Monday, July 24

Studying Congo with Inoyo of the Congo Forest

Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa...two African countries with a similar history, but a varied future...

The word ‘Congo’ originates from the Bakongo, a Bantu tribe that lives in both countries.  Congo-Kinshasa (also known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) is the third-largest country in Africa, but Congo-Brazzaville (also known as the Republic of Congo) is very small in both size and population.

Both Congo countries are the perfect place for visitors who love outdoor adventures.   There are several hiking trails, national parks, places to boat, and beaches.  In Congo-Brazzaville, most of the population lives in urban areas, but in Congo-Kinshasa, the large majority lives scattered in the rural regions that are lushly covered in tropical forest.  The indigenous peoples of the region largely include the Bantu and Pygmies, with nearly 200 other ethnic tribes comprising the rest.

Congo History

The countries were once ruled by France and Belgium, and French is one of the official languages of the region.  Aside from Rome and the Vatican City, the Congo capitals - Brazzaville and Kinshasa - are the closest capital cities on Earth.  They sit directly across each other on either side of the shared Congo River.  Both countries gained their independence in 1960, and while their cultures are similar, they began to split in similarity at this point.  

They use different currencies and have different governmental systems.  Congo-Kinshasa (orange on the map) was once known as Zaire.  When it became independent from Belgium, Western countries supported General Mobuto Sese Seko as the leader of the free DRC.  Upon his death in 1997, the region was drawn into a series of military conflicts with its neighbors, known as "Africa's World War."
"The abundance of natural resources in the Congo helps fuel the flames of conflict. In a context in which the population is desperately poor and the government fails to provide even basic services, taking up arms seems to some individuals and communities to be the only way to break through the corruption, patrimonialism, and government incompetence that prevents their accessing the benefits of the abundant mineral wealth in their territory. Competition over resources has been a factor driving conflict, and the exploitation of Congo’s resources by groups linked to Rwanda, Uganda, and other outside interests has provided particular motivation for local militia groups to act to secure economic resources for their communities — or at least for themselves."  (~Global Security)

Colonization History

In 1884, the Berlin Conference was a starting point for partitioning the Dark Continent.  During what became known as the "Scramble for Africa," seven European powers divided, invaded, and occupied most of the land over the next 30 thirty years.  At the time, Europe was experiencing a depression.  Africa had an abundance of raw materials, such as oil, ivory, rubber, wood, and gum, that could be used for profit.  Nearly 90% of Africa was under European control by the onset of World War I.

Learn more about the scramble for Africa in our Things Fall Apart unit study, part of the Advanced Literature Studies bundle.

Dangerous Animals of the Congo

  • Hippopotamus may be an herbivore, but can easily kill a person since it is big, aggressive, and quick, both in and out of the water. It is believed that hippos are responsible for hundreds of deaths every year.
  • Nile Crocodile are large, fearsome predators with the occasional penchant to attack humans who accidentally stumble into their territory, and sometimes even grab fishers in their boats.
  • Puff Adder snakes are responsible for more bites than any other snake in Africa. There is always the danger of someone accidentally stepping on them as they lie in the dirt since they are camouflaged and very toxic.
  • Black Mamba is one of the largest and deadliest snakes in all of Africa. The potent mixture of neurotoxins will directly attack the nervous system. The death rate is quite high in untreated cases.

  • Where is the Congo?
  • Inoyo of the Congo Forest
    • Twelve-year-old Inoyo’s story begins in the dense tangle of the Congo rainforest, where he hunts for food as his father taught him. However, Inoyo has ambitions beyond the jungle—a plan to move to the Christian mission and learn medicine. His father, fearful of breaking tradition and of the tribal medicine man’s disapproval, grudgingly gives his permission. As he works tirelessly to prove his dedication and earn money for his schooling, Inoyo finds himself in a difficult position of choosing to help a friend in need or continuing to pursue his education. Equipped with practical medical knowledge from his time at the hospital and a newfound testimony of Jesus Christ, Inoyo helps to free his family and his village from the shackles of fear and superstition.

Make / Do
  • Kinshasa
  • DRC
  • Congo River
  • Zaire
  • Livingstone Falls
  • Brazzaville
  • Mobayi-Mbongo
  • Lake Tumba
  • Lake Mai-Ndombe
  • Katanga
  • bonobo
  • tsetse
  • okapi
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • To what extent did Western influences shape life in the Congo?
  • Why did the witchdoctor in our book vehemently oppose his villagers going to the hospital?

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