The Yansi People of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Population: 285,379 (PeopleGroups.org, 1999)
Religion: Traditional Religion
Registry of Peoples code: Yansi 110977
(Registry of Language code: Yansi yns
The Yansi people live about 300 miles east of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The Ethnologue describes the location of the Yansi people as follows: Bandundu Province, Bulungu Territory, Loange River area.
PeopleGroups.org reports a population of 285,379 in 1999. The Ethnologue reports a population of 100,000 in 1997. Joshua Project reports the population as 131,000.
The Yansi language was listed as Yans in earlier editions of the Ethnologue. Yansi is a Bantu language related to Ding and Mbuun. Ethnologue also reports that 75% of the speakers have routine proficiency in Kituba (ktu).
The Yansi people's lifestyle has been greatly disrupted by the series of Civil Wars in DRC. This disruption has limited various aspects of their stability and progress. Difficulty of access limits the information available to assess their current situation.
For the Yansi (and other peoples of DRC) ashes are the symbol of blessing and of liberation from the grip of sorcerers. The publisher's Web article "The ritual symbolics of ashes (Congo)" reports the information on ceremonial use of ashes among the Yansi.
1. To bless one's son and drive sorcerers away from him
The rite ... is performed by the head of the family, in the presence of all the children still living under the paternal roof, of the head of the children's lineage, and of certain members of the paternal lineage.
In former times it was performed in front of the ritual hut sheltering the idols, but today it is done in front of the paternal house or under any tree, in the morning. In order to perform the rite, the father uses ashes from the hearth, which he rubs on each of the children while saying:
"Ye ancestors and God in heaven, protect all the children in everything and for everything."
When the father rubs the hearth ashes on the children's arms, he gives them a blessing which assures them of good luck in life.
2. To bless one's son and drive sorcerers away from him
The rite is ... performed by the father, in the presence of other family members, in the evening, at the home.
In order to bless one's son who has difficulties, the father blows ashes from the hearth in the direction of his face, and says:
"Idols of the home, it is I the father who speaks to you. Here is my son who has not been able to get employment, whereas all his friends work. May these hearth ashes which I blow in his face drive away all the bad genies which cause him bad luck."
3. To entrust one's child to the hearth genies
The rite is ... to present one's child to the hearth genies so that they protect him. It is performed by the child's mother, aided by the father and the children, in the presence of the lineage head. The rite takes place at the home.
The mother rubs a little salt on the child's body, places this salt on the anthill of the home, mixes the salt with a few ashes, and has the child eat it, while saying:
"By giving you this salt and ashes, you will always have good health. You are now known to the genies of this place."
The salt is an offering which the mother gives to the hearth genies.To have the child eat the salt and ashes serves to strengthen his health.
From The ritual symbolics of ashes (Congo) -- CEEBA Publications Website
PeopleGroups.org reports the religion as Christianity, Roman Catholicism, with no evangelical Christians. One Christian source reports that the Christian church is virtually non-existent. The civil disrputions caused by the continuous war there has limited training and growth opportunities as well as access by outside Christian resource people.
PeopleGroups.org reports that the Jesus Film exists in Yansi, but this language is not reported on the Jesus Film website. There are no forms of Christian scripture in the language. Global Recordings Network reports recorded oral gospel resources.
For More on the Yansi
The ritual symbolics of ashes (Congo) -- CEEBA Publications Website
Yansi (Joshua Project)
Orville Boyd Jenkins
Originally prepared 24 February 2006
Revised and first posted 23 November 2007
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.