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|Colonial Schoolbooks > Studies: Ideology in the Schoolbooks
Ideology in the Schoolbooks in the Belgian Congo / By Honoré Vinck
The following text is an adaptation and updating of a Seminar Paper discussed in the Wednesday Seminars of the Institute for Advanced Study and Research in the African Humanities at the Northwestern University, Evanston, on March 8, 1995. The text has been first published as: The Influence of Colonial Ideology on Schoolbooks in the Belgian Congo, Paedagogica Historica (Gent), 23(1995)2,355-406. Footnotes are not reproduced and updated bibliography can be found in the Bibliographical section of this African Schoolbook Project Site. Acronyms are explained in annexe.
The analysis of about 50 textbooks, used in the elementary schools of the former Belgian Congo in the Region of the Equator and Upper R.D. Congo Provinces, reveals how the school education propagated the most formal colonial ideology in the terms proposed by the Belgian political authorities. Fundamental themes such as the legitimacy of the colonisation and the sources of authority, and the bearers and symbols of colonial authority take an important place in the texts posed to the children. The traditional pre-colonial beliefs and life-style were placed in opposition to the new western institutions in a black-is-bad and white-is-good terminology.
The Study of the Colonial Schoolbooks
The main difficulty for penetrating into the world of African colonial schoolbooks is the lack of knowledge of African languages. Further, these booklets are difficult to find now, because nobody has taken care to preserve them. They were destroyed by the thousands after independence, when French was proclaimed to be the language of the elementary schools.
In the case of Congo we can mention the existence of collections at the Library of the Museum of Tervuren and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels. The Aequatoria archive in R.D. Congo itself has 650 catalogued and microfilmed units.
For this present study about 40 booklets have been used in Lingala, Lomongo, Ngbandi, and French, covering the periods from 1908 to 1960 and even further. Geographically their use is situated in the whole northern half of the actual R.D. Congo and in Kinshasa. It included the cities of Mbandaka, Kisangani, Buta, Bondo, Niangara, and Lisala. Related to the number of pupils reached we can estimate that about 25% of the school population has been using these booklets.
It must be recognized, on the other hand, that in the same schools simultaneously booklets of all three different categories were in use.
Schools in the Belgian Congo
It is a well known fact that the educational situation in the former Belgian Congo, was unique in the landscape of the African colonies. The system was characterized by the following features:
The major framework of the colonial educational policy throughout the whole period can be summarized as follows:
Textbooks in the Schools of the Belgian Congo
The authors of the schoolbooks were mostly persons involved in school education, either as director of an elementary school or as inspector of a larger school system. Many books were anonymous, others used a Congolese pseudonym (Protestant missionaries all had African names). A few books in the more recent period used the real name of the author. Identification of the author is essential for a good understanding of the text.
(2) Models and PatternsFor our purpose, the most useful texts are the readers and the history and geography books. The latter were introduced only in a later period, but a lot of historical information can be found in readers and in religions books (Church history).
The very first readers were the Bible for Protestants and biblical stories and catechisms for Catholics. Therefore the content of the texts was invariably established; only an understandable translation was needed.
Western models have been used for the composition of African schoolbooks, but it would take a special research to find the precise links. A few books were translations from English models, specially prepared for use in Protestant schools throughout Africa. In these categories some of the readers of the Disciples of Christ present a West African society with a strong Islamic culture to the Central African children.
A small number of books are adaptations or translations of English or American popular books like 7'he,Peep of Day, Robinson Crusoe, and The Pilgrims Progress.
(3) Usage of the BookletsThese booklets were used in the schools of the well organized mission stations. Before 1925, only a few "bush schools" were established out of the central mission stations. The booklets were in the first place the handbooks for the teachers. In some schools and in some periods all the pupils had the book in their hands, but always the teacher copied the text on the black board. The books were the property of the school but the children could take them sometimes with them for reading at home. This is important in order to measure the real impact of the texts. Some texts have been memorized during more than fifty years. For example, the text of a booklet written in 1920, praising Stanley and Leopold II, the anti-slavery action, etc... was recited on June 30, 1966, at Basankusu.
Most of the children attending classes belonged to a very small group of people living on land owned by the State, the Trade Company or the Christian Mission . Though a small portion was recruited in the remote interior. Only after World War II, has a real school expansion and large recruitment been noted. This statement has as a first consequence the fact that the children lived daily in a mixed society, mixed according to their ethnic origin, language use, level of integration into Western lifestyle and beliefs. They were everyday confronted with the behaviour patterns of the white society. Most of the mission schools were boarding schools. It was like a gigantic initiation camp in a new and esoteric world.
1. Colonial Administration and Schoolbooks
Occupation and colonisation of the Congo territory had been not easy. The real pacification took more than twenty-five years. Open or hidden, active or passive resistance were never absent during the whole period of Belgian rule. The Colonial Administration had to explain its own presence linked to a new considerable burden, in order to obtain a reasonable acceptance and even to provoke certain collaboration.
The school was the place where all this could be explained and where the necessary habits of loyal cooperation could be instilled. on the other hand, at some extent pure ideological attitudes by the coloniser pressed him to propagate his own cultural and moral system. In this context must be situated the Christian religions interference. Analysing the texts in the following chapter, these statements will be specified and detailed.
Representatives of the colonial establishment proclaimed openly the real goals of the educational system. Many authors have quoted the most remarkable texts on the matter. I report here only a few as illustrations. In 1930, M. Franck, the former Minister of Colonies, wrote: "Going back to his village, the young boy will represent there the influence of our ideas, soaked as he is by the education received in the school," and further: "That which above all gives us reason for hope is that the whole colonial elite ... is today persuaded that only the Catholic Christian religion, based on authority, can change the native mentality or give our blacks a clear and intimate awareness of their duty, or inspire in them respect for authority and spirit of royalty towards Belgium."
Official instructions didn't hide the real scope of the school education: in a 1931 document explaining in more detail the program from 1928, we read: "In the course of the lessons on the history of the Congo, attention should be paid to emphasize the advantages the indigenous people got out of the European occupation: suppression of the slave trade, the ending of the domestic wars, the suppression of barbarous customs, the evangelisation, the medical assistance." Even twenty years later, the same unchanged spirit reigned among the officials of the school education: "In the matter of history it should be convenient to emphasize on the history of the Congo and its several regions. This history must be strictly objective and tend to strengthen the loyalism of the indigenous. It is very important that the young generations who have instinctively a tendency to resent first of all the difficult economic burdens, without the possibility to remember directly the horrors of the slave trade, should be helped by the history book, to make useful comparisons. It is without question that the teaching of history to the indigenous must take into account the progress of the civilisation and the direct merits in it of the civic authorities and the religions missions." Successive rules and regulations organizing schools and their curricula were sometimes formulated in contradiction to the general goal.
