What is Culture?
“Culture is the customary beliefs. Social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group” (Merriam Webster, 1828) . For example, countries chosen for this essay, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the topics that will be discussed, is Education, Language and Religion. You’ll get an insight of each topics and see the similarities and differences in each of them.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the third largest country in Africa, located in the Middle West and shares borders with Angola. Its population is 5,499,890. (Congo Population, n.d.) The Republic of Congo is another country and their capital city is Brazzaville and The Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest country that is bordered next to the Republic of Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo capital city is Kinshasa though they have major cities like Matadi, Kisangani, Mbuji- Mayi and Lubumbashi. Their national Anthem is called Debout Congolasis (Arise Congolese). Its currency is Congolese Franc (CDF). Congo is made up of over 200 ethnic groups, the most common ones are the Luba, Kongo, Mongo and Mangbetu-Azonde. (Democratic Republic of Congo , n.d.)
República de Angola (Republic of Angola) is in the south-west of Africa. Their flag stands for Virtue is stronger when united and their national anthem is Angola Avante (Onwards Angola). The largest and capital city is Luanda, located on the northern coast that is combined with Portuguese style colonial landmarks along with traditional African housing styles. Angolan have a large ethic groups, Ovimbundu, Ambundu, Bakongo and Lunda- Chokwe. Its currency is Kwanza (AOA) and its population is 31,131,519. (Angolan Population , n.d.)
The education is the Democratic Republic of Congo has made great progress, as the primary level has increased incredibly from twenty- nine percent in 2002 to seventy percent in 2014. But they are still know as one of the countries in Africa to have a large number of out of school children. They estimated that 3.5 million of primary age children are out of sch00l and that is 2.75 million children that live in rural areas. The country is still facing some educational challenges regarding to governance, quality and disparities. They have developed an Education Sector Plan for 2016 – 2025, where laid out what they have to focus on, what needs improvements and what are strategic objectives they need to complete. The democratic Republic of Congo coordinating agency is UNICEF. More boys than girls have been going to school for the past couple of years. (Education in Democratic Republic of Congo, n.d.)
In Angola, the education system is very different to Congo as their public education is free after the country received their Independence but this caused many schools to be destroyed and looted during the long civil war. Now the classes are overpopulated, there classes that has over fifty students and they have to bring their own materials to class which includes chairs. Due to the civil war, there is a lack of well trained and qualified teachers another fact of difficulty is that their schools are open air, they have their classes outside, sometimes under a tree and when the weather is really bad, classes are cancelled. In the last four years, the students that was attending school was difficult to calculate the rate, around seventy percent was boys. The girls did not attend school for as long as the boys because they later on leave to help their families at home. Around sixty- seven of the population that are over 15 years old can read and write in Portuguese. With UNICEF help and the aims to decrease the difficulties, the government is building new schools in different provinces so it will be easier for children, so they do not need to walk a long distance. To go to Secondary school, the rural students have to leave home and move to a regional capital city, this is where the rate of students’ continuing education decreases. For Higher education, the students must have a secondary school Certificate and pass an entrance exam, their Portuguese has to be a high level or they won’t enter.
Angola has more challenges to deal with than Congo. With the help of the Government and the Board of Education, they can create an Education Sector Plan. (Angolan Public Education, n.d.)
Both countries have many languages spoken in their regions. The common language they both have is Lingala and Kikongo. As both countries are right next to each other, they have are able to communicate as most of their languages came from the Bantu Tribe.
DCR Congo is known as a multilingual country as they have over seven hundred local languages and dialects. Their origin language is French, as it was introduced to them when the country was colonised by Belgium. The Belgians also spoke Dutch, they tried to introduce it in the country but failed. The country is so huge that, Congo has 4 national languages spoken in different parts of the country: Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo and Tshiluba.
Lingala is spoken thought-out the north western part of Congo, its also spoken in Angola which I will talk about later. Swahili is spoken in the eastern part of Congo as spoken in Tanzania, it is originated as a lingua franca. Lingua franca is a language used to communicate between groups of people who speak different languages. Kikongo is also known as Kituba, is one of the Bantu languages spoken by the Kongo tribe in DRC Congo, Kituba is a creole version of the language spoken in many countries in Africa. Tshiluba is the forth language spoken in the Kasai region, it has two variations of the language, Luba -Kasi and Luba- Luluba. Luba Kasi is spoken by the Baluba tribe and Luluba is used by the Bena Lulua tribe.
