Democratic Republic of the Congo






Culture Name

Congolese

Alternative Names

Congo (Kinshasa)—which distinguishes this country from the other Congo, which is often called Congo (Brazzaville). Formerly: Zaire, Zairians, Belgian Congo, Congo (Léopoldville).

Orientation

Identification. Named after the enormous Congo River and the large ethnic group living at its mouth, the Kongo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo first had its borders drawn at the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. During this conference, Africa was arbitrarily divided in ways that benefitted the European colonial powers, with no regard for existing tribal systems and linguistic groups. In some instances, these new borders separated families, while other people without previous contact suddenly became part of one nation. Many of Congo's leaders have favored certain ethnic groups and areas over others, exacerbating differences between ethnic groups. The future of the Congo depends upon average citizens transcending the political rhetoric of hatred and uniting within an African-style democracy.

Location and Geography. Located in Central Africa, the Congo shares an extremely long border with the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. Largely landlocked, the DRC depends on the mighty Congo River for transportation and livelihood. Second in power only to the Amazon River, the Congo River is said to have enough hydroelectric power to light up every home in all of southern Africa. The regular flow of the river is due to its various tributaries, which feed from both sides of the equator.

As Africa's third largest country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo boasts 905,356 square miles (2,344,872 square kilometers), including deep forests, the famous Ruwenzori mountain range, the Central Basin, the Highland Plateau, beautiful rivers, cities, villages, and mining towns.

Kinshasa is the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly known as Léopoldville, after King Leopold II of Belgium, Kinshasa is a vibrant and modern town of over 5 million people located on the Congo River. Other cities include the southern diamond-mining center, Lubumbashi (850,000 inhabitants), river-oriented Kolwezi (417,810), Kisangani (600,000), Mbuji-Mayi (810,000) and Matadi (172,730), the country's primary seaport. Various communities throughout the nation's interior make their livelihoods by fishing, hunting, and working the soil.

Demography. With an estimated population of nearly 52 million in 2000, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to over two hundred different ethnic and linguistic groups. In the far north of the country, near the Sudanese border, live people with ethnic and linguistic backgrounds similar to that of Saharans. Their culture is strongly influenced by Arabic- and Berber-speaking people of the Middle East. People of Bantu origin populate most of the rest of the country, including Lunda, Luba, Kuba, Kongo, and Mongo, groups. In addition, some 240,000 people are temporary residents, as neighboring wars have led to huge migrations into the region. The vast population of the DRC is divided into ten administrative regions.

The copper industry in eastern Zaire created several urban areas that sprang up around the mines. Currently, 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, although many people migrated to the cities during the 1980s and 1990s in the hopes of finding food and work. Rapid urbanization has increased the squalor of shantytowns located outside

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
city centers, where many families have to share space, water, and food.

Linguistic Affiliation. Most Congolese speak several languages; it is not uncommon for someone to fluently speak four or more languages. French, introduced by Belgian colonists, is still used by the government and in radio broadcasts as Congo's official language. Other major languages include Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo, and Tshiluba. Used by the colonial military in the 1800s as the language of trade and travel, Lingala remains the lingua franca of the region. It is the most popular language for communicating across ethnic lines, and the majority of popular music heard on the radio is sung in Lingala.

The flight of many Congolese to cities and mining towns outside linguistic boundaries has caused new varieties of language to arise. Such dialects are often a synthesis of several languages that formed as people from different backgrounds learned to speak with one another. Migration and modernization has also led to changes within specific language groups. For example, the Swahili taught during the colonial era in missionary schools has evolved into a new dialect called Kingwana. Language choice carries inherent political overtones. For example, the use of French in conversation implies an official tone.

Symbolism. National holidays include Independence Day, Constitution Day, and Armed Forces Day, indicating that the ruling party wishes to solidify feelings of nationalism and remind the nation of its freedom from a colonial past.

The country's flag has a light blue background with six stars on the left-hand side and one large yellow star in the center. Because the current president wanted to honor the Congo's first freely elected president, Patrice Lumumba, he chose the same flag that Lumumba used in 1960. Originally, the six stars represented the six administrative districts; though there are currently ten such provinces, the president selected this older version out of respect for the nation's hero.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Throughout Congo's prehistory, most ethnic groups were isolated from one another by the thick forests that engulf the country. For several hundred years before the arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century, many kingdoms were highly organized and efficient administrators of health, education, and trade. Regions located along the Congo River were most easily accessible to outside traders. Therefore, they were the first to open themselves up to Christianization and the Portuguese slave trade in the 1480s. Throughout the sixteenth century, the worldwide demand for slaves increased, triggering violence between ethnic groups as European slave traders kidnapped people and encouraged African men to capture members of other ethnic groups for money. Even missionaries, who thought of themselves as bringing the "pure light" of Europe to shine on the Congolese "darkness," sometimes participated in the lucrative business of slavery.

In the 1885 scramble for Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium declared himself the dictator and sole proprietor of the new Congo Free State. Leopold garnered public support at home by publicly announcing his intent to Christianize and modernize the Congolese population, all the while planning the forced labor of men, women, and children for the lucrative ivory and rubber business. When people did not meet the king's quotas, his army killed them or cut off their hands. The overall population of the country greatly diminished during the early twentieth century due to such cruelty and to the susceptibility of many Congolese to new European diseases.

Mounting international criticism forced Leopold to sell his colony to Belgium in 1908. The Belgians, unfortunately, failed to contain his blood-thirsty troops, who were responsible for managing the rubber trade that caused over five million people to perish. From 1890 to 1910, between 5 and 8 million people perished as a direct result of the rubber trade.

By 1903, the economy for rubber in the Congo had collapsed, so the new Belgian colony focused on exploiting the Katanga province for copper, diamonds, and oil. So-called "vacant land" could be used by businesses from many countries willing to exploit one of the world's richest areas. Both forced labor and high taxes continued the horrors of Leopold. Families were split as many men went far away from their villages to the mines to work, nearly destroying the fabric of traditional society.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Belgian colonial government tried to enforce mass cultivation standards, but without proper transportation mechanisms in place, large amounts of food lay wasted and unsold. The demand for copper grew during the World War II era, creating peripheral markets for household goods such as soap and sugar. Though economic growth increased and education improved during this time, the Belgians remained staunchly authoritarian. Local chiefs were used as pawns of the government; often they were removed from power if rumored to be anticolonialist.

