Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It had been quite some time since I had written to the blog, ain't it? Well, here comes a specific subject: Lukasa.
Lukasas are basically memory boards that are being used by Luba Tribe of Africa. Lubas are dwelling in Democratic Republic of Congo which is actually former Zaire. They emerge to the stage of history in the 5th century AD. The environment they are living brings some challenges. To survive, they had to build dams and canals. As you can imagine, constructing and digging work needs communication and organized labor. Well, Toynbee's "emerge of civilizations" theory looks applicable here. Toiling to get over the challanges brought an organized society. Nevertheless, in 1880 Belgians came. The usual story followed afterwards, Lubas forced to slave labor at the copper mines.

Traditionally, Lubas dwell in rectangular houses which have facades to a single road. They are "slash and burn" farmers, fishers and also hunters. "Kilolo"s are their patrilinear chiefs and under the protection of the traditional king they are responsible from the administration of the village. These chiefs and the King are the members of a secret group which is called "mbduye". Women can be the members of Mbduye, as well.

Well, here it comes folks: one of the main responsibilities of the mbduye is keeping the record of the important instances and the religious life of ther village with Lukasas.
Lukasas are hand carved. You can see an example on the right. They are various. Some of them are about the political systems of the Lubas, some are telling the stories of the historical figures and some are drawing the borders of the villages' lands. Every lukasa is unique. On the front side of the lukasa faces of the chieftains, members of the mbudye and historical figures are carved. At the outer side the diagonal, horizontal and vertical strips symbolizes Lolo ina Nombe, who is the ancestor goddess of the Lubas. It is believed that she still lives among people as in the form of a tortoise. Hence, tortoises are highly respected in the Luba community.


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