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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Colonial State building in the Congo, and its dismantling
Author:Devisch, RenéISNI
Periodical:Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Geographic terms:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Abstract:From 1909 till 1960 the ambitious venture to colonize the Belgian Congo aimed at an overall process of civilization and enlightenment, stemming from the 19th-century aristocratic-bourgeois concern in the West with industrialization and patriarchal State-building, as well as conversion to Christianity, sanitation and education. Political independence was an outcome of bureaucratic contests rather than of community activism and a nationalist revolution. It would turn the newly independent State into a repository of white hopes, male aspirations and privileges for the elite, while disconnecting the national leaders from the people. From 1967, Mobutu's 'recours ŕ l'authenticité' movement aimed at an overall face-lift of State institutions and a casting away of the colonial whitening. However, the authenticity nationalism was without a grassroots activism and failed to provide the Zairian nation with a founding myth and national identity other than the privileged minority's passion for autocratic masculine power and materialist gain. Unified by poverty and the struggle for survival, suburban Kinois in the early 1990s are developing a new cosmology and communitarian ethics drawing on 'villagisation in town' and matricentred solidarity. Bibliogr.