National Identity. Increased poverty and aggravation over colonial rule united this extremely large country, despite its lack of roads, telephones, and newspapers. Under the administration of the Belgians, for example, Congolese were not permitted to travel without a permit and were not allowed to drink hard liquor. Such inequality fed the flames of desire for independence, as did the news of neighboring countries achieving freedom from colonial rule. Liberation movements from around the country began to cooperate and consolidate their power against the Belgians. Religious movements formed, strongly espousing antiwhite, anticolonialist rule. Massive strikes and retaliatory massacres helped motivate opposition groups in the extremely large and ethnically diverse country.

When the Belgians abruptly left the Congo and independence was declared on 30 June 1960, there

Canoeing on the Zambezi River. Rivers are a common mode of transportation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Canoeing on the Zambezi River. Rivers are a common mode of transportation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
was only one trained Congolese lawyer, no Congolese physicians or officers, and only five men otherwise trained as administrators in the whole country. This small group suddenly had to run the third largest nation in Africa. Between 1960 and 1964, Congo was convulsed by a series of coups, mercenary-led rebellions, the arrival of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces, and secessionist movements. The most telltale event was the outcome of Congo's first free and fair election in May of 1960: because of his charismatic qualities, Patrice Lumumba and his party, the MNC (Mouvement National Congolais) won the most parliamentary seats. While other parties traditionally were based along ethnic lines, Lumumba enjoyed popular support across racial divisions. His goal for the new country was gradual Africanization and development. After the Americans refused to assist the new president, Lumumba sought a small token of support from the Soviet Union. This caused the United States, caught up in the Cold War, to fear the Congo's newest leader. In addition, some U.S. business leaders wondered if Lumumba would be receptive to U.S. business interests. These factors led to an alledged U.S.-backed plot against President Lumumba, ending in his death on January 17, 1961. The United States had engineered his demise and execution after less than a year in office.

The United States was preparing Joseph Mobutu, an army strongman, for leadership. Mobutu remained in power for twenty-three years, until 1997. Mobutu proceeded to declare all political parties illegal, except for his party, the Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution, or MPR. He also abolished the parliament.

President Mobutu asked that everyone drop his or her missionary-given, Christian names in an effort to re-Africanize the nation. He changed his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, "The warrior who dares and cannot know defeat because of his will and is all powerful, leaving fire in his wake as he goes from conquest to conquest." In addition, he changed the country's name to Zaire, and several city names as well. Many people were executed within Mobutu's circles and in the business community for allegedly planning coups, and most business operations were overrun by government officials and eventually collapsed. Mobutu did what Leopold had done: he enslaved his people, got extremely wealthy at their expense, and watched as everyone outside of his small circle endured an ever-increasing cycle of poverty and repression. After over fifty university students, rumored to be part of a demonstration against the government, were murdered in their beds by Mobutu's guard, the international community began to take notice of the brutality of the regime, and some countries withdrew their financial support from Zaire.

Mobutu's personal fortune at his death was estimated to be $5 billion. His name became synonymous with corruption around the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Congo economy suffered because of Mobutu's excessive expenses, the fall of copper on the world market, extremely high inflation and a simultaneous devaluation of the currency, the government defaulting on International Monetary Fund and World Bank payments, and the near ubiquitous nationalization of businesses.

Ethnic Relations. Laurent Kabila's ascension to power culminated on 16 May 1997, when he was named the head of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kabila, originally from the Katanga province, was the leader of rebel troops who, fed up with Mobutu's rule, marched across the country capturing each town along the way. When Kabila took the capital, Mobutu fled into exile in Europe where he died a few months later, in September 1997. The initial celebrations gave way to an internal conflict that as of 2000 involved five other African nations.

Nearly one year after Mobutu's death, Kabila announced war against the Tutsi. Ironically, they were the ethnic group that most supported his campaign to overthrow the Mobutu regime. Because of the lack of civil rights and equality in the Congo, ethnic Tutsis have never had citizenship, even those born in the country. Their goal was to overthrow Kabila in favor of a more democratic regime.

Forty years after independence, the political struggle for power still continues as this war has claimed over one million lives. Inspired by decades of colonialism, Leopold's Rule, and the multinational push to control the Congo's natural resources, this war is about more than ethnic rivalries; intertwined is a complex history, broken allegiances and promises, Mobutu's policy of divide and conquer and billions of dollars of natural resources hanging in the balance.

The conflict is not confined to Rwanda and the Congo, however; Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, and Uganda have each taken their sides, creating what some have called "Africa's World War I."

The future of the region remains uncertain, especially in the light of President Laurent Kabila's assassination by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. The late president's son Joseph Kabila was sworn in as the country's new president on January 26. The new Kabila has promised that free and fair elections would take place in the near future.

Urbanism,Architecture, and the Use of Space

In rural areas, several round or rectangular mud huts enclosed in an area comprise a family's homestead. The frame is built by tying vines around sticks and palm frond stems. A mixture of sand, water, and often cement is then used to fill in the structure and a grass roof completes the home. Families often move their homestead to be near their new fields, or if termites have destroyed their roof. At times, new homes are built on top of the old field, so that after several years, the newly fertilized land can be used again. Each hut serves a different purpose: some are for cooking, others are for storage, and there are guest huts and separate rooms for the male and female children, who usually sleep on handwoven raffia mats placed upon the ground. Traditional homesteads are as diverse as their owners. They may be large or small, extremely clean or left in neglect.

In the areas surrounding cities, large shantytowns have emerged. Usually the small homes are made of corrugated iron in these areas. Given the extreme heat during most of the year, these homes are often swelteringly hot. In general, the quality of life in the urban shanties is lower than that of the rural areas. In some urban areas, however, better homes or apartments are available for the rich who drive Western automobiles and wear suits. Large government buildings made of modern materials symbolize the wealth of the politically powerful.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Unfortunately, for many in the Congo, food is not necessarily a part of daily life. And, when food is available, it usually does not contain the vitamins and minerals required to help ward off disease and maintain proper health. The primary staple, pasty white fufu (manioc tubers, pounded into the texture of oatmeal), is eaten out of a communal bowl. This chunky carbohydrate is accompanied by varying side dishes, depending on wealth, season, and availability. Examples include sweet potatoes, perch, bananas, and plantains. For many rural people, meat is a delicacy reserved for special days or when the family can afford the luxury. Only the right hand is used in eating because it is an insult to conduct any transaction with the left hand, which is used only for bathroom purposes. In the traditional way of eating, the women first serve the men, who usually sit on the chairs in the home. After the men are finished eating, the women and children usually sit on the floor and share the remaining items, resulting in poorer nutrition. In

A congregation prays at an Assembly of God in Bukavu. Due to the efforts of missionaries, the majority of Congolese practice Christianity.
A congregation prays at an Assembly of God in Bukavu. Due to the efforts of missionaries, the majority of Congolese practice Christianity.
some areas, however, the women first set aside good morsels of meat for the children and themselves, resulting in better child nutrition rates in these regions.

