Do you Speak Mandombe?

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Let’s travel back to 1978 in Mbanza-Nguyu,Congo during the peaceful period of the war ravaged country. One man named Wabeladio Payi invented a way of writing which he called ‘Mandombe’ meaning for the black man in Lingala. The first striking feature of this alphabet is that all letters are derived from the shape of 5 and 2, it is claimed Mr. Payi was inspired by a dream in which he discovered the pattern of 2 and 5 on a brick wall and subsequently manipulated them to obtain other letters.

This is one of the rare innovations that came out of the African continent in the 20th century. The script was designed to transcribe bantu languages and currently is used to write Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili. Don’t get surprised schools in Congo and Angola are already being taught on how to write in Mandombe. NOTE: Mandombe is not a language rather a way of writing a language just like arabic or latin scripts. The creators describe it as “As a C-W communication, it contains in its centre a whole of graphic signs on the basis of african realities. The Mandombe script wants to be an original support of communication adapted best to the africans languages. In other words, it is a C-W communication corresponding to the african linguistic systems which makes it possible any negro-african language to reproduce its sounds without sorrow.”

The digital space is catching up too, Sheikh Jahbooty a craftsman already created a Microsoft word fonts for Mandombe, details here. Communities are also cropping online to offer tutorials. They got a Facebook page and a website where all the content relating to Mandombe is aggregated.

Here is the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili written in Mamdombe, starts with ‘Baba aliye mbinguni’

This is a noble African undertaking everyone should play a part. What will you do about it?

Learning to write in Mandombe

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  1. The inventor’s name is WABELADIO instead of WALEBADIO… MANDOMBE for all of us, love it. Papa WABELADIO Payi you’ll live for ever in our heart

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