Society

The Culture Of The Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo has a rich and unique culture.

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The Republic of the Congo, commonly referred to as The Congo, is a 132,000 square mile nation in the central part of Africa. In 2016, the country was home to approximately 5,125,821 people which was the 124th highest population globally at the time. Archeological evidence indicates that the Bambuti was the first community to settle within the nation's borders. The culture of the Bambuti people was gradually replaced after the migration of the Bantu into the region. The Bantu were able to overthrow the Bambuti since their culture was mostly Stone Age while the Bantu had more advanced Iron Age tools. The most prominent Bantu tribe at the time was the Kongo who established some interconnected kingdoms in the region. The most important city during this period was Mbanza Kongo, the capital of their empire. The arrival of the Europeans, primarily the Portuguese, posed a significant challenge to the empire. The Portuguese and Kongolese eventually clashed in a series of battles which significantly weakened the Kongolese Empire. During the colonial period, the French got control of the Congo despite initial revolts from the local communities. The French way of life greatly influenced the present culture of the Congo.

Religions Practiced

Christianity is the dominant religion in the Congo. According to 2010 estimates from the World Factbook, Christians made up more than 75% of the nation's population. The most dominant Christian denomination was Roman Catholicism since its members made up more than 33% of the national population. The presence of the Roman Catholic Church in the Congo dates back to the arrival of the Portuguese as they introduced the denomination to the African people. King Nzinga a Nkuwu was the first Kongolese king to accept the faith and his son and successor, Nzinga Mbemba, also converted to Christianity. The introduction of the faith allowed the Kongolese and Portuguese kings to talk as equals. Apart from the king of Portugal, the Kongolese king also established diplomatic contact with the Vatican which increased the presence of the Roman Catholic Church in the region. Due to the close ties between the king and the Pope, the Pope agreed to promote one of the priests to the rank of a bishop. Apart from the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian sects with a strong presence in the nation include Christian Revival churches and Protestant churches. Islam has a limited presence in the state as only 1.6% of the Salutiste residents adhere to the faith. Other minority faiths in the country include Salutiste and Kimbanguiste.

Festivals

Due to a large number of Christians in the country, some Christian celebrations such as Christmas and Easter are celebrated in the country. During the celebration of the Christian holidays, some customs such as going to church and exchanging gifts are celebrated. International celebrations such as New Year's Day and Labor Day are also celebrated. The Congolese constitution also recognizes other holidays such as Armed Forces' Day celebrated in honor of the nation's armed forces, and Independence Day in commemoration of their independence struggle. Festivals are also held in the country to celebrate the unique heritage of the citizens. One such festival is the Feux De Brazza which was set up in 2005 as a way to showcase the people's folk music.

Cuisine

The food served within the Republic of Congo draws on a wide variety of influences primarily French and Asian cuisine. Meat is an integral part of the local diet with fish, chicken, and goat being among the most common types. The meat is typically prepared outdoors such as roadside grills and serves both locals and foreigners. The meat is usually accompanied with pilipili, a sauce made of chili. Apart from meat, other meals commonly consumed in the Congo include fufu and manioc. Both fufu and manioc utilize cassava in their preparation although fufu can be prepared using corn. Plantains are also regularly consumed in the country. Alcohol is an integral part of Congolese culture with palm wine being one of the most commonly consumed alcoholic drinks.

Music And Dance

Music is an important part of the lives of the Congolese people with some Congolese musicians having achieved international fame. Traditional music in the Congo has a large audience due to festivals such as Feux De Brazza raising the profile of the genre. Folk music in the Congo makes use of some instruments such as the mvet and the xylophone. Apart from the traditional music, western music played a significant part in shaping the musical traditions of the Congo. The most influential forms of western music in the Congo are jazz and hip-hop. The music of the Congo is significantly similar to the music of the DRC. In both countries, soukous, a form of dance music is extremely popular. Some of the most popular singers from the Congo include Pierrette Adams, Jean Serge Essous and Saturnin Pandi.

Literature

Literature in the Congo developed mainly in the 20th century due to the work of authors such as Tchicaya de Boempire and Jean Malonga. Jean Malonga was one of the most eminent Congolese writers due to his book Coeur d'Aryenne. The early period of Congolese literature was dominated by works written in French since French was taught in schools. The Congolese literary scene grew exponentially during the period immediately after independence with writers such as Makouta-Mboukou, and Emmanuel Dongala achieving fame. Many female Congolese writers have gained prominence with some of the most well-known being Paule Etoumba and Brigitte Yengo.

Social Beliefs And Etiquettes

The Republic of the Congo is a predominantly rural nation since 56.98 % of the nation's population live in rural areas. The way of life in rural areas is significantly different from in urban areas due to the impact of western values. Rural Congolese communities value the traditional way of life and tend to be more conservative. The Congolese tend to be more formal while conducting business, particularly with strangers. Politeness is expected from all the members of the society regardless of their social status.

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