Fish is a primary food source for many, depending on their proximity to rivers and streams. Some families build their own ponds by diverting small rivers to an area, using bamboo for pipes. Manure, bits of food, and other materials are used as compost in the bottom of the pond to promote the growth of plankton. Fish are then harvested after six months of feeding. Often the women fry or salt the fish that the family did not consume for sale in markets throughout the year.

Many edible treats abound from the palm tree, including wine, oil, fruits, and nuts. Youth learn early to climb high into the trees for nuts, process them by boiling and pounding the nut to make oil, and to tap the base of the tree for wine. This wine starts out not very potent, but as it sits, the alcohol content greatly increases. The palm fruits can also be used for cosmetic purposes.

Riverboats are seen throughout the country, as the river acts as a vital artery for trade and transportation along the populated river banks. On the riverboats, large communal kitchens serve tea and bread for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and dinner. Urban life has changed many traditional customs, and a thriving restaurant culture exists in Kinshasa. Usually catering to business people and the rich, these expensive places offer French, Chinese, Greek, and Tunisian food as well as traditional chicken cooked in oil with rice.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. A tradition ingrained into the villager's lifestyle is to be extremely generous and giving to all people. Starting with a family's closest kin, members share with one another and especially with the most needy in the community, even when their own health suffers from lack of food. Lavish gifts are bestowed upon visitors, guests, and distant cousins alike. A family's only chicken or goat is often slaughtered for holiday celebrations, funerals, and weddings, and to celebrate births. Traditional beer and palm wine is brewed for these special occasions, which usually involve singing and dancing. Above the drums, singing, and stomping of feet, women ululate shrilly to express their excitement. This encourages the dancers, who then begin to move with a renewed vigor.

Basic Economy. The per capita gross national product (GNP) of the country stands as the world's third lowest, according to a 1998 report. In 2000, as

A number of female students at a college in Kinshasa, learning dance. There are four universities located in the Congo.
A number of female students at a college in Kinshasa, learning dance. There are four universities located in the Congo.
the government continues printing money to fund the war, the inflation rate of the Congolese franc continued to rise (standing at 84 percent in May 2000), and hopes for a healthy national economy dwindled. Congolese industry was operating at only about 10 percent of its capacity.

Land Tenure and Property. In the past, the chief or village headman had authority over village land and ownership, but the European notion of individual land ownership led to a law in 1966 stating that the government owned all land, creating two simultaneous legal systems. Both laws exist side by side, and the unclear status of land ownership is usually "solved" by postponing land dispute investigations with bribes. Some people want to officially own the land they and their ancestors have been tending for centuries so that they can use the property as collateral for a loan. This legal issue caused by the parallel legal systems, however, prevents many from obtaining such a loan, making it difficult for would-be entrepreneurs to finance a new business. In addition, women cannot own land without their husband's consent.

Commercial Activities. People are forced to find food for themselves and their families by any means necessary. Since the Congo fails to perform the functions of a state, has a very ineffective administrative system, fails to uphold civil rights, and often neglects to pay even its few salaried workers, Congolese citizens must find a way to carry on with their lives to survive. The origin of this problem lies in the Belgian colonial days and the subsequent Mobutu era, in which the real function of the regime was to consolidate wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the rest.

It is estimated that the total economy of the DRC is three times larger than the official gross domestic product. The unofficial economy is not a backseat player; it is the real economy on the ground. This is because the vast majority of economic activity takes place behind the official system. Rather than go through the excessive bureaucratic formalities (a single export alone requires thirty-nine separate administrative procedures), people take the matter of survival into their own hands. Exports such as copper, diamonds, gold, and coffee are bound for Europe, South Africa, and Angola. People bicycle in common goods from neighboring countries to sell in the DRC for less. The consistently overvalued price of items in the official economy prevents everyone but the excessively rich from buying even the most basic necessities, and forces more people to operate within the black market. In fact, the primary reason to obtain a "regular job" (such as, teacher or police officer) is to use the new job as a springboard to new connections that enhance the operations of the work that takes place outside the traditional sector. Women have especially taken advantage of the booming informal sector, thereby avoiding official requirements for licensing, since they would normally need their husband's permission to open any sort of bank account or to obtain a trading permit. Tenacious entrepreneurs even continue their business under the extremely difficult conditions inside refugee camps. Hair salons, discos, bars, wrestling arenas, and shops selling basic goods have sprung up inside these camps.

Major Industries. Subsistence agriculture accounts for a vast majority of the industry in the Congo. People farm corn, manioc, potatoes, beans, and rice for their personal use. Textiles, food products, cement, and plastic shoes are manufactured.

Powerful players from around the world compete for access to the DRC's rich natural resources, which include diamonds, cobalt, copper, gold, and oil. In order to pass customs, traders may eat gold pellets or hide illegal goods in the spaces of a car engine in order to successfully make it through a border, where they then sell these items on the black market.

Trade. One of the most severe hindrances to trade and marketing in the Congo is the lack of adequate internal transportation. Most roads through the country's vast interior are not paved, and its 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) of paved roads remain in serious disrepair. Rain damages the terrain, creating huge potholes which make transport across the country virtually impossible. Estimates in the early 1990s suggested that it could take up to six months to travel from the east to the west of the country over the deeply rutted dirt tracks, even with a car in excellent condition. In addition, airline services are unreliable. Therefore, the most effective method of transport in the country is by river barge. These boats float down the Congo River, carrying large numbers of people and their goods on deck.

Division of Labor. Rural children learn from a young age to tend fields, carry water, cook, and clean the homestead. Everyone, regardless of talent, ability, or age, is involved in work for the family's survival.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Congo's richest people primarily live in Kinshasa. Referred to as Kinois, these government officials and Western businessmen are few in number. Non-Congolese expatriates— businesspeople of higher wealth and class from West Africa, Greece, Asia, the United States, and Japan—enjoy a higher standard of living than the majority of the population. Missionaries and foreign aid workers are socially fragmented into their respective groups and each attend separate schools, churches, and social clubs. Some Western workers, however, do live in rural areas, without the comforts of an elite lifestyle. The urban subbourgeoisie—those seen by the majority of the very poor as rich, but not enjoying much actual income since they are rarely paid—include teachers, clerks, and low-level bureaucrats. This disgruntled group is dependent on the state for their salaries. Teachers often bribe their students with threats of failure in order to survive. The rest of the city-dwelling population includes soft drink vendors, shoe repairmen, taxi drivers, salespeople, artisans, smugglers, and prostitutes, all of whom survive in the urban sprawl by operating in the unofficial economy.

