Every crumb of life must be used to conquer dignity!
Fatou Diome (Le ventre de l’Atlantique)
Official name: Democratic Rep. of Congo
Superficie: 2 345 410 km²
Population: 90, 011,179 habitants (estimation 2020)
Villes principales: Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Goma, Kananga, Kisangani, Bukavu
Langue officielle: Français
Langues courantes: lingala, kikongo, tshiluba et swahili
Monnaie: franc congolais (CDF)
Fête nationale: 30 juin
Religions: catholiques (40 à 50 %), protestants (40 à 50 %), musulmans (5 à 10 %), kimbanguistes (5 à 10 %)
Fuseau horaire: (UTC+1)
Hymne nationale: Debout Congolais
History of Democratic Republic of Congo
Known today as Democratic Republic of Congo, the country has been a product of a pattern of history.
1200 – 1600
Indeed from the 15th to the 17th century the region of Congo was evolved in a state system most buttressed by kingship and military forces. The rise of slave trade especially the Atlantic slave trade very soon undermined the kingship capacity to resist neighbor’s invasion (referring to the Imbagala attacks and bands of fighters fleeing famine and drought in the east). Already divided with internal instabilities, the Savana region was unable to hinder the colonial forces’ invasion.
1870 – 1892
In 1870, the Belgian King Leopold II established a private venture to colonize Kongo during British and Stanley’s exploration of the Congo River. A committee was then set up for the study of the Congo known as the Committee for Studies of the Upper Congo aiming at allowing European trade alongside the Congo river. In 1884-1885 with the Berlin Conference which set the colonial rules Leopold established his control over the Congo River basin area, known as the Congo Free State. Leopold strategically installed a colonial hegemony over the area through its civilizing mission. Forced labour, huge concessions for private Europeans, massive recruitment of indigenous, kidnapping of Congolese men was the huge system installed by Leopold to extract not only the natural resources of the area but also the maximum results of people’s work.
1908 – 1959
In 1908, amid the atrocities committed by the Leopold army, Belgian Parliament annexed the Congo Free state. The Belgian rules were based on the idea that Africans are to be treated as children and a strict political control of the region was established. But in 1956-1957 a group of westernized Africans “les évolués” affiliated with Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) had arisen and was eager for their freedom and their self-government. Under the leadership of Joseph Kasavubu, ABAKO and the Congolese National Movement co-founded by Patrice Lumumba, an advocate of pan-Africanism, the process of decolonization has started gaining weight.
1960 – 2000
In May 1960, a growing nationalist movement, the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) led by Patrice Lumumba, won the parliamentary elections. Congo became independent with Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu as President. The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name “République du Congo”. As the neighboring French colony of Middle Congo (Moyen Congo) also chose the name “Republic of Congo” upon achieving its independence, the two countries were more commonly known after their capital cities (as “Congo-Léopoldville” and “Congo-Brazzaville”) .
On 5 September 1960, Lumumba was dismissed by Kasavubu. Lumumba declared Kasavubu’s action unconstitutional and a crisis between the two leaders developed.
The events triggered by the United States and Belgium on 14 September remove Lumumba from office along with forces loyal to Joseph Mobutu. Thus, on 17 January 1961. Lumumba is handed over to the Katangese authorities and executed by Katangese troops led by Belgium.
In 1971, Mobutu changed the country’s name again, this time to “Republic of Zaire”. The new president enjoys the unconditional support of the United States because of his opposition to communism; the United States thus believes that his administration will serve as an effective counterweight to the communist movements in Africa.
By the end of 1967, Mobutu succeeded in neutralising his political opponents and rivals by co-opting them into his regime, arresting them, or otherwise rendering them politically powerless.
During the 1970s and 1980s, he was repeatedly invited to visit the United States, where he met Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
In 1996, following the Rwandan civil war and genocide and the rise of a Tutsi-led government in Rwanda, forces of the Rwandan Hutu militia (Interahamwe) fled to eastern Zaire and used the refugee camps as a base for incursions against Rwanda. They joined forces with the Forces armées zaïroises (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese Tutsis in eastern Zaire.
French, Belgian and Moroccan troops are helping to fend off attacks on Katanga by rebels based in Angola. Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided mainly by Rwanda, seize the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo and Laurent-Désir Kabila is installed as president.
Kabila is assassinated in 2001. His son Joseph Kabila succeeds him and calls for multilateral peace talks. The talks led to a peace agreement under which Kabila would share power with the former rebels.
By June 2003, all foreign armies, with the exception of those of Rwanda, had withdrawn from the Congo. A transitional government was put in place until after the election. A constitution was approved by voters, and on July 30, 2006, the DRC held its first multi-party elections. A dispute between Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba over the outcome of the elections turned into a fierce battle between their supporters in the streets of Kinshasa. A new election was held in October 2006, which Joseph Kabila won, and in December 2006 he was sworn in as president.
The country is now led by Felix Tshisekedi since 2018.
Geopolitics and Interdependence
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a very huge state in the center of Africa. With its land mark long of 2.345.410 km2, it represented four times the territory of France, four times the territory of Brussels, and one quarter of the whole European Union. It’s considered as one of the giant of Africa and usually described as a “continent inside another continent”. DRC shares border with 9 African countries. In the North with the Central Republic and Sudan, in the south with Zambia, and Angola, in the East with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and Tanzania; in the South with the Republic of Congo.