A preliminary report to the first official regulations (1924) wrote: "The school education has to try to improve the situation of the blacks themselves", "but from the practice came the voice: "The whole present school education has been conceived as all other things: for the exclusive service of the beati posidentes" (Maus to Hulstaert, July 7th 1940). This remains true, even many years later, when in 1952, discussing the reform program, Hulstaert wrote(September 9th, 1952) to Larochette, a staff member of the Ministry of Colonies at Brussels: "The school education system in the Congo is not in the interest of the native, but in the interest of the Whites, using the indigenous people. These are the groups of interest that decide about the orientation and the spirit of the basic school system though the official programs explain otherwise"
When the turning point in colonial politics came to be formulated in the style of the Belgian Congolese Union, the texts should be adapted but the spirit remained the same: "The manual must introduce the pupil to the world of interdependence and must clearly show all that the union between Belgium and the Congo has been able to realize" wrote A. Prignon, an official from the Education Department.
2. Major Themes of the Schoolbooks
2.1 Legitimacy of the Colonization: "And so, step by step, the Blacks will become civilised"Pro-colonial booklets justify the fact of colonisation in three ways: (1)Explaining the principles underlying the right to colonisation (2)The liberation from Arab slave trade (3)The establishment of the (western) civilisation
Obviously there is no theoretical discussion about the principles underlying the right of colonisation in the booklets, but all the classical arguments are indirectly present in the texts. "They (Livingston and Stanley ) discovered a new land for making it better" (S-4) and "Stanley went back to Europe and 10 told the Odyssey of his Congo travel" (Prot- 1930). These texts suggest the right of Colonization on the basis of the discovery of the land. Greater emphasis is based upon the delegation by western Political authorities: "Heads of State of Europe chose Leopold II as sovereign of the Congo" (M-1; S-1; S-4; MSC- 11). Another important basis is about 500 treaties of assignment of sovereignty concluded by Stanley with the local chiefs between 1881 and 1885 (S-4; S-5; S-6). The Belgian Sovereignty in its turn is based upon the transfer from Leopold II to Belgian State (ibi).
The establishment of the true civilisation is the main argument in most of the booklets. The word "Civilization" is a large concept. It includes a whole set of material and spiritual goods, bringing an answer on the transcendental and existential needs of the African population. It began with the "Association Internationale Africaine," the predecessor of the Congo Free State: "The aim of this Association is to bring into the centre of Africa the benefits of the Civilization" (S-6).
Some of the booklets are bilingual (French-Lingala) and use the word civilisation in the French version. It allows us to recognise the expressions in African languages bearing the concept of civilisation. The French sentence in booklet M- 1: "Ainsi les Noirs deviennent peu a peu civilisés" is translated in Lingala 'Mpe Baindo bakobongoana petepete batu ba mayele" word by word translated as: "And consequently, the Blacks are being slowly integrated as intelligent men". In booklet S- 1 and S-4 (not bilingual) the translator used the same equivalences. It is characteristic of civilisation to be "having intelligence". It stays in opposition to the word "basenji" the general state of the precolonial people of the Congo: "Blacks live in the Congo. In past times they were savages (basenji), now their intelligence has been developed rapidly" (G-2). The word "basenji" came in use in the region before the European colonization. It was introduced by the Arab speaking invaders in its kiswahili form and means literally: "black". It has its pejorative meaning as opposite to civilized from that period and is still in use today.
Civilization implies "with intelligence" and it comes from the Whites, in the statement of the textbooks, through the mediation of King Leopold who is called: The Great Civilizer, Mobongisa monene (S-4). Not only the King is the Civiliser, but all the Whites: "The Whites teach many useful things and in this way the Blacks become step by step civilized" (S- 1; S-2; M- 1), and doubtless: "Ba-belze banso bati motema mwa bobongisi Baindo", ("All the Belgians have very close to their heart the civilisation of the Blacks") (S-4).
The liberation of the slave trade is a main point in all the readers and history textbooks. In a booklet from 1952, the history of the Congo is displayed in 20 questions: 1 about Leopold II, 6 concerning Stanley, 1 on Belgium and 12 on the Arab slave trade (MSC-6). Some of the textbooks extend the story in ugly details over several pages (Pr-1930; M-; M-2; M-6): "Listen to this terrifying story; Everywhere along the routes where the Arabs had passed by, death bodies and skeletons are all around" (S-1). Most of the books speak about Arabs without much more ado. Only one points out that the slave drivers are "similar to the Arabs" (MSC-1). Others report the presence of local co-operators (Pr-1924; M-1; M-2). The Arabs are represented as intelligent, powerful, and having a big army. Their aim is to become wealthy by robbing human beings and ivory and by setting up a commercial system circuit. Their activities are localized in the East of the Congo and had provoked several migrations by native populations, and consequently some regions were depopulated and abandoned (MSC- 1). But "Christian Europe" was moved by these macabre stories (G- 1) and Leopold sent Stanley and others to put an end to the suffering (M-1; S-1; M-2; MSC-11). "The Whites annihilated the Arabs and now the Blacks live in liberty" is the general conclusion of the booklets.
When the former situation was bad, the new one is the best you can have. Not only the slavery was miserable, but the whole life was suffering and darkness. So presents it the schoolbooks: "My dear children, at present you see many Whites in the Congo ... they brought in all these splendid things, unknown to your ancestors" (S-1; M-1). "My Children, if the Whites didn't come here, we should not see the Congo as prosperous as it is now" (S-4). But the alternative booklet sees it otherwise: "Many Whites until yet, thinks that our ancestors were like animals, very cruel, without any morality, with ugly manners without special skills... For that reason, the reader will find here how our forefathers have lived and worked ... The White man came to our country with many innovations for our life. He has abolished the law of our ancestors and substituted his own" (M.SC-2). And the author warns us of a false civilisation: "Our people will progress in civilisation only as far as they will owe allegiance to their mother tongue and as far as they will be eager to know the history of their ancestors, and they will preserve the language and the customs of their forefathers ... these things will set up a civilisation with care and dignity" (MSC-2).
In their attempts to justify the f act of the colonisation, the booklets follow the trend of the time. The most characteristic writings on the matter are those of the Governor of the Congo, Pierre Ryckmans. In his "La Politique Coloniale"3-1 (1933, p.12-13), he makes the balance between the positive and negative sides of colonisation in Belgian Congo using a very similar terminology and arguments as our booklets. In his famous "Dominer pour sevir" from 1948, he presents the different theories about the right to colonisation (p.57-65) and concludes that the Belgian colonisation has been justified not by the right of conquest but by the right of occupation (p.85). The professor of "Déontologie coloniale" at the Colonial University at Antwerp argues extensively on the topic and concludes "To extricate a people from its barbarous customs, to guide it progressively to the very civilisation, to bring culture to a retarded people, to put the human and material riches, providentially destined to benefit of the whole humanity: what an exciting responsibility before God and mankind".
