Thursday, March 8, 2018

Democratic Republic Of The Congo Tshiluba (Ciluba; Luba-Kasai) Language Names That Begin With The Letters "Tsh"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents information about traditional Tshiluba (Ciluba; Luba-Kasai) names from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and provides examples of Tshiluba names that begin with the letters "Tsh".

I came across these names in my search for the traditional meaning, if any, for the name "T'Challa" which is the name that was given to the fictional comic book and movie character "Black Panther".

Also while looking for the meaning of the name "T'Challa", I came across what I believe is a very similar [if not the same] sounding Tshiluba name "Tshala". Furthermore, as a result of this online research, I was introduced to the music of the Congolese (Luba) female singer Tshala Muana. Click for the pancocojams post entitled "Congolese Singer Tshala Muana - "Lekela Muadi" (sound file, lyrics, & comments)".

In addition, as a result of my search for the meaning of the name "T'Challa", I also found a very similar [if not the same] sounding Zulu word "tshala". Several online websites give the meaning of the Zulu word "tshala" as "to sow/plant". Many of the websites that I found which include a definition of the Zulu word "tshala" showcase the South African contemporary Gospel song entitled "Tshala" by Joyous Celebration. A pancocojams post that showcases a video of Joyous Celebration singing that song will be published ASAP and its link will also be added here.

While the name of the fictional character "T'Challa" may have no connection whatsoever to the Luba name "Tshala" or the Zulu word "tshala", I've included the information that I cited about that name in a previous pancocojams post in the Addendum to this post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and linguistic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

This post is intended to share what I consider to be an interesting feature of a number of Tshiluba names. I don't intend to indicate or imply what, if anything, is the meaning or meanings of the "tsh" letters that are found at the beginning of the names that are compiled in this post.

I'd love to learn if there is any meaning or meaning to the "tsh" beginning letters in these names.

Additions and correction are very welcome.


Pancocojams Editor's Note:
These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.


"Luba-Kasai language
Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is a national language, along with Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo. It is one of two major Congolese languages called "Luba". The prefix Tshi/ or Ci followed by the suffix Luba, means 'Luba language' or language of the Luba people or even the speaking of the baluba."...

Tshiluba | Define Tshiluba at
Tshiluba definition, Luba (def 2). See more. ... [chi-loo-buh]
Note that “tsh” appears to be pronounced “chi” which rhymes with English word “we”. Before I happened upon this excerpt, I was pronouncing the word "Tshiluba" "tee-she-loo-bah" based on my American pronunciation, but it appears that the beginning letter “t” is silent. Given the fact that some of the Luba "tsh" names that are found below have a "Ci" spelling in parenthesis, my guess is that the "t" in all of the names that are given below also are pronounced with a silent "t".

"Luba-Kasai, also known as Western Luba, Bena-Lulua, Ciluba/Tshiluba,[4] Luba-Lulua or Luva, is a Bantu language (Zone L) of Central Africa and an official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alongside Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo.

An eastern dialect is spoken by the Luba people of the East Kasai Region and a western dialect by the Lulua people of the West Kasai Region. The total number of speakers was estimated at 6.3 million in 1991.

Within the Zone L Bantu languages, Luba-Kasai is one of a group of languages which form the "Luba" group, together with Kaonde (L40), Kete (L20), Kanyok, Luba-Katanga (KiLuba), Sanga, Zela and Bangubangu.


Geographic distribution and dialects
Tshiluba is chiefly spoken in a large area in the Kasaï Occidental and Kasaï Oriental provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the differences in Tshiluba within this area are minor, consisting mostly of differences in tones and vocabulary, and speakers understand each other without a problem. Both dialects are further made up of sub-dialects. Additionally, there is also a pidginised variety of Tshiluba,[3] especially in cities where the everyday spoken Tshiluba is enriched with French words and even words from other languages such as Lingala or Swahili. Nevertheless, this variety is not a typical form of a pidgin since it is not common to every one, and changes its morphology and the quantity and degree to which words from other languages are used. Its form changes depending on who speaks it and varies from city to city and from one social class to another. However, in general people speak the regular Tshiluba language in their daily lives rather than the pidgin. The failure of the language to be taught at school has resulted in the replacement of native words by French words for the most part. For instance, when people are speaking they generally count in French rather than in Tshiluba; this situation where French and Tshiluba are used simultaneously makes linguists think the language has been pidginised while in reality it has not.


