The Luba Calendar

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The Luba Calendar

The Luba calendar is a 12-month calendar used by the Luba people, who are also known as Baluba. They are an indigenous group to the south-central region of Democratic republic of Congo (formerly the Republic of Zaire).  In fact, they are the largest ethnic group of the Democratic republic of Congo. The Luba comprises a variety of people with different origins but who speak related languages, and have many common traits culturally. The Luba kingdom has three main subdivisions which include Luba-Shnkaji of Katanga, Luba-Bambo of Kassi, Luba-Hemba of northern Katanga and southern Kiva. All three subdivisions are linked to other Congo people historically, culturally and linguistically.

People who border the Luba kingdom are the Chokwe, Ndembu, Bemba, Tabwa, Hemba, Songye, Hundi and Kwandi. The Luba region stretches from River Lwembe to about 50 kilometers east of the Zaire River, in southern DRC.

The pre-colonial people of Luba were famous for occupations like blacksmithing, potters, woodworkers, sculptors, mat and basket weaving; they are also known to breed sheep, goats, poultry birds and pigs, which are usually consumed on special occasions.

Religiously, before the advent of Belgium colonial rule, the Luba people worshipped Shakapanga, which is believed to be a universal creator, and Leza or the Supreme Being, but Christianity is now the major religion in the area.

Popular personalities from the Luba people include: Moise Tshombe (one time president of Congo); Albert Kalonji (once president of the mining state of South Kasai); Pepe Kalle (Musician and band leader); Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba (one time prime minister); Major general John Numbi (Inspector general of police).

Aside the culture and tradition of the Luba tribe, another unique feature they possess is their indigenous calendar. Any calendar of approximately 365 to 366 days is based on astrophysical observations and demonstrates the ability of these people to apply scientific knowledge to the development of frameworks for economic production and the development of social frameworks.

Unlike the general calendar, the Luba calendar year starts in September, and ends in August. The months are named after human activities and natural occurrences, the calendar gives more attention to the agricultural way of life, with specifics on when the rainy season commences, when it’s time for planting, when pests (ants) come out of their burrows, when the dry season commences, and even when it’s time to marry.

The Luba calendar is a 12 month calendar used by the people of Luba.

The list of months are as follows:

Mvul’a Mbedi (September)

This month signifies the beginning of rainy season. Although, the beginning of the rainy season doesn’t mean it is time to plant; for if they plant, the seeds and crops would be destroyed in the coming months by pests.

Kibitende (October)

White ants come out: during this month there would be no farming activities in the land, as the soil would be dried and less fertile for agricultural works. Pests (ants) would begin to emerge from their mound in search for foods for their colonies.

Kaswa Bitende (November)

In this month the number of pests increase, compared to the previous month, and as such is a stronger signal that farmers should not indulge in any agricultural activity. The crops would most likely be eaten or destroyed by pests.

Tshiswe Munene (December)

In this month the number of ants colonies are its peak, because there is little or no rainfall, and as such they are usually found building hills, and they would likely destroy an available crop in their path. In this month, the Luba people usually engage in other activities other than farming

Tshiongo Wa Minanja (January)

In this month the dry season is usually at its peak. During this period they don’t farm, so most farms are set ablaze to clear the land in preparation for the next planting season. During bush burning periods mass hunting takes place, as animals hiding in the bush would try to escape, hunters can take advantage of this.

Luishi (February)

This month marks the commencing of the planting season. There are usually showers of rain. Farmers use this period to sow seeds. The Luba people plant cucumbers, cowpeas, palm fruit, and maize mainly.

Lumungul (March)

Lumungulu is continuation of the planting month, this month gives room for late planting, most farmers use this month to plant crops which they were unable to plant in the previous month.

Luabanya Nkasu (April)

The Luba people usually refer to this month as a wedding month, but doesn’t mean that marriage doesn’t take place in other months, it’s synonymous to Valentine’s Day in contemporary countries

Tshisanga Nkasu (May)

Just like Tshiongo Wa Minanja (January), this is usually a dry month, and most people abandon their farm activities for other activities. Most indulge in hunting or fishing, as that is their secondary activity in the land.

Kashipu Nkenza (June)

This month usually marks the end of the dry season. It begins with high level of cold air, which later turns dry with time. At the end of the month, the air is usually very hot, and this also is the month where crops are harvested in the Land.

Tshibungu Mulume (July)

The air in this month is usually cool, as the sky is usually cloudy, and as such reducing the heat the sun produces. There are equally showers of rain in this month; also, there are little agricultural activities, due to harvest in the previous month.

Tshibungu Mukaji (August)

This is the last month in the Luba calendar, this is the month when the people anticipate the next month, which is the beginning of the rainy season. The sky is usually cloudy with more signs of rainfall, there are usually little or no rain fall, but the atmosphere is generally cool. Fishing is the main activity in the land during this period.

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The Luba Calendar

by Editorial Team time to read: 4 min