In Angola, their official language is Portuguese, they do have six national languages: Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo and Chokwe. 7.5 million Angolan citizen first language is Portuguese but only twenty-five percentage of them are native Portuguese speakers. Angola was colonised by Portugal; their language is like Brazilian Portuguese due to historical reasons, but their pronunciation is more European. Portuguese is mostly spoken in the capital city of Luanda, in other parts of Angola, you won’t hear the language spoken in the tribal cultures.
Umbundu is a one of the national languages spoken in the central west of Angola, it is also spoken in Luanda. The language originated from the Ovimbundu family.
Kimbundu is spoken by over 3 million people in the north west of Angola, some of their words and Umbundu’s words has made it to the European Portuguese. The language is also from the same family as Umbundu. The capital city Luanda gotten its name from Kimbundu.
Kikongo is also spoken in Angola, it is the first Bantu Language that had a dictionary and was written in Latin characters. Chokwe another language spoken by almost half a million Angolans, it is a lingula franca in the east of the country, were part of the twelve clans of the Great Lunda Empire up until they left and became independent. (Languages in Angola, n.d.)
Language is certainly not a barrier for both Angola and The Democratic Republic of Congo to get their message across, making it is easier for them to communicate and understand other ethnic groups that comes and visit.
In the Democratic of Congo, they have a huge religious diversity in the country comparing the other parts of Africa especially in the North, where most of the population are Muslim. The country has multiple religious beliefs like Roman Catholic Christianity and other forms of Christianity like Jehovah Witness, Mormon and many more.
Christianity are the most widespread practiced religion in the country. Christianity was introduced back around 1484 by the Portuguese colonists then later the other forms of Christianity was introduced during the Belgian colonial era. Islam was introduced around the 18th century, the religion is mainly concentrated in the provinces of Kinshasa, Maniema and Orientale. Islam was put down in public during the period of Belgian colonialism until 1920, the religion could be out in public and Quran schools were opened by Islamic organisations.
Ninety percent of Muslims in the Democratic Republic of Congo identify themselves as Sunni and ten percent identify themselves as Shia. Although Islam is respected in the country, The Muslim Holy Days are not observed. Throughout the history of Congo, the schools were mostly Christian therefore, Muslims could not attend those schools. In the Capital City of Congo, Kinshasa, forty three percent is Roman Catholic, while only twelve-point six percent is Muslim.
“Angola is a conservative country when it comes to religious groupings….” Unlike Congo, Angola were more concern about what religious groups and beliefs affect the politics, the locals and the people in general. For example, accepting payments for faith healing, witchcraft, focusing on the poorest parts of the population profiting the Pastors that promise them miracles and prosperity. The Government viewed religion as an instrument of colonialism because of the Roman Catholic Church’s close association with the Portuguese.
The Majority of the Angolan population is Christian. It is said that the Government estimate seventy percent is Catholic and the National Institute for Religious Affairs estimates 25 percent of the population is mixed with Christianity and traditional belief. Christianity was introduced into the Kongo by the Portuguese around the 15th and the 16th century. Most Kongo considered themselves as Christians to this day.
When the colony of Angola was established in 1575, The Portuguese continued to spread Christianity in the regions of Lunda and the areas sounding the city. There is a small community who practice on Islam as most of them are migrants from West Africa or of the Lebanese origin. The situation of not letting Islam being practiced freely is like the Congolese. They said that the government did not recognise Islam and closed the Mosque and other Islamic facilities, but the government officials asserted that the government protected religious groups without legal status and did not have policy to do those actions. When Portugal colonised Angola, they made the people to become Roman Catholic.
Allowing people practice on what they believe in should not be doubted about. As a country, Angola should choose a national religion then the people can be united but also allow other religions into the country like Congo as they have a huge religious diversity which attracts tourists to come and visit these religious communities.
In conclusion, you get a better insight and understanding of both countries and how similar and different their culture is between each other. Culture is all about the characteristics, the lifestyle and it’s a way of life that carries history for the next generation to learn and explore. Learning about each topic in this essay, you’ll get a sense of how culture is created and where it came from. For example the languages in both countries came from other parts of the world.