in a previous post on the Congolese youth movement La SAPE I have used an excerpt from ‘Congo. A History’ a book by David Van Reybrouck ( 2010 De Bezige Bij Publishing Amsterdam).
La SAPE is a cultural underground youth movement in Kinshasha; sapeurs dressing up, changing costumes and looks, changing identities…3 times a day, and that’s just before lunch.
Of course, ‘Congo. A History’ is not only about fashion, music or youth culture, it’s a well sourced document on the birth of a nation, the rise and decline of Congo, la République démocratique du Congo, the former Zaïre.
Belgian writer David Van Reybrouck describes for the first time the amazing history of Congo, from well before the arrival of the explorer Stanley to the influence of China in the last ten years and the recent economic crisis.
The birth of the new Congo was memorized by a song, “Independance Cha Cha” , composed in 1960 by Joseph Kabasele Tshamala (Grand Kalle), the father of Congolese music. The anthem of not only the nationalist movement in the Belgian Congo, but also the newly independent states of Africa was first played at the Hotel Plaza in Brussels on January 27 1960
Van Reybrouck relies not only on rare archival footage and cutting-edge research, but also on hundreds of interviews he conducted with Congolese. His eyewitness of centenarians are child soldiers, rebel leaders to smugglers, from ministers to cassava sellers. All their stories form the core of this phenomenal book coupled with data, facts and a most personal view on the past. ‘Congo. A History’ is above all “a la recherche du temps perdu” since Van Reybrouck’s father lived and worked for years in the former Belgian colony.
The English translation of ‘Congo. A History’ by David Van Reybrouck in a bookstore near you soon!
Recently, ‘Congo. A History’ has won the AKO Literatuurprijs 2010 and the Libris Geschiedenis Prijs 2010, two prestigious Dutch literature prizes.
Remember where you read this first! Well recommended…