[Nsòòlakajilu] Reciprocative forms


This reciprocative suffix expresses a repeated action r an action that takes place between two people or objects inducing a mutual effect.

Exemples :
· kudya manger (to eat)kudyangana s’entre-manger (to eat each other)
· kukuma battre (to beat, hit)kukumangana se battre l’un et l’autre (to fight each other)
· kupenda insulter (to insult)kupendangana s’insulter l’un et l’autre (to insult each other)
· kutapa blesser (to hurt)kutapangana se blesser l’un et l’autre (to hurt each other)
· kutuma envoyer (to send)kutumangana s’envoyer l’un et l’autre (to send each other)

Masque Luba / Cifwebe
Masque Luba / Cifwebe

[Grammar] Causative Forms

The causative form of a verb is created by placing one of the following infixes:

-ish, -esh, -ij, -ej
It indicates the subject helps realizing the action depicted in the verb, allows it or creates the occasion for it to happen.

Examples :

  • kubala (lire, to read) → kubadisha (faire lire, to make s.o. read)
  • kuja (danser, to dance) → kujiija (faire danser , to make s.o./sth dance)
  • kumona (voir, to see) → kumwesha (faire voir, montrer, to make s.o./sth see, to show)
  • kumvwa (écouter, to listen) → kumvwija (faire écouter, to make s.o./sth listen)
  • kwakula (parler, to talk) → kwakwisha (faire parler, to make s.o./sth talk)
  • kwenza (faire, to do) → kwenzeja (faire faire, to make s.o./sth do)
  • kwimba (chanter, to sing) → kwimbisha (faire chanter, to make s.o./sth sing)

source: CRIC

Luba Traditional Bed
Luba Traditional Bed

[Grammar] Stressed and Possessive Pronouns

In Cilubà, one of the few points you need to understand and master, it’s the stressed and possessive pronouns.

We’re already seen the personal pronouns:

Cilubà Français English
n-/nyi je I
u- tu you
ù- il, elle he, she
tu- nous we
nu- vous you
ba- ils, elles they

Here are the corresponding possessive pronouns. They are also used as possessive adjectives:

Cilubà Français English
wanyì mon,  mien my, mine
webà ton, tien your(s)
wendà son, sien his, her(s)
wetù notre, nôtre our(s)
wenù votre, vôtre your(s)
wabù leur their(s)

Exemples: mulongeshi wanyi, Taatu weba, mulunda wenda, etc…

The corresponding stressed pronouns go as follows:

Cilubà Français English
mêma moi me
wêwa toi you
yêya lui, elle he, she
twêtu nous us
nwênu vous you
bôbu eux, elles them


Why is it important to know them? It’s because they are used in many expressions.

Cilubà Français English
naanyì avec moi with me
neebà avec toi with you
nendà avec lui, elle with him, her
neetù avec nous with us
neenù avec vous with you
naabù avec eux, elles with them
Cilubà Français English
bwànyì pour moi for me
bwèbà pour toi for you
bwèndà pour lui, elle for him, her
bwètù pour nous for us
bwènù pour vous for you
bwàbù pour eux, elles for them

You can even mix them:

Cilubà Français English
mêma pàànyì moi aussi me too
wêba pèèbà toi aussi you too
yêya pèndà lui, elle aussi him, her too
twêtu pèètù nous aussi us too
nwênu pèènù vous aussi you too
bôbu pààbù eux, elles aussi them too
Cilubà Français English
(mêma) nkàyaanyì moi seul(e) on my own
(wêwa) nkàyeebà toi seul(e) on your own
(yêya) nkàyendà lui, elle seul(e) on his, her own
(twêtu) nkàyeetù nous seul(e)s on our own
(nwênu) nkàyeenù vous seul(e)s on your own
(bôbu) nkàyaabù ils, elles seul(e)s on their own

Used prefixes:

WÀ- = de / belonging to
NE- = avec / with
BWÀ- = pour / for
PÀ- = aussi / too
NKÀÀYÀ- = seul / only or alone

Exemple: mêma pàànyì ndi mvwa nzala / moi aussi j’ai faim / I’m hungry too

Note that these are only the pronouns regarding people. There are also a whole range of pronouns that are used for objects. The subject is vast enough to post several articles about it. So keep coming back for more Cilubà classes…

[Grammar] Reversive forms

-ul-, -un-, -uk-

The verb formed with the radical plus the above suffixes indicates an opposite action to the one described with the initial verb. There exist two forms of reversive suffixes: active and passive.

Reversive active suffixes: -ul-, -un-

Verbs thus formed are transitive. They need an object.


  • kukànga (fermer, to close) → kukangula (ouvrir, to open)
  • kuvwàla (vêtir, to put clothes on) → kuvùùla (dévêtir, to put clothes off)
  • kulamika (coller, attacher, to glue, to attach) → kulamuna (détacher, to detach)


Reversive passive suffix : -uk-

Verbs including this suffix are intransitive and imply a state or a condition in which the subject sustains an opposite action.


