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Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Marilyn Schoenle

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of Democratic Republic of the Congo

How Should Americans Write and Speak about the Congo?
The American media should not write and speak about the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from their assumptions, but based on facts and on the experiences of the Congolese
This Prezi includes many facts about the DRC as well as interviews with Congolese citizens to help journalists and reporters correct popular American assumptions
Common American Assumption:
The DRC has no notable history before modern times
1200s: The Kongo Empire spreads through what is now northern Angola and western Congo
1482: Europe first makes contact with the Congo when Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao meets the king of Kongo.
1870s: King Leopold II of Belgium commissions Henry Stanley to make treaties to allow Leopold to own territory in the Congo
1908: Belgium takes away the king's authority over the Congo away to end his mistreatment of its natives
1960: Congo gains independence from Belgian. Joseph Kasavubu is its first president and Patrice Lumumba is its first prime minister
1971: The country’s name was changed to Zaire due to president Mobutu1997: Anti-Mobutu rebels rename the country Democratic Republic of the Congo and make Laurent-Desire Kabila president.
1999: Civil war, with surrounding nations backing both sides. About 3.8 million people total die because of the war.
2002: Peace treaty is signed
2005: New constitution adopted

Common American Assumption:
The Congolese only have a tribal culture, with ancient religions and customs
The Congolese's culture is varied
In urban areas, the culture is much like American culture
In rural areas, the culture is more traditional
Most parts of the Congo celebrate holidays related to their history, including Martyrs of Independance Day, National Hero's Day, National Liberation Day, Independence Day, and Army Day
The official languages spoken in the Congo are French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba. Different regions of the DRC speak different languages. Many other languages are also spoken, but they are mostly confined to specific villages or areas.
Common American Assumption:
No real economy or currency; mostly a bartering system
Main exports include diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil
The DRC's currency is the Congolese franc (CDF)
921.85 Congolese franc= 1 US Dollar
With the average citizen making $394.25 (USD) a year, the DRC is the poorest country in the world
Although they have an unsuccessful economy, they have an untapped potential of raw materials worth at least $24 trillion
These raw materials are called "conflict minerals" or "conflict diamonds" because many of the wars and nuch of the violence in the Conggo is centered around these riches
Common American Assumption:
There are no famous people from the DRC
There are world renown singers, athletes and politicians from the Congo
Common American Assumption:
the DRC is "somewhere in Africa" and is always hot and dry
The DRC is located in central, sub-Saharan Africa
With an area of 905,354 sq miles, it is the 2nd largest country in Africa and the 11th largest country in the world
It contains the Congo river, which is the 6th largest river in the world
It has an equatorial climate which makes it hot there year round
It has a wet season in the winter and a dry season in the summer
much of the DRC is covered by the eaquatorial rainforest
Its capital is Kinshasa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Map of the Congo
Pictures of Congolese Currency
Rural Culture
Urban Culture
Dikembe Mutombo
Congolese American retired NBA player
“one of the greatest shot blockers & defensive players of all time"
known for his humanitarian work
Modern Issues
Common American Assumption:
AIDS must be the main modern issue in the DRC because it is in Africa
While AIDS is an important issue, as 1.2% of the adult population reports having HIV, there are other major issues in the DRC, including other diseases and war violence

Konono No. 1
Konono No. 1 is a Grammy Award winning band from Kinshasha which uses electronic versions of traditional Congo instruments
This band has released eight albums
The music video below for their song "Lufuala Ndonga" gives viewers a glimpse into normal life in the DCR
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kaliba has been president of the DRC since 2001. He was elected to this position after his father, who was president at the time, was assassinated
He took part in the rebellion against President Mobutu in 1997, commanding an army of child soldiers
He was reelected in 2011, though there is debate over whether this election was rigged
How Well Meaning Media Sources Should Portray the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Recognize the complexity and diversity of the modern DRC. There are multiple languages, religions and cultures in the country and one region may not be like another. Try not to stereotype.
Do not speak condescendingly about the people of the DRC. They may not on average have as much money as Americans, but that is not because of laziness or a lack of intelligence. Their poverty is often due to their circumstances, not an inability to work.
Interview the Congolese for a first-hand perspective if you have a chance to visit the DRC. They know better than anyone what their needs are and how you can help. Educated Congolese also may have a better understanding of the DRC's political problems than a foreigner.
Do not make assumptions. If you are unsure of something, look it up on a trusted website or in a recently published book. Statistics about the DRC are constantly changing, so make sure you have the most recent information before you make a report.
War and Violence
Rebel leaders from Rwanda, called M23 Rebels, have been killing Congolese and committing war crimes. Some estimate that 4-5 million Congolese have been killed in the past 20 years as a result.
Many Congolese have lost their homes and loved ones because of war and violence
Below is an interview with victims of the violence
The Ebola Virus just arrived in the DRC on October 7th, 2014
There is also a high incidence rate of malaria
There are very few physicians in the DRC, making it difficult to receive care.
Congolese living in villages or tribes often wear more traditional clothing. Women often wear Kikwembe (wrapped dresses)
While many are Christian, more of them follow traditional Congo religions than Urban Congolese
Rural Congolese are often poorer than those in cities
Urban Congolese often wear western clothing
They drive cars and live in houses or apartments
They are mostly Christian, though some are Muslim or of other religions

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Common American Assumption:
The DCR is sparsely populated
Its population is 69.1 million, the 19th largest in the world.
Its life expectancy is 47 years (men) and 51 years (women)
It has a birth rate of 37.05, the 19th highest in the world
The average women has her first child at age 20 and give birth to about 5 children
⅔ of population is literate
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