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Congo Culture

History of D R congo & Culture

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area, the largest in Subsaharan Africa, and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 80 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth most populated nation in Africa and the eighteenth most populated country in the world.

Congo is not only a “geological scandal” as many like to refer to it for its indescribable, enormous mineral wealth but also a tourism destination for various safari activities like Tracking the mountain gorillas & Nyiragongo Hike in Virunga National Park & Eastern Lowland gorilla in Kahuzi Biega national park, Okapi watching in okapi wildlife reserve in Beni region with great art as congo ranks high when it comes to african arts . Observing from ethnic groups, languages, religions, literature, theatre, sculptures, masks, music and fashion, Congo is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable and exceptional artistic centers that Africa has to offer as extra along side tourism.

Greeting Customs

A proper greeting is to shake hands with the right hand. To show respect of social status people hold their right forearm with their left hand while shaking hands. Men often share a touching of the sides of their foreheads, first right than left. Holding hands between people of the same sex is a sign of friendship. When two people of the opposite sex talk there is very little to no touching. When a man is greeting a woman it is best to wait for the woman to extend her hand. Young people wait for older people to offer their hand. If you are unsure how to pronounce your visitor’s name, you may ask them what they prefer – or call the adult women “Madame” or “Mama” and the adult men “Monsieur” or “Papa”.

Eye contact might be more indirect during a conversation; women and children might look down or away to show respect. It is best to avoid asking about someone’s ethnicity or making referrals to the civil war. Many lost loved ones. Good topics of conversation include food, sport (soccer), fashion, Congo’s landscape and tourism etc. In many situations people are flexible with appointed times, they don’t tend to be overly punctual. This is different in business situations where punctuality is valued.

Congolese people have a set of gestures for pointing to and calling people. If you want to point to someone hold out the arm with the palm open and upward. It is considered very rude to point at a person with your index finger. Calling someone to come over is done by extending the arm with the palm turned down and bringing in the fingers towards you, like a scratching motion. People also have proper ways to give or receive things. Children learn to offer both hands when receiving an object, especially form an adult, which shows respect.

Culture and History of Kongo

The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely diverse, reflecting the great diversity and different customs which exist in the country. Congolese culture combines the influence of tradition to the region, but also combines influences from abroad which arrived during the era of colonization and has continued to have a strong influence, without destroying the individuality of many tribal’ customs.

Like many African countries, the borders were drawn up by colonial powers, and bore little relation to the actual spread of ethno-linguistic groups. There are 242 languages spoken in the country, with perhaps a similar number of ethnic groups. Broadly speaking, there are four main population groups:

Pygmies, the earliest inhabitants of the Congo, are generally hunter-gatherers. Expert in the ways of the forest, where they have resided for thousands of years, they live by trading meat with their taller farming neighbors in exchange for agricultural products. Increasingly, they are assimilating into non-Pygmy society and adopting the latter’s languages and customs.
Bantus. They are by far the largest group, and the majority live as subsistence-farmers. They are present in almost every part of the country, and their languages make up three of the DRC’s five officially-recognized languages. Among these are Kikongo, Lingala and Tshiluba. Kikongo is spoken by the Kongo people in the far west of the country, both on the coast and inland, and was promoted by the Belgian colonial administration. Elements of Kikongo have survived amongst the descendants of slaves in the Americas—for instance, the language of the Gullah people of South Carolina contains elements of Kikongo. Lingala, spoken in the capital Kinshasa, is increasingly understood throughout the country, as the lingua franca of trade, spoken along the vast Congo river and its many tributaries. Lingala’s status as the language of the national army, as well its use in the lyrics of popular Congolese music, has encouraged its adoption, and it is now the most prominent language in the country. Tshiluba (also known as Chiluba and Luba-Kasai) is spoken in the southeastern Kasai regions.
Bantus also brought in the fourth of the DRC’s official languages, Kingwana — a Congolese dialect of Swahili. Note that the fifth language, French, is the official language of government, a result of Congo’s colonial relationship with Belgium. These Swahili-speaking Bantus are related to the other Bantus mentioned above, but tend to differ in their way of life, in that they practice herding as well as farming. They came from the various countries to the east of Congo: Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania, bringing with them many of the ethnic rivalries that have inflamed recent conflicts.
The northeastern part of the country is inhabited by groups who are believed to have originally come from the southern Sudan region. In general, these are cattle herders and include the Tutsi, possibly the tallest people in the world. These migrants also entered Rwanda and Burundi around the same time, often mixing with the settled groups.

The above descriptions are by necessity simplified. Many Congolese are multilingual, and the language used depends on the context. For instance, a government official might use French to set a tone of formality and authority with another official, use Lingala when buying goods at a market, and the local language when in his home village. English is also spoken, especially in the east where eastern and southern African influences have spread in the post-Mobutu era. Among the slangs spoken in Congo, Indubil has been noted since around the 1960s, and continues to evolve nowadays.its among the reasons why all our congo tours are guided by experienced guides in English and French Plus Swahili.

Mixed marriages between ethnic groups are common, particularly in urban areas where many different groups live side by side. Europeans appear in small numbers throughout the country, as missionaries in the countryside, and as businessmen and traders in the cities.

Congolese family life

The man is the head of the family unit, however respect between men and women is very important. Husbands and wives will consult with each other on big decisions but the man makes the final decision. Respect is one of the most important values for Congolese people. Respect and obedience have similar meaning. Children are expected to never question parental authority. Women do the housework and look after the children. The husband’s role is to improve the families’ life. Rearing children is a community responsibility with the extended family playing a big role in guiding the children at the age of puberty. Although young people may initiate courtship, marriage is often the product of family intervention with older siblings or extended family members suggesting prospective mates. To get married one has to pay a price for his bride to her family. A bride value today is usually paid in cash or material goods. Children are a sign of wealth and a social security net, so parents consider themselves blessed to have many children.