Suku - Orientation

Identification. "Suku" is the term now accepted by the Suku themselves and in Zaire and in the ethnographic literature. Just before and after 1900, they were often referred to as "Yaka" or, more specifically, "Yaka of MiniKongo" (the title of the Suku king)—in contrast with their neighbors, the Yaka proper, who are ruled by the king titled kasongo lunda.

Location. The Suku occupy an irregularly shaped, roughly rectangular area, approximately 60 to 80 kilometers east to west and 180 kilometers north to south, between 5° and 7° N and 17°30′ and 18°15′ E, in the Kwango subregion of the Bandundu region. Located at an elevation of about 750 meters, the area consists of rolling savannas and savanna-woodland, cut by swift rivers and streams. A May-to-September dry, cool season alternates with a rainy season.

Demography. At the mid-twentieth century, the Suku numbered about 80,000, with a population density of 5 to 6 persons per square kilometer. At present, the population may be approaching 150,000, about one-third of it residing more or less permanently in urban centers, particularly Kinshasa.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Suku language is part of the Kongo Cluster within Central Bantu, closely related to Yaka and the various Kongo dialects.

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