ALTERNATE NAMES: Congo-Kinshasans
LOCATION: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
POPULATION: 45 million
LANGUAGE: Lingala; Swahili; Ciluba; Kikongo; French (language of government)
1 • INTRODUCTION
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC—the former Zaire) is Africa's third-largest country. Its boundaries were drawn arbitrarily at the Conference of Berlin in 1884–85. More than 300 ethnic groups speakng between 300 and 600 dialects and languages live within those boundaries. In 1997, Zaire returned to using the name by which it had been known from 1960 to 1970, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (The DROC was earlier known by the names "The Independent State of the Congo" and "The Belgian Congo.")
Archeological evidence indicates that this part of the world is one of the oldest places inhabited by humans. Prior to European colonization, the peoples of the DROC were part of empires, kingdoms, and small forest village communities.
At the Berlin Conference, the European powers gave King Leopold II (1965–1909) of Belgium sole control of the territory. Leopold ruled it ruthlessly, and forced labor killed some 10 million Congolese between 1880 and 1910. When these horrible realities gained international attention, the Belgian state took over the colony. However, oppression and exploitation continued through Belgian mining companies.
The possibility of revolt forced the Belgians to grant what is now the DROC its independence in 1960. Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (1925–61), who had socialist leanings (advocating collective rather than private economic ownership), was killed in February 1961. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) allegedly was involved, and brought Mobutu Sese Seko (1930–97) to power in 1965. Mobutu stole the country's resources and impoverished his fellow Congolese. His fortune, estimated at over $8 billion, made him possibly the richest man in the world. He was ousted in May 1997 and died in exile later that year. Laurent Désiré Kabila (1939–) then became president.
2 • LOCATION
The DROC is roughly equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi River. Geographically, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains—the fabled "Mountains of the Moon." The mostly highland plateau is broken up by hilly and mountainous terrain, and a vast central basin drains into the Congo River.
Population density varies greatly from extremely dense urban centers to the sparsely populated central basin. Six ethnic groups account for more than 69 percent of the population. These include the Luba, Kongo, Mongo, Rwandese, Azande, and Bangi and Ngale.
The DROC claims the second-largest remaining rainforests in the world. However, deforestation from commercial logging threatens the fragile ecosystem.
3 • LANGUAGE
In spite of the many dialects or languages spoken throughout the DROC, four national languages predominate. These are Lingala, Swahili, Ciluba, and Kikongo. French is officially used in the government, and in education at university and high school levels. In public elementary schools, French is often taught as a second language. It is common to find people speaking a national language at the market, French in school, and their native language at home.
4 • FOLKLORE
Folklore is communicated in many ways, including literature, art, music, and dance. It is a means of carrying on tradition from generation to generation. Each ethnic group has its own legends and folktales, though similarities exist. Animals figure importantly. For example, the rabbit is identified with intelligence and cunning, while the crocodile is associated with something bad, such as an unforgiving traffic cop.
On television, a popular figure, Grand-père (grandfather), tells folktales in a village setting. This is a modern version of an older tradition where storytelling took place around an evening fire. The purpose of the tales is to teach while entertaining. Grand-père frequently explains the morals of these stories and their application to daily life.
5 • RELIGION
Nearly half of all Congolese practice Catholicism, and another third are Protestant. However, Christian and traditional forms of religion are often combined. For example, at holy Mass, ancestors are begged for protection. People dance in the liturgy and offer in-kind gifts, including goat, cassava, fish, fruits, and vegetables. In 1921, Simon Kimbangu (1889?–1951), claiming to be a prophet of Jesus Christ, led a religious revival against colonialism. Some 17 percent of the population now profess a form of African Christianity.
Traditional belief holds that all things have life and deserve respect. This even includes inanimate objects such as rocks. Life never ends, and no separation exists between the living and the dead. Offering the ancestors a drink by pouring some beer on the ground is symbolic of this belief. Nzambe, assisted by the spirits of ancestors, is the supreme being from whom all things come.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
The increasingly difficult political and economic climate in the DROC has dampened popular celebrations of secular holidays. Until recently, May 20, the day Mobutu's Popular Revolutionary Movement Party (MPR) was founded, was marked by parades and huge celebrations highlighting regional folkloric troupes wearing the party colors. Independence Day celebrations seemed small in comparison. Christmas (December 25), New Year's Day (January 1), and Easter (late March or early April) are festive occasions. Those who can afford it celebrate with a meal of roasted goat or cow.
