Discover DR Congo

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.
  • Politics: 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?

2 comments

  1. I’ve been reading a lot about Congo, Rwanda, and Sudan. I started with reading about the genocide in Rwanda and then read A Thousand Sisters by Lisa Shannon. Since then, I’ve gone through a number of books. The more I read, the more complicated the issues become. The politics boggle my mind to put it mildly. It’s so complicated. So many atrocities have and continue to occur in the region. It disgusts me how little the media and the public in US have neglected to report on these issues. Does it get more coverage in the United Kingdom?

    Did you grow up in Congo?

    Please be safe on your trip, and keep us up to date about your visit.

    1. Thanks Krista for taking the time to read and comment. I think ‘complicated’ does not quite depict the socio-political challenges the country faces. Its history has been bleak, some 125 years have passed, but it seems to be one thing after another. What I am happy about is that to an extent we have held on to our national identity (which has prevented the balkanisation of the country by the West and their African allies) – probably one of the most positive legacies Patrice Lumumba beseeched onto us. There are days when I feel sad, other days I am angry, other days I feel happy that people are staying hopeful, raising awareness, living in the most challenging situations because they only have themselves to rely on. I get a little scared to read too much or know too much because the little that I know and see revolts me already.

      Media wise it is the same old story across the pond; nada! I feel that with Congo the information is there but you have to seek it to find it. The truth about the Congo is tainted, too many people are involved; governmental bodies (international) and multinationals would be exposed. In addition, Congolese people still have the ‘thank God I got away’ attitude. It is contradictory but I don’t think that we have the courage to unite and fight for our own ( I blame this on decades of Colonialism added the dictatorship era) as people our spirits have been demoralised so there is a lot of damage to repair. The culture of accepting one’s fate for what it is needs to be eradicated. We are used to being given crumbs from the bread that we baked, and then being obliged to eat it with gratitude. *sigh* I could go on forever Krista lol I am still analysing and seeking some sense in all this mess without losing my sanity.

      I left Congo aged 5. Lived in France, Cameroon then the UK . Thank you. I hope one day we can brave it together, I long to venture in the depths of the Congo rainforest, getting lost then being rescued by a couple of pygmies O_O lol

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