2.2 Colonial Power and Its Symbols
(1) Source of Authority: 'All authority comes from God'No democratic patterns of power sharing were found in the tradition of the peoples living in the region. Authority had monocratic and hereditarian characteristics. By the Mongo and other similar groups, the eldest male from the eldest family became the chief of the group. But there were many exceptions, based on wealth, courage etc. A parallel power structure had been developed just before the colonisation by the South-West Mongo, a kind of Sacred Kingdom, complementary to the existing traditional authority. This more recent power was essentially based on wealth and religions contacts (with the forefathers). Different names like nkum and ekofo and others were in use.
With the colonisation a totally new system of power sharing has been introduced: power and authority as based on the authority of God. The booklets present the bases of all power, religions and civic, as coming from God: "All Authority comes from God. He is the first authority. All the human beings on earth who have authority are the substitutes of God. God himself has distributed his own authority to them. Consequently all authorities of the world are governing accordingly to the will of God" (S-2). Catholic catechisms were explicit: "What does God say to the authorities?' "God says to the authorities: 'Whoever listens to you, listens to me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me" (S-7; S-8). More than obedience is requested to the authorities: respect is due: "The Christians have to respect their authorities on behalf of God."
This argument is based upon a quotation of the Gospel according to Luke (Chapter 10, 16). The application of the sentence is theologically limited to the mission of the twelve Apostles and consequently the application made here by the catechisms is erroneous. According to the catechisms, the authorities to which God delegates his power are successively: (1) the parents (in restricted sense) (2) religions leaders (in order: Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Apostolic Nuncio, Priests) (3) political leaders specified as: the King, all White administrators and in some books even the chief of the village who is a delegate of the White administrator. The concept of delegation of divine power to civil authorities was a well known Middle Age concept, defended by the Catholic hierarchy until the first half of the 19th Century. The formulation used in the booklets refers to these concepts.
Authority is seen as a whole, as a total power. Only one catechism, this of Hulstaert made in 1934, introduces the concept of sectorial power: "Must we obey other authorities [than parents]? Yes, we must obey other authorities like: the chief of the family, the chief of the state, the employer, the teacher, every one according to the sector of his authority, except when they ask us to sin.' Remarkable is the mention of "the chief of the family." Here is surely meant the traditional chief of the family, of the village. The author of the text has always contested the authorities designated by the State as chief of the villages. In his comments, Hulstaert makes a clear distinction between traditional authority (mpifo eese = the authority of the village) and the State (= mpifo ea leta) but in his perception both have their source in God as well.
No word was ever spoken about the people as basis of power and authority. Democracy was evidently never thought of on this level. In 1957, the opposite booklet protests strongly against these concepts and practices introduced by Whites: "In ancient times a man used to appropriate a leopard for passing its power to become chief of the village. By their arrival, the Whites did not accept the authority of these chiefs they found in function. They installed flatters and intruders. The reason for this is that they sided with the Whites and could read and write". The Whites did not respect the traditional successorial rules." The village complains about these innovations and that's the reason why the authorities imposed by the Whites have no value. If people respect them, it is because they fear to be killed by a gunshot" (MSC-2, 68, 2). And the author continues explaining that the authority of the parents has been weakened and dissolved by the introduction of the concept of biological parenthood, and he adds that the husband has no more authority over his wife when he has no access to the traditional punishments.
(2) Bearers of Authority
THE STATE: 'The State governs and commands'The concept of "State", a key notion in the schoolbooks, is the comprehensive and abstract depersonalised expression of the new power and authority. Authority and power in the experience of the people had always been concrete and personalized. The abstract State concept should have been a totally new phenomenon in the perception of the children. But some booklets try to bridge the gap concentrating all the power in the person of the King and insisting on the fact that the Kings have visited the Congo and even their own region. In most cases the "State" is presented as an acting, personalized being: "The State governs and commands" the booklet S-4 said. This kind of State had been introduced by Stanley (S-4), and has liberated the people from the slave trade (S-1). Leopold II has organized it and King Albert continues it (S-3). The State provides all of life's necessities; it dominates all fields of human life.
The statements of the booklet from 1924 are very impressive: the State forbids to kill, to make war, to abuse substances, to drink alcohol, to live in polygamy. The State delivers from slavery, poverty, sickness, ignorance. The State judges, produces, constructs roads, protects the belongings of the Whites, introduces money and teaches how to acquire it. The State helps to buy European goods, protects the palm trees, recommends certain foods, organises army and schools and promotes the Christian religion. The State organises the Post Office.
"We didn't love each other, we were foes. Now we have the State and everybody lives in peace and love" (Pr- 1924; Pr- 1930; S-5). Consequently, the requirement for submission, respect, acceptance of taxes and corves are totally vindicated (S-5; RC-7; RC-9; Trap- 1).
Some books have a long list of duties for the "chef medaille" from which the first sounds like "To obey the Whites from the State" and the last: "to apply to the dissenters the whip" (M - 1).
THE KING: 'The King loves you'The Belgian King is a constitutional monarch with very limited powers, and even these are controlled. In our booklets he is represented as a totalitarian, but a paternalistic good father, who shares all the power but redistributes it according to his discretion. He invests the Governor General (S-4; S-5; Pr1930). He is good, helps and loves the Blacks (G-1; G-2; MSC-1).
He is a military leader and pays his soldiers (M-4). In the Catholic booklets, he is represented as a fervent Catholic practitioner (M-3; and MSC-1).
The counterpart of this is that we must be submit to him, love him and even f ear him (G - 1; M - 1), and in fine we must glorify him (D - 2; Pr - 1930) and surely, we have to pray f or him (MSC - 1 and most others). "The King of the Belgians is the King of the Congolese as well. He is a big chief " (D - 1; D 2). All these beautiful characteristics and attitudes are applicable to whatever King: Leopold II, Albert I or Leopold III. They are all good fathers for their Black children. It is a matter of conscience: 'Do you love the King?" (M-1).
THE ADMINISTRATION: 'Tell the Blacks their obligations toward the authorities'Governors and Administrators share in the power of the King and represent the State. In 1885 Leopold II gave his first governor to the Congo (S-1) and he appointed Whites everywhere (D-1). Most of the booklets instruct broadly about the different levels of the corps of administrative authorities. In the view of the schoolbooks, all the Whites share in the power of the State, all are authorities. In many cases the word "Whites" stand for the word "authority" (Pr - 1930; S - 4; D - 1). "The teacher must honour all the Whites" (MH - 1) and a later version to add: "He must teach to his people to respect and to honour the Whites" (MSC-5, in 1957!). "The teacher explains that the White Man surpasses other people in knowledge. He reports the instructions the priest gave him how to do with a white person and how to greet him" (MH - 1).
