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Democratic Republic of the Congo Culture Profile

Everyday Life

If you are meeting someone for the first

time and are looking to make a good impression,

be sure to introduce yourself and give your name

first. Always refer to the person you are speaking

with as Sir/Madam, and wait for them to offer a

handshake. A good discussion topic would be to

comment on the person’s size and health if they

are healthy. Congolese take comments on their size as a compliment. They will also gladly ask

you about your family and tell you about theirs. Congolese rarely discuss the weather as a topic

of conversation, and generally say what they are feeling.

Verbal and nonverbal communication is similar to the style of Americans. Congolese

often touch one another and speak openly. Too much praise might be taken the wrong way, but a

compliment is always welcome. Avoid making too much eye contact, especially when speaking

with a superior. It can be seen as intimidating or even disrespectful. In Congolese culture,

touching is a sign of friendship; people hold hands and tap each other on the shoulder. As for

nonverbal communication, it is usually easy to see if there is something wrong with someone.

When something is not right, it will show on their face and in their tone of voice. Congolese will

not smile just to please someone.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo public displays of affection are much less

common than in Western culture. It is not socially acceptable to kiss in public, although holding

hands or an arm around the shoulder is not uncommon. Same sex relationships are taboo in the
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DRC, and affection between lovers or parental affection is often discreet. Other emotions, such

as anger or happiness, are accepted and often displayed in public.

The workplace environment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is similar to that of

Western culture. Cleanliness and proper dress are a necessity in the workplace environment.

Proper dress consists of the classic button down shirt (with or without a tie depending on your

position) for men. For women, proper dress can consist of skirts or shorts; people dress for the

weather. Punctuality is encouraged and even rewarded in the Congolese workplace. Colleagues

should be addressed formally and superiors should not be called by their first name. Refer to a

superior as a sir/madam and avoid calling them vous (informal form of "you" in French).
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Congolese still abide by the antiquated idea that

women are good for housework. Despite this, many

women assist in the fields and have jobs outside of the

house. Congolese society is relatively secular, although

people are very religious at home. Religious beliefs are

thought to be a personal matter and are not publicized

unless in the church setting. Religious tension is not an issue in the DRC. The class system in the

country is not as defined as it is in Western culture. No one aside from government officials are

very wealthy and people do not see class as a dividing matter. However, rich people and

government officials are almost above the law in the DRC. Ethnicity is the biggest dividing

factor among the Congolese. There is neither a dominant nor a dominated ethnic group and

similarly there is no ethnic group, which has a better social position than the others. Nonetheless,

people still give special treatment to members of their own ethnic group. The only factor that

may cause an issue in the workplace is gender. Many workers may not be very open to

respecting a female superior.


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If you are looking to learn more about the

culture and the people in the DRC, you should look

towards the country’s music. Music is a huge part of

Congolese culture. The Congolese enjoy listening to

and performing their music, and they rarely play

foreign music. Simply listening to Congolese music

can give a foreigner significant insight into the

culture of the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The music in the DR Congo

consists of many drums and other traditional instruments. The music can tell a story or explain

the history of the country.

National heroes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo include Patrice Lumumba and

Simon Kimbango. Patrice Lumumba fought for Congolese independence and was assassinated

for his nationalism. Prior to him, Simon Kimbango’s struggle for the nation took on a messianic

character. Today he is revered as a prophet in the DR Congo. The people of the DR Congo were

so inspired by Kimbango that there now is a religion practiced in the country called

Kimbanguism. The Congolese religion has many Christian influences, but differs because they

view Kimbango as a prophet.

Family is a very valued aspect of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. People

have large families, and the fertility rate in the country is 6 children per woman. People make

small talk about their families and will not hesitate to ask you about your own family. In the

home, women typically stay home and mend the household while men go out and work. Women

often have jobs as housekeepers or nannies.


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Work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a very aspect of culture. The

Congolese are very dedicated and hard workers, and do not joke around in the workplace. They

are extremely respectful towards their superiors, only referring to them as Sir or Madam. In the

workplace, people are also encouraged to wait until they are spoken to or wait until someone

shakes their hand before they shake back, especially when speaking with a superior.

