Swahili, Congo

Alternate Names
Zaïre Swahili

1,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo. L2 users: 9,100,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo (1991 UBS).


Widespread in Katanga, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, and Maniema provinces; southeast Orientale province.

Language Maps
Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial language in eastern regions (2006, Constitution, Article 1(8)).


Ituri Kingwana, Katanga Swahili, Kivu Swahili, Lualaba Kingwana. Kingwana is a pidgin Swahili which functions sociolinguistically as a dialect. There are several regional dialects, with that of the formerly Arabized areas reportedly being most similar to Swahili of Kenya and Tanzania. Lexical similarity: 30% with Lingala [lin] and with the Lega group; 15%–20% with Bira-Huku group, Bali [bcp], and Lika [lik]. A member of macrolanguage Swahili [swa].

Language Use

Used as L2 by Bali [bcp], Bera [brf], Bhele [bhy], Bila [bip], Budu [buu], Fuliiru [flr], Kango [kzy], Komo [kmw], Lega-Mwenga [lgm], Lendu [led], Lengola [lej], Lese [les], Lika [lik], Mangbetu [mdj], Ndo [ndp], Nyanga [nyj], Talinga-Bwisi [tlj], Zimba [zmb].

Language Development
Taught in primary schools. Bible: 1960–1997.

Latin script [Latn].

Also spoken in:

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