Having unique indigenous cultures, nature-based attractions, beautiful landscapes, and pleasant weather conditions, local communities in Africa, and other Third World countries, are increasingly being promoted and marketed in major tourist generating countries, particularly in Europe and North America, as offering immense touristic and recreational opportunities. Particularly, indigenous communities in the Third World are perceived as providing abundant opportunities for rich tourists from the North who have got the financial resources to spend in adventure and exotic recreational activities. As a consequence, an increasing number of international tourists are travelling to different tourist destinations in Africa and other less developed regions of the world. In 2001 for instance, over 28 million international tourists, mainly from Europe and North America, travelled to different destinations in Africa. It is further estimated that with the current international growth rate of the tourism industry, over 77 million international tourists will visit Africa by the year 2020 (WTO 2004).
Neo-classical economists and development experts contend that unlike factor driven technology based development, local communities in Africa and other parts of the Third World have a comparative advantage in the development of tourism and other non-technology based economic sectors. The development of tourism amongst local communities is, therefore, perceived as fitting quite well with the ‘natural process of development based on comparative advantage’ (Brohman 1996). This argument is based on the premise that local communities, particularly in Africa, should mainly specialise in primary exports, including tourism, where they have comparative advantage rather than depending on technology based economic sectors that do not conform with the principles of comparative advantage in the global market demand.
Lisa, a fragile Indonesian woman, walked along the paths of Saint Anthony’s park. Saint Anthony is a mental hospital. Lisa was dressed in red, yellow and blue; I was looking at a painting of Mondriaan, of which the colours could cheer someone up on a grey Dutch day. She had put on all her clothes and she carried the rest of her belongings in a grey garbagebag. She looked like she was being hunted, mumbling formulas to avert the evil or the devils. I could not understand her words, but she repeated them with the rustling of her garbage bag on the pebbles of the path.
When she arrived at an intersection of two paths where low rose hips were blossoming, she stopped and went into the bushes. She lifted all her skirts and urinated; standing as a colourful flower amidst the green of the bushes and staring into the sky. A passer-by from the village where Saint Anthony’s has its headquarters would probably have pretended not to see her, knowing that Lisa was one of the ‘chronic mental patients’ of the wards. Or, urinating so openly in the park may be experienced as a ‘situational improperty’, but as many villagers told me: ‘They do odd things, but they cannot help it.’ The passer-by would not have known that Lisa was a ‘walking story’, that she had ritualised her walks in order to control the powers that lie beyond her control. Lisa was diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ and she suffered from delusions. When she had an acute psychosis, she needed medication to relieve her anxiety. Her personal story was considered as a symptom of her illness. That was, in a nutshell, the story of the psychiatrists of the mental hospital. Her own story was different. Lisa was the queen of the Indies and she had to have offspring to ensure that her dynasty would be preserved. She believed at that day that she was pregnant and that the magicians would come and would take away her unborn baby with a needle. To prevent the abortion, she had to take refuge in the park and carry all her belongings with her.