The country is extremely rich in natural resources such as diamond, gold, copper and cobalt, zinc, coltan, bauxite, oil, gas….it is also a country with a huge hydrographic system make up with the river of Congo, some lake (Tanganyka Lake, Edouard lake, Albert lake, Kivu lake, Maî-Ndombe lake, Tumba lake, Moero lake), and also 52% of the total water store of the African continent. In 2017 the production of copper is about 60%, gold 20%, cobalt about 60% due to the level of countries demanding it in the manufacturing sector. This level will eventually rise up from 90000T per year to 122000T per year in 2025.
DRC has classified cobalt, of which it is the world’s leading producer, as a strategic mineral. Indeed, cobalt because of its importance in the manufacturing sector and electronic devices, is highly coveted by foreign countries. The Congolese production of cobalt lands at 80% in China for processing. The various companies involved in the processing are therefore 91% dependent on Congolese cobalt. But the situation remains sad when China detains the monopoly of world cobalt sellers.
As in most African countries endowed with natural resources, DRC has all the necessary natural resources to achieve all the SDGs and set itself as a very developed country in Africa. Unfortunately, this full potential rather brings curse upon the country. Instead of bringing development and well-being to its citizens, the resources are rather a source of conflict and insecurity especially in the northern part of the country. The development strongly wished for this country is far from achievement regarding the relation with its trading partners.
Current political development
The Democratic Republic of Congo has adopted its Strategic National Plan of economic and social development 2019-2023. This is in vision of making the country reach the level of a developed country.
The Government’s main development priorities are set out in its development plan and present strategies to achieve all the SDOs, focus on education and economic diversification through agriculture and the opportunities offered by digital transformation and innovations. The government’s vision is implemented through support and partnership with United Nations agencies.
End hunger, ensure food security and better nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
The Member States of the United Nations system, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) adopted in September 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which reflect a commitment of these States in an ambitious program, which consists in transforming this world in a place where hunger, poverty and inequalities will be eradicated by 2030.
SDG 2 in particular is an expression of a commitment to fight hunger and malnutrition. In view of the latest statistics on hunger and malnutrition in the DRC, such a fight makes sense.
According to the results of the survey of the Unified Questionnaire on Basic Indicators of Well-being (QUIBB), conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INS) of the Ministry of Planning in 2016, about one in two households faces food insecurity. In addition, the analyzes of the 15th and 16th cycle of the Integrated Food Security Classification Framework (IPC), show that the trend of people who are affected by acute food insecurity is on the rise in recent years. , and that the number of these people increased from 7.7 to 13.1 million people between 2017 and 2018. Undernutrition is another worrying scourge in the DRC that deserves to be combated. According to the aforementioned study, 42% of children under 5 suffer from stunting or chronic malnutrition. Significant disparities are observed in terms of food insecurity both between provinces and at the territorial level.
The challenges to be met are certainly enormous, but as declared by the Head of State, His Excellency Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo in his inaugural speech on January 24, 2019, “the Congo, with its 80 million hectares of arable land and its 40 million hectares of irrigable land, can achieve food self-sufficiency and even feed two billion people, thus reducing twice the global food deficit, if it is endowed with an innovative agricultural program ”.
Patrice Émery Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba is a Congolese politician. Born July 2, 1925 in Onalua, in the former Belgian Congo, he was the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from June to September 1960. He was assassinated on January 17, 1961 in Katanga. Considered the first “national hero” of the DRC, he embodies one of the main figures of the independence of the Belgian Congo.
First President of the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville from independence, from 1960 to 1965, Joseph Kasa-Vubu was born in Dizi near Tshela in Mayumbe (Bas-Congo) in 1915. Student at the minor seminary (Mbata-Kiela then Kabwe), he is considered too independent to become a priest. The missionaries then direct him to normal schooling and he will become a teacher. Considering himself insufficiently paid for his level of education, he abandoned his teaching career and became an employee in an agricultural company (Agrifor), and then in 1942 became an accountant in the finance department of the colonial government. In Leopoldville, he was subject to the sometimes divergent influences of various Congolese “advanced” groups from various provinces. He became known as the leader of the Kongo Abako organization. In 1958, he became mayor of the municipality of Dendale (now Kasa-Vubu). When the country gained independence, he was elected President of the new Republic of Congo, with Patrice Lumumba as prime minister. Ousted by the coup d’état perpetrated by Joseph Désiré Mobutu in 1965, Kasa-Vubu was placed under house arrest in Boma and died of lack of medical care in March 1969.
NATIONALITÉ ET CITOYENNETÉ AU CONGO/KINSHASA: Le cas du Kivu de Célestin Nguya-Ndila Malengana paru 1 janvier 2001
Belges et italiens du Congo-Kinshasa: Récits de vie avant et après l’indépendance de Rosario Giordano paru le 1 mai 2008
La démocratie et ses blocages au Congo-Kinshasa de 1958 à nos jours de Evariste Tshimanga Bakadiababu paru le 1 février 2004
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