The Institut de Medicine Tropicale Princesse Astrid. In the Congo, modern medical practices work together with traditional forms of African medicine.
The Institut de Medicine Tropicale Princesse Astrid. In the Congo, modern medical practices work together with traditional forms of African medicine.

Congolese are known for their extreme tenacity and ability to weather difficult situations. Rural peasants are hardest hit by the economic collapse, since state officials collect 50 percent of the peasants' income through taxation. In rural areas, respect and authority comes from being old and/or male. Many communities have chiefs, and most of them still wield a considerable amount of power in their villages.

Symbols of Social Stratification. With the introduction of Western imports and a monetary system, life in the Congo became increasingly stratified and based upon material acquisition. In the traditional sense, being rich meant owning lots of cattle or having many children. The idea of acquiring goods, trinkets, and other material things, however, is seen as the way to move forward in this modern age.

Some of the youth, fascinated with European styles and envisioning Europe as a place with an almost magical quality, are greatly influenced by the few people who have traveled abroad. A few men, concerned with their outward appearance, spend all their money on expensive, fashionable brand-name clothes, often while living in unhealthy conditions. This phenomenon is widely observed in male youth in Kinshasa, who believe, if they dress well, that more doors will open to them socially, politically, and economically. The desire for foreign clothes still fascinates the rich few, who are seen in the cities in designer clothes, driving Mercedes and talking on cellular phones.

Rural women often wear scarves on their heads, carry their babies on their backs, and wear light, brightly colored clothes. The tattered clothes of the majority of shoeless, rural and urban poor are outward signs of the poverty they endure.

Political Life

Government. Leopold's rule, Belgian colonialism, and Mobutu laid the framework for the current form of government. Mobutu established what some have called a "kleptocratic" dictatorship, in which the constitution and separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches existed on paper only, and the primary role of the government was extracting money from the land and people. On paper, Kabila answered to a bicameral parliament including a Senate, Chamber of Representatives, and an independent judiciary. In reality, he allowed himself to operate the entire country with the help of only twelve men, who comprised his interim assembly, citing civil war as a deterrent to democratic rule. Kabila's rhetoric included the goal of transferring power to the people through the use of People's Power Committees, which were slated to begin operations in each province sometime in the future. Kabila dissolved his own party, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) in January 1999, and subsequently engaged in fighting several armed factions opposed to his rule. Allegiances to a political party or faction are usually based along ethnic and clan lines.

Leadership and Political Officials. Everyone in the path of the president is ordered to stand perfectly still when he marches through Kinshasa's city streets. When an average citizen happens to meet a government official, the citizen will usually try to avoid conflict by conceding to the official's demands, and by keeping overall contact to a minimum. Those who spoke negatively of the Kabila regime faced probable prison, torture, and execution.

Social Problems and Control. With political parties officially banned and demonstrations outlawed, it is not difficult to imagine the social problems in the country. Rather than a government, a military, and a police force protecting its citizens, the ordinary people going about their daily life are harassed, stolen from, and lied to by the very people who are supposed to protect them. Journalists such as Kalala Kalaos, who was awarded the International Freedom of the Press Award in 1995, have endured countless prison sentences and torture for openly criticizing the government. Years of colonialism, brutality, and the general misunderstanding of the role of government will take more than a few years to overcome. It would be difficult for any new government, given this history, to come in and change things overnight since much of the illegal activity is promoted by the rich and powerful.

Problems of all sorts are solved in local courts, in which issues are discussed and resolved through legal or religious ceremonial actions such as purification and consecration. Traditional systems remain the primary method for solving disputes.

Military Activity. The role of the unpaid Congo Military is to set up numerous roadblocks in order to earn their money from the bribes of road-weary travelers. Soldiers rape women, inflict arbitrary fines on citizens, and pillage and harass the villagers. Most of the rest of the military is involved in fighting to protect Kabila's regime against several factions that wish to overthrow the government.

Social Welfare and Change Programs. Since less than 1 percent of the GNP is devoted to the health care of the citizens, little is being done by the government to assist its population. The few people in large cities who are salaried and are actually receiving pay also enjoy social security and pension benefits, but this does little for the vast majority of the population, which receives no support from the government.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

International relief organizations fly food in to refugees and people displaced because of the war. At times the food does not reach the innocent masses; rather, it often falls into the hands of the military, who can then strengthen themselves for more fighting.

As an institution, the Roman Catholic Church has been a major player in the Congo throughout modern history, often condemning state-sponsored human rights violations. In 1993 Catholic leaders

A village market, where people buy food, baskets, pottery, and other necessities.
A village market, where people buy food, baskets, pottery, and other necessities.
sent a memo to Mobutu denouncing state-sponsored terrorism and asking him to stop torturing and executing political prisoners. The church has served an important role throughout Congo's history as an intermediary to the state.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Most political, economic, and religious institutions have male leadership. Historically, Congolese men have been treated with respect and have been given positions of authority more often than Congolese women. The way a woman is treated in the Congo depends on her immediate environment and racial background. It has been argued that lower-class urban women enjoy fewer freedoms than their rural counterparts. Because women in cities are often more dependent on their husbands and other males for their livelihoods, the rural lifestyle may sound appealing to some; rural women find some independence through gardening, preparing meals, and generating small crafts for sale. These women spend so much time with their daily work, however, that they have little opportunity to organize for social change. Women living in Kinshasa are more able to form groups that collectively challenge the notion of male superiority.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Though many ethnic groups in the Congo practice matrilineal succession, in which inheritance is passed through the mother's side of the family, women are regarded as lower than males on the scale of social hierarchy. There is a high degree of societal pressure placed upon young women to marry, and an urban single woman is regarded as a prostitute, regardless of her professional status. In many cases, women must detail everything they purchase for their husband, while the male usually does not have to account for his own expenses. The goal is to keep women dependent on and subservient to men.

Women often band together in groups to resist unfair treatment or taxation. Some led popular efforts against Mobutu, such as organizing prayer groups in Kinshasa to mobilize efforts for his removal; many women continue to play a prominent role in challenging traditional roles of authority.

Marriage,Family, and Kinship

Marriage. In the past, single women in the Congo belonged to their fathers, and, upon marriage, their ownership would be transferred to the husband. The man's father would give gifts such as knives, food, or slaves to the new wife's father, in exchange for his loss of precious labor and kinship.

Young Rwandan refugees sit on a blanket outside an orphanage in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Young Rwandan refugees sit on a blanket outside an orphanage in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In rural areas it is common for men to have many wives. Village chiefs or headmen usually have more than one wife. The goal is to have many children who survive until adulthood, providing the household with enough hands to complete the many chores necessary for survival. At times, however, the women married to one man compete amongst each other for kitchens, food, affection, and children.