Parent's Day, August 1, is a unique holiday. In the morning Congolese celebrate the dead, and in the afternoon, the living. Residents of Kinshasa, for example, go to the cemeteries early to clear and spruce up family graves. Adults then return home to eat again together with the children.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
In the DROC, children are a symbol of wealth, and all births are celebrated with joy. However, boys are more desired because they continue the family name.
Prior to colonization, boys and girls passed to adulthood through initiation rites. Boys were circumcised and were taught the elders' wisdom and the values of their culture. Girls were never circumcised, but they were taken to a secret place and taught how to succeed in marriage and how to raise a family. Nowadays, male circumcision occurs soon after birth. Because of social changes in the cities, young men and women are usually taught about life and their culture by a family member such as an uncle or aunt.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Congolese are extremely friendly. They commonly stop to greet friends, and even strangers, on the street. It is customary to shake hands when meeting people and when taking leave of them. There are several ways to greet people depending on time of day, the nature of the relationship, and so forth. In the morning a Lingala-speaker greets by asking, "Hello, is that you? (Mbote, Yo wana?), Are you awake? (Olamuki?), How did you sleep? (Olalaki malamu?). " Asking someone how they are consists of literally asking, "What news? (Sango nini?). " The typical reply would be, "No news! (Sango te)" meaning, "Fine."
Congolese place great importance on family and social relations. A grandparent affectionately refers to his or her grandchild as "little husband or wife," and the grandchild refers to the grandparent in the same way. A woman lightheartedly addresses a neighbor as "father-in-law" (bokilo) because she likes his young son, whom she calls her "little husband." Many people call friends and even strangers "brother-in law" or "sister-in-law." This serves to build friendships and avoid conflict.
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
For the majority of Congolese, living standards are low. Political instability and rising inflation increase the cost of basic goods practically by the hour. Consequently, goods in the market are priced in U.S. dollars. A typical good-humored response to the question "How's it going?" has become, Au taux du jour! meaning, "According to the daily rate!"
Homes in the village are often made from mud brick, and thatch or galvanized-iron roofing. They are clean but not mosquito-proof. In the towns, some houses have electricity, running water, and flush toilets.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
Families tend to be large, with as many as ten or more children. Parents invest what they can in their children. In return, children are expected to take care of their parents when they reach old age. The number of children per family is shrinking, especially in urban centers. Polygyny (more than one wife) is practiced, but second wives are not recognized by the state or by the Church.
A couple often participates in three marriage ceremonies: traditional, civil, and religious. The traditional ceremony consists of exchanging gifts between the two families. The civil ceremony consists of exchanging wedding vows before a government representative. Finally, at the church, the bride might wear a Western-style wedding dress for the religious ceremony. In rural areas, wedding celebrations can last weeks, punctuated with singing, dancing, and feasting.
11 • CLOTHING
In the DROC, people dress up, even when going to work. If they lack the means to buy fancy clothes, they wear washed and neatly pressed clothing bought second-hand. In the 1970s, the government banned Westernized business suits for men. They were replaced with collarless suits, or abacost, meaning "down with suits." Neckties and bow ties were replaced with scarves and matching handkerchiefs in the front pockets.
Traditionally, women were not permitted to wear wigs, Western pants, jeans, or mini-skirts. Even today as these rules are overturned, women prefer African wraparounds (pagnes), tailored in creative styles with bright African patterns. Women with the means wear made-to-order jewelry of ivory, malachite, gold, silver, copper, and diamonds.
12 • FOOD
Congolese love to eat. Staples in their diet include cassava, rice, potatoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes or yams, accompanied by a sauce of greens, fish, or meat, depending on the region. The DROC is perhaps best known for mwamba, a sauce made of palm-nut paste, in which chicken, meat, and fish are cooked. Mwamba is eaten with rice, fufu (similar to a dumpling), or chikwange (cassava prepared in banana leaves). Other traditional foods include pounded sesame seeds (wangila), squash seeds (mbika), steamed chicken or fish (maboke), shiska-bobs (kamundele), and plantain dough (lituma). In some regions, people consider caterpillars, grubs, roasted crickets, and termites to be delicacies. Near the equator, wild game such as elephant, monkey, hippopotamus, and crocodile are enjoyed. The Congolese fondness for beer is legendary. However, in the villages, palm-wine is the favorite.
