Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, Congo-Kinshasa is a multicultural society with widely different local traditions and customs in different parts of the country. French is still the language that holds the different peoples together.
The fact that there is widespread poverty does not mean that it is acceptable for a foreign visitor to dress carelessly in meetings with Congolese. In general, the interaction between people is relaxed, and the rules for dressing are largely restricted to being clean and tidy. Jeans are not considered neat in more official contexts, and women in shorts are considered challenging.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Democratic Republic of the Congo, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The closer known Congolese are, the more physical contact there is between them. When shaking hands with a friend, you can simultaneously hold your other hand around the friend’s upper arm or pat the friend on the shoulder. However, a foreign man should avoid touching a Congolese woman, in addition to the hand greeting.
Humor is appreciated in the conversation. A sure way to win sympathy is to joke about oneself, but not so intimate and revealing that one loses respect for the surroundings.
There are no major religious contradictions in Congo-Kinshasa. Most people are believers, but religion is not a very combustible topic of discussion. However, one should be careful about asking questions about the war. The many years of war, and the hardships they suffered, mean that almost all Congolese have personal experiences that are still painful to deal with strangers.
The war also made ethnicity an extremely sensitive issue. In some parts of the country, it may still be fatal to have “wrong” ethnic affiliation in a particular context. Foreigners who, for example, must employ domestic staff at a company should recruit their employees among different groups in order to remain neutral and also be able to stay better informed about the local situation.
As in all other countries, the big weekends are mainly devoted to eating good food. Moambe is a classic Congolese spicy sauce made from palm nuts or peanuts and often served to fried chicken. In the absence of chicken, any kind of meat can fit, for example crocodile. Chikwanga is a dish cooked by the cash register and served wrapped in banana leaves. Fufu is one of the most common Congolese staple foods, made from cassava flour and served to any food, much like potatoes or rice.
The big weekend in Congo-Kinshasa, as in Sweden, is Christmas. Most people celebrate it in December, but the followers of the kimbanguist church (see Religion) celebrate Christmas on May 25, since Christ, according to their beliefs, was born in May, not December.
According to Countryaah, other major holidays in Congo-Kinshasa include the Liberation Day on May 17, the day 1997 when Laurent-Désiré Kabila was named President. On June 30, Independence Day has been celebrated ever since the end of the Belgian colonial empire in 1960.
On solemn occasions, Debout Congolais (Stand Up, Congolese), which was the country’s national anthem 1960–1971 and reintroduced in 1997, was sung. Both texts pay tribute to the united Congolese people, who are proudly and proudly marching towards the future.
A severely degraded transport network is one of the most serious obstacles to Congo-Kinshasa’s economic development. An upgrading of communications, which has hardly been maintained at all since the colonial era, is high on the list of the most urgent development projects.
China has promised major investments in infrastructure, and in particular to upgrade the railway network, against being given permission to mine copper and cobalt.
The Congo River with its tributaries is the country’s most important transport route. Nearly 1,400 miles are sailable, but many stretches need dredging. In addition, the cargo barges and passenger ferries are old – often from colonial times. Lack of fuel and spare parts is a common problem. There is an irregular passenger and cargo connection between Kinshasa and Kisangani.
There are three railway lines in different parts of the country without connection to each other and in poor condition. The most reliable traffic is in Katanga, where the mining industry has made sure to keep the transport route through Zambia to South Africa. The port of Matadi, about 15 miles up the Congo River from the Atlantic coast, is the country’s most important. In March 2018, train connections between Congo-Kinshasa and Angola were resumed after 34 years. A 130-mile railway line has been built, with the help of Chinese money, between the city of Dilolo in southeastern Congo-Kinshasa and the port city of Lobito in Angola for the transport of copper and cobalt.
Long distances between the big cities force many to take the flight. There are several airlines, but most of their planes are old and worn and the aviation authorities are working poorly. The airline has suffered many accidents in recent years. All Congolese airlines are banned from the EU.
Kabila’s access is boycotted by foreign heads of state
When Kabila formally assumes his second term as president, only one foreign head of state is present, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. In particular, it is noted that Belgium’s foreign minister is absent.
Kabila wins the presidential election, accusations of cheating
Presidential and parliamentary elections are held after a partially violent electoral movement. The presidential election is won by Kabila, who has received 49 percent of the vote, while UPDS candidate Etienne Tshisekedi receives 32 percent. Both the opposition and the government complain about election fraud, and irregularities are reported from many directions. The American Carter Center, the Catholic Church and the EU, which had observers in place, criticize the election, but the AU gives the election approval. The result will be clear only after eleven days. Tshisekedi claims that it is really he who won the presidential election and he and four other candidates demand that the election be annulled. The Supreme Court, however, states that Kabila has won the election. Most of the judges have only been sitting on their records for a few weeks.
New violence in Kinshasa
Unrest erupts in Kinshasa between supporters of Kabila’s party People’s Reconstruction and Democracy Party (PPRD) and representatives of the opposition party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). Several buildings are on fire. A UDPS activist is killed.
Several dead in suspected coup attempt
Up to 10 people are killed in what the government describes as a failed coup attempt. A group of heavily armed persons are said to have been on their way to one of the president’s residences.
The second round of the presidential election is canceled
Parliament adopts a law that the presidential election will now be decided in a round. The government cites both reasons for saving and the possibility of reducing the risk of violence between the candidates’ supporters in a decisive election round.