Domestic Unit. Women are responsible for the majority of the day-to-day survival tasks, such as cutting wood for cooking fires; hauling on their heads large buckets of water for cooking; cleaning clothes; reaping; sowing, and harvesting the fields; collecting palm fruits; cooking, pounding, and sifting the local cassava root; child rearing; and making baskets and pottery for sale at local markets. Traditionally, men went off on hunts for several days, using traps, spears, and bows and arrows to kill animals large and small. Now there are fewer animals to hunt, but the work of women does not diminish by proportion. In fact, the responsibility of the household falls more squarely on their shoulders, as the society becomes ever more dependent on farming. Many women have recently flocked to urban areas in the hopes of selling their handiwork, becoming hairstylists, or participating in the underground economy. Often the woman is the family's principal breadwinner. Many women have hopes that their children will advance out of poverty, and they are therefore burdened with the additional responsibility of paying school fees. Male children typically advance further in school than their female counterparts, since men are the head of the household and make financial decisions on behalf of the entire family and will benefit more from the education.

Kin Groups. In the traditional African model of kinship rules, there is a clear delineation of power, starting with the male head of the family. Chiefs come to rule based on their popularity within the village, their personal charisma, and their overall prestige. Whatever elders command is adhered to unconditionally, out of respect. Respect for elders, chiefs, and ancestors is an extremely important facet of daily life in the Congo.

Methods of solving problems must be based on traditional practices. For example, in the case of the Ebola virus, discovered in Kikwit in 1995, an immediate plan of action was necessary in order to ensure that this airborne and extremely deadly disease did not cause a local, and perhaps worldwide, pandemic. It was local elders who were responsible for stemming the deadly virus. Since these elders are the most respected men in their community, they were

An overcrowded refugee camp in Kibumba. Ongoing military conflicts have led to the creation of the overpopulated refugee camps.
An overcrowded refugee camp in Kibumba. Ongoing military conflicts have led to the creation of the overpopulated refugee camps.
summoned by health-care workers to explain the severity of the disease. Workers persuaded each elder to share with each head of the family the vital information required to stop the disease from spreading; the family heads in turn informed their kin. The elders persuaded the entire community not to touch or kiss their dead, as was common burial practice. Because the traditional way of disseminating information was followed, the disease was eliminated.

Socialization

Infant Care. It is common to see women carrying their babies on their backs as they work in the field, care for other children, carry water, cook, gather firewood, and clean their clothes and homes. Young girls learn from a very young age to take care of their younger siblings. Babies are seen on the backs of girls as young as five years of age.

Child Rearing and Education. Some authors argue that there really is no period of life called "childhood" in the Congo, at least in the Western sense of the concept. From the time babies are able to walk, they are thrust into the realm of adult responsibilities. Youth learn from their parents and elders how to manage the homestead. Young girls, especially, are expected to do lots of work for the family and are usually the ones found endlessly pounding cassava roots with a large mortar and pestle. Good children treat their elders with utmost respect and perform chores without complaint.

Traditionally, male children go to an initiation camp away from their villages for one year. Culminating in a festival and circumcision, this rite of passage into adulthood provides an opportunity for boys to learn to hunt, make handicrafts, and perfect their singing and dancing. The festival usually culminates in a dance ceremony where one dancer gets to wear an elaborate secret mask the village-maskmaker has worked all year to create. After this induction into adulthood, the boys travel back to their communities as men.

The Catholic Church has several mission schools for children that enjoy great popularity, since many national schools have understaffed classrooms. In state schools, the teachers' salaries are often unpaid, forcing many to bribe students for a high test score. Some male teachers solicit sexual acts from female students, offering a good grade or money in exchange. Such obstacles usually do not deter most females from pursuing education and a better life.

Some Africanists have questioned the role that school-based education has played in the rural communities, suggesting that youth may learn more about survival, farming, and raising a homestead from their parents. They argue that students waste precious hours each day learning useless facts in schools, rather than spending time inheriting wisdom from their elders.

Higher Education. The Congo has four universities. Two are located in Kinshasa with one each in Lubumbashi and Kisangani. There are also a number of other technical and teacher-training schools scattered around the country.

Some college applicants feel frustrated with the national policy of regional affirmative action in which a disproportionate number of students from remote areas are accepted into a university, leaving students with better scores and a higher level of education fewer available spots. Discouraged and angry, some students claim that the overall level of education in the universities declines because of this policy. This policy, however, is intended to give students from all parts of the country the chance to attend an institution of higher learning.

Etiquette

Casual clothes are permitted, but unwritten rule is that the nicer one looks, the more respect one will receive. Most local Congolese dress in clean, crisp clothes and colorful outfits. Women wear long skirts, never pants.

Taking pictures is highly sensitive and should be avoided, especially around military areas, checkpoints, and border controls. Greetings are very important in Congolese life; saying hello and inquiring about the other person's situation must be attended to before other matters are discussed. Special respect is given when greeting elders or village headmen, especially if the person who approaches is younger than the other.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The missionaries in the colonial past greatly influenced the Congo's society, and most Congolese profess Christianity as their primary religion. The Roman Catholic Church is extremely prominent, both as a religion and organized group. Over half of the population is Roman Catholic, owing to the large number of missions, schools, hospitals, and foundations run by the church. The Catholics have the most extensive social network of schools, hospitals, and churches in the country.

Traditional beliefs pervade nearly every aspect of life, even for churchgoing Christians. Several syncretic sects have combined traditional ancestral worship and ancient beliefs with Christianity to create new faiths, such as Kimbanguism. Started in 1902 by Simon Kimbangu, who claimed to receive visions of Moses healing, this faith combines anti-European sentiment with traditional African religion. Other Christian based-faiths include the Jamaa, the Kitawala, and the Protestant Church of Christ. There are also a small number of Muslims, who were converted by the influence of Zanzibari slave traders in the 1870s.

People in the Congo who still primarily adhere to traditional African religions believe in the presence of a supreme being who is best accessed through ancestors rather than by direct prayer. Traditional beliefs hold that divine spirits inhabit inanimate objects, and that god can be found as a rock, a tree, or any other object. Having respect and reverence for one's ancestors is part of daily life in the Congo, and people hold a continual dialogue with their ancestors. Angry ancestral spirits looming around villages are offered sacrifices and gifts to placate them. People prayerfully ask the ancestors to bring them good harvests, and ceremonies are held specifically for that purpose.

