonga kinkonko (take an animal as protector). These animals are also called kitutzi, animals of transformation, of the verb kituka, to change. The master of such a kitutzi can be transformed into the shape of this animal. This one can be sent to the enemies to hurt them. All kinkonko animals have a certain power of nkisi and can even be revealed to a person in a dream to guide and help him.
The belief that animals have an inner life, we find in the following proverb: “The sleeping animal is not killed.” Kialeka ka kivondwanga ko. During the hunt, if the Bakongo find a sleeping animal, they should never kill it during its sleep. They must first wake him up. It is not useful to kill the sleeping animal since the animal will not die because the inner life (the soul) may not be there.
Help and protection of a kinkonko are acquired through magic rites. The father of a child makes a small incision on the child and on the animal chosen as kinkonko. If it is not possible to catch the animal, such as a leopard or an elephant, you can only take a piece of skin from that animal and make the incision on it. The soul of the child will, therefore, have a close connection with this animal. The life of the animal now depends on that of the child and vice versa. If one dies, the other will die too.
Often the leopard is the kinkonko of a clan, and then people think there should be a good relationship between this animal and the clan. If the leopard kills someone from the clan, the victim would be considered guilty of witchcraft, kindoki. The leopard then takes it to avenge the bad deeds of this ndoki; so a proverb says, “If the leopard takes you, you have a curse.” Ngo vo ukubakidi, diambu diena yaku.
Another proverb related to totemism says: “If you blame the leopard, also blame the dog, because the intention of the dog is bad”. Weti semba ngo fwiti semba mbwa, kadi lukanu lwa mbwa lwambi. The reasoning logic is that the dog and the leopard fought during the hunt. This is not only the fault of the leopard, it is also the fault of the dog who had his share of responsibility in the quarrel. One must be careful and not say anything bad or insulting the kinkonko of the clan.



The so-called cult of nkisi (incorrectly fetishism) is, according to Laman, a kind of ancestor devotion that preserves the soul of man and protects him against disease. The nkisi can even cure a sick person. The nkisi is worshiped and must be thanked by sacrifices when help is received.
What is nkisi? The constituent elements of the cult of nkisi among the Bakongo are:
1) The word nkisi belongs to the semi-personal class (n-mz) and consists of two parts:
a) the body, cooking pot or carved figure, carapace or antelope horn or a combination of several of these objects that contain drugs (powerful objects that will be described below);
b) nkuyu, the ghost that is caught and tied to the nkisi by nganga nkisi, the nkisi priest.
2) Nkisi was given to men by Nzambi and he is powerless without the blessing and help of Nzambi. The nganga nkisi says, therefore, when he treats a sick person: “Treat the inside, I treat the outside”. Buka mu kati, yabuka ku mbazi. The meaning is that the nganga, with his medication, treats the patient outside, while Nzambi, the Supreme God, treats on the inside, that is, ultimately, realizes the actual healing. Another proverb says, “When you are treated, be treated with God”. Wabuku, buku ye Nzambi. And another proverb again: “The Nganga who treats is Nzambi Mpungu”. Nganga ibukanga i Nzambi. This is an interesting aspect of the nkisi cult that shows the Bakongo belief that Nzambi is taking an active part in their lives.
3) The status of nganga is also very important. The nganga must follow the taboos, otherwise the power of the nkisi will be lost. The nkisi lose their power as soon as the nganga who made them dies. It is thus clear that several important elements enter the cult of nkisi.
1) First there is a concentration of powers in the body, the pot, the carapace or the horn of antelope. These objects are not put in at random, but according to the composition law of each particular nkisi. These powerful objects, or more precisely these objects of power, can be clay, leaves of certain trees, roots, leopard nails, heads of snakes, copal, mushrooms (diba, who forgets), coal, beans, bird’s head, ntoyo, parrot feathers, etc.

Hundreds items such as those just enumerated are used in the many different minkisi Bakongo. The combination is always the same for the same nkisi. This arrangement has a scientific basis and is not a hazardous combination, as many European researchers have thought. All objects are considered to be filled with energy to varying degrees. This is the dynamic aspect of the nkisi cult.
3) The help and blessing of Nzambi Mpungu, the Supreme God, must follow the treatment. Nzambi Mpungu gave minkisi to men and he works through them for their protection and healing.
4) The priest and the patient must both strictly respect certain taboos so that the nkisi can provide the expected help.
5) They must use the blood of roosters sacrificed if the nkisi is to intervene. Sometimes the rooster is killed and his blood offered to the nkisi. For a smaller nkisi, just cut the crest of the cock and drop a few drops of blood on the nkisi. Other items such as corn, peanuts, animal skin and bones, pieces of cloth, may be offered as well. They are placed in the nkisi’s packet or suspended on the idol.
6) Invocations and prayers are addressed to the nkisi. This is done according to specific rites with songs and the repetition of certain formulas and the execution of the dances.
It is said that the first nkisi came from Mentete, that is, the first being Nzambi, the Nzambi descended from heaven. He has revealed and taught how nkisi should be made and used. The minkisi have thus received their power and their power of Mentete.
However, it has been proven that nkisi does not protect and always heals. This is why a proverb says, “The little deceptive things made by Nzambi”. Bimpuna-mpuna biavanga Nzambi. Nkisi is a false thing that God has made because he has no power if Nzambi himself does not come to help and heal the sick person. They treated and were treated (but were not cured). Babuka bukama. This proverb also recalls how people view the nkisi.
The nkisi is in close relationship with its maker, the nganga: “The honor of nkisi is when the nganga is alive”. Kembo dia nkisi, nganga bu kena kimoyo. When the nganga who made and consecrated nkisi dies, he loses all his power. It’s only as long as the one who made it is alive.
The nkisi cannot provide a new capability to its owner, but it can strengthen, expand or develop existing capabilities.



