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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 Burundi (part of the Democratic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission)
While the official languages of Burundi are Kirundi and French, Swahili is also spoken within this small country. Burundi is a primarily Christian country, with the Roman Catholic church being the largest denomination. Several indigenous religions are also present. Many aspects of traditional culture are still present in Burundi, such as karyenda drumming, basket weaving, and other crafts. Oral history and storytelling are also strong cultural traditions, especially with Burundi’s lower literacy rate. Soccer and basketball are popular sports in Burundi, while Mancala board games are also popular. Red kidney beans are a main staple of food in Burundi (usually with some onions or chili powder added), though corn and cassava are also common crops. Sweet potatoes, plantains, and tropical fruits (especially bananas) are also eaten. Meat is not eaten very often; it is usually goat or fish that is eaten.
These countries suffer from poverty, numerous diseases and well as a lack of infrastructure. Few homes have plumbing, as most people build shacks and small homes in densely populated neighbourhoods throughout the main cities. Also, work is scarce and it is difficult for people to hold steady jobs.
Despite the difficulties these people face, there is a tremendous amount of faith that flows almost naturally from the people. While it may be an adjustment at first, soon you grow to understand the local customs and love and appreciate all the countries have to offer.
The food changes depending on the region, but diets in the region generally consist of maize, rice, cassava (manioc), sweet potatoes, yam, taro, plantain, 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.
Once again, this depends on the region. However, the most common forms of transportation are buses, mini-buses, taxis and motorcycles.
The common rule of thumb is you are safe during the daytime in each of the major cities. It is important to avoid staying out at night time, especially in the neighbourhoods away from the cities. The areas are not well lit and common ground for thefts and assaults. As long as you pay attention to the counsel given by the mission president, the instructions in the white handbook and the guidance of the spirit, you’ll be protected.
Currently, the DRC Lubumbashi mission isn’t open to those from outside of Africa.
Boulevard Kilwa #1299
Democratic Republic of Congo