  • kukanga (fermer, to close) → kukanguka (s’ouvrir, to be opened)
  • kubutula (exterminer, exterminate) → kubutuka (se faire exterminer , to be exterminated)
  • kupapula (effrayer, to frighten) → kupapuka (s’effrayer, to be frightened)
  • kwambula (porter, to lift up) → kwambuka (se faire porter, to be lifted)

Source: CRIC

[Grammar] Classes in Ciluba

No, I’m not talking about school but grammar!!! Here we are going to tackle something essential to understand. A first classification of words has been done in the 19th century. The linguists classified words in main 8 categories but later on, the linguists became more precise and now the number of classes has doubled. Over the years, it came down to the following list. Those classes are important to know because they will determine how you form, not only the plural form of words, but the adjectives and adverbs as well.

1801-1900 PorteuseCoupeDuMaîtreDeBuliBOISLuba

Classe Type Description Examples
1 mu-  words defining people, gender, family members, trades, professions, etc.  mwana (child), muledi (parent), mukaji (woman), mulume (man), mulongeshi (teacher), mufudi (forgeron)
2 ba-  plural form of words from class 1  muntu -> bantu (man, men); muledi -> baledi parent(s); mukaji -> bakaji: woman, women; mukalenge -> bakalenge: chief(s)
3 mu-  animals, inanimated objects, instruments, actions, consequences, body parts, products, etc.  mulangi (bottle), mucima (heart, liver, morals), mwendu (lamp)
4 mi-  plural form of words from class 3  munu -> minu: finger(s); muci -> mici: tree(s); musulu -> misulu: river(s); musoko -> misoko: village(s)
5 di-  body parts going into pairs, liquids, feelings, various objects  dilongu, dici (ear), dikasa (foot)
6 ma-  plural form of words from class 5 & 14  CLASS 5: diboku -> maboku: arm(s); ditama -> matama: cheek(s); dicuwa -> macuwa: rechaud(s)CLASS 14: bwalu -> malu: affairs, problems; buloba -> maloba: land(s); buta -> mata: bow(s); bukalu -> malalu: bed(s)
7 ci-  locations, inanimated agents, instruments, products, Surnames, feelings, vices, etc.  cilamba (bridge), cibota (banana), cikumbi (stable, fence)
8 bi-  plural form of words from class 7  cilembi -> bilembi: hunter(s); cinji -> binji; anger(s); cisalu -> bisalu: market(s)
9 n-/m-  animals,  nzoolu (chicken), ngombe (cow), mbuji (goat)
10 n-/m-  plural form of words from class 9 & 11  CLASS 9: nyoka -> nyoka: snake(s); mbuji -> mbuji: goat(s); mbwa -> mbwa: dog(s)CLASS 11: lusuki -> nsuki: hair(s); lupusu -> mpusu: spot(s); luzadi -> nzadi: nail(s)
11 lu-  lupangu (plot-land), ludimi (tongue), lukambu (powerful man)
12 ka-  kashingi (needle), kapaaya (razor), kambela
13 tu- / ka-  plural form of words from class 12  tushingi, tupaaya, tumbela
14 bu-  concepts, abstract, nature, characteristics, instruments, locations, etc.  budimi (agriculture), bwatu (boat), bukondu
15 ku-  basic forms of verbs  kudya (to eat), kulaala (to sleep), kukwata (to work), kufwidikija (to think)
16 pa-  adverbs  pambelu (at home)
17 ku-  adverbs  kumbelu (from home), kunyima (in the back, behind, after)
18 mu-  adverbs  munjila (on the road, on the way)

I must admit that it is difficult for me to remember what class a word belongs to so what I do is just remember how each word forms its plural. Why is it important to know word classes or at least have a rough idea of what it looks like? Because to build a correct sentence, you have to match the adjectives and determinants that follow a word according to its class.

Sources: CRIC;


[Bwakulu] Alphabet – 17 consonants – 10 vowels & 2 semi-vowels

In 1974, the First Seminar of Linguists of Zaire has determined the alphabet as we know it nowadays. Before that, there were as many ways to write Ciluba as there were linguists, even if each system was very similar to the other. Normally, I should use the accents too but that would make it more complicated. Let’s keep it simple for now !!!

Ciluba French English
a (court) dikasa pied foot
aa (long) citaala coq rooster
b lubese hanche hip
c (say “tsh”) cibasu planche board
d dibaka marriage wedding
e (short) cikela poisson fish
ee (long) muteelu chemise shirt
f nkofi cil eyelash
g mufungu muscle muscle
i (short) diyi oeuf egg
ii (long) diitaba croyance belief
j kuja danser to dance
k nkuvu tortue turtle
l lushiku fin end
m mwedi barbe beard
n nkala crabe crab
ng ngonga cloche, sonnette bell
o (short) dikopu tasse cup
oo (long) mukooku mouton sheep
p mupanu pantalon pants
s lusembo grenouille frog
sh kushalala démanger to itch
t twishi microbes germs
u (court) munu doigt finger
uu (long) kutuuta frapper to hit
v mvula pluie rain
w (semi-vowel) mbwa chien dog
y (semi-vowel) kweyela respirer to breathe
z cyanza main hand

Combined vowels don’t exist in Ciluba compared to French “ai” (a + i) or “ou” (o + u). Thus, you pronounce each letter as you read and see it. No tricks! Also, q, r and x are only used when using words borrowed from other languages. Ciluba also includes some sounds specific to the language such as nasalizations and aspired letters. We’ll check those out as we go.