Monday, May 22, 2017

Congolese culture: Politically or tribally motivated?

Politically or tribally motivated?

And this question: “Was the carpet crossing of the Mosendjo MP, politically motivated or tribal? He did not give me a straight forward answer. He said: “in Africa, people voted then and even now, based more on tribal and regional affiliations than the substance or political programme of candidates or political parties and Congo, is not different”.  He continued: “Fulbert Youlou, a southern politician won because of what I have mentioned earlier and also because the south was and is still more populated than the north”. He concluded this way: “Jacques Opangault was a veteran politician from the north who could not understand why he always lost to political leaders of the south, especially to Felix Tchikaya and then to Rev Father Fulbert Youlou. He was so aggrieved, to a point that, he wanted northern Congo to be attached to present day Central African Republic, but it was President Charles De Gaulle who discouraged him”.

How the greater southern Congolese Caucasus was formed

The southern Congolese diplomat narrated to me another story, which might also explain why in the Republic of Congo, as you have already read, there are no cardinal points. A Congolese is either from the north and speaks Lingala or from the south and speaks Kikongo. Lingala and Kikongo are what I referred to earlier as the supra-tribes. He said: “when Jacques Opangault lost in 1959, he mobilized northerners in Pointe Noire and also in Brazzaville, in particular around the Mpila neighbourhood against the victory of Youlou”. At the Mpila neighbourhood, he added: “a pregnant woman from the south, first believed to be an ethnic Lari, was killed in an atrocious manner”.  He gave me the graphic description: “Her stomach was split open and her lifeless baby taken out”.  He continued: “It was claimed that, the assassins were northerners, instigated by Jacques Opangault”. And according to the same diplomat: “the killing of the pregnant woman, sparked a polarized civil war, pitting the northerners, generally known as the Bagalas or people who speak Lingala, against the BaCongo or people who speak the Kikongo language”.

How Lingala and Kikongo became the supra-tribes

It should be pointed out that, in the south as well as in the north, there are many other languages or dialects spoken by the various tribes. Some like the Tekes are found and spoken in 8 of the 12 regions of the country, albeit with some nuances.  However, Lingala or Kikongo dominates because they were encouraged by colonial masters, especially by missionaries. Regional identification influenced by religion first and secondly by politics cemented the division and also solidified the domination of Lingala and Kikongo. And still according to the Congolese diplomat based in DC: “it was later on discovered that, the assassinated woman was not a BaCongo or a Lari to be precise, but an ethnic Bembe from the Niari region. This sad news, widen the enemies of northerners beyond the BasCongo”.  Therefore, the above was how an unfortunate situation united the divides people of greater southern Congo. 

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