The author of many schoolbooks in the thirties, Octaaf Hullebusch (the S-2 and derivates) related the scene in candid, colourful traits when he wrote in a propaganda brochure: "The teacher will not forget to tell the Blacks their obligations toward authorities. These obligations are part of the lessons on the Fourth Commandment of God. When the Administrator or Civil Servant arrives in the village, they (the Blacks) hasten to present him a chair and the Blacks will surround him respectfully. From his side, the White invites the Catechist to sit down on a seat; the others, happy for the honour given to one of them, sit down easily on the ground and speak informally. Only by this fact the teacher (and consequently the civilisation he represents) shall gain in prestige by the Blacks."
In the meaning of the authors, these attitudes are a strict obligation pledging gratitude to the liberator of all kind of slavery and to the bringer of all kind of goods:" Children, if there were no Whites, we shouldn't have the wealth which we have now" (S-4).
(3) Symbols of Authority: Flag and National Anthem / 'Our Flag is Tricolour'The Belgian flag should be the symbol of the unity of the Congolese peoples. This idea is worth a whole chapter in some books: "The time shall come that the people of the Belgian Congo will look up to the symbol of our nation: the flag" (Pr-1924). "Every country has its own flag, recognizable by its colours. Regarding us Belgians (bisu ba-belze), our flag is tricolour" explains an other (S-1).
In a book from 1950, the children are incited to study the history of the flag and to know the Belgian national anthem (in French), as well the "Vers l'Avenir", that is the Colonial hymn, singing the Great Deeds of the Belgian conquerors of the Congo.
The situation in the Belgian Congo was a particular one regarding the f lag. Leopold's Congo Free State had inherited the flag of the international African Association: blue field with one yellow star. When in 1908 the Congo Free State became a Belgian Colony, it was replaced by the Belgian flag, but remained in use on many occasions. In the fifties it became a symbol of Congolese nationalism. Bolamba, the redactor in chief of 'La Voix du Congolais" wrote in an editorial in 1954 that "it would be desirable that at the patriotic ceremonies an equal number of Congolese and Belgian flags will be flown".
2.3 Colonial power in Execution
(1) Justice System: 'The White judges with justice'In the precolonial society the legal system was based on customary rules expressed by tales and proverbs. The function of Judge existed and certain procedures were in use. In personal matters the first judge was the husband for his wife and children and the family chief for the extended family. The setting of the judicial organisation in the Belgian Congo has been extremely slow. During a long period it was usurped by military courts. On a lower level, all the White administrators had jurisdictional power in their own territory. Minor cases were left t the traditional jurisdiction but the White administrators and lawyers had counter and intervention rights.
The by the State appointed local chief has the obligation, se explains the booklet from 1930, te report all major cases te the administrator. He himself could settle for cases of disobedience, up te two weeks of imprisonment or twelve lashes with the whip. It is clear that the real jurisdiction was in the hands of the Whites, invested especially by the King, as the same booklets report.
The 1924 booklet presents the precolonial period as a jurisdictional chaos where discussions were difficult to curtail and it concludes that now the Whites rule with justice. It continues explaining the whole procedure and places a special emphasis on marriage disputes. In that context the book underlines that women have the right te speak in the court. With the statement that "The justice of the Whites will neutralise the criminals and even judge the Whites themselves", the author demonstrates the high quality of the new justice.
But the alternative booklet from 1957 has another meaning : "The White man has made tabula rasa of the precepts and laws given us by our ancestors and he has put his own laws in their place." Further, the Author concedes that certain laws of the Whites are good, but "The White is impatient and he has no respect for the rights of the elders ... People deplore this kind of slavery" (MSC-2).
We should mention here the existence of some booklets devoted to the explanation of some parts of the legislation introduced by the coloniser. We found two titles one from 1933 that we have not seen and another from 1957 that we used here. As an introduction the author presents in six points the rights of the Blacks: (1) Inviolability of the private home; (2) Right of private property; (3) Freedom of Religion; (4) Freedom of school choice; (5) Inviolability of correspondence; (6) Freedom of the use of language. Then follows in a booklet long citations of laws and regulations applicable to the daily life of average Black people. The author has tried to clarify the frequently awkward matter relating to proverbs. Each point is justified by its utility or necessity for a harmonious society.
(2) Military: 'The state gives them bedding so that they can sleep well'An important colonial phenomenon was the European fashioned army known as the "Force Publique". During the first decades, people had been confronted with cruel and undisciplined military occupation, supervising the rubber chores or eliminating rebel movements.
The Colonial Police-Army was at first composed of Haoussa soldiers, later of recruits from the "Bangala" tribe. Booklets honour this people for their fighting skills (M-3). The most important action was their participation in World War I against German Colonial Forces. Pupils are taught special songs praising the courageous soldiers who fought at Tabora:
"You are all Soldiers of the King,
Many administrators during the first decades were military officers. The name "Commandant" was in the earlier years a symbol of authority. In the booklet from 1909 presenting categories of human beings, his place came immediately after the King (Trap 1): "Examples of human beings: The Priest, the Bishop, the Pope, the King, the Commandant." The victory over the Arabs was largely emphasized and the Commanders celebrated each by his name (Pr-1930 and most others).
The alternative booklet from 1957 refers to only the very beginning of the occupation when speaking about the military and notices that the Whites began the war (with the Congolese) and that they won because of the superiority of their guns (MSC-2). He points out that the soldiers have introduced many bad habits into the villages: "People have adopted the mentality of the soldiers the Whites brought in from the East."
(3) Taxes and corvees: 'The state needs a huge amount of money, every year'The link between state and school was evident when we see how our booklets propagate adherence to the taxes and corvees program of the Administration. During the very early period taxes consisted of the delivery of rubber, ivory and food for the occupiers and their associates. This had exasperated the population and caused continual local troubles. Through the introduction of currency at the beginning of the century, this approach was replaced by the capital tax. Corvees continued until the Independence. From the twenties on obligatory cultivations had hardly disturbed the customs of the people. Belgium had refused to ratify the Convention of abolition of all kinds of forced labour.
In a booklet from 1909 (Trap-1) one of the first and most hated taxes was reported as the priest visiting a village encounters the chief and asks him: "What work do your people do? We supply with fish and cassava for the Whites and straw to cover the houses as well."