The nganga is a taboo character that should not be teased: “If you are a nganga, we do not point the finger.” Wakala unganga, kusongwa nlembo ko. This is also true for the nkisi itself. In the presence of nkisi, people are shy and submissive. “When nakongo (nkist) is gone, the beds (the sick) are healed.” Nakongo wele, ntanda minieki. This means that when the nkisi is withdrawn, people (actually patients) become talkative. Nobody dares to offend the nkisi or nganga nkisi in their presence. If they must be insulted, this must be done when they cannot hear the insults. “Nakongo eats the feces, it’s out of the way (you’ll say that)”. Nakongo dia tuvi, i kuna nenga.
The priest is considered by the Bakongo to be a very stingy and unscrupulous person. It is better to have to do with him as little as possible, since he always seeks to take the goods of others. They (the Bakongo) say to the Nganga of the village: “Do not look behind, look ahead, because behind there is no one left”. Kutadi ku manima ko. Tala ku ntwala, kadi ku manima ka kwasalani bantu ko. They exhort him not to treat in his own village, otherwise he will make his own people poor. It is better to see him look after in other villages, to bring back goods in his own village.
Since people know that nganga are stingy, they try to deceive them. So a proverb says “If you avoid nganga, is this the end of the disease? Walwenga Nganga. Mabela mawidi e? The nganga must be fine, otherwise he will lose his fees. This exhortation seems unnecessary since, in principle, it forces people to pay for its services. “The diviner is not ashamed.” Nganga ngombo kafo; anga nsoni ko. It is prudent to pay the nganga ngombo, otherwise it can kill the patient. A proverb says, “They pretend to heal, while they choke.” Buka bana buka, kiongo nieminanga.
The Nganga heals the patient so that the patient dies if he does not get a good fee. It is also good for people to know the nganga’s “tricks” so they are alert. “If you walk with the nganga, know his stuff; if you ignore them, he will eat you. ” Wakiba ye nganga, zaba fu biandi; vo kuzebi bio ko, ukudidi.



When the Bakongo suspect that there is a ndoki (sorcerer) in the village who is secretly eating people, they send for the Ngongo Ngongo, the diviner, to look for the culprit. He has many ways and means to identify him. One of these means is indicated in the following proverb: “Whoever answers the Nganga question knows something”. Watambulanga mafina my nganga, diambu zeyi. Bahelele explains this proverb as follows: “When the Nganga tries, by his many things, to discover the ndoki, he gathers the whole family of the patient. He tells them several short stories. The next day, he brings the family together again, saying: “I only told you short stories, but I have not told you the name of the culprit yet.” Someone in the family will feel that one of the stories is aimed at him, and he will say something to avoid any suspicion about him. Whoever speaks in this way will immediately be pointed out as suspected witchcraft, kindoki.
Sorcerers are hugely feared by people. They are supposed to have the power to “eat” the vitality of others. This is supposed to happen especially at night when the soul of the ndoki goes out in search of his prey. The person who is eaten will have nightmares and bad dreams. “Nloko a mfina (nkisz) replies, have you strangled me? Nloko a mjina tom bu / a wo, ngeye wizi kumjin’e? The wizards, bandoki, are terribly feared: “One never keeps a sick person in the house of a ndoki”. Nzo a ndoki ka yikebulwanga mbevo ko.
Some animals are considered to be the harbinger of certain accidents or death. Among these animals can be mentioned the jackal, the owl, the ntoyo (bird Coccystes Jacobinus) and so on. “All the other birds can sing, but if the ntoyo sings, there is a misfortune.” Nuni zazo zazonza kwandi, kansi ntoyo kamana zonza, diambu kabeki. The ntoyo is a bird that presages bad events, so the Bakongo say of someone who has the ability to bewitch people: “You have the mouth of the ntoyo”. Nwa wa ntoyo wayaku.


Clans of the Kongo people

• Bembe
• Dondo
• Kamba
• Hangala
• Kongo Boko
• Kugni
• Lari
• Manyanga
• Mikéngé /N’Kéngé
• Suundi
• Bavili
• Yombe
• Ba lemfu
• Ba manianga
• Ba mbanza manteke
• Ba mbata
• Ba mboma
• Ba ndibu
• Ba ntandu
• Ba solongo
• Ba woyo
• Ba Wumbu
• Ba yaka
• Ba yombe
• Ba zombo
• Besi Ngombe
• Kwakongo/Kuakongo
• Ba Solongo
• Ba woyo
• Besi Songo
• Besi Nova Caipemba
• Bandamba
• Kisaka Ndika
• Besi Zanza
• Besi Nsonso
• Ban’kanda
• N’solongo
• Yombe
• Ba Sansala
• Ba Zombo
• Besi Bembe
• Ba Fiote
• Ba SanzaPombo

• Ba vili