Illnesses, poor harvests, impotence, and death may arise because of a number of causes. Problems may be attributed to the will of god, angry ancestors, enemies, or witches, depending on the circumstance. Many Congolese fear witches, which are believed to bring all sorts of destruction to communities. People may pay village diviners, known to have special powers including healing and intuition, to find out the cause of the problem. Once the cause has been determined, the solution is remedied according to the healer's knowledge.

Religious Practitioners. Spiritual healers, often called ngangas , use sacred medicines made of a variety of herbs to cure patients. Someone seeking advice or a cure may go to a healer to remedy a headache, skin disease, or AIDS; to ask for good crops or to become pregnant; or to be told the future. During certain rituals inside the healer's home, specific rules must be followed, depending on the consultation. This usually involves killing chickens, eating special herbs, uttering specific phrases, and consulting the nkisi . The nkisi may be a box, bag, or gourd with medicines inside. It is thought to be a force raised from the dead that has chosen to submit itself to human control during rituals. Ngangas wear around their waist the nkisi and small bags with herbs. Often the patient is told to come back for his or her solution in the morning, so the nganga can wait for ideas to arise through dreams

A guard stands at the gate to the palace of the governor of Kivu.
A guard stands at the gate to the palace of the governor of Kivu.
and communications with ancestors. These healers, who are paid for their services, pass on to one of their children their knowledge of herbs and of divination through the throwing of bones, and their other talents. Many politicians regularly consult diviners and traditional healers.

Rituals and Holy Places. Most Congolese mix their indigenous practices with the Christian faith, depending on circumstances and desired outcomes. When someone falls ill, the whole community works together to help the patient. First, it must be determined whether the illness comes "from God," or if it is of natural or human causes. If it is determined that a witch or enemy caused the sickness, then traditional healing methods and beliefs are used, such as offering sacrifices to God and the ancestors. If, however, the disease seems to be from God, members of the community will most likely go to church to pray for the person.

Death and the Afterlife. Many Congolese believe that the spirits of people who have died remain with the family in very obvious ways. Ancestors are very much alive and remain active in the life of the family for generations. People communicate with their ancestors, who act as intermediaries between humans and God. People often ask their ancestors for rain, health, good crops, or the solution to a difficult problem. White cloth is tied around trees to welcome these ancestral spirits. When someone dies, small gifts are placed around the corpse so the person will have these items when he or she enters the spirit world. The body is then buried in a shroud. Women wear white paint on their faces to symbolize both their mourning and strength in overcoming difficulties.

Medicine and Health Care

Since many people drink, bathe, wash their clothes, and defecate in the same river, most water that is accessible to the population carries a host of diseases. Only 14 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water. Standards of living are even lower in refugee camps, where disease spreads much faster because of squalid living conditions and high the population density. Other problems in the Congo relate to the wartime conditions, which have led to the closure of some hospitals and to the government not paying some nurses and doctors.

Some common ailments affecting the Congolese include malaria, parasites, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, diarrhea, AIDS, and malnutrition. The increasing problem of AIDS has led to education programs targeting youth. In addition, there has been a strong shift in Congolese health care toward rediscovery

Copper ready for exportation at a mine in the Shaba region.
Copper ready for exportation at a mine in the Shaba region.
of ancient methods, especially after many Western doctors and clinics shut their doors. A health survey, conducted in the Mobutu era, was coordinated to find common ground between Western and traditional medicine, so that all health-care practitioners could use their specific knowledge for the greater good of the whole community.

Secular Celebrations

National holidays include New Year's Day, 1 January; Commemoration of the Martyrs of Independence, 4 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Anniversary of the New Constitution, 24 June; Independence Day, 30 June; Parents' Day, 1 August; Youth Day, 14 October; Armed Forces Day, 17 November; Christmas, 25 December. Celebrations often include parades, singing, dancing, and feasting on large animals.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Government support for the arts has been limited to those who bolster the political agendas of the ruling party. Therefore, many artists also farm, fish, or engage in underground commercial activity to supplement their income. Informal groups of artists have been established to serve as moral support for the numerous artisans who display their works on city streets.

Literature. Congolese writers have focused on issues of identity in relation to their colonial past, the differences and similarities between ethnic groups, and conflicts between old and new ways. Some popular poets, playwrights, and novelists include Elebe ma Ekonzo, Valerin Mutombo-Diba, Paul Lomami-Tshibamba, Lisembe Elebe, and Mwilambwe Kibawa.

Graphic Arts. Introduced by the Portuguese missionaries of the late fifteenth century, the Ingot Cross continues to be a symbol of both religion and wealth in the Congo. Similar in shape to the square Christian cross, local metalworkers cast these objects from a copper mold. People still use Ingot Crosses as currency and in bride-wealth transactions, especially in the Katanga region.

A large copper industry in the southern Katanga province has sparked a new artistic form in which portraits are sketched into a copper sheet, which is then covered with clay for unique color and texture. Many famous African heads-of-state have had their likenesses imprinted on copper. This art form is gradually gaining recognition in Europe and around the world.

In large towns and cities, tourists can buy handcrafted art, including wood carvings, paintings, baskets, jewelry, and masks. In addition, clothing and mats are popular wares, which are often made from the ubiquitous raffia palm tree.

Postindependence paintings depict exploitation, poverty, and inequality. Such paintings give voice to a Congolese interpretation of history separate from the colonial mind-set pervasive in schools.

Performance Arts. Kwasa-kwasa can be heard in circles throughout Africa. This extremely popular dance music originated in Kinshasa, considered by many to be the African music capital. Congolese music and dance of all types can be heard on radios and seen on televisions throughout the world. Congo jazz and soukous, played on a guitar, are popular varieties for such dances. Traditional instruments, such as the thumb piano and various drums, are often used to accompany singers and dancers, who may be singing about anything from love and gender roles to issues of power abuse and government. When artists are afraid to discuss such controversial topics openly, they hint about them through the poetry of song.

The Mbuti people are renowned for a vocal style in which many voices simultaneously sing different, independent melodies. Most types of artistic talent are learned from family members or village elders.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Museums in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and an Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa contribute to the understanding of Congo history. Universities, government offices, and many nongovernmental organizations maintain libraries. Ethnographers, scientists, and those studying the humanities find these institutions valuable places to conduct their research.

Bibliography

Aronson, David. "The Dead Help No One Living." World Policy Journal 14 (4): 81–96, 1998/1998.

Ball, George W. The Elements in Our Congo Policy, 1961.

Brittain, Victoria. "The Congo Quagmire." World Press Review, November 1998, 14–15.

Callaghy, Thomas M. The State-Society Struggle: Zaire in Comparative Perspective, 1984.

Caputo, Robert. "Lifeline for a Nation: Zaire River." National Geographic, November 1991, 2–35.

