Mbuji-Mayi (formerly Bakwanga) serves as the capital of Kasai-Oriental Province in the south-central Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations Mission World Urbanization Prospects places the population at 2.3 million (2007). Mbuji-Mayi lies in Luba country on the Sankuru River. The name Mbuji-Mayi comes from the local language, Tshiluba and translates as "Goat-Water," a name deriving from the great number of goats in the region and the city's location on the Sankuru, making it a prime watering spot. Mbuji-Mayi grew rapidly upon Congolese independence in 1960 with the immigration of Luba from different parts of the country. It served as the capital of the secessionist Mining State of South Kasai from 1960-1962 during the Congolese civil war. People came from Thikapa (Kasai Occidental) fleeing from conflict. They locate themselves at the place currently called Kalala wa Nkata. As a commercial center, Mbuji-Mayi handles most diamond mining, panning, and production in the Congo. Societé minière de Bakwanga and Diamant International are the major diamond producers in the area.
Despite its large population, the city remains extremely remote, having little connection to surrounding provinces nor to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.