When Congo Wants To Go To School – Introduction & A Few Preliminary Remarks

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BriffaertsThe research project that formed the foundation for this study grew from a few existing lines of research. On the one hand it relates to research on the so-called Belgian civilisation project in the Congo, on the other to research into the micro-history of education in Belgium. Both my promoter and I have some experience in research into colonial education. Marc Depaepe’s work on the colonial phenomenon grew out of a representative, personal connection to it. As with many Flemish people, the colonial past was a part of his family history. The letters from his great aunt, Sister Maria Adonia Depaepe, a missionary in the Congo between 1909 and 1961, which he later published, are a testimony to this.[1] Her personal documents were published as part of a project on the history of education, more specifically the missionary action of the Belgians in the former colony. The result was a general study at a macro level based on the theory of historical education, focussing in on the educational policy and institutional development of colonial education.[2] At about the time this book was published I was writing an extended paper in the framework of the “Historische kritiek” (tr. Historical criticism) lectures in the history department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. The subject of my paper was the “school struggle” in the nineteen fifties in the Belgian Congo. This paper really related to a part of political history and the political players behind colonial education, particularly in Belgium and to a limited extent the Belgian Congo.[3] Some years later the content of the paper was presented at a colloquium on 50 years of the school pact (2nd and 3rd December 1998, V.U.B.) and published in the resulting conference notes.[4]

The second line of research that forms the foundation of this project relates to the more fundamental concepts on the execution of research in the field of the history of education in general. The research group concerned with the history of primary education in Belgium is a cooperative relationship that grew around the universities of Leuven (Marc Depaepe) and Ghent (Frank Simon) with support from the professional association COV. The research from this group was usually concerned with structures, institutions and curricula, with ideas and ideologies, innovative concepts and theory, with little emphasis on finding out what happened to these in practice. Within the framework of the group, the decision was made to carry out large-scale research into the reality in the classroom. One of the central research questions was whether everyday practice in (primary) education was actually rather resistant to modernization and whether there was a “grammar of schooling”, a set of formal practical rules and structures that continue to survive with exceptional persistence in the classroom, against all desire and attempts at modernization. The most important result of this line of research was the publication of Orde in Vooruitgang, in 1999. This book, of which an English translation was published in 2000 (Order in Progress) contains a theoretical framework for further research relating to so-called “classroom history”, as complementary to “curriculum history”. It also offers an overview of the classroom reality in Belgian primary schools in the period 1880-1970.[5] It used contemporary educational periodicals as the principal source. Extensive documentation was collected on events in classroom life and the relevant research and interpretation methods were also considered in more depth.

The importance of the concept of “classroom history” stems from the fact that this provides the space to fill the gaps into research in the history of education (as an exponent of historical research, theoretically based on sociological ideas). It does this by shifting the attention of the historian to a level that had not previously been considered. Instead of radically directing the focus of the study from institutions, curricula and theories to the people who were the object of them, the focus was on the way the subjects functioned within a specific context and the way in which these related to the “macro phenomena” through interaction with direct environmental factors. I say, “related” because it is not necessarily an active reaction on that macro level. The concrete behaviour and interaction in the classroom may not be compatible with the standards produced, they may run parallel with them or be entirely separate from them. In practice, that means that the researcher must try to discover what happened exactly, insofar as possible. We can also formulate this in another way, applied to the field of research concerned, by stating that we must try to penetrate the educational meeting of missionaries, teachers and pupils. [That poses a number of practical problems, as we will consider in more detail below, especially in relation to the selection of sources and the way these sources can or must be handled. We must also confront the question of the extent to which you can truly penetrate the reality of the past.]

Progress of the research
The original title for the project (in fact this relates to two separate projects for which financial support was obtained from the Research Council of the K.U.Leuven and the F.W.O.- Flanders respectively) was “Indigenism and colonialism in Congolese primary education. A case study of pedagogical mentality and reality in Belgian Congo (1908-1960), based on the analysis of schoolbooks and focused on the Mbandaka region.” In order to understand what follows it may be useful to consider the progress of the project. Due to circumstances the composition of our research team experienced fundamental changes during the first year. Originally I started working in the framework of a sub-project researching colonial schoolbooks. As a result of the changes mentioned above the project was reviewed and the central part was passed on to me. Instead of concentrating on schoolbooks I would now concentrate on the reality research of the history of education in schools and classrooms. A second, specifically anthropological research question into post-colonial effects was unfortunately also dropped, although it was partially recovered in my research (see part III).