One of the duties of the catechists and teachers is to incite the people to execute loyally the corvées (MH-1; MSC-5). It is a duty of the local chief to help by the collection of the State taxes (M-1) and one must be careful not to lose his tax booklet (S-5). A booklet from 1925 enumerates seven sorts of corvées that can be sanctioned by the chief of the village (M-1). In 1948 two long chapters explain all possible reasons for justifying the imposed cultivations: rice, cotton and rubber, all destined for the agro-industrial plants of the Whites. The author of the booklet argues that all these taxes and corvées are salutary for everybody. In this way people will find abundant food, garments and at least a lot of money. But the ultimate argument is that work is not a burden but a blessing because "It consolidates our body and the related suffering will expiate our sins" (S-1). The teacher's role is important because "People do not understand the sense of taxes. You must explain it to them so that they understand what the State is doing for them" (Pr-1950). It is a privilege to pay taxes: "We all pay taxes. We think that we pay a lot of money but the coins we contribute are absolutely insufficient as compared with what the State is doing for us. The State needs a huge amount of money every year, but it pays itself a great part of it so that it can pay for its work" (Pr - 1924).
The alternative booklet from 1957 has another meaning on the topic. "In the beginning they asked the people to bring copal and cassava ... The problem began with the cassava ... Those who did not deliver enough, were killed" (MSC-2). The lomongo terminology reports the pre-colonial existence of taxes as the part owed by foreigners who used land or hunting ground of the village (ndembo). The experience of paying taxes to foreigners for working on their own land had reversed the roles.
(4) Religion: 'The savages were driving the car and the devils were enjoyed'The traditional faith and belief in the region has been studied in a relatively extensive manner. The Supreme Being Mbombianda, Njakomba, Njanibe etc.is percieved as the Creator of earth and mankind, but without further intervention in human affairs. These were reserved to the spirits (Bilima) and the ancestors.
The traditional religiosity has been presented by the schoolbooks in the usual terms by Protestants and Catholics alike. "The people were very ferocious at that time and the Whites have found them acting satanically" (Pr-1930). Devils and witchcraft doctors dominated the scene: "They only believed in the Devil and in witchcraft." "They live in the Kingdom of the Devil" (M-1; S-1) and the "Savage were driving the car, and the Devils were enjoyed" (D-2; D-3; D-5).
For one of the more positive booklets (MSC-1), people were in error and needed the rectification through European priests. But "God had mercy" (S- 1) and sent his Missionaries. Other books say that Leopold II sent them (D-2;MSC-11). For the Protestants it is Livingstone who brought the Christian faith into Africa (Pr - 1930) and they insist on the f act that the missionaries were Whites (8 times on one page) who had been severely attacked by the Bakongo. Only the intervention of Stanley permitted their seulement. The presentation of the Christian belief in the Reader from 1935 (MSC- 1) begins with the phrase: "A long time ago, before the discovery of our country by the Whites, our ancestors lived in error. But in some places of Europe the teachings of Jesus were known and then priests came into our regions." The messengers met sometimes strong opposition by the natives (Pr - 1930; MSC-1) but that's over and "now there are churches and prayers" (About all the booklets) because the "Priests came, taught and baptized and the devil has been overpowered" (D-2; D-3; D-5).
The alternative booklet presents the new religion as not too destructive like other importations of the Mlites:"The elders don't complain too much about the new religion. They don't believe in it because of the strong moral requirements, but although they see some good points in it as the increase of conjugal fidelity" (MSC-2). In the meantime Christian religion in his multiple forms dominated the landscape, coexisting with traditional expressions of religiosity. Only recently have attempts been made for the "adaptation" or integration of some aspects of the traditional African religions feelings.
(5) Health care: 'The State has compassion for the sick'The Belgian health care system in the Congo was extremely developed and quasi free. The children were taught that it was one of the pillars of the Whites' civilisation. "Sickness are healed by doctors and sisters" (D-2). It is a part of the global strategy of welfare: "The priests cure the souls of the Blacks; other Whites cure the bodies of the sick in the hospitals" (G-2). That was the answer to the great needs the Whites had found in the country. "Fetishes are not good, and the Whites have brought their medicine" (Pr-1930). This booklet explains in great detail (3 pages) all kinds of sicknesses treated by the white doctors and all the controls the State imposed for limiting or eradicating diseases "because the state had compassion for the sick (Pr-1924).
The alternative booklet does not believe in this propaganda and the author tells the children: "There were no serious sicknesses in our villages and people were very clever in healing ... but when the Whites arrived the propagation of the diseases from the one to the other country began." Ancient times were not so bad: "In early times people did not wear clothes and so sickness could be openly seen (and contamination avoided), but now very important sicknesses are hidden by clothes.
(6) Proletarization: 'The State wants us to work hard and with endurance, for money'The booklets didn't hide that the first purpose of colonisation was the introduction of European trade. "The goal of the Association (Association Internationale Africaine), 1876- 1885 was to bring to the Centre of Africa, the civilisation and the commerce" (S-6). But there is more to do than commerce. "The Whites organize the work and the Blacks help them" (S-4). This help will yield amounts of money (Pr- 1924;Pr- 1930; S-4). The Protestant booklet from 1924 incites people to earn money as much as possible and to use it for shopping "Like the Whites do". The booklet explains the value and function of money and the advantages over the traditional bartering system. The State protects the goods of the Whites so that Blacks can buy them. People that do not work for the State or the Whites must sell the products of their plantations so that they too earn a lot of money.
The need for workers was great in the region and the population scarce. Recruiters sometimes went 1000 km to obtain the necessary workers for the rubber, coffee, cotton, and palm plantations. The 42 big agro-industries appropriated the ground and hunting space, but they didn't worry about that. The opposite booklet was more lucid when it wrote "The Whites launched their businesses with the products of our soil" (MSC-2) and refers then to the horrible "red rubber" period.
Finally "Trade became profitable, the country became prosperous the church invites to prayer: all has been arranged" concludes candidly the author of a reader (S-4).
(7) School education: 'Things from Heaven and Earth'School education is favoured by the State. The goal is to become intelligent, to acquire the basic knowledge of reading and writing "like the Whites" (M- 1;S- 1;S-2), and for a few, to learn French (Pr1924). But in the eyes of the organizers, school education is more than instruction: "It will lead young people to an adult age learning the things from the heaven and from the earth" (S-2). It is the avenue to the reception of baptism. "Tell them [the pupils] that when they can read and write, they will be baptised" (Trap-1).
The author of a booklet from 1932, who was a teacher himself before coming to the Congo, dedicates a whole chapter to the topic of school education. He explains broadly the aims and ways for a good education and appeals for an everlasting gratitude to the educators (S-2).
The authors of the nativistic (MSC-1) and the alternative booklets published many articles on the matter pleading for an integrated education in the mother tongue.
