The Kangere cliché is widespread in the Great Lakes region of Zaire (Lakes Kivu and Tanganyika), where the Bembe, Fulero, Havu, Lega, Nyindu, Shi, Vira and others live. This cliché has been collected since the 1910s by missionary and colonial administrator researchers. Later it has been heavily used and interpreted in different ways. Thus certain modern scholars have made Kangere the first ‘king’ of the region and the ‘father’ of all bami, that is, the ‘kings’ of various ancient kingdoms existing on the shores of the Great Lakes, including Rwanda and Burundi! Their single aim was to refute the ‘Hamitic myth’.
In fact, the Kangere cliché is woven together from different elements taken from various ethnic groups of the region. Its elements were ordered at the same time that they were collected, in the course of the 1910s and the 1920s. They constitute an African response to the preoccupation of the colonial administration of those years: the creation of vast ethnic groups and politically and administratively viable entities. Whites wanted tribes, and blacks created them; whites wanted great chiefs, and blacks created them, the bami.
In their interpretation of the Kangere cliché, these researchers quite simply confused, erroneously, the ‘bwami symbol’ of personalized power (which existed in the area, and which chiefs of different ethnic groups possessed) with the ‘bwami state’ or kingdom, of recent, colonial creation.