African Cultures By Young Africans: Bashi Tribe

Photocred: Patricia Lokwa
Photocred: Patricia Lokwa


Written By Eddy Mihigo

I am from the Bashi tribe in the South Kivu province, one of three provincial groups (the others being Maniema and North Kivu) that make up the Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s Second Largest country and is one of the most populated in Africa. The capital is Kinshasa, which is situated in the Central Western part of the country. The country is Surrounded by 11 countries, which the most neighbours any country has in Africa.  A lot is already known about the riches of the country, and the wars that plague it.

Geographically, the Kivu province is made up of three provinces that run along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania (along the Lake Tanganyika).  This area is unique in the DRC because of its climatic and geological conditions. The eastern Maniema Province is located in the Plateau and core basin areas. Height reaches approximately 500 metres and the equatorial forest is an important portion of the area. The climate here is hot and the region has a very short dry season. Height rises towards the east, reaching 1500 to 2000 metres with peaks of 5000 metres in the mountainous and plateau area. This area, the North and South Kivu, is called the “Mountainous” Kivu. It is the Congolese portion of the large range of mountains and tectonic deeps that crosses from Northern to Southern Africa from the Red Sea to the Zambezi River. This specific area conditions the hydrographic net, because of the lakes that are situated here.  From north to south there is Lakes Albert, George, Edward, Kivu and Tanganyika. This system splits up two huge hydrographic basins of the Congo and the Nile rivers.

Brief History of Traditional Authorities

Administratively, most tribes in the Kivu are organized around collectivities, with each based on a specific lineage. These in turn are divided in sub-groups and villages. Various collectives are mono-ethic, but tribes often have blood ties with neighboring collectivities. The tribes’ traditional boundaries loosely became the basis of modern administrative boundaries.

The collectivity, and any lower administrative level is headed by a Mwami (Chief), who is also part of the modern administration. The same tribe can have several Bwami (plural) at the same traditional level. Their ranks are however differentiated by the (modern) administration (Collectivity>subgroup>village). Historically, the major responsibility of the Mwami centered around the allocation of land among members of his tribe. Today, the Mwami’s major role is to conserve customs and traditions. The Bwami retain spiritual influence over their people and continue to play a role in mobilizing people, as they had done since pre-colonialism.Each tribe has a council of elders to assist the Mwami in managing local affairs. The council is often made up of lower Bwami, and may also include men of competence. The Bwami also have responsibility over lower courts to deal with local disputes about matters relating to land use, divorce, bride price and rape. They are assisted in these functions by local judges who are selected by the Mwami himself according to competence. The next higher Mwami (if there is one) must confirm the selection.

The Ethnic and native Tribes of Kivu

With over 30 native tribes, the Kivu is one of the most organized provinces in the country, with each tribe having a well-defined hierarchy.  I will concentrate on the tribes I am directly connected to.

A brief history of the relationship between the Banyabungo (Bahavu – Sibula Dynasty) and the Bashi (Ngweshe/Kabare – BushiDinasty). The mother of Nsibula I yaNyibungawasNyibungawaKamome and was the daughter of King of the Bushi,NnabushiKamome. At the time Bushi was one and the capital was in Kabare in Cirunga. She was kidnapped at the time of the invasion in Bushi by the Mwami of Rwanda Nsoro 1stSamukondo. She would later be remitted to her father by the Rwandan king himself. Her father then sent her to live with his younger brother, her uncle, Chief Chifundangombe, who impregnated her. Ashamed of this, and to avoid any scandals. Her father then married her to the king of Bunyabungo (Buhavu) LukaraRwaNsibula, the son of Mbebaerimanza. Lukara then became the adopted father of the child that was born, who took the name of Nsibula, and became known later as Nsibula I yaNyibunga.

The Bushi people, who were a powerful kingdom that extended from Kabare in the North, along the Lake Kivu to the south in Walungu, were constantly plagued by invasion and infighting. This caused a rift in the tribe and today, they are scattered across the land, each with its own Mwami.

IJWI(IDJWI):  An island on the Kivu Lake in South Kivu, which was annexed by Rwanda at the end of the 19th century and ceded by the Germans to Congo in 1910. The Belgians made Ijwi a vassal of Buhavu in 1921, a cause of instability until 1940. The capital is Rambo. Ijwi was split in two in 1943 by the Belgians with Rubenga in the North, and Idjwi in the south.