13 • EDUCATION
About 72 percent of Congolese are able to read and write, due to a strong elementary school system. Education is not required by law, but 90 percent of all Congolese children attend primary school for at least a few years. Many children drop out at times to work when parents are unable to pay admission fees and other expenses. A unique Congolese tradition is salongo, which brings all the students together on Saturday afternoons to clean up the school yard and remove weeds and brush.
Secondary school begins with a two-year middle school program. A high school diploma must be earned by passing a rigorous state exam. Public university, plagued by political and social problems, closes frequently. Currently, Congolese are trying to solve their problems by creating privately funded and administered universities.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
Congolese modern dance music has been popular throughout sub-Saharan Africa since the 1950s. Referred to as "Sukus" in the United States, it continues to gain international popularity. The dance is to music that combines jazz, traditional tunes, and Latin-influenced rhythms. The instrumentation consists of electric guitars, keyboards, trumpets, saxophones, conga drums, and Western-style drum sets. Lyrics in Lingala comment on society, give advice, make political statements, criticize behavior, or simply relate love stories.
Congolese are imaginative dancers, constantly inventing new dances that come and go almost monthly. Drumming and dancing are part of any festive occasion. The national folkloric ballet has gained an international reputation.
From ancient times, Congolese peoples have used their oral literature to carry on traditions, customs, and social values. Modern written literature has been built on this oral foundation. It varies widely from classical to popular forms, and is written in French as well as in national languages. Drama is one of the most popular forms of literature today.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Among the greatest challenges facing the DROC are the rebuilding of its crumbling factories and mining operations, and creating jobs for its citizens. At least 75 percent of the people still work in subsistence agriculture; they produce only a little more than what is needed for personal use.
Industry employs only 13 percent of the work force, mainly in copper smelting, metal production, timber extraction, oil palm processing, textiles, chemicals, and food processing. Services employ about 12 percent of the labor force.
16 • SPORTS
Soccer is the national pastime, played or watched virtually throughout the country. Competition with African national teams is intense. When the DROC national team defeated the Moroccans for the Africa Cup in the 1970s, the returning players were welcomed like royalty and given houses, cars, and large sums of money by the government. Congolese were treated to a national holiday.
People love playing cards, chess, checkers, and board games. A traditional board game called Mangula is played mainly in rural areas by men.
- A carved wooden board with two rows of shallow pockets separated by a divider, or an empty egg carton
- About 36 small stones
- Place a few small stones in each shallow pocket in the board.
- Player One moves and continues according to the number of stones he picks up. Each time he lands, he picks up his opponent's stones in the pocket opposite him across the divider, and uses these stones to continue his play.
- When he fails to pick up any stones, his opponent takes his turn. The first person to move all his opponent's stones to his side of the board wins.
17 • RECREATION
Besides playing and watching soccer, people in towns love watching television dramas. Cinemas are also popular and are found in most towns, as are satellite dishes and videos. Although American and world cultures are becoming more popular, people still love Congolese music and dance. Young people and adults enjoy going out on Saturday night to socialize, listen to music at outdoor pubs, dance at nightclubs, and watch theatrical events.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
The DROC is famous for its traditional folk art and crafts. Artists and craftspeople produce ceramic pots, reed mats, woven baskets, woodcarvings, chess games, sand paintings, handmade clothing, and jewelry. In general, African art is functional, but increasingly art produced for tourists generates income. Masks were traditionally assigned power to communicate with the divine. Some are still only brought out on very specific occasions for initiations and for solving community problems. The Bakuba people from the Kasai regions still produce wood sculptures, masks, and statuettes that may be used to increase fertility and to chase away evil spirits. In recent times, a distinct style of oil painting has emerged that reflects the magnitude of contemporary social challenges. In these paintings, snakes or lions within striking distance of unsuspecting human prey depict impending doom.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Congolese must conquer hunger, political repression, and political and economic instability, and meet their basic daily needs. People work hard for very little. Many people resort to debrouillez-vous, which means "make do in whatever way possible." Children leave school early, girls prostitute themselves, civil servants steal, police officers take bribes, and military personnel loot and pillage. Enormous human losses caused by human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deiciency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and the Ebola virus challenge Congolese to care for the sick and orphaned. A hidden tragedy is that generations of Congolese children may be growing up undernourished on a basic diet of cassava, which is extremely poor in nutrition.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Africa on File. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1995.
