Lendu people



The Lendu people of Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), are numbering 1,495,000

They are part of the Sudanic people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc.

Globally, this group totals 1,514,000 in 2 countries.

Their primary language is Lendu.

The primary religion practiced by the Lendu is ethnoreligion.

Lendu people Map

Economic activity

Legend has it that the Ledu, Kebu and Madi ancestors were brothers and all iron workers. However the Lendu and Madi ancestors liked drinking alcohol so much that one day they went on a drinking spree, leaving behind their brother who became the ancestor of the Kebu.

When they came back, they found that their place for blacksmithing had burned down. They therefore took to cultivation, leaving blacksmithing and iron working to the Kebu.

The Lendu grew pumpkins that were their staple food. They also specialised in crafts making such as winnowing pans, food covers, wooden stools and four cornered baskets.

It is this handcraft that the ageing queen Elsaba Oroya has perfected as her lifetime passion.

However the establishment of the Lendu forest by the colonial government as a result of an understanding with the Rwoth of Alur in 1943 severely affected the Lendu way of life as the forest largely took all their cultivable land.

It displaced people without compensation that some of the Lendu had to migrate to Buliisa, Hoima, Masindi, Pakwach, Arua, Nebbi and other parts of Zombo.

Those that persisted to live on the fringes of the forest have remained in a state of constant tension with the National Forestry Authority.


Traditional religion

The Lendu had a strong belief in deity known as Guw (god). They practiced traditional religion characterised by offering of sacrifices.

When a new baby is born, the mother would carry the baby and move round the homestead as the local religious leader accompanied her with a flame of fire.

They cycled the homestead three times if the baby was a boy and four times if the baby was a girl. This was done as a way of confirming that the baby was indeed a Lendu and not a child conceived through extramarital affair with a non Lendu fiancé.

If the child’s father was a non Lendu and the mother did not reveal his identity, it was believed that such a child would die after this ritual.

For every new-born child, a shrine was constructed near the door and at the appearance of the new moon, the child was taken to that shrine and fire hoisted above his or her head to prevent demons from attacking the child.

At the beginning of the harvest season, the first harvest was taken to the shrine and offered to the Guw for thanksgiving.

To seek blessings for a person or a child, the parent brought food that elders would eat and sprinkle the water they used for washing hands on that person seeking blessings.

This same ritual was conducted for a girl getting married.


Courtship and marriage

The Lendu viewed marriage as a uniting factor. It was the aunt or the uncle of a boy who identified a bride for him.

The boy had no right to object to any identified girl but rather married her without any complaints when the girl accepted the marriage proposal.

The boy’s family was required to pay dowry of either 12 heads of cattle or granaries of pumpkin before the girl was handed to the bridegroom to consummate their marriage.

Divorce was permissible if the woman turned out to be a witch otherwise a girl already married was not allowed to separate with the husband as culture prohibited refund of dowry.

When a husband dies his brother becomes the next husband of the widow with the expectation that he would look after the orphans.