Congo: The Epic History of a People

Congo: The Epic History of a People

David Van Reybrouck

Language: English

Pages: 656

ISBN: 0062200127

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From the beginnings of the slave trade through colonization, the struggle for independence, Mobutu's brutal three decades of rule, and the civil war that has raged from 1996 to the present day, Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of one of the most devastated nations in the world. Esteemed scholar David Van Reybrouck balances hundreds of interviews with a diverse range of Congolese with meticulous historical research to construct a multidimensional portrait of a nation and its people.

Epic in scope yet eminently readable, both penetrating and deeply moving, Congo—a finalist for the Cundill Prize—takes a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective, and returns a nation's history to its people.

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interests of the city’s original inhabitants (although the Abako was monoethnic), both desired a return to far-reaching regional autonomy and both dreamed—unlike Lumumba—of a federal, highly decentralized Congo. Bas-Congo and Katanga, if need be, might even become independent states. But when it came to the future role of Belgium, they also entertained fundamental differences: the Abako was radical and anticolonial, particularly after the January riots; the Conakat, on the other hand, was not out

keen about this. Mobutu was out to do away with organized politics, they noted rightly. In doing so, he was turning back the clock: during colonial times, too, there was only a bureaucracy, an administrative leviathan that maintained statistics and spewed reports but made no allowance for public participation. Congolese academic circles had welcomed the coup at first, but their enthusiasm quickly dried up. The most important student movement took a resolutely anti-imperialist stance. Lumumba

sea of ecstatic humanity (how many were there? 300,000 according to the most sober estimates, 700,000 according to the fans), singing three songs and then passing out medicine to the widows and the sick, a gesture the government could learn from, with all its messing-about and infighting! Changement de fréquence, that was the heavyweight bout with Muhammad Ali revisited, the difference being that this time it was not the president footing the bill, but a limited-liability conglomerate from

Nairobi, where we waited for seven hours, and then, after a stop in Bangkok, to Guangzhou, seven time zones to the east. The other flight path goes by way of Dubai. From its hub at Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines also uses that route. In the last few years both airlines have started offering almost a dozen weekly flights between the African continent and southern China, flights that leave with an empty hold and return full to the brim. “Why would we take clothes with us? We can buy them there,

hands, why he became so angry about a spot on his glass, and why he always left the fish’s head on his plate. (Wasn’t that the tastiest part, after all? How wonderful to feel the little bones crack between your teeth and hear the eyes pop in your mouth.) In the evening they saw him writing beside a lamp, smoking a pipe or putting on a pair of spectacles. How peculiar, how peculiar it all was. The boy learned to cook in the Western fashion, he set the table, washed the dishes, and made the beds.

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