Kelly, Sean. America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire. Washington, D.C.: The American University Press, 1993.
Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges, ed. The Crisis in Zaire: Myths and Realities. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1986.
World Travel Guide. [Online] http://www.wtgonline.com/country/zr/gen.html, 1998.
ALTERNATE NAME: Congo-Brazzavillans
LOCATION: Republic of the Congo
LANGUAGE: French; Lingala; Kikongo; Sangha; Bateke; 60 others
RELIGION: Christianity (Catholicism); animism
1 • INTRODUCTION
In October 1997, the Republic of the Congo swore in a new president after a four-month civil war. The war killed thousands and left the capital of Brazzaville in ruins. Five years after the first democratic elections, private militias (armies) installed an unelected government.
But reports of battles do not present a full picture of the Republic of the Congo. It has long been the education and banking center of the Central African region. During World War II (1939–45), it was the capital of the Free French movement led by Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) against the Nazis and France's Vichy government (a puppet government of Nazi Germany). Its leaders were openly communist, trading vigorously with China and the Soviet Union.
The Republic of the Congo is located directly across the Congo (or Zaire) River from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC, and known as Zaire until mid-1997). The river that divides the two Congos is the second-longest in Africa (the Nile is the longest). It carries the largest potential supply of hydroelectric power in the world.
The Portuguese discoverers reached the mouth of the Congo River in 1482 and began trading with the Kongo kingdom. The slave trade and ivory attracted the interest of other European countries. In 1883, explorer Peirre-Paul-Francois Camillie Savorgnan de Brazza (1852–1905) signed treaties with the Bateke, a tribe located to the north, turning over the entire region to France.
Today, the Congo continues its close relationship with France, despite achieving independence in 1960.
2 • LOCATION
The Congo straddles the equator. Most of the land is covered by dense tropical forest. The rest is wooded savanna (grasslands), river valleys, and a small coastal plain. The Congo is about the size of the state of Montana. It is hot and very humid with high rainfall. The Congo's entire eastern and southern borders are washed by the Congo River. The role of this river in the lives of Congolese, past and present, can not be underestimated. Over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of unbroken navigable water serves as a highway for huge barges and dugout canoes, carting people and produce through Central Africa. People eat from the river, live on it in houses built high on stilts, take electric power from it, and hand pieces of it down through the generations in the form of inheritable fishing rights.
3 • LANGUAGE
French is the administrative language of the Congo. Lingala, Kikongo, Sangha, and Bateke are the most widely spoken native languages. There are sixty other languages in the Congo, crisscrossing national boundaries. There is another kind of Congolese language though, and that is the language of the talking drum. For generations, messages have been sent from village to village by the regulated beat of special drums. These are usually situated near the village chief's compound. In the past, everyone within ear-shot understood the meaning of the various rhythms. There were rhythms for death, birth, marriage, or the impending arrival of a dignitary. Talking drums are still used, but they are being replaced by radio, shortwave, and television.
4 • FOLKLORE
The Congo is rich in folkloric tradition, and generalizations are difficult in a country with dozens of ethnic groups. Typically, however, heroes and personalities tend to take the form of animals. Each family, or sometimes an entire village or clan, will have its own totem—an animal whose spirit and characteristics represent the group's unity. These animals often have mystical powers and are responsible for the creation of the ancestral lineage. They are honored through storytelling.
5 • RELIGION
The vast majority of the population identifies itself as Christian, primarily Catholic. Many continue to hold animist beliefs, believing that natural objects and phenomena have souls. They do not consider these beliefs contrary to monotheism (belief in one deity). Local animists long believed in one supreme god before the arrival of European missionaries. His name is Nzambi, and he can best be described as the omnipotent spirit of nature. One of the Congo's creation myths tells of Nzambi's great illness, back when the Earth was still completely covered with water. In his fits of coughing, he spat up the Sun, Moon, stars, animals, and people. And so the world was born by accident.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
The Congo's national holiday is celebrated on August 15. It commemorates the country's independence from France on that day in 1960. Independence Day is celebrated in streets, courtyards, houses, and bars. Beer and palm wine are consumed in large quantities. The preferred dish on this special occasion is chicken and rice. Chicken, or any form of animal protein, for that matter, often marks a special occasion.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
A ritual surrounding marriage shows the traditional importance of premarital virginity for girls. This ritual, practiced less now than in the past, appears in different forms throughout the world, particularly the Near East.