2.4 To be like the Whites...
(1) Black is not beautifulMost of the schoolbooks use a stereotypic vocabulary for the description of the natives. They are "savage" (G - 2 three times). The Demon is their God (S - 1) and they are practitioners of all kinds of witchcraft (M-1; D-2; S-1). They belong to the reign of Satan and practice Satanic virtues (S-1). No wonder that they are "pagans, superstitions, lazy, jealous, and ignorant" (D-2 until 1952). The signification and use of the word "savage"(basenji) must be seen in its historical and philological context as explained in a former paragraph
When in a traditional Christian context the expression "in the hands of the Devil" is used, it means basically the hold of the Devil on each human being before his baptism. Before the arrival of the missionaries, all the Blacks were without baptism and consequently "in the hands of the Devil." One book explains it more obviously: "The Son of God became man ... in order to liberate us from the slavery of the Devil. All human beings are imprisoned ... since Adam and Eve." (MSC- 1). The other booklets do not mention this background.
The totally negative presentation of the traditional society and customs must have had an important influence on the pupils, born and risen up in such a community. Many generations of children have learnt that their parents lived "like animals" as the alternative booklet complains: "Many Whites taught even today that our ancestors were like cruel animals, without any knowledge of good conduct". People were at the same time reproached for being fatalistic, but this kind of education has certainly accentuated such convictions and self-perception. Bamala, a former teacher at Coquilhatville (Mbandaka), talking on the commemoration of Stanley, echoed his education when he proclaimed in front of a mainly White audience: "The natives in ancient times lived in the darkness and they were decimated by diseases and cannibalism. Even today elderly people speak in similar words about their own culture and history. The Second Republic has used the same expressions and arguments toward the First Republic in order to justify its military interventions and other burdens it imposed for conserving power. Children have learned how bad and stupid their fathers were while ruling the First Republic (1960-65).
(2) The Intimate Knowledge of the History of the Whites / Constrained HistoryRepresentation schemes of the history of the Belgian Congo in the schoolbooks are very simple. There are going from Stanley to Leopold 11, the Arabs, the origins of the Christian Missions, the transfer from the Free State to a Belgian Colony, up to the current King at the moment of publication of the reader. Secondary events and figures are: Livingston, Cameron, the Portuguese in the 15th century, the anti-slavery trade campaign, the Berlin conference, World War I, the tribal wars. The Congo visits of Belgian Princes or Kings were highly important events for the booklets. A booklet in 1950 recommends the "intimate knowledge of the history of Stanley and other Whites who explored Africa" (Pr- 1950).
Migrations following on the Arab slave trade invasions are widely discussed by the MSC - 1 book and described as the Lofembe war, covered by the Pr-1930 reader. Pre-colonial history is broadly presented by the nativistic reader from 1935 as well as the solely history of the peoples of the Central Congo Basin. The place of the pygmies is extensively discussed. The author put all his knowledge of the history in his booklet. In the reedition of the reader in 1954, all the history lessons were left out and integrated in the alternative Mongo history booklet (MSC-2) from 1957.
History of the Christian Missions is presented as a part of the global history of the colony. The Protestant reader from 1930 has not less than 13 pages of Congo history from which 6 dedicated to the history of their Missions. Each Mission covered only its own history and ignores totally all the other Christian Churches present in the region, but a few unfriendly remarks.
The resistance to the Colonization has been reviewed by some booklets. "When Leopold sent his men to the Congo, the inhabitants didn't like their intrusion nor their teachings. They fought them and destroyed their belongings" (RC-10; MSC-2).
Finally the whole colonial history is painted as an expedition of extremely courageous white men, marching into Africa for the liberation of the poor Black peoples, shrivelled and terrified by the Arabic slave trade, tribal wars, ignorance and satanic habits. Only one exception reverses the roles (MSC-2) and two others presented in a more positive manner the pre-colonial situation.
... and its effects
This constricted history of the Congolese peoples had an important influence on the reaction of the Congolese elite in the years approaching independence. Already in 1956, A. Wade in "Presence Africaine"44 wrote: "The experience has demonstrated that such deformation of the history are quickly discovered and from the age of 12 or 13 the young Africans begin to sec for themselves the "Great Colonial Lie". Jan Vansina reports that starting his first lecture in African history on the newly founded Lovanium University at Leopoldville in 1958 "A cacophony of accusations was showered upon me from all sides. Was I there to teach once more how primitive Africans were and how depreciable? Was I there to vaunt once more the benefits of European civilisation brought to the benighted land"? People like Lumumba and Mobutu demonstrated that they learned and well understood the teachings from their school time and they know how to use them. Lumumba in an article in 1954 commemorating Stanley before a crowd of White authorities at Stanleyville summed up exactly the same benefits and heroic deeds of the Whites as are in the school books: Arab slave trade, domestic wars, anthropophagi, sorcery, diseases, hunger, and then he concludes pathetically: "Who delivered us? Is it not Stanley and Leopold II? In his now famous speech on Independence Day in 1960, he used the historical references hidden by the colonial schoolbooks for blaming the colonisation.
Three years before, the presumed inspirator (E. Boelaert) of the alternative booklet exclaimed at the Colonial Congress at Brussels "And the Indigenous today must not be grateful to the Belgians or the Europeans for the education and civilisation brought to them".
(3) 'Happy to be citizens of the Belgian Congo'It is a truism that within the borders of the actual R.D. Congo neither political nor cultural or linguistical unity existed before the Belgian colonisation. Most of the booklets consider the existing diversity as a factor of warfare. Only a few have seen it a as source of inspiration, vitality and self esteem. "Before, our ancestors were divided in several groups ... We were enemies ... Yet we have the state ... and we are only one territory, one large fraternity in one fatherland." "We live in peace, without war, and honestly, we are happy to be citizens of the Belgian Congo" (Pr- 1924).
The nativistic and radical alternative booklets defended and praised vigorously the right to diversity on an ethnic basis (MSC-1; MSC-2; G-2). All nationalistic, "patriotic" feelings were oriented to "my village" (MSC-1) and to "my language" (Ibi). The history of the colonisation is reduced to the history of the bantu migration in the region. Reader MSC-1 doesn't, paradoxically, deny the merits of Leopold II, imposing peace and order in the whole colony. It is the proof of the schizophrenia apparent in various circumstances by those who walked on non conventional paths. But the alternative booklet doesn't confine itself to Leopold and his conquests. It attributes at the contrary the break-up of the unity of the family and the village - - the real life unity - - to the artificial and foreign politically imposed national unity. "The organisation as made by the Whites has really destroyed our villages" (MSC-2).
(4) The Whiter, the BetterThe White, every White, only by this quality, was according to the readers and history books, a Very Important Person and worthy of veneration by the Blacks. "The teacher must respect all the Whites and he will teach his people to do so"(MH-l;MSC-5). A white man doesn't really belong to the same mankind as a Black. The booklets confirm the imagination and the myths that surround the origin of the Whites. "They called him [Stanley] the man coming out of the water" (M-1). "The people from upon the river didn't consider the White as a human being; [Stanley] was called 'the man who comes out of the water and they feared him"' (Pr-1930).
