My Country , My Truth, My Heritage
If you were to attempt a quick search on Google for information and images of the DR Congo, the results generated would be that of war, hungry children (with the infamous flies on their faces),
soldiers rebels and the usual media or stigmas associated with most African countries. To say that the country’s continuous struggle for peace, political and economic stability has been arduous over these passed decades would be an understatement!
The DR Congo is a vast, predominantly land-locked country known for its immense natural resources (it is bordered by nine countries). I do feel sometimes that its true potential (economic growth etc) has been over-shadowed by what commentators have branded as the ‘curse of its minerals’. There is a famous Congolese saying which states ‘Tango Yesu a tongaka Kongo , abosanaka ba valise ya ba minerais na ba bien nioso awa’ (along those lines and most certainly filled with grammatical errors) it implies ‘When God finished creating Kongo, he forgot to take his minerals-and-other-resources-filled suitcases with him’.
Indeed God blessed this country with unfathomable natural resources. From having the Earth’s second largest Rainforest after the Amazon, untaped oil and gas in its rivers and lakes, to Hydroelectric Power potential deemed sufficient enough to supply electricity to the ENTIRE African continent! In hindsight, it should have been one of the richest countries in the world had its history not been so treacherous. I find more disheartening that its leaders have continuously failed to understand and exploit the potential of its human capital – but I will not get into this conversation right now.
The blog will aim to celebrate the culture, heritage and beauty of my native country – My truth. I am looking forward to my trip in July, I hope to find places to visit before hand and will most certainly take pictures upon arrival that I can share right here with you.
A few Quick Facts:
- Formerly: The Kingdom of Kongo, Kongo, Congo (Léopoldville), Belgian Congo, Zaire
- Population: 67 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Kinshasa (most populated city)
- Other large cities (in population): Lubumbashi (2nd), Kolwezi (3rd), Mbuji-Mayi (4th), Kisangani (5th)
- Area: 2.34 million sq km (905,354 sq miles) – Africa’s 3rd largest country
- Major languages: French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba
- Congo River: 5th longest river in the world, 2nd longest in Africa after the Nile, Egypt
- Congo Rainforest: World’s 2nd largest rainforest, (18% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforest), a listed World Heritage Site since 1996
- Okapi (animal): A rare giraffe-like mammal with zebra stripes, found in Ituri rainforest, last siting was in 1959 up until recently in 2006 – in brink of extinction
- Music: No specific genre per se, referred to in lingala dialect as ‘ndule’, includes Rumba, Madiaba, Mutuashi, Soukous, Folk music and Pop music
- People: Pygmies, Bantus and East Africans. Bordering countries such as Darfur and Tanzania often led to mixed marriages. Today the population is very diversified throughout the country. Over 250 ethnic groups identified
- Person is: Congolese
- Symbolism: National holidays include Independence Day, Constitution Day and Armed Forces Day
- Major industries: Mining, Subsistence agriculture, Cement, Textiles and Food products are also manufactured
- Social stratification: The urban bourgeoisie mainly lives in Kinshasa. Gap between rich and poor is widening.
- Etiquette: Women are expected to conform to ‘appropriate and respectable’ clothing. Although Western influences have made the rule less stringent. Casual clothes are the norm. In offices women are expected to abstain from looking ‘sexually provocative’ – Here traditional wear ‘liputa‘ is preferred, but not compulsory
- Liputa (called ‘pagne’ in French): African print garment. Hollandais and Super Wax being the premium brands favoured by distinguished Congolese women. Some men can fall into ‘Les Sapeurs‘ infamous category.
COMPLETE BULLSHIT!THE ENIGMA! I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE THIS ONE OUT (and so are my fellow Congolese brothers and sisters around the globe)! IT REMAINS ONE OF NATURE’S BEST KEPT SECRETS!!! LOL :p
This is a learning curve for me, therefore feel free to comment and ask questions – We will take baby steps together 🙂
Is there a ‘Quick Fact’ from above that you would like me to explore in more depth?