Once a couple has decided to marry, both the man and the woman undergo a course in "domestic education," taught by the elders of their own gender within the family. It is assumed that the woman is a virgin, and she must receive some sexual instruction in order to contribute to a successful union. On the morning after the wedding night, the women from both sides of the family arrive early, while the couple is still in bed. They ask many specific questions about the couple's experience with sexual intercourse. If the experience did not go well, the husband has the right to ask for his "bride-price" to be returned and the marriage may be annulled.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Because of the diversity of cultural heritages in the Congo, greetings are expressed in different ways. Among some groups it is common to greet close relatives not seen for a long time with a bear hug. Among friends and acquaintances, there is the two-handed shake. In neighboring Gabon, kissing alternate cheeks three to four times is common even in the villages. In the Congo this Western custom is seen almost exclusively in the modern cities.
There is a marked formality in communication among Congolese, a style that is shared throughout Central Africa. Even a business meeting should begin with a polite inquiry into the other person's well-being and that of their family, as well as some indication of the honor that their presence bestows. Public recognition of social hierarchy is very important. Agreement with an elder, boss, or anyone of higher status is valued above directness.
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
The Congo is a poor country by Western standards. It is far from the poorest country in Africa, however. In the late 1990s, it ranked sixteenth out of fifty-two nations according to an index used by the United Nations known as the Human Development Index for Africa. This rank indicates that Congo is a relatively wealthy nation compared to its neighbors. The wealth comes from the existence of petroleum.
Outside of the cities, houses are commonly built out of mud brick and are in constant need of repair. Many people can afford corrugated zinc roofs on their homes. Those who cannot use thatch. Buildings in urban areas are usually made out of concrete blocks. There are several steel and glass office towers in Brazzaville, though they were severely damaged by the civil war in 1997.
Whether poor or wealthy, Congolese take immense pride in their homes. Mud-brick houses are ringed with handmade, well-maintained fencing. Decorative flowers and bushes are planted in front yards carefully cleared of weeds and grasses in an effort to keep away snakes, rats, and insects.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
The average Congolese woman bears six children during her lifetime. In the past, most marriages were arranged by family members. In modern times, this became much less common. Women do most of the work it takes to care for the family and run a household. They are responsible for planting, harvesting, food preparation, water fetching, child care, and housework (which can include putting on a new roof or erecting a fence). Men traditionally are responsible for hunting, clearing the forest for gardens, or, in the city, engaging in wage labor.
The word "family" has a somewhat different meaning in the Congo than in the West. Family means an extensive network of relatives, including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nieces, and nephews. The extended family plays the role in society that the state has taken over in many Western countries. Poor, sick, or disabled people are rarely sent to institutions such as nursing homes, or left to live on welfare or on the street. Their care is the family's responsibility, and the burdens of this responsibility are spread among the dozens of people who constitute a family.
11 • CLOTHING
Generally, Central Africans take care in their dress, and Congolese are no exception. Whether a person has means or not, people in the street, the market, and in offices can be seen in pressed, colorful, hand-made clothing. Bous-Bous, the colorful strips of cotton cloth essential to any Central or West African wardrobe, can be dressed up or down. They also are used as head wraps and turbans by Congolese women. Office workers and bureaucrats in the cities dress much the same as they do in the West.
12 • FOOD
While a visitor to the Congo will marvel at the abundance of greenery, this does not mean that agriculture is flourishing. Rain-forest soil is very poor in nutrients. Despite additional areas of savanna and river valley, only 2.5 percent of the Congo's soil is under cultivation. Foodstuffs commonly grown on this land include bananas, manioc (cassava), peanuts, coffee, cocoa, taro (a starch), and pineapples. Some livestock is raised, but over 90 percent of the country's meat is imported.
Congolese cultures abound with food taboos (prohibitions). Many relate to village, family, or even individual totemic beliefs. It is strictly taboo for anyone to eat the meat from an animal that is his or her totem.
