The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the 3rd largest country in Africa with a population of about 55 million. It was originally named after the Kingdom of the Kongo, a powerful empire situated in the west both north and south of the Congo river, the second largest river in the world in terms of water volume. Besides water, Congo has an abundance of natural resources including diamonds, cobalt, copper, tantalum and others. With the arrival of the Portuguese in 1482, European involvement on Congolese affairs began. After 400 years of slave trade, control over the Congo basin was exploited by King Leopold and then to the Belgians as a colonial power. In 1960, independence was granted under the leadership of the first Congolese prime minister and hero, Patrice Lumumba. Mobutu’s reign of power began in 1964 and was tightly maintained until 1991 when the bankrupt country could no longer pay its civil servants. In 1997 Laurent Kabila, backed by Rwanda, took control. One year later, this relationship led to a multi-country war involving Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia on Congo soil. In the end, it was a war over resources fought by foreigners but killing or displacing millions of Congolese. In 2001, Laurent was assassinated. His son, Joseph, replaced him. In 2003, a transitional government was created with 4 vice presidents (2 of them “rebel” leaders). Elections are scheduled for 2005. Congolese remain among the poorest in sub-Sahara Africa with much of its health and education programming supported by foreign intervention. Economic growth is suppressed due to lack of infrastructure and short-sighted government barriers. This site is dedicated to capacity building and leadership development focusing on health, education and economic growth in Mennonite regions. Please refer to links for more information on DRC.
DR Congo Information Links
Canadian Foreign Affairs
Canadian Consular Affairs
US State Department
Information and Demographics
Religions: Roman Catholic - 50%, Protestant - 20%, Kimbanguist - 10%, Muslim - 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs - 10%
Languages: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba total population: 77.3% (male: 86.6% female: 67.7%) -- Global: total population: 77% (male: 83% female: 71%)
History of Mennonites in Congo
The involvement of Mennonites in World mission was particularly strong during the first half of the 20th century. As a result, there are more Asian and African Mennonites than European or North American. Though the Congolese church is large, the social conditions of the people remain very poor.
There are a number of reasons one might postulate as to why Congo has not developed. Among them are the following:
Three Mennonite congregations or denominations have developed through the years:
CEFMC – Communauté des Eglises Frères Mennonites au Congo (associated with the Mennonite Brethren Church)
CMCo – Communauté Mennonite au Congo (associated with the Mennonite Church)
CEM – Communauté Evangélique Mennonite (associated with the Mennonite Church)
Congolese Christian Music Sample
Today the Congolese Mennonite churches are large and vibrant but struggle with the large role in health, education and economic development that has been thrust upon them.
Mennonite Regions in Congo
The Mennonites are primarily involved in southern Bandundu and Kasai Occidentale though they play a large role in Kinshasa (pop. 8 million) and a smaller role in Mbuji-Mayi (pop. 2 million). They are directly responsible for development in 7 health zones (pop. almost 1 million) and have been asked to take on indirect responsibilities in another 10 zones (pop. over 1 million). Finally, the Mennonites play a significant role in one of the major Protestant teaching facilities in Congo located in Tshikaji.