Head of Family: The Mwami of Ijwi

Name: Roger NtambukaBalekageMihigo II (in Exile)


Sons of MwamiMwendanga:

  1. MwamiKabego
  2. Balikage, Sultani of Rubenga


MwamiMwendanga, +c1870. Son of Kabwika (heir and oldest son of BihakoBamanyirwe, Mwami of Buhavu) and father of:

MwamiKabego c1870-…, +c1889. Father of:

MwamiMihigo I Ndogosa c1878-deposed 1889, restored 1896-deposed…, exiled,  +1928

MwamiNtambukaBarhakana 1928-194 and restored around 1960-72. Half-brother of:

Chief Mahamiriza 1943-1960,

MwamiMihigo I, +c1998

Roger NtambukaBalekageMihigo II, Mwami of Ijwi

NGWESHE: A state in the Walungu District of South Kivu on the Kivu Lake, the junior line of the Bashi Dynasty who pushed the senior line north to the present territory of Kabare, also known as Bushi.


Baluzi: Princes

Bami: plural of Mwami

Bashi: People of Bushi

Bwami: Kingdom

Mwami: King

MwamiKazi: Queen Mother



Head of the family: The Mwami of Ngweshe

Name: Ngweshe XV Weza III Pierre J.M.J. NdatabayeMuhigirwa, Mwami of Ngweshe since before 1979, Senator, jailed in Kinshasa around 1998 (Exiled)


MwamiNgweshe XIV Muhigirwa 1936 – … Father of

Ngweshe XV Weza III Pierre J.M.J. NdatabayeMuhigirwa, Mwami of Ngweshec1979-…



Burinyi (Burhinyi): A Bashi Chiefdom in the Mwenga District of South Kivu, a part of which split to form the Chiefdom of Kabare.

Head of family: MwugandaBas(h)engezi, Mwami of Burinyi, c1997

Kalonge: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Kalehe District, South Kivu Province.

Head of family: NakalongeMpagama II, Mwami of Kalonge c1997 (jailed in Kinshasa in 1998)

Kaziba: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Walungu District of the Province of South Kivu (formerly known as Bafulero).

Head of family: Chimanye II KabonwaNnakaziba, Mwami of Kaziba c1998 (Exiled)

Luhwindja: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Menga District of South Kivu

Head of Family: Philemon MukubaNaluhwindja, Mwami of Luhwindja 1988 – 2001 (Killed) Successor unkown.

Nnindja: A Bashi chiefdom in the Kabare District, South Kivu

Head of family: NanindjaBalekembaka, Mwami of Nindja since 1989 (Exiled)

Kabare: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Kabare District, South Kivu Province, the senior line of the Bashi Dynasty that was pushed north by the Junior line (from  Ngweshe). The capital is Chirunga.

Dynasty: Mwoca

Head of Family: Desire KabareRugemanizi II, Mwami of Kabare since 1990 (Jailed in Kinshasa in 1998) (Exiled).


The culture in Kivu is a peculiar one, mostly because it allowed itself to be influenced by external forces (colonial), while it kept its core values. The constant changing local political landscape, along with the tribal conflicts have shaped the people, but have not cancelled the traditional cultural practices, which already had a strong impact on the rural environment where 80% of the people live. Almost all activities, from agricultural techniques to construction methods





Published by Afrikan Princess

I am an avid traveler with a background in copywriting, social media management, art exhibition and music festival curation. I am a huge bookworm who not only enjoys getting lost in books, but I also enjoy writing on topics such as travel, art and fashion. I am interested in working in any projects relating to copywriting for small businesses, fiction writing, curating exhibitions for visual artists in Africa. I am also keen to work with small businesses in developing their social media strategies. Africa is my first love and I am currently having a great time exploring her.

5 thoughts on “African Cultures By Young Africans: Bashi Tribe

  1. The information is okay however many people are asking if it should be okay to talk about the origin and the belief systems for Shi people.


  2. Hello benewirhu☺️
    Thank you so much for doing that good job, God bless you

    I would suggest if you don’t mind to share some YouTube videos about how story like here in English, specially what talk about traditional marriage…(introduction)…. cause many of the Congolese videos is just music, dance what is good too however if it could be more details of the history it would be much better.

    Thank you so much 🙏


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