13 • EDUCATION
For a long time, Brazzaville was considered the educational capital of Central Africa. Many educated people over the age of fifty who did not study in Europe (from neighboring Gabon, for instance) went to school in the Congo. The government, by its own admission, has ignored the rural economy for decades. In spite of this, there is a relatively high density of rural primary schools. Brazzaville has one university and a regionally famous painting school called L'École de Poto-Poto. Murals by Poto-Poto students can be found throughout the streets of Brazzaville. The literacy rate (percentage of those able to read and write) is estimated at 75 percent for adults.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
It is said that "Every Congolese learns to sing." Singing has long been used to make work less boring. There are songs about fishing, planting, and how to use a hoe, paddle a canoe, or pound manioc (cassava) with a giant mortar and pestle. Musical instruments include a variety of drums, the guitar, and the sanzi, a small wooden box with metal teeth that are plucked by the thumbs, like a hand-held piano.
Congolese are also great storytellers. Their tradition of storytelling kept histories and the arts alive before the advent of the written language. Since the introduction of French and written language, Congolese novelists, playwrights, and poets have gained celebrity throughout French-speaking Africa. Jean Malonga, Henri Lopes, Soni Laboue Tansi (1947–95), Marie Leon-tine Tsibinda, and Guy Menga are some of the best known Congolese literary figures.
People who have lived in the rainforest for generations know about the healing characteristics of plants that grow there. Modern pharmacists and doctors are now beginning to be study these exotic plants. A deep knowledge of the forest is a rich, yet vanishing, part of the Congolese cultural heritage.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
During the communist regime, all land was officially state-owned. By extension, all work on the land was work for the state. This may have had something to do with the resulting underdevelopment of agriculture over the decades. Conversely, the urban bureaucratic class grew rapidly during this time. From 1960 and 1970, after seven years of communist rule, the number of people working for the new independent government grew by 636 percent. Salaries for state workers ate up almost 75 percent of the national budget. These expenditures were paid for by oil revenues and by aid from foreign governments. Since 1970, the Congo has significantly reduced the number of government employees to avoid borrowing more money from other governments and international agencies.
16 • SPORTS
As is true all over Africa, soccer is the most passionately followed sport in the Congo. Also popular are karate, handball, basketball, and volleyball, as both participant and spectator sports. Television devotes a lot of time to sports coverage. Now, with satellite capability, even in a thatched bar deep in the brush, Congolese can follow the French Open tennis tournament.
17 • RECREATION
Sports, singing, dancing, music, storytelling, and visiting relatives are pastimes everywhere in the Congo. In the city, there are movies, some theaters, and discotheques. Fishing is also considered recreational, as well as work. Finally, there is always the popular pastime of sitting down to a cold beer or glass of palm wine to pass the afternoon in gossip.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Traditionally, Congolese art was created to serve religious or ceremonial functions, rather than for purely aesthetic reasons. Masks, weaving, pottery, and ironwork were often abstract, depicting the human head or animals. Much of the local skill in crafts has been lost. A government agency and an ethnicity museum in Brazzaville are trying to preserve the knowledge and artifacts still remaining. With an active painting and literary community in the Congo, new art forms continue to emerge.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
In 1997, the Congo suffered four months of war in a battle to overthrow the president of its very shaky democracy. Violent death, dislocation, and general social breakdown were among the immediate problems faced by the Congolese.
There are tens of thousands of indigenous (native) tropical forest foragers (often disrespectfully referred to as "pygmies") in the Congo. They are considered to be the first inhabitants in the area. While equal rights are officially protected in the Congolese constitution, tropical forest foragers are heavily discriminated against. They have been turned away from public hospitals when seeking medical care and are not represented in government. Those working for wages do not receive equal pay for equal work. Discrimination against tropical forest foragers exists all over Central Africa.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Biebuyck, Daniel P. Congo: Tribes & Parties. London: Royal Anthropological Institute, 1961.
Coppo, Salvatore. A Truly African Church. Eldoret, Kenya: Gaba Publications, AMECA, 1987.
Kempers, Anne Grimshaw. Heart of Lightness. Portsmouth, N.H.: P.E. Randall Publisher, 1993.
Warkentin, Raija. Our Strength is in Our Fields: African Families in Change. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1994.
Vansina, Jan. Paths in the Rain Forest. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.
World Travel Guide. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/cg/gen.html, 1998.
Con·go·lese / ˌkänggəˈlēz; -ˈlēs/ • adj. of or relating to the Congo or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). • n. (pl. same) 1. a native or inhabitant of the Congo or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 2. any of the Bantu languages spoken in the Congo region, in particular Kikongo.