Nyindu people

Nyindu

Nyindu / Mnyindu / Banyindu

The Nyindu people (singular: Mnyindu, plural: Banyindu), are an ethnic group predominantly found along the Ulindi River in the north, west, and south, as well as the Kilungutwe River, located in the Mwenga Territory in the southern part of South Kivu Province in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The Nyindu of Congo (Kinshasa) are numbering 14,500n (Peoplegroups.org, 2024)

Nyindu People

The Nyindu people belong to the Bantu ethnic group and linguistic family, which is among the most populous and diverse ethnic groups in the South Kivu Province. They are known for their traditional agricultural practices, which include cultivating crops such as maize, cassava, and beans. They also engage in animal husbandry, particularly with cattle. The Nyindu are organized into clans, and each clan has a chief who serves as a leader and arbitrator.

 

Economy

The economy of the Nyindu people is likely centered around agriculture, with many people engaged in subsistence farming and livestock rearing. They also participate in small-scale trade and market activities, selling their produce and goods in local markets. The region in which the Nyindu people live is rich in natural resources, including minerals such as gold, tin, and coltan, but the extraction and trade of these resources have often been linked to conflict and human rights abuses. Political instability and conflict have had a severe impact on the economy and livelihoods of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the Nyindu people.

Nyindu People

Language

The Nyindu people speak Kinyindu, a Bantu language that is part of the Niger-Congo language family. According to Belgian scholar of Central African art, Daniel P. Biebuyck, the Nyindu have the closest cultural and historical connections with the Lega people among the neighboring ethnic groups. However, the linguistic classification of the Nyindu language remains somewhat unclear. Belgian scholar of Bantu languages and people in the eastern part of the Belgian Congo, Van Bulck, includes the Nyindu language in the subgroup of Lake Kivu of the young Bantu group of Northeastern Bantu (Section B). He considers the Nyindu language to be part of the same language group as the Shi, Hunde, Havu, Tembo, Kinyarwanda, and Kirundi, but distinct from the Lega language.

On the other hand, Belgian historian and anthropologist, Jan Vansina, includes the Nyindu language in the Maniema group, which is the same group as the Lega language. The debate about the classification of the Nyindu language reflects the complex linguistic and cultural diversity of the people residing in the region.

Nyindu People

Groups

The Nyindu, are a complex group of people some related to the Bembe and the Lega and some strongly mixed with hunting populations of unclear origin. The principal clan groups are:

In addition to the central chieftainship (Mwami), most Nyindu groups have an association called Bwami Bwa ‘E’umbu. The doctrines, aims, and procedures of this association have much in common with the same association among the Bembe and the Lega Basimwenda. Most Nyindu groups have the Bwami association, but the hierarchical structure and the paraphernalia are different from those of the Lega and Bembe, although many of the ritual procedures of initiation are similar to those of the Bembe and Lega, to whom they are geographically close.

Nyindu People

Chieftainship

The central chieftainship is hereditary within the Batumba clan. The candidate is selected by two sets of office holders called Bagingi and Bazyoga. In the ritual of selection, an official of the Bagingi group called Nyamushungwe catches the candidate with a leopard hide. This selection is done following secret procedures and oracles. After he is caught, the candidate is taken to the Nyzyembwe (title of the leader of the Bagingi).

The Nyamushungwe and Nyzyembwe then make a hat in goat’s hide (kikumbu) and a skull cap (kalemba) in wickerwork imbued with red color. For these two sacred insignia ‘e’o’o, the candidate provides two heads of cattle, three goats, ten chickens, and packs of small beads, oils, etc. Representatives of the Bazyoga group bring various foods, including fish, cane rats, and elusine, prepared by their wives. The chief elect will then be hand-fed and will receive the kidasa hat (or kitasa). This hat is probably made from hyena hide with an ishungwe shell attached in the front.

 

Rituals

As part of the enthronement rituals, the chief elect is seated on a stool, while the Nyamushungwe beats the kalinda (drum) and provides the chief with advice and prescriptions. During this initiation, the chief also receives a wife, always from the Bashimbi clan. She becomes the Namwami; she is the one who anoints the chief and places the ishungwe hat on his head; it is also during this rite that the chief will have his only sexual relation with the Namwami. After the enthronement, the chief cannot have any further contact with her; should she nevertheless conceive a male child, the child would have to be banished into another clan.

Another important ritual is the death of the chief. The Bagingi transport the moribund chief to a house in the forest. The chief’s wives are then lead to believe that he has mysteriously disappeared. No one mourns the dead chief, because he is believed to survive in his successor. Thus, when the chief dies in the forest, the event is kept secret. After some time, having received goats and chickens from the dead chief’s wives, the Bagingi place a spear upside-down near the entrance of the village to notify people of the death of the chief. No verbal announcement is ever made. The Bwami hat that he had (ishungwe) passes to the Bagingi for safekeeping; it is turned upside down until a new chief is chosen.

Nyindu people

History

The Nyindu people are part of the Bantu ethnolinguistic group, which is believed to have originated in the region that is now modern-day Cameroon and Nigeria before spreading across the continent over many centuries. The origin of the Nyindu people is not entirely clear, as there are limited written records of their early history. However, the Nyindu are considered a mixture of aboriginal groups (of M’minje and Lenge origin, but mixed with Pygmies) and immigrant offshoots of the Lega and the Fuliiru-Vira.

According to Nyindu oral tradition, their first king's descendants ruled over neighboring peoples such as the Shi, Hunde, Fuliiru, and Vira. Additionally, some Nyindu people who belong to the Kabila ya Banyindu (Nyindu group) share clans with the Lega, Fuliiru and Vira, such as the Batumba, Balambo, and Banyemganga. Furthermore, Nyindu architecture shows influences from the Lega and the Bembe. As a result, the Nyindu people have close cultural and historical relationships not only with the Lega, but also with the Shi and the Bembe. These cultural connections and historical ties have contributed to the Nyindu people's diverse cultural identity. The Lega, for example, are known for their artistry and are renowned for their wooden sculptures and masks. The Bembe, on the other hand, are recognized for their intricate basket weaving and pottery. The Nyindu people have incorporated elements from these neighboring communities into their own cultural practices and have also shared their own traditions with them.

In recent decades, the Nyindu people have confronted significant challenges, such as conflict and displacement stemming from political instability and armed groups in the region. On August 24, 1998, during the Second Congo War, a massacre was carried out by the Rally for Congolese Democracy (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie) rebels and Rwandan soldiers in Kasika and nearby villages, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 people, a majority of whom were Nyindu. The incident is widely regarded as one of the deadliest in the conflict, which lasted from 1998 to 2003 and caused immense human suffering and displacement across the country. Following the massacre, the Nyindus took an active part in the political and social life of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have advocated for greater representation and recognition of their rights and have worked to preserve their cultural heritage, including through traditional music, dance, and art. The international community has also provided assistance to support the Nyindu people and other communities affected by the conflict, including efforts to promote peace, security, and development in the region.

 


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