History

History of the Bayeke: Preamble

This website highlights the rich history of the Bayeke, their culture and their belief system. We invite you to read about their origin from Tanganyika to Katanga, their adoptive land, as well as to peruse the Kings’ biographies and photo gallery.

The history of the Bayeke has one of the best documentation in the Congo, if not in Africa. Because of the preservation of their own history and culture, and following the numerous writings left by explorers and missionaries who came to Bunkeya beginning in 1884 – some staying for extended periods – many books were written about the Bayeke, Mwami M’siri (Ngelengwa Mugala, later known as Mushidi) and the empire he ruled over, the Bugaraganza, commonly referred to as Garanganze.

Mwami Kalasa Mukanda Bantu (Mwenda II) tells the story of the Bayeke and their origin in a letter he dictated to his counterpart king Leopold II of Belgium.

The Mwami Kitanika Mabumba Musharila Numa (Mwenda III) had the letter translated in Kisanga, and later Mwami Luhinda Shalo (Mwenda IV) translated it to French. Mwami Luhinda also wrote a book entitled “Pages d’Histoire Yeke”, which to this day, remains a book of reference. Mwami Shyombeka (Mwenda VI) wrote the “Customs and Guidelines” of the Bayeke, and in concert with the royal court, he wrote the “Guide to Grammar” of Kiyeke.

Over the years, more contributions have been made to the preservation and dissemination of this rich African history. Every king since the brutal assassination of Mwami Msiri in 1891 has endeavored to teach the history of the Bayeke to the next generation.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Munampala Muvula, Mwanangwa Célestin Malezi Samba, Mwanangwa Grégoire Kabobo, Mr. Joseph Kiwele, and Monsieur Jean-claude Mathon, who in varying degrees, have contributed to the dissemination of our history and culture.

The Mwanangwa Célestin Malezi Samba was instrumental in promoting the Yeke language and culture. He taught to many the skills of composing traditional songs. And thanks to his efforts, today young people know how to beat the drums, compose Yeke songs, and find joy in singing during ceremonies and festivities.

This website is yet another instrument in the long tradition of historical and cultural preservation and dissemination which characterize the Yeke people.

We thank you for visiting our website!