"Congo's Hidden War." Economist, 17 June 2000, 45–46.

"Democratic Republic of the Congo: Country Profile." Economist Intelligence Unit, 1999.

Elliot, Jeffrey M., and Mervin Dymally. Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality?, 1990.

Emizet, Kisangani. "The Massacre of Refugees in Congo." Journal of Modern African Studies 38 (2): 162–174, 2000.

Fabian, Johannes. Moments of Freedom, 1998.

"Far from Congo's Battlefield." Economist, 29 July 2000, 46.

Gondola, Ch. Didier. "Dream and Drama." African Studies Review, 42 (1): 23–48, 1999.

Griggs, Matt. "Life on the Inside," Geographical, July 2000, 40–43.

Himmelheber, Hans. Zaire 1938/39: Photographic Documents of the Yaka, Pende, Tshokwe, and Kuba, 1993.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, 1998.

Kabwasa, Antoine Nsang-O'Khan. "African Cosmogony, Life's Philosophy and Development." Lecture, University of Nairobi, 17 February 1998.

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible, 1998.

"The Lusaka Accords May Create More Instability." Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, 27 (7): 3, 1999.

MacGaffey, Wyatt. Art and Healing of the Bakongo, 1991.

Meditz, Sandra W., and Tim Merrill, eds. Zaire: A Country Study, 1994.

Nelson, Samuel H. Colonialism in the Congo Basin, 1880–1940, 1994.

Packham, Eric S. Success or Failure?: The UN Intervention in the Congo after Independence, 1998.

Pepin, Jacques. "Zaire (Congo): Resurgence of Trypanosomiasis." Lancet, June 1997, S10–S11.

Tanner, Henry. "A Congo: Reporters Nightmare." Nieman Reports, 53/54 (4/1): 187–189, 1999/2000.

Tidwell, Mike. The Ponds of Kalambayi: An African Sojourn, 1990.

U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on Africa. Political and Economic Situation in Zaire, Fall, 1981.

U.S. Embassy, Kinshasa. Marketing in Zaire: Overseas Business Reports, July 1991.

—J ENNIFER J. Z IEMKE



User Contributions:

Craig
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May 8, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
Hey, This is a great resource for your leadership 203 Leader paper. Good Luck!
theodora
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Aug 30, 2007 @ 8:08 am
i feel oh so bad for the people living in the poor parts. and the little orphans. :(
GRACE
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Nov 6, 2007 @ 7:07 am
i hope you also include those who are the congo people during their rituals... because if yes, it can help me in my assignments about this...
Francoise
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Nov 8, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
Some parts in this article are very old, let say before Congo's independence. Please don't use everything in this article because it is kind of misleading. more reseach is needed.
Brooke
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Dec 11, 2007 @ 7:07 am
Awsome!!!! this is totally great for my project!! thanks whoever made this!!!
Anila
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Jan 3, 2008 @ 2:14 pm
LOL, Grace so is mine. =) This was useful... i was looking at the site.. it sucks that such good information has to look so uncredible..
joseph
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Jan 18, 2008 @ 11:11 am
it has pretty good pictures. it talks a lot of congo's culture i thing is gone to be a googd web site to do are country report.
Dezi
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Mar 4, 2008 @ 12:12 pm
I love this websight, it is perfect for the reports that our classes do on Africa and the Middle East!!!!!!
deborah
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Mar 11, 2008 @ 2:14 pm
thanks for providing me loads of information about my project about the republic democratic of congo.
Olebogeng Djamba
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Apr 15, 2008 @ 3:03 am
The article is very informative and wonderful. For a person like me, who would like to visit the country, it is important to kmow more about it. Thank you very much!
Max
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May 15, 2008 @ 7:19 pm
like brooke, this is very helpful in my project. i only read the parts i needed so i didnt read everything but what i did read was good.
kave
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Sep 4, 2008 @ 8:08 am
i am so proud of this information and i am so going to brag about my country from today, it doesnt matter what people say , there are poor people everywhere in the world not only in congo. so lets start being proudly congolese.
JeRtEz
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Sep 5, 2008 @ 3:03 am
This is good to know about the congo people and this is my miniresearch thanks!
Christy
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Nov 5, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
This article was very informative. I've wanted to learn more about the Congo and this article was a great start. I have a passion for these people. We take so much for granted in America.
Summer
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Mar 17, 2009 @ 6:18 pm
This is an awesome site that has lots of information to do a paper, thanks alot!
Nicole
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May 27, 2009 @ 9:21 pm
Hey this is great. my only problem is that i can't tell when this was updated....is it recent? I have to do a recent study for my class....
Kevin
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Nov 4, 2009 @ 7:19 pm
This article is awesome! Its a great start for my project on Zaire (Congo)!
grace
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Dec 10, 2009 @ 7:19 pm
this is a awsome sight it has everything that i neededfor my project
Alyssa
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Jan 22, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
i am doing a project on democratic republic of the congo and this was a GREAT help!
Leah
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Mar 4, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
I am writing a research paper on how the boundaries set by the europeans affect present day issues in Congo.
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Apr 7, 2010 @ 9:21 pm
the information is very educative.keep it up!.one of the intresting things i learnt is that cogc has over two hundred ethnic groups
Angela Phillips
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Apr 11, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
This is a great resource for research if your students are doing a project on a country. As a teacher, I recommend this to all of you other teachers who are trying to find websites for research. This is very helpful to our class. Thanks for everyone who created this website! I hope you other teachers will find this a useful resource too!
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Apr 11, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
this website is awesome! i love it! it helped me so much!
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May 11, 2010 @ 1:01 am
excellent source of information. this will aid me well in my Ambassador Project :D
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May 12, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
Well this ereally helped me on my report and i thank this website for doing this and this is very cool thanks yPerformance Arts. Kwasa-kwasa can be heard in circles throughout Africa. This extremely popular dance music originated in Kinshasa, considered by many to be the African music capital. Congolese music and dance of all types can be heard on radios and seen on televisions throughout the world. Congo jazz and soukous, played on a guitar, are popular varieties for such dances. Traditional instruments, such as the thumb piano and various drums, are often used to accompany singers and dancers, who may be singing about anything from love and gender roles to issues of power abuse and government. When artists are afraid to discuss such controversial topics openly, they hint about them through the poetry of song.

