Kele love poem
Élilimi liami nda mbotete
Élé lioyi liami lilau
Kelaka mangu éto tiyama
Élé yami bitotina iso samaé.
→ French poem ←
I would like this translation of my poem in the Lokele (kele) language, one day to be drummed. Maybe it is possible? I do not know! Only time will tell.
Lokele (kele), is a Bantu language, spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the banks of the Congo river (Zaire).
This language is spoken by approximately 165,000 people. The first missionaries in the 19th century began to write this language to use it to evangelize.
The word lokele comes from a word meaning both peace and a freshwater mussel. This mussel was used in decorations, for the blood exchange ceremonies, which ended wars.
It is by this word, which often came up in the Lokele songs, that the Arabs designated them.
Among the Lokele, if the river is a way of communication, the sound of the drums is another way. One drums to talk to each other from one village to another.
As with whistled languages in the mountains, the "voice" of the drum can be heard over much greater distances than the sound of a simple voice.
If this mode of communication remains the privilege of the village elite, most of those who hear it, understand it.
Lokele is a bitonal language. This is why it lends itself well, to being carried, by the sounds of their two-tone drums, made from the Wele.
When the neighbors belong to another ethnic group, because of frequent contact, if they speak another language, very often they understand Lokele.
Originally the Lokele (Balomboke) and some of their current neighbours, were only one people from the south of Uélé ... the Wembes, who around 1700 under Sudanese pressure crossed the river Congo.
You will find all these words to designate them or their relatives: Ekele, Kele (Kili), Foma, Yaokandja, YaWembe, Likolo (Likelo, Likile), Mbole, Turumbu, Topfoke, Yakusu, Bangala, Mongo, Mboso, Yamfunga, Yatshalofe.
Today separated, the Lokeles live near the Congo River in the DRC (Congo-Kinshasa), between Kisangani (Stanleyville) and Basoko.
When the Belgians encountered them in the 19th century, the Swahilis and Arab merchants were using them as slaves, which contributed to their dispersal.
It was Stanley, who while traveling through Kele territory in 1877 noted the use of their large drums to communicate, as well as their frequent relations with their close neighbors, and the repeated wars that ensued.