Welcome back everyone! I hope you got a chance to come out to some of our events! We’re having our film screen “Blood Coltan” today, and it’s a very engaging and insightful documentary on the mining conflict in DRC. So come out and share your thoughts on the film!
Today we are going to take a cultural perspective of the Congo, and talk about some interesting facts to give you guys a better understanding of the DRC. The Democratic Republic of Congo is located literally in the center of Africa and is often referred to as “the heart of Africa.” With a population of 70 million and with over 250 ethnic groups, the country has four major languages: Lingala, Kikongo, Tshiluba, and Swahili.
Although much of the history we learn about African countries is from colonial involvement, it is important understand the independence and roots independent form colonization. The DRC had it’s own historical roots, culture, and government body. The Kongo Kingdom, was the ruling empire form 14th century up until colonization in the 19th century. The Congo has one the oldest forms of mathematical system in the world, the Ishango Bones. A “binary counting system and lunar calendar, which dates to 20,000 B.C.”(www.congoweek.org). However, the Congo was given to King Leopold II of Belgium as ‘gift’ of and used as his own personal property for 23 years. By 1908 King Leopold II was forced to relinquish his ‘ownership’ of the Congo to Belgian- after approximately 10 million Congolese had died because of his brutal treatment of the country. It was only in 1960 did Congo obtain independence from its colonizers.
Contemporary culture of Cong is vast and vibrant. It reflects the many ethnic groups that make up DRC. Although the influence of colonization was strong, the country was able to hold distinct indigenous traditional belief systems that intermingled with Christianity. Although this is only a short summary of the Congo history and culture there is much more to be learned. I urge you to click on some of these links if you’re interested to find out more!
Heather and Maggie