The Mongo alternative booklet from 1957 has another version. He wrote: "While our fathers were peacefully devoted to their occupations there appeared suddenly the white strangers. It was a terrifying spectacle in the beginning, never had they seen such human beings. Most of our fathers were horrified by this sight. The more courageous didn't flee. The fact that they were accompanied by Blacks, helped to overcome the fear." But despite that, the Whites didn't find favour in their eyes: "They introduced wars, short but terrifying ... Later they lived in peace, but it was a superficial peace." Then follow seven pages of severe indictment of the colonial rule. Only at the end, a certain spirit of reconciliation comes out: "At the end of this history, 1 understand now that both my ancestors and the Whites have qualities and benefits" (MSC-2).
The inclination to imitation of the Whites by the Blacks has been always an object of major criticism. But reading the schoolbooks it is just this attitude which is praised and encouraged by those who make the reproach. The booklets make an application of the principle on different practical levels. A likely submission to the Belgian King is urged-. "Every White of the State must honour the King and it becomes that Blacks do as well" (Pr- 1930). The imitation of the exterior behaviour of the White man is praised in matters of clothing, eating, working and speaking. "You are now able to have many goods like the Whites" (Pr-1924). These goods are: clothes, blankets, hats, footwear, soap, bicycles, guns, sewing machines, etc..."Today you see many of your brothers wearing beautiful clothes like the Whites" (S-1). New kinds of vegetables are introduced: "We dispose now of European products like sorgho, rice, leek, etc..." (S-1) and numerous Blacks are exercising skills like the Whites like "bricklayer, carpenter, clerk" (S - 1). The goal of all should be that "many Blacks can read and write and can speak the language of the Whites" (M - 1; S - 1).
Not all the booklets have this meaning; on the contrary, speaking about the language, the Reader from 1935 warns of imitation of the Whites. "Some people, Whites and their associates speak lingala, but we, we want to speak our own language, that is: lonkundo" (MSC - 1). The imitation of the Whites is reflected by the alternative booklet: "In our villages people don't like that their children speak the languages of foreigners" (MSC-2). A more explicit text from a local newspaper from 1939, which was written by a teacher at the school where the author of the alternative booklet was Director, states "The Whites favour the lingala language because 1) it is not difficult to learn; this language is not difficult because it has no concepts for the expression of rational realities; and 2) for the purpose of colonizing the natives. "We don't like the humiliations and mockeries of the Whites, but we ourselves cause the occasion for it by our thoughtlessness and our incline to imitation."
It was naive to stress this myth of the White superman. Daily experience was opposed to it. Many of the pupils must have been capable of understanding the critics of their parents and must have experienced and perceived themselves the failures and incompleteness of the White colonizers. An important Catholic personality such as Father A. Vermeersch recognized in 1906 in his writings "La Question Congolaise" the exactions and abuses committed by the Whites and partially linked to the system. His description of the Congolese White society is in strong contradiction with its presentation by the booklets.
D.A. Mungazi judges severely this "colonial lie" when he writes: "Part of the legacy was the colonial intensification of its efforts to have the Catholic schools to inculcate in the African a moral obligation to regard the White man as a social superior. To a very large extent this inculcation was responsible for the anarchy that ensued after the granting of independence ... The inability of the politicians to recognize their responsibility to the Nation outside the political influence of the White man proved to be the demise of the democratic process in R.D. Congo".
Mobutu spoke in 1973 to the United Nations "The Colonialists the prejudicised toward our Arab brothers stressing their role in the slave trade, but they seem to forget ... that the slave trade was only for the profit of the Whites ... There should be no more organized razzias ... but an organized and premeditated occupation ... The processes of dehumanisation of the Black began. The Black must abandon his personality, his social and mental structure.. saying that the White colonizer was ... superior to the Black ... The Whites began to liquidate systematically the African traditions, African languages, African culture ... so that Blacks speak, think, eat, wear, laugh, and breathe in accordance with the manner of the Whites."
3. Colonial School Education and its Effects on Postcolonial Politics in R.D. Congo
The aim of this essay is the discovery of the link between school education as expressed in school books and political behaviour in post independent R.D. Congo. Where sources concerning colonial school education could be found easily and were clearly identifiable and limited, the finding-place for postcolonial politics is so large, either in facts or in texts, that only a fraction can be taken into consideration. We have scrutinized the published declarations and reported facts and events of Congolese postcolonial leaders. Post colonial politics in R.D. Congo were essentially characterized by the chaos created immediately after independence, when the whole Administration collapsed in a single week, and on the other hand by the single-party ruled Republic. About all the political personalities until the recent past (about 1980) were educated in the Mission schools between 1930 and 1960 and have had the referenced booklets in their hands.
These booklets were not the unique expression of the school education. During a long period, several local newspapers in native languages (and later in French) supplemented the system. The readers were the teachers and their pupils, the writers were the authors of the schoolbooks. Many of the lessons of the booklets were repeated and explained in publications. During the years before Independence some emancipated teachers and others began to write themselves in the local and even national newspapers. It is a first class reference for detecting the level of integration of the school education. On a local level newspapers like Mbandaka, Le Coq Chante, Etsiko and Lokole Lokiso (1936-1962) and on a national level: La Voix du Congolais (1946-1959) and others like La Croix du Congo, LEssor du Congo...hosted the writings of many important political leaders of the Congo.
But school education is not the only factor that influenced the political actors. Many of them were engaged in very different educational systems after their elementary and secondary schools. From 1956 a few elite attended western universities, even Communist schools, and they assisted at some congresses and other intellectual and cultural manifestations (World Exposition at Brussels 1958, Accra etc ... ). Lumumba testifies about it: "Like any other Congolese, I certainly received some theoretical ideas at school, which I am always enlarging, but what one acquires by practical methods is often more valuable and more lasting than any abstract idea.
Concepts of Power and Authority
(1) Democracy and DespotismThe average school book presents a concept of a total and integrated power as emanating from God and divided into two autonomous sectors: religions and civic. The first is held by the Pope (the Protestants don't mention religions authority as power), the latter by the Belgian King. Never has power and authority been presented in a democratic sense.
This monarchical presentation of authority corresponds perfectly to the local traditions expressed in the family chief. With this background we can presume that whatever concept of authority or political power should have had little effect on the deeper meanings and behaviour patterns of the people. Traditional power patterns such as family relations and magic influences for obtaining or maintaining power have never completely disappeared. Democratic political structures and rules, introduced in the Congo on a local level in 1957 and imposed by the "Loi Fondamentale" in 1960 as a basis for the Independant State, have never been effective.