The Mbuti people are renowned for a vocal style in which many voices simultaneously sing different, independent melodies. Most types of artistic talent are learned from family members
ou alot
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May 18, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
This is a bad website! It doesn't give what the life is like for an average person.
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May 18, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
I don't like this website. It doesn't even give you enough information. I don't like it. It's bad. It's wierd. It's disgusting. It's inappropiate! It's not fact. It's fake. So don't believe it. You're going to get a virus. SO DONT'T USE IT!
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May 24, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
I love this website. It is so great. I'm lovin it!
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Jun 25, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
i am a representative in an emancipation pageant
and i need some help with portraying the Congo's everyday family life please a short summary that u think someone can portray all the good things of the Congo would be greatly appreciated thank you.
! oh yeah am from Trinidad a beautiful Caribbean and my name is Nekisha Cox lol
Thank You much
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Jul 27, 2010 @ 3:03 am
This really helps my project a lot! I loved it! There's sufficient information for my project. Thanks and keep it up! :)
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Jul 28, 2010 @ 2:02 am
how does the people of congo conduct thier funeral services
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Oct 27, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
i like this website but i have a question is there any famous people in congo i must know!
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Nov 27, 2010 @ 1:01 am
I'm happy to learn more agin about DRCongo through your site...
Freddy
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Nov 30, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
this is great information. Props to whoever posted all this. Thank you, it helped a lot for my essay/project. :)
garrie
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Dec 5, 2010 @ 9:21 pm
this helped me on my assignment!! thanks to whoever posted this :)
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Dec 13, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Hello, I am curious if there is way to site this as a scholarly source or if i should simply cite it as a website, Very helpful site! Thanks!
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Feb 5, 2011 @ 10:10 am
THX! this helped me so much! i stalled intill the very last moment on my essey on the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo, its actually due on monday, i still have two days to finish it, but imma still freaked out. But you have so much info! Thank you for saving my butt.thx again!
tara
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Feb 12, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
can u please add the type of clothing in one of these paragraphs!??? thanx!!!
tessa
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Feb 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
this is the best it helped me so much with my project
bailey sanders
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Mar 4, 2011 @ 9:09 am
this website had everything i needed for my project
shay
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Mar 7, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
Great article helped me get some research done. I believe that whoever wrote this article knew what they were doing and was aware of what the topic was and his or her audience.
Shalonte
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Mar 8, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
Great! Wonderful! Amazing! This article is a life saver! Whoever wrote this actually has a great shot at becoming a writer. I mean i was distraught until i found this! Thank the lord for the internet or ill be sincerly hopeless with a big F on my project
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May 11, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
this article helped in many ways for my assessment thank you very much
cora hudson
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May 18, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
there is very good pictures on congo and its culture but a bite to much information on it
NWEVO,BARTHOLOMEW.O
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Jun 3, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
I thank who so ever that put all this write up together.I pray GOD bless that soul.As am using it for my term paper in NIGERIA and to gain success,so shall u go higher in life.
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Aug 22, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
According to this article, the D.R.c needs the change, because his social life is under the normal life. I think that Congolese leaders don't dream the change, for them the past was bad and the future will be what it will be. It means no one has the responsibility. They need power for power, for getting money.

The election of 2011 will be for Congolese people the luck of hope and of change?
What are the challenges of democracy in D.R.C.
M
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Oct 25, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
As in many othe african countries , in the democratic republic of congo borders were drawn up by colonial powers which ended up on many diverse ethnic groups living on the same territory, I would like to know thos three groups..please
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Nov 6, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Thank you so much! This website was extremely helpful. I'm doing a project for school and I tried Wikipedia at first but this website was much better! Take that, Wikipedia!
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Nov 13, 2011 @ 9:09 am
why the people of Zaire are not able to do hard work ?
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Nov 14, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
I pray that the Lord would touch the people of Congo, and show them His saving Grace. I also pray he would touch those of you that just looked at this article as a project and not a burden. In His Name.
Bhagyanadhan
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Jan 2, 2012 @ 1:01 am
Understood the Situation in Congo from this article. The reason why i have gone through this article is few days back got a job offer from congo.
Tabitha
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Jan 13, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
This is really good information I can use it for my class :)
AKD
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Feb 8, 2012 @ 3:03 am
Just wondering before attending a B'day party of a Congolese friend. Can anybody suggest about the best possible gifts for a B'day party to be handed over to host?
Thanking in advance.
182
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Mar 8, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
Thank you this for all these inforamtion for my Position Paper
brandi
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Mar 21, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
THIS REALLY HELPS ON MY SCHOOL PROJECT ALSO IF ANYONE HAS A PROJECT ABOUT THIS IT WOULD HELP THEM OUT TOO
Bill
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May 7, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
My 9 year old son is doing a powerpoint presentation for his 3rd grade class he chose Congo...
All this information in one place was great!

Thank you!
Matadi Unruh
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Sep 25, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Very strong piece of work. Accurate and truthful. An update would be great in some areas of article such as woman's store. And definately speak on the decline of society, as Politicians rape minors and contaminate many with HIV.
li'l monkey :)
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Dec 4, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
this stuff is great !!! how did u find all this?
and i think did a awesome job! :)
Alega
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Feb 1, 2013 @ 5:05 am
I love you my country.long live and you will forever remain beautiful despite the short comings we are facing.long live
Alega
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Feb 1, 2013 @ 5:05 am
I love you my country.long live and you will forever remain beautiful despite the short comings we are facing.long live.this should not be looked at as an object for proposals and course works but a look at how colonialism has drained our culture in favor of selfish interest and its time this stopped for the sake my mother land.
jesse james steele
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Mar 12, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
i need more info for my project in computer class it is supposed to a 15 slide power point
Tom
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Apr 2, 2013 @ 5:05 am
THX really helped me with my project BEST WEBSITE WELL DONE
josues.mbala
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Apr 10, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
Mobutu never fled in Europe instead in MOROCCO when Kabila took over Congo in 1997. you should note this.
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Apr 18, 2013 @ 3:03 am
IT has really helped to discover were i belong because i was born from congo and because of the wars in my country my parents decided to to uganda were i grew up from so my heart is crying to go back home,i believe all will be well home i want to help my people and we bring peace in our country.
Emily
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Nov 22, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Great information. However, it would been nice if the author was known for research and refence purposes.
Sophia
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Jan 19, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
This site is so good! I'm impressed...At least I've gotten extra information for my work:)
Kathlina
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May 29, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
I m congolese i m from Democratic Republic of Congo. I live in Kinshasa that the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo
Nanners
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Oct 29, 2014 @ 11:11 am
I like this country, although HIV's and Ebola is going through it. I still think it's a cool country though, and I would like to visit that country once in my lifetime.
ThabangChoshi
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Oct 29, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
This article has taught Me little about DRC, and like the beautiful gifted country.Wish to be there soon Oneday. May God almighty Bless the country forever more, no matter Who says what,about it, like it a lot

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