The first part of this study will concentrate on the wider environment within which daily practice of colonial education is situated. It progresses in three stages in accordance with the aim of the research. Three chapters correspond with these three stages. The general, macro-institutional context of the phenomenon of colonial education is considered in the first chapter. This includes a discussion of the organisational development and politico-strategic factors that influenced this phenomenon. The development of the educational structures is indicated from the angle of the interaction between state intervention and the Catholic initiative. Within that framework the major themes in the content and emphasis of colonial lesson plans are also considered, as are the opinions on these subjects. Finally, figures are given to allow an estimate of the quantitative development of education in the colony. The second chapter shifts the focus to Belgium. The preparation, training, ideas and worldview with which the missionaries left for the Belgian Congo will be considered more closely. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part considers a number of broad social and historical factors that played a part in the formation of the missionaries’ general intellectual baggage. Mainly results of existing research are presented and discussed in this part. The second part takes a closer look at the people who are of specific interest to us, covering the preparation and training given to the Sacred Heart Missionaries in Belgium and using specific source material. In the third chapter we make the journey to the Congo together with these missionaries. A number of elements are given in a short outline that also constitute the direct context of their work. Firstly, a description is given of the creation and growth of the mission region in which they were active. Then follows the introduction of the other missionary congregations, with which the Sacred Heart Missionaries cooperated. Finally, quantitative data are brought together with regard to the development of education, both for the mission region as a whole and for the various mission posts separately. Read more
When Congo Wants To Go To School – The Missionaries And The Belgian Congo: Preparation, Ideas And Conceptions Of The Missionaries
“I have been interested in the Congo all my life, because I always wanted to be a missionary in the Congo, even as a little child. And so in a way I paid some attention to it, but only the achievements of my heroes at the time – a number of family members were missionaries and the mission exhibitions, the missionary action. The Congo came to us through missionary work and it was very heroic. …I remember the moment to the minute when I discovered the background or the ‘depths’ of the colonisation of the Belgian Congo. And then I got the feeling, which I still have today, that during my training, my education, I had been deceived about the Congo.“
Flemish and, by extension, Belgian missionaries left for the Belgian Congo in droves. The Statistical Yearbook of the N.I.S., which had a separate section for the colony, recorded a few tables with data about the ‘white’ population. As well as divisions on the basis of nationality, gender and place of residence, for a number of years it also included a “class division“. In this table, the population was divided into three categories: ‘civil servant’, ‘missionaries’ and ‘general public’. The presence of a separate category for missionaries points to the fact that they were very important in colonial society. On the basis of the available figures it can be posited that during the interbellum period, religious workers comprised 10 to 15% of the white population. This percentage was certainly not only men, the proportion of female religious workers was fairly stable throughout the colonial period and amounted to over 40%.
To give a more coherent picture of the development of education in the region studied, it is necessary to start with a brief explanation of the development of the church hierarchy in the region and the way in which this was concretized by the religious orders that would become responsible for education. This subject will be covered in this chapter in two parts. The first part handles the evolution of the church hierarchy in a strict sense and the delineation of what would eventually become the mission area of the MSC. The presence and missionary work of the Trappists in the area will be discussed first. Chronologically, this history only begins once this congregation had decided to leave the Congo, but it is useful to consider a number of events from the preceding period in order to understand the activities of the MSC properly. The identity and presence of the other religious orders in the mission region and their involvement in education will then be outlined. Finally, the second part will describe a quantitative development of the schools in the vicariate on the basis of a number of statistical data. This will enable us to give the direct context of the reality in the classroom that will be considered in more detail in the second part.
1. The missionary presence
1.1. How the missionaries of the Sacred Heart obtained a vicariate in the Congo
In the church hierarchy, the area around Mbandaka and the Tshuapa was originally a part of the apostolic vicariate of the Belgian Congo, founded in 1888. It was put under the leadership of the congregation of Scheut, which was the first Belgian congregation to send missionaries to the Congo.[i] Naturally, in subsequent years the evangelisation of the Congo Free State as a whole expanded further, the number of congregations active in the Congo greatly increased and the administrative church structure was repeatedly adapted.
