Salampasu people


Salampasu reports a population of 154,033. The Salampasu people live on the frontier between the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and Angola. They maintain strong commercial and cultural relations with their southern neighbours, the Tschokwe (Chokwe) and the Lunda, to whom they pay tribute. The Salampasu are ultimately governed by a few high-ranking chiefs who are, in turn, assisted by territorial chiefs, who supervise village chiefs. This hierarchical power structure is counterbalanced by a warriors’ society. The Salampasu live mostly from hunting, but the women do some farming.


The Ethnologue describes the location of the Salampasu people as Southeastern part of Kasaï Occidental Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, east of Luiza, on the frontier between the DRC and Angola.  Another source describes live their villages as one road wide, where they live along many rivers in narrow strips along the river.


Like most ethnic groups in DRC, the Salampasu are a Bantu people, a term deriving from linguistic classification terms.  The Bantu peoples began migrating east, west and south out of Central Africa sometime around the time of Christ, or a little before.  No information was found about the specific history of the Salampasu people.


The Salampasu people are one of the many Bantu groups in Central Africa.  Their name means "Hunter of Locusts."  They are better known to their neighbours as fierce warriors.

The Salampasu have strong commercial relations with the peoples across the border, the Chokwe and Lunda, to whom they were subject at one time.  


The Ethnologue classifies the Salampasu language as a Bantu language.  The language is closely related to Lunda in Zambia.  Some sources spell the name of the language Chisalampasu, the name of the language in the language itself, where the common Bantu grammatical prefix chi indicates "language of."

Resources and public services are lacking in the areas where the Salampasu people live.  Most villages have no schools, clinics or churches.  


Women are involved in some farming, but the Salampasu depend mostly on the hunting done by the men.  The only art they produce are masks, which are important in their rites and sacred concepts.

The TRIBAL AFRICAN ART website provides more on the Salampasu culture, in explaining the role of masks in the traditional society:
Boys were initiated into the warriors’ society through a circumcision camp, and then rose through its ranks by gaining access to a hierarchy of masks. Earning the right to wear a mask involved performing specific deeds and large payments of livestock, drink and other material goods. ... Salampasu masquerades were held in wooden enclosures decorated with anthropomorphic figures carved in relief.


CPPI reports the Salampasu as Roman Catholic with no evangelical believers.  Few details could be found from sources on the status of religion or Christian faith related to the Salampasu people.

The discussion about the masks, referred to above, gives some insights into the sacred ceremonies:
The costume, composed of animal skins, feathers, and fibers, is as important as the mask itself. It has been sacralized, and the spirit dwells within it. Masks are still being danced as part of male circumcision ceremonies.