Tshiluba does not have the phoneme /r/.

The letters q, r and x appear only in loanwords from French and sometimes Swahili. The grapheme r, in loanwords, is pronounced as d or l: maringa to madinga, veranda to velando or balanda.”…

[Kaabukùlù] Names and Nicknames Lubas
March 21, 2014; Clarisse
"In Luba culture, children are often named at birth depending on the circumstances, an important event for the family or the clan, to pay homage to an ancestor who has a prestigious history or special importance, or a creature of God as the animals (symbolic of the attributes of the animal chooses). The symbolic value of the name is very important .

Traditionally, there is no family name as it is understood in the West. This concept was imported and imposed by the settlers to standardize the names in order to simplify the census. If you look at your family trees, you will notice that each child has his own name. In the same family, there could very well be ten children, and although all were brothers and sisters with the same father and mother, the ten had different names. That is why traditionally, a Muluba, to present himself, will name his ancestors for example, Mbuyi wa Kasongo wa Kalala (Mbuyi, son of Kasongo, himself son of Kalala), thus going back in his family tree as much as he wants it. Thus, if a person knows all his family tree until the 16th or 17th century, the presentations can last a moment! A Muluba can also use the name of his brother or sister to help identify, especially if the latter is a known person in the community and beyond: Mutombo wa ba Mujinga (Mutombo, brother of Mujinga).

We can differentiate the names according to several categories:
1- dîna dyà cilelelu = final name given at birth by the father ( cilelelu = placenta, date of birth);
2- dina dyà bupangù = name given according to the circumstances of the birth ( bupangù = characteristic);
3- dina dyà mwana = name to give to a child;
4- dîna dyà bukola, bukalanga or bulungu = this name taken towards adolescence, to the transition to adulthood, linked to an event that occurred later in the life of that person or to personal achievements may change several times during the life of the individual;
5- dîna dyà bâna ba mapanga = name of special children


Tshamba = the one who says, who speaks

Tshambwe = named person, quoted

Tshiabu (Cyabu) = to them, the / their

Tshianza (Cyanza) = the hand

Tshibamba (Cibamba) = wall, fortress

Tshibanda (Cibanda) = what is up, high (in height), someone who rises

Tshibangu (Cibangu) = the scar

Tshibelu (Cibelu) = the leg

Tshibuabua (Cibwabwa) = first child born from multiple birth

Tshidinda Kasapa = the one who protects himself

Tshiela (Makasa) [Cyela makasa] = child coming out of his feet first

Tshiende (a) (Cyende (a)) = his, his (see God)

Tshikala (Cikala) = right hand, substitute of the chief, regent

Tshikudimena (Cikudimena) = child born with the face to the ground

Tshikuta (Cikuta) = born child still wrapped in his fetal membrane

Tshikuatakuata (Cikwatakwata) = the one that disperses in several activities

Tshilanda (Cilanda) = who is poor

Tshilemba (Cilemba) = the observer, sweet person

Tshilobo (Cilobo) = hero, brave, valiant, brave person

Tshilombo (Cilombo) = the leader, the leader, who shows the way

Tshilonga (Cilonga) = the flower

Tshimankinda (Cimankinda) = the hero

Tshimanga (Cimanga) = sheath

Tshimpaka (Cimpaka) = brawler

Tshinabu wa Munda = watch out for the water that sleeps

Tshintu = thing, object

Tshingombe = prey of a wizard

Tshinyama Tshiolola (Cinyama Cyolola) = elongated animal

Tshiomba or Tshomba (Cyomba) = cassava, the protector

Tshiowa (Mashi) [Cyowa mashi] = child whose mother continued menstruating during her pregnancy (literally: bathes in blood)

Tshiowela (Cyowela) = child whose mother continued menstruating during her pregnancy

Tshipamba (Cipamba) = used to the point of not being usable

Tshisekedi (Cisekedi) = place where one laughs, where one laughs

Tshiswabantu (Ciswabantu) = the one who loves others

Tshiswaka (Ciswaka) = who is hidden

Tshituka (Cituka) = the premature

Tshomba (Cyomba) = cassava, the protector

From African Congolese Names or Zairian Names

[Pancocojams Editor: My comments are given in the brackets.]

Tshala...M/F....Tshiluba [language; no meaning given. That website lists a number of other Tshiluba names that begin with “Tsh” as shown below.]

