Geopolitics

A Congolese Man Gives Midwives A Run For Their Money

DOUMANGA — In this western village in the Republic of Congo, the local health center lacks both material and human resources. As a result, the only male nurse in Doumanga is the one assigned to help women of the village give birth. For Max Banzoulo, it has become a noble mission that he carries out with great pride.

This unusual role includes care that comes well before the date of delivery, such as offering advice to women in order to limit the risks during childbirth. "When a pregnant woman arrives at the clinic for a medical check-up, he takes the time to carefully examine her specific situation," says Marie Ngoyi.

Watch Video Show less

La Sape, Congolese Dandy Style Born Of Political Protest

PARIS — Donning a ribbon-trimmed red bowler hat and a white tunic embroidered with black in what turned out to be his last concert, Papa Wemba stayed true to personal code of conduct: Always look sharp.

The tenor of Congolese rumba, who collapsed and died on stage while performing at a music festival in Abidjan in Ivory Coast on the morning of April 24, will be remembered as one of the greatest singers of his generation. He'll also go down in history as one of the most high-profile promoters of the sape movement — from the French acronym for the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People — a social phenomenon that glorifies elegance and style.

Keep reading... Show less

Congo Farming: Eco-Friendly Fertilizer v. Slash-And-Burn

BRAZZAVILLE — In the area around the Congolese capital of Brazzaville, it's common practice to burn vegetation in fields before planting crops. But this slash-and-burn approach inflicts severe damage to the forests and the soil, not to mention to the health of women, who are the primary farmers in this area.

"The placement of these lands under fallow until they regenerate, forces women to regularly move away from the lands," says Marguerite Homb, president of a non-profit organization called Health and Nature. "They sometimes use too many chemical products at the risk of their own health."

Keep reading... Show less
Congo
Jean Thibaut Ngoyi

Congo Charcoal, An Environmental Disaster In The Making

Making charcoal requires cutting down trees and burning them in the ground, destroying in the process not only trees but also the fertility of the land. Farming output is on the decline, and environmentalists are signaling the need for change.

BRAZZAVILLE — In the vicinity of Brazzaville, thousands of woodland hectares have been decimated by charcoal producers over the course of many decades, destroying not only the trees but damaging the land itself. Powerless, farmers are noticing that their crop productivity has fallen dramatically.

François Xavier Mayouya, head of a local charity, has raised the alarm. He says charcoal production in the villages around Brazzaville will have disastrous consequences. To make it, producers cut down trees and burn wood slowly in ground pits, called coal stoves, and extinguish the fires just before the wood turns to ash.

Watch Video Show less
Congo
Makoumbou Flore Michèle

Congolese Women, Freedom Through Literacy

BRAZZAVILLE — It was only when she realized she'd handed her husband a letter written by his mistress that Alphonsine decided to act. Facing such heartbreak and humiliation, this 54-year-old housewife and mother of seven, decided to join a basic literacy class in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville.

Like Alphonsine, many illiterate women have started going to school to address such educational shortcomings. Their goals are manifold: to assert themselves, to be more independent in their activities — including business — and to contribute to their children's education. Some of them choose the method called "Alpha Express," taught at the Center Mama Elombé ("Fighting Woman"), in the church Sainte-Marie de Ouenzé. This method promises beginners they will be able to write their names after one month.

Watch Video Show less
Congo
Emmanuel Libondo

Congolese Mourning Rites That Are Abusive To Widows

Representatives and victims in the Congo are pushing back on ancient traditions that render women without rights after the deaths of their husbands, even prohibiting them from eating or drinking when they want.

SIBITI — Being gifted as inheritance to the brother of your dead husband, seeing everything you own confiscated, being able to wash only when your in-laws decide. These are some of the abusive traditional practices suffered too often by widowed women in the Lékoumou region of the Republic of the Congo.

A recent gathering of various women's protection groups and local representatives confronted this custom, known as "le Ngo." Participants, including native women representing local neighborhoods, denounced such abuse.

Watch Video Show less
Congo
Alphonse Nekwa Makwala and Emmanuel Lukeba

African Women On Climate Change Front Line

Women farmers in Lower Congo have been the first to notice the effects of desertification, and the first to react.

MATADI — Women in the rural areas of Lower Congo, southwest of Kinshasa, are in the direct path of climate change's devastating effects. Made aware of the vulnerability of local crops to desertification, a group of women are actively working to reforest the area, and encouraging others to do the same.

“We are suffering. No one is taking care of us. How are we going to send our children to school, to feed them, dress them?” asks Alphonsine Lukebana, a farmer from Kimpese. "Now we have to travel long distances to grow anything, because the earth doesn’t give us good harvests anymore."

Another rural woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has come to the regional capital of Matadi to sell her products, says she must deal with the destruction of the forests, and the costs of traveling to sell what crops she is finally able to reap. "It’s an enormous effort just to survive,” she says. “How much profit can we make with the increasing price of transportation?”

Reduction in harvests, water sources drying up, less and less arable land, disappearance of animal and plant species: These are effects of desertification, one of the most visible consequences of climate change. “These changes plunge women, especially those who live in rural areas, into unprecedented poverty,” explained Annie Mbadu, the secretary of the Network for Women and Development (Refed).

Watch Video Show less
Congo
Dieudonné Mwaka Dimbi

The So-Called Prophets Tearing Apart Congolese Families

In the province of the Bas-Congo, southwest of Kinshasa, "prophecies" blame innocents for the misfortune of their loved ones.

LUKALA - It was an ordinary day in late May. Isabelle Lusalakio was cooking in her kitchen when her parents burst into her home, in this city south of Kinshasa. They asked her to leave immediately.

“Pack your bags and come back home to Boma. The man you've been with is not the one that God has chosen for you," her father said.

Watch Video Show less
Congo
Paul Seru

In Congo, The Army Declares War On Liquor Trafficking

BENI - For many years in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military was the main seller of liquor imported from Uganda. But now soldiers have changed sides, and are now fighting those who try to import liquor into Congo.

In order to reduce the trafficking and consumption of banned liquors in the Beni region, soldiers and police forces decided to join forces last February. These banned drinks are being imported from Uganda through the city of Kasindi, in the eastern part of North Kivu. Last March, a major from the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) brought two sacks of liquor to the offices in charge of animal quarantine and veterinary services (SQAV). He asked for the bags to be destroyed publicly, an army official recalled.

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS