L1 users: 42,000 (1987 UBS). 2,100 monolinguals.
Tshopo province: Bafwasende territory; Tshopo river south to Ituri river north, and Ituri river north bank.
Bemili, Bakundumu, Bafwandaka, Bekeni. The Bemili dialect is central linguistically and geographically. Lexical similarity: 52% with Lika [lik]; 40%–45% with Bwa [bww] and Pagibete [pae]; 46% with Komo [kmw]; 40% with Bhele [bhy], Bila [bip], and Bera [brf]; 30% with Budu [buu] and Ndaka [ndk]; 25% with Lega languages and Lingala [lin].
SVO; prepositions, genitives before nouns; articles, adjectives, numerals, relatives after nouns; question word sentence final; 1–3 prefixes; 1–5 suffixes; word order distinguishes role; affixes mark person, number of subject and object in one noun group; active, passive, reflexive; 2 causatives; aspect; comparatives; tonal, 3 tones; stress; 9 vowels.
Some also use Lingala [lin], mainly those who travel or have been in military service. A few also use French [fra], primarily those with secondary school education. Also use Congo Swahili [swc], especially leaders, nearly all youth and men in most domains, most women and older men with less proficiency, and many older women and young children with low proficiency. Used as L2 by Kango [kzy].
Latin script [Latn].
‘Kibali’ is the official name.