1.1.1. The Trappists of Westmalle on the Equator[ii]
Chronologically, the protestant Livingstone Inland Mission was the first to establish itself at the mouth of the Ruki in the Congo River. That was in Wangata in 1883. In the same year and in the same place, Stanley, together with the officers Coquilhat and Vangele,[iii] founded the state post Equateurville, which was clearly separated from the mission that had been set up earlier.[iv] In 1895 the monopoly of the Protestants in the region ended with the arrival of the first Trappists.[v] The original intention of this contemplative order was the establishment of a closed monastic community in Bamanya, about eight kilometres from Equateurville, “following the example of the monks in the middle ages.“[vi]
Thanks to its strategic situation at the confluence of two important rivers, Equateurville, renamed Coquilhatville from 1892, developed rather quickly to become a so-called circonscription urbaine.[vii]Nevertheless, it would take until 1902 before the Trappists, at the request of the colonial administration, set up the parish of Boloko wa Nsimba, still “forty minutes away from the state post of Coquilhatville“.[viii] Meanwhile, the developing state post was abandoned by the Protestants. The post of Wangata was moved to Bolenge (about ten kilometres outside Coquilhatville) and the Livingstone Inland Mission was replaced by the Disciples of Christ Congo Mission.[ix] Even before the First World War, the Trappists built a church in Coquilhatville and provided evangelical teaching there. Even so, their activities in this urban environment remained very limited. Marchal says in this regard: “The trappists, simple people from the rural Kempen region, had an aversion to great centres.”[x] In the twenties the General Chapter in Rome decided that the Trappists of Westmalle had to leave the Congo and return to their monastic way of life, which was considered irreconcilable with the missionary work in the Congo.[xi] In 1926 the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Issoudun (hereafter referred to by their official abbreviation “MSC”) took over their area. Read more
In the following chapters I will try to reconstruct the educational reality in the schools of the MSC based primarily on the written sources available. More specifically, this relates to the reconstruction of classroom life and the educational relationship between missionaries and pupils. The closer one gets to the so-called ‘micro level’, the more apparent it becomes that it is almost impossible to make a true reconstruction in the sense of a true representation, “wie es eigentlich gewesen ist”, of the educational relationship between missionaries and Congolese. Naturally, the source material available is important here and defines the boundaries within which the research can be carried out.
A second important matter is that the teaching was not given by the missionaries in the first place, but by the Congolese. This is not unique to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, it is more generally true for the entire colony. From the beginning an appeal was made to native assistance, to carry out the huge quantity of work caused by the evangelisation project. A decision was already made in 1907 by the bishops in the Congo to establish a central teacher-training course for each church province. The reason for this was of course the unbalance between the personnel available and the population to be reached. The fact that evangelisation was much more important to the missionaries than the educational activity meant that it was “sufficient” initially to train the Congolese as catechists and that it was not necessary in the strict sense to train teachers. This was also emphasised in those first plans: the candidates for training had to be young (maximum 12 years old) and it was explicitly stated that the intention was not to train educationalists but catechists as assistants to the missionaries.[i] According to Antoine Dibalu there were 11 central teacher-training colleges in 1922, of which those closest to the Equator province were situated in Nouvel Anvers (North of Coquilhatstad) and in Tumba (by Lake Tumba, South of Coquilhatstad).[ii] However, it is likely that not everybody who became teaching assistant had actually attended a teacher training college. That was certainly true in the mission region of the MSC.[iii] One example of this can be found in the Annals from 1929: “On Tuesday there is a school inspection. Notwithstanding all kinds of unfavourable circumstances satisfactory results have been achieved. The head teaching assistant, Georges Lobombe, although he has not had any professional training, was given an honorary mention in the inspector’s report.”[iv][v]
From a statistical summary from 1934 it is apparent that a little over 120 “white” religious workers were working in the vicariate Coquilhatstad, together with 90 teachers and 357 catechists. It was also stated that there were another eighty pupils or so at the teacher training college at that time. Consequently, an attempt was made to have trained teachers but that was clearly not always the case. Moreover, the same was true for the missionaries themselves. They had, barring a few exceptions, no educational training. The missionaries’ role was often limited to supervising the teaching assistants and to giving religious education. One of the many testimonies in this regard was given in the Annals by Sister Godfrieda, a Sister of the Sacred Heart, who worked in the newly established mission post in Bolima from 1934: “Here you will find Sr. M. Godfrieda, who tries to keep order with two black helpers among the three hundred and fifty rascals and to drum the first concepts of discipline, prayer and the catechism into them and to teach them some letters and arithmetic.”[vi] Relatively speaking, more people with educational training could be found among the sisters than at the MSC. The MSC were not a teaching order by nature. Consequently, it should not be surprising that when a large school had to be established in a central place, as in Coquilhatville, the Brothers of the Christian Schools were appealed to, being traditionally considered an educational congregation. Read more