Tshamba [no other information given]

Tshamala...F [no meaning given]

Tshiandanda/Tshianda...M/F...tshiluba...Baby girl/boy who has at least 4 older siblings of
the same gender. E.g: a woman with 4 boys gives birth to a girl. That girl will be named Ngalula or
Tshiandanda or Tshianda for short. Same for a baby boy with 4 older sisters.

Tshibangu...M...Tshiluba [no meaning given]


Tshibola... M/F...Tshiluba... Rotten

Tshibuyi...Tshiluba [no other information given]

Tshilanda...M...Tshiluba [no meaning given]

Tshilobu... M/F....Tshiluba.... Brave


Tshimini [no other information given]

Tshimsundu... M [no meaning given]

Tshintu... M/F....Tshiluba... A big object

Tshionza... M ... Tshiluba [no meaning given]

Tshisekedi... M...Tshiluba [no meaning given]

Tshisenga...[no information given]

Tshishimbi...F...Tshiluba [no meaning given]

Tshitenge...M... Tshiluba [no meaning given]

TSHELA ... m & f... Central African
Western Luba unisex name derived from the phrase cyela makàsà meaning "enfant born feet first".
Does the Luba name "Tshala" have the same meaning as "Tshela" as given in that reader submitted "behind the names" website?


The name of the actor playing this role is given first followed by the name in that comic series/movie.

1. Chadwick Boseman - "T'Challa" / Black Panther
I'm not sure what the name "T'Challa" means. However, I've found the following examples of "Challa" in Africa:
a) The name "T'Challa" may have been based on the actual name of a late 19th century "lesser king" in Angola as documented in the book Six Years of a Traveller's Life in Western Africa by Francisco Travassos Valdez, which was published in 1861.

Francisco Travassos Valdez, the Portuguese author of Six Years of a Traveller's Life in Western Africa, writes that his journey in Africa "commenced in 1852". Discussion of King Challa (termed the great king Challa at one point in this book) is found in chapter VI.. Challa's name is given earlier in that chapter, but the main portion that refers to him and his people is found on pages 192-211.

King Challa is also mentioned in the more widely known book The Golden Bough:
Google Books Result
James Frazer - 2013 - ‎History
"The Matiamvo is a great king or emperor in the interior of Angola. One of the inferior kings of the country, by name Challa, gave to a Portuguese expedition the following account of the manner in which the Matiamvo comes by his end”...
[WARNING: That 1861 book and the passage from that book which is quoted in The Golden Bough contains graphic descriptions of slaughter.]
"In the context of this quote "inferior kings " means "lesser kings" who owed submission to the great king" (in that region). That great king and all of his people-including his lesser kings-were formally under the control of the Portuguese, in large part because the Portuguese's guns "vomited death".

b) "Lake Chala, also known as Dschalla,[1] is a crater lake in a caldera[2] on the borders of Kenya and Tanzania on the eastern edge of Mount Kilimanjaro"...
"Lake Chala" is also given as "Lake Challa"

c) name of an ethnic group in Nigeria's Plateau State
From 21 JUNE 2013
Daily Trust (Abuja)
"Nigeria: Plateau - Fulani, Challa to Form Vigilante Group
Jos — Fulani, Challa and other tribes in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State have resolved to form a joint vigilante group to help restore peace to the area.

This was contained in a communique presented at the end of a stakeholders meeting between the joint security committee and relevant stakeholders from Bokkos Local Government Area in Jos yesterday. The meeting which was chaired by the commander of the Special Task Force (STF), Major General Henry Ayoola, resolved that measures must be put in place to regulate the influx of illegal immigrants into the state for peace to be sustained."..
UPDATE March 7, 2018
Here's another African name that is quite similar to the name "TChalla":
"Tshala Muana is a [female] singer from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She began her career as a dancer for the great Zairian singer Abeti Massikini, practising "mutwashi" dances from the Kasai region. In the 80's she began performing as a singer. She has enjoyed success in several West African countries, more so than in her own country."...
-end of quote-
Also, "tshala" is Zulu word that means "sow"/"plant" and is the title of a contemporary South African Gospel song.

I don't know whether any of the information given here had any influence on the selection of the name TChalla as the name for the 1966 Black Panther comic book character (and later the name for the movie character).
This section is part of the following pancocojams post "Traditional African Languages, Arabic Languages, & Other Sources For Names In The 2018 Black Panther Movie" .
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