Popular sports in the DR Congo include football (soccer), basketball and rugby. You can

also find people playing music or listening to music for fun. The sports that are popular in the

area, especially Rugby is as a result of its history as a Belgian colony. The Europeans came to

the DR Congo and spread many recreational activities which lead to the popularization of

basketball and Rugby. You can find kids playing a street soccer game almost anywhere

throughout the DR Congo.

Healthcare is not widespread in the DR Congo and very few people have access to

consistent health care. Most hospitals and health centres across the DR Congo are poorly staffed

and equipped, mostly due to the collapse of the healthcare system during the years of conflict in

the country. Health professionals have not received a wage from the government for many years.

This means that many of them have either gone private or left the country, making it even more

expensive for the common Congolese citizen to afford.

The education system in the DR Congo is also far less prosperous than the system in the

U.S. Children in the DR Congo are expected to receive about 8 and a half years of public, free

schooling in their country. The actual amount of schooling a child receives is three and a half

years on average. (UNDP Human Development Report 2013). The teachers usually are self-

taught and very few of them have any sort of degree from a university. Children learn in small

makeshift schools with the kids from their small community who can afford to attend, which is
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usually very few. Because of widespread poverty in the DR Congo, it is also very difficult for

students to buy classroom materials such as notebooks and pencils.

Because more than half of the population of the DR Congo practices a branch of

Christianity, the country celebrates holidays such

as Christmas and Easter as the most important

religious holidays. Aside from holidays pertaining

to Christianity, the country’s next most important

holiday is independence day. Congolese

independence day is on June 30th, and

commemorates the day the country gained its

independence after being imperialized by Belgium for many years.

The most important art forms in the DR Congo are music and sculpture. Traditional

Congolese sculpture is characterized by its naturalism and realism. An ethnic

group in the Western part of the country is known for their production of small

representational figures with arms close to their bodies in stiff, frontal poses.

This same group also created small wooden sculptures intended to contain

ancestral spirits. Many other Congolese tribes carved pictures of their leaders

or royalty. Traditional Congolese music typically involves performance in front

of an audience. Typical Congolese music is composed of instruments such as the thumb piano

and a variety of drums, such as the conga, which are used to join two or more rhythms in a poly-

rhythm.

The staple food in DR Congo is cassava. This root vegetable is often ground into a paste

and served with plantains, fish or bushmeat. Grubs and caterpillars are also collected to provide
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protein. Nuts and fruit are also grown in the DR Congo,

the most common among them being the banana and

orange. A traditional dish of the Dr Congo is called

Moambe. Its name comes from the number of ingredients,

which is eight – cassava leaves, hot pepper sauce,

bananas, rice, peanuts, fish, chicken, and palm nuts. The

dish is reserved usually for special occasions or holidays.

Religion

Roman Catholic, and Protestant are both branches of Christianity and are therefore

universalizing religions. Christianity is considered a universalizing religion because it seeks to

unite mankind under a single God. Christians spread the message of their God through the work

of missionaries. Christianity is considered an evangelical religion because they seek to expand


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their membership and actively recruit new followers. Christianity is also a global religion

because its members are numerous and widespread, with a doctrine that could appeal to people

from any part of the world.Other religions that exist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

such as Kimbanguism and other smaller indigenous religions, are ethnic religions. Kimbanguism

is a Christian-inspired Congolese church, founded by Simon Kimbangu. It appeals to a small

group of people with a common heritage (the Congolese) that live in a single region. Some

indigenous religions of the DRC are considered animist religions. In these religions, the world is

seen as being infused with spiritual and supernatural powers.

Language

French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Translations
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Hello - Bonjour Goodbye - Au Revoir

Sun - Soleil Water - Eau

Moon - Lune Mother - Mère

Father - Père Sister - Sœur

Brother - Frère

Folk culture in the Democratic Republic of the

Congo: children perform a traditional dance with

Congolese instruments.

Popular culture in the DR Congo:

Congolese man and woman buy modern

stadium gear before watching the local

soccer team play a game.

Housing in the DR Congo is extremely poor due to the

widespread poverty in the country. Houses are

constructed by hand and are made up of resources

such as mud, wood or straw.