400,000 (1998 SIL).
Maniema Province, Lubutu and Punia territories; Nord-Kivu Province, Walikale; Orientale Province, Opienge territory. Lubutu is center.
No identified dialects, but speech varieties have the following differences: up to 10% lexical differences, in comparison with the reference lexicon as found in Lubutu. Most noticeable phonological variation: lambdacism. Most noticeable relational word variation: shape of the alienable possession marker. Lexical similarity: 80% with Bhele [bhy], 70% with Bila [bip], 58% with Bera [brf], 48% with Bwa [bww], 46% with Bali [bcp], Lika [lik], and Pagibete [pae], 30% with Lingala [lin], Lega-Shabunda [lea], and Budu [buu].
SVO; prepositions; noun head followed by genitive and relative clause; question word initial; 7 prefixes; 4 suffixes; word order distinguishes subject, object, indirect object; human-animate-inanimate contrast in plural and adjective agreement (no Bantu concord); verb affixes obligatorily mark person and number of subject and object; some ergativity in gerund phrase; middle, stative, unaccusative marked by suffix; causatives marked by suffix; comparisons; CV, V, Nasal CV, CV Nasal, Nasal; tonal
Christian, traditional religion, Muslim.