Sangha people


Sangha / Sanga

The Sangha (also known as Sanga) are an ethnic group in the northern Republic of the Congo. They make up 5.6% of the Congo's population, making them the fourth largest Congolese ethnic group.

Little is known of the approximately 30,000 Sangha people who occupy the region of Likouala, a wet forest area in north-eastern Congo between the Sangha and Oubangui rivers. They are said to live entered the region about 200 years ago, accompanied by Pygmies who acted as hunters and gatherers. The Pygmy groups still exchange their game for the agricultural produce of the Sangha. The Sangha included several subgroups, such as the Bondongo, Bondjo, Mondjombo, Bandza, Babole, Kabongo, Bonguili, and Bomitaba.

“Sangha-Sangha” is a collective term for the original Bantu population along the Sangha River, characterized by innumerable closely linked clans. They are the original inhabitants of the riverbank, its multiple tributaries, and the marshy basins between Salo, Bayanga, Lidjombo and Ouesso in the northern part of the Republic of Congo.

In the past, these groups lived in temporary camps established according to the seasons, different fishing techniques, and importance for different activities. They used the different parts of the Raphia palm, especially its sap to make palm wine. Living at a slow pace, Sangha-Sangha families have always cultivated fields, their main crops being cassava, corn, peanuts, and plantain bananas. Linguistically, they belong to the Bantu group, but each clan has its own dialect.

In general, these populations have an all-around knowledge of both the Sangha-Sangha dialects and the languages of their neighbors, such as the BaAka or the Mbuti. Before the immigration of other peoples into the region, there was a traditional trade relationship between the Sangha-Sangha and the BaAka, who exchanged their respective products.



Fishing. The main activity of the Sangha Sangha men is fishing using fixed and cast nets. Fishing with cast net is done from a dugout canoe (Pirogue). The net is thrown so that it opens before hitting the water. Fixed nets are attached to the banks – their length and mesh vary depending on the location. Buoys are used to mark their position for easy recovery. In the past, nets were woven using plant fiber, but today, this material has been replaced by nylon. A traditional fishing method, using a spear and a torch lit with the resin of the Copal tree allows fishing at night, for species such as catfish. Women use other techniques such as the damming of streams followed by their draining, and the use of traps. A customary land ownership system governs the usage rights on the Sangha tributaries while access is free on the large river.

Molenge – Fermented Palm Wine. Another daily activity of the Sangha-Sangha men is the collection of sap from the Mosende or Raphia palm (Raphia hookeri) to produce an alcoholic drink called Molenge by fermentation. This wine is consumed each evening in the villages and is an important nutritional element. The extraction of palm wine is complemented by the exploitation of Raphia palm fronds for the construction of hut roofs – the preference being for the large Raphia called Bungu (Raphia laurentii), found in the flooded marshes along rivers.