Luba - Tshiluba - Cilubà

1.  Classification / Classification

Luba (Cilubà; also Chiluba or Tshiluba) is one of three dialects in the Luba-Lulua subgroup of Bantu (Guthrie L31). (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, L, Luba (L.30)

For purposes of this survey, the 6 tongues listed under the above classification are included. Luna or "Northern Luba" is not included (it is classified as: ... , Narrow Bantu, Central, L, Songye (L.20). Further information to clarify and modify this is requested.)

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken primarily in the Kasayi region of Dem. Rep. of the Congo. (Webbook)

A map showing the area where Cilubà is spoken is available at (Map copyright (c) 1999 by Gilles-Maurice de Schryver)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to information compiled from Ethnologue:

  • Luba-Kasai: 6,300,000 (1991 UBS)
    • 700,000 second-language speakers
  • Luba-Katanga: 1,505,000 (1991 UBS)
  • Kanyok: 200,000 (1991 UBS)
  • Hemba: 180,958 (2000 WCD)
  • Sanga: 431,000 (1991 UBS)
  • Lwalu: 21,000 (1971 Welmers)

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Voegelin and Voegelin mention three major dialects: Luba-Kasai, Lulua, and Lange. Stappers (1952) notes four dialects: western, central, eastern, and southern. (Webbook)

According to information from Ethnologue:

  • Luba-Kasai (Luba-Lulua, Tshiluba, Western Luba, Luva)
    • Significant dialect differences between East Kasai Region (Baluba people) and West Kasai Region (Bena Lulua people)
    • Hemba is a closely related language
  • Luba-Katanga (Luba-Shaba, Kiluba)
  • Hemba (Kihemba, Emba, Kiemba, Luba-Hemba, Eastern Luba)
  • Sanga (Kisanga, Southern Luba, Luba-Sanga, Luba-Garenganze)
  • Kanyok
  • Lwalu

The Wikipedia article on this language notes significant dialect differences between east and west Kasai regions.

5.  Usage / Utilisation

The western dialect, while not the largest in speakers, is acknowledged to be the standard used in school instruction and churches. (Webbook)

Luba is an official language in DR Congo as well as a major lingua franca. (Webbook)

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Chiluba has a standardized Latin-based orthography. (Webbook, with modifications) [Need more info.] Apparently tones are marked (see online dictionary in 7.6, below).

See for more info on the standardized orthography.

Apparently the recent Mandombe script has been adapted for Luba. It is not clear to what extent it may actually be used, however.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Sample texts are shown on the "Language Museum" site (NB- these may not represent current or official orthography):

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet


7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

The dictionary compilation software TshwaneLex (cf. has been fully localised in Cilubà by Prof. NS Kabuta and his team. See for screenshots the article 'Internationalisation, Localisation and Customisation Aspects of the Dictionary Application TshwaneLex' by Gilles-Maurice de Schryver here

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Luba-Lulua (Luba-Kasai)

  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: lua
  • ISO 639-3: lua


  • ISO 639-1: lu
  • ISO 639-2: lub
  • ISO 639-3: lub


  • ISO 639-3: hem


  • ISO 639-3: kny


  • ISO 639-3: lwa


  • ISO 639-3: sng

7.6  Other / Autre

Nkòngamyakù wa Cilubà - Mfwàlànsa (online dictionary) (compiled by Prof. NS Kabuta and his team).

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

Need further information to clarify which tongues to include in this category. (Esp. from the perspective of the range of possible localisation activities.)

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Luba (Chiluba)," )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Hemba,"

______, "Kanyok,"

______, "Luba-Kasai,"

______, "Luba-Katanga,"

______, "Lwalu,"

______, "Sanga,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

Wikipedia, "Luba-Kasai language," ("Tshiluba language" redirects here)

______, "Luba-Katanga language,"

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Categories: Languages, CongoDemRep