We should not affirm that the reason why so many African states ended in despotism has been the Colonial school education, though we can advance that an easy justification and even inspiration can be found in it. The schoolbook ideology was only the expression of a totalitarian system that as a whole has been partially responsible for the political shaping of the future leaders.
Kasavubu, the president of the First Republic, attended Catholic schools on all levels. Lumumba went to school by Protestants and by Catholics. Mobutu was in Catholic schools in Mbandaka, Kinshasa and Lisala. Later he got a military formation, and went to Belgium for a brief formation in journalism. The use of specific Christian terminology in the political discourse was the most obvious expression of the school education of the new political leaders. Ngunda analysed it for the period of 1960-1965. The Second Republic more than before used and abused the terminology and the arguments of their school education for justifying ce of the authenticity doctrine, Engulu and Sakomb'Inongo, originated largely in the treasure of religions vocabulary. The first has been in the same school as Mobutu the second was "a product" of the Scheutist Fathers. The use of the Catholic terminology came to a culminating point when in the early seventies Mobutu is identified as the "Saviour" and the "Messiah" and comparison is made between Christ and his Apostles and the structure of the Party's Central Committee. In the ultimate period of the One Party rule, Kangafu, a former Catholic seminarian, used the Latin terminology of the "Canon Law" of the Roman Catholic Church for the formulation of a decree that imposed a strong ideological censure of the press and the document content Latin expressions like "imprimatur", "nihil obstat' etc ...
The President himself used more and more Biblical references like: "We have patiently elaborated a document, I am speaking about the 'Manifest de la Nsele', which is our 'Sermon on the Mount' our catechism," and further: "It is engraved in our memory like the Ten Commandments."
Jose Mputu, a Kinshasa Priest, and one of the most visible representatives of the actual opposition, wrote in a Catholic newspaper: "A more profound analysis of the crises we are involved in now in our country, in our continent, in our world, leads us to the discovery, that after all one of the fundamental problems with which we are confronted is this of the concept of power and authority. The politicians are concerned with the conquest and the conservation of power. People manifesting peacefully their right to a decent life like God's children are killed. In order to restore the authority of the state, we see a savage repression of those people already oppressed. And all, parents, political leaders, religions leaders and military chiefs, in order to justify absolute power and to maintain people in a slave like submission, invoke these words of St Paul to the Romans that states that "All authority comes from God".
The text invoked by the author (Letter to the Romans, chapter 13,1-2) is explicit on this argument, but is not used by the catechisms we reviewed. They referred to a quotation of the Gospel of Luke, less explicit but they introduced a erroneous interpretation. In the period of the schoolbooks the general acceptance of this questions in the teaching of the Catholic Church was that the human society had been created by God as a social being and that consequently authority was necessary for the organisation of daily life. In that sense authority came from God. The ancient concepts of direct delegation of authority as it was held in the middle ages and expressed in the rites of the consecration of kings and emperors, were no more taught, but the catechisms by not explaining it in this way, taught de facto the Middle Age doctrine.
Democratic principles in their strict interpretation as basis of authority were not accepted as well by the Church at that time. They accepted only the practical situation, interpreting the democratic principles as only applicable to the designation of a candidate for a certain function. When the teaching in the manuals of the priest education and the explanations in the western catechisms were equivoque the Congolese catechisms were univocal in their representation of the source of authority. Most of the catechisms however excepted immoral rules from the pledge of obedience, but they meant then "sins" in the theological sense of the word and that doesn't ipso facto include the socially and individually wrong situations.
An other source of authority as suggested by the schoolbooks is the exceptional quality of the chief, like Leopold II and his successors. The Belgian King was the great civiliser, the big chief, the benefactor of the Blacks. The propaganda office of the Second Republic used abundantly these epithets.
The Churches have officially maintained the ambiguous link between politics and religion, between power and God. It has probably been an important reason for the failure of real changes in recent years in spite of the desperate condition of the people. Even the National Conference was not free from this mentality. Very few speeches demonstrated the true understanding of the basic principles of political authority. The frequent invocations of God as a solution for insoluble political problems was a demonstration of this mentality.
(2) Symbols of Postcolonial AuthorityThe example of the King as bearer of all authority , as illustrated in the textbooks, has been apparently attractive to the successors of the Sovereign of the Congo Free State. The ornamental apparatus of the Western kingdom : the royal palace at Brussels, the private church building , were expressions of the royal dignity amid many others. Like his peers, the president of the Second Republic , built both for himself. The wife of the President followed the footsteps of the Belgian (and other) Queens, visiting hospitals and giving money for the sick. The "Fonds Reine Elisabeth" was followed by the " Fondation Mama Mobutu". The eldest son of the President, in the heydays of the Second Republic, sat up aside of his father on a second throne, acting like a Royal Prince. The presidential decrees were introduced by the words "It has pleased to the Citoyen President", referring to the papal court style.
(3) Attitudes of SubmissionPolitical and religions leaders appealed for submission to the head of state, in the early seventies by the first struggling around the nationalisation of the school system in R.D. Congo. They referred to the former teachings of the missionaries. The second National Synod of the (protestant) "Eglise du Christ en R.D. Congo" declared: "As like in the colonial period, we have to respect the authorities. According to the teaching of the missionaries, we must continue to love and to respect our authorities." And even further: "The Church and the Government have to encounter each other ... In such a situation we can only obey 100 percent our Government ." And then :"Thank God for president Mobutu. God is Sovereign, it is He who gave us the President of the Republic. He [God] knows what He is doing by giving us this man". Should we oppose a gift of God?
Annexe 1: List and acronyms of the textbooks used in the paper(1) Edited by the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Gabriel, established at Bondo, Buta and Stanleyville.
G-1, 1936, Les Abandia. Simples notes à l'usage des écoles du Territoire de Bondo. Nsambo ya Ba-Bandia o Mateya ntuku ibale
G-2, 1937, Tokoyekola lingala (Let us learn lingala)
(2) Edited by the Brothers Maristes established at Buta, Bukavu, Stanleyville
(3) Edited by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, established at Coquilhatville, Mbandaka
(4) Edited by the Scheutist Fathers established at Kinshasa, Lisala, Inongo...
(5) Edited by the Dominican Fathers at Niangara
(6) Edited by the Fathers Trappists established at Bamanya (1895-1925)
(7) Edited by the Brothers of the Christian Schools establishecl at Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and Coquilhatville (Mbandaka)
(8) Edited by the Fathers Capuchins established at Gemena
(9) Edited by the Congo Balolo Mission established at Bongandanga
(10) Edited by the Disciples of Christ Congo Mission established at Coquilhatville (Mbandaka)
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