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Shapshot of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – The official language of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is French, but there are 242 different languages spoken within the nation as a result of many diverse ethnic groups. As such, Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Swahili are also recognized as national languages. Swahili is dominant in the eastern half of the country, while the northwestern areas (including Kinshasa) primarily speak Lingala. Ethnic tensions have contributed to multiple civil wars in the past. Approximately 50% of the population is Roman Catholic, with Kimbanguism and the Church of Christ in Congo also being popular; the LDS church is also growing rapidly with a temple announced to be constructed in Kinshasa. The variety of ethnic groups within the country lends to a wide range of cultural influences from different tribal groups. Traditional wooden statues and masks are popular items, and the DRC has even developed its own musical style, soukous, a variation of African rumba music. Soccer and rugby are also popular. A staple of the Congolese diet is fufu, which is a doughy ball made of cassava flour that is often dipped into stew. Goat is the most popular type of meat, but many meals are eaten without meat because of its price. Many vegetables such as piri piri peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, and okra are commonly included in meals throughout the country.
Snapshot of Central African Republic (part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission)
The official languages of the Central African Republic are Sango and French, though several other indigenous languages are present in the country as well. Most of the country’s population is Christian, though there are also significant minorities that practice Islam or indigenous religious beliefs. The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world, and only about half the population is literate. Rock, pop, Afrobeat, and soukous are popular forms of music. Soccer is the most popular sport in the country. One of the staple foods of the Central African Republic is fufu, a type of dough made from cassava, yams, or plantains. Various types of stews and sauces are regularly eaten alongside fufu. Meat is scarce, so people generally get their protein from peanuts and insects such as grasshoppers and termites.
Snapshot of the Republic of the Congo (part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission)
While French is the official language of the Republic of the Congo, both Kituba and Lingala are recognized as regional languages. Lingala is primarily spoken in the north, while Kituba is spoken in the south. Kongo (also known as Kikongo) is also widely spoken. Most of the country’s population lives in urban areas in the southwest area of the country, while the northern regions are very sparsely populated. The Republic of the Congo is primarily Christian, with about 50% of the population belonging to the Roman Catholic church and about 40% belonging to various Protestant groups, though many indigenous religions are present as well. Traditional sculptures and masks are representative of Congolese culture. Various types of modern music are popular in the Republic of the Congo, and the country has a strong history of influencing the African jazz and soukous music scenes. Soccer is the country’s most popular sport, but basketball and volleyball are also somewhat popular. Fufu, a dough made from cassava or plantain is a common part of Congolese meals. Another popular dish is Saka saka, which is made with ground cassva leaves, peanut butter, palm oil, and smoked fish. Several types of tropical fruit and vegetables are also available in the country.
Snapshot of Cameroon (part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission)
The official languages of Cameroon are French and English, though French is more widely spoken. Several indigenous languages are also present in the country. About two-thirds of Cameroon’s population is Christian, with another 20% practicing Islam. Polygamy is still practiced in some parts of the country. Traditional music and dance play an important role in various ceremonies and festivals. Many forms of popular music in Cameroon have traditional influences, such as makossa, assiko, and mangambeu. Traditional woodcarvings and sculptures are found throughout the country. Soccer is the most popular sport in Cameroon, though traditional events such as running, canoe racing, and wrestling are also somewhat popular. Dinner is the main meal in Cameroon. Cameroon’s national dish is ndolé, a type of stew made using either fish or beef, as well as nuts and bitter leaves called ndoleh. Cassava, yam, rice, and potato are commonly eaten throughout the country. Several other types of curries, soups, and meat kebabs are also popular. Fish is eaten more often than meat because of its lower price.
We are still collecting information on the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé, Príncipe, and Gabon are also part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission but there is no missionary presence in these countries at this time*
The DRC Kinshasa mission represents one of the fastest growing areas of the church, especially in Africa. The DRC itself has over 30,000 members and 116 congregations. Also, the church recently announced plans for the fourth African temple, which is to be built in Kinshasa. The other countries, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, do not have the same membership as the DRC, but are also experiencing rapid growth.
The food changes depending on the region, but diets in the region generally consist of maize, rice, cassava (manioc), sweet potatoes, yam, taro, plantains, tomatoes, pumpkin and varieties of peas and nuts. Pork, goat, and beef are also available, along with bush meats. Finally, there are lots of fresh fruits available, namely pineapple, bananas, mango, and papaya.
The main forms of transportation vary with each region. However, the most common forms of transportation are buses, mini-buses, taxis, and motorcycles. Walking is also pretty common for missionaries.
The common rule of thumb is you are safe during the daytime in each of the major cities. You can expect to be hassled by locals, but most of the time it is playful teasing. Government officials, particularly law enforcement, may stop you for no apparent reason, looking for bribes, but their threats are almost always hollow. It is important to avoid staying out at nighttime, especially in the neighborhoods away from the cities. The areas are not well lit and common ground for thefts and assaults.
Customs vary with the region. Overall, there is a large respect for family and the elderly. It is very important to speak affectionately to the elderly and support family members. It is well-received when you follow the customs, and you will be treated almost as an adopted member. Also, like most of Africa, these inhabitants of these countries belong to various tribes. Each tribe with have their specific language and customs.
With over 200 languages spoken in each of these countries, there is not too much lingo specific to one area. As you become familiar with the prominent tribes, you will learn common sayings.
Sturdy, comfortable shoes. A black running/dress shoe crossover is ideal. Also, don’t worry about bringing a walter filter, the mission provides one for each apartment. Basically, you want the clothing you wear to be light and comfortable, to help you survive the hot days. During the wet season, a good raincoat or umbrella will make the days much easier.
Immeuble Gulf 6347
Avenue de la Justice Zone de la Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
What items were hard to get or not available?
You can get almost everything you need in Africa. The difficulty comes when you want to continue living an American lifestyle. American foods are expensive, especially when you look for American brands. If you are content with going with local brands and foods, you will be just fine.
What did you eat the most of?
Almost everything is prepared fresh. Because you are almost constantly on the go, missionaries will eat lots of fruits, particularly bananas and lots of bread. When people offer you food, you can expect corn, rice and beans or a number of fish and pork dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It may not be what you’re used to, but it is incredibly delicious.
What is the craziest thing you ate?
The craziest foods I’ve eaten were gazelle, monkey and cat. The gazelle was delicious, but I would seriously avoid monkey and cat.
What was most surprising about the culture?
How friendly and upbeat everyone is. Despite the extreme poverty, everyone loves to laugh and have fun. Don’t take offense when teased. Laugh and be playful, it is incredibly easy to make new friends.
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
Be easy going. There is no need to stress, because there is nothing you can do about it. Be friendly to everyone, and they will return the favour. Also, learn to have fun. Everyday you will laugh and enjoy the atmosphere.
What do you wish you had known before you served?
You can get clothes and the essentials, so no need to pack 2 years worth of supplies, despite what your mom might think. Also, like was previously mentioned, the mission consists of four countries, but you will almost certainly spend all your time in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, which are safer for foreign missionaries.