However, the research question relating to schoolbooks was revived to a great extent and integrated into the wider framework of the research. This is mainly thanks to the involvement of a new researcher, Professor Pierre Kita Kyankenge Masandi, former professor at the University of Bukavu (Congo), and, to my knowledge, the only Congolese person ever to have written a coordinated study on the history of education as regards colonial education in the Congo.[6] The results of his participation in the project must undoubtedly be called meaningful: Together with Marc Depaepe he not only published an anthology of song texts used in the colonial schools together,[7] but his main contribution undoubtedly consisted in transforming a number of papers into a rounded monograph on the nature, educational meaning and social content of school songs and books in the Belgian Congo.[8] This work not only reflects the lines of research mentioned above but also forms a first step in a study into the reality in schools and classrooms in the colony. Nevertheless, as also explained in the work, school songs and schoolbooks as artefacts of the educational past can only inform us indirectly of the mentality (or mentalities) and reality (or realities) of the time and this must be constantly borne in mind with regard to interpretation. For people wanting to form an image of the reality, such artefacts should not be used as the main source, but at most as one of numerous lines of inquiry. After all, no matter how interesting the schoolbooks may be for a better understanding of certain linguistic, anthropological, historical, ideological and even educational aspects of the colonial context, they cannot themselves have functioned outside a specific context and this specific context cannot be found in the schoolbooks themselves.[9]  This corresponds to the criticism that for a long time schoolbook research relied too exclusively on quantitative research methods, following the methods developed in sociology and communication sciences (more specifically “content analysis”).[10] Consequently I tried, as Jan Van Wiele suggests in his studies, to reveal the rather artificial dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative research methods in the framework of a comparative study of the schoolbooks which were used by the various congregations.[11] To do this, I integrated both approaches.

Consequently, with regard to the use of this type of source in the framework of this research, we must also withdraw from the perhaps too rigid formulation of the original research project as “starting from the analysis of colonial textbooks”.[12] There seems to be a consensus that a schoolbook is not in itself a witness to the educational past and certainly not with regard to educational effects (moreover, the authors differentiate this in the text of the research proposal mentioned here). As a result, the schoolbooks were not used as the main source in the development of this thesis. They were one of a number of relatively widely varied sources, in which mission periodicals and mission archives had an important place but in which other types of written and oral sources also played a part.

Aims and feasibility
A person wanting to study classroom history is immediately confronted by a number of problems relating to the type of sources and how these can and must be used. Depaepe mentioned this in the methodological considerations in Order in progress: “The writings of educationalists, with their instructions and tips for everyday practice, are a veritable goldmine for the micro-history of pedagogical reality. It would be worthwhile investigating this official discourse in terms of its internal consistency and combining it with some of those rare documents that describe an actual situation or a specific feeling. (…) What are we to do, however, if the possibility of combination with other sources is more or less excluded? May the periodicals still be considered reliable in that case? Or will they inevitably give rise to a one-sided interpretation of school life in terms of control and coercion?“[13] I was naturally also confronted by this type of problem, and to a much greater extent, because the source material seems sparser and especially as it relates to a meeting of two different “cultures”, squeezed in a pre-eminently “constrained” relationship. However, in my opinion it is beyond question that the main emphasis should be placed on the way in which the sources are read. The only way to withstand the criticism of representativity and subjectivity of our research is by approaching the sources we have in a consistent and critical way.

For this I further used the concept set out in Order. So-called “thick description” is needed to approach these sources. This concept, originating from the anthropological writings of Clifford Geertz and Gilbert Ryle, places the emphasis on the contextual nature of conferring meaning and the responsibility of taking the context into account when describing and passing on information. “The difference, however unphotographable, between a twitch and a wink is vast.”[14] In my opinion, the “thick description” that is presented here as the methodological point of departure mainly consists of trying not to see something you read or are confronted with solely as a “flat” fact but always in its context. That presupposes taking the intention of the protagonists into account, even if they belong to a different culture and consequently integrating the conferment of meaning given to the act concerned in those other cultures. For clarity: “thick description” seems fundamental to me in the sense that it relates to an approach, a way of handling material and data, which is universal and which must be unique to all research. This is an opinion that I have also found elsewhere: “Not only ‘alien tribes’ are eligible to Clifford Geertz’ ‘thick description’, for example variants of contemporary ‘western’ youth culture bear careful approach. If the teacher, the keeper, the curator want to teach the youth of today something, then they must approach the pupils, students, public as anthropologists. As long as we fail to recognise the alien in ourselves, we remain victims of exoticism: the alien is sought far from here, that which is close should not need an explanation, should be obvious.”[15]

In my opinion this statement says two things. Firstly, the “careful approach” is a perfect description of what this concept is actually about. The principle may be obvious; its application in practice seems much less so. The consciousness of one’s own position certainly does not make it easier for the researcher to study the subject. In my case it relates to the very fragile balance which confronts a researcher. Geertz formulates this as follows: “Finding our feet, an unnerving business which never more than distantly succeeds, is what ethnographic research consists of as a personal experience; trying to formulate the basis on which one imagines, always excessively, one has found them is what anthropological writing consists of as a scientific endeavour. We are not, or at least I am not, seeking either to become natives (a compromised word in any case) or to mimic them. Only romantics or spies would seem to find point in that. We are seeking, in the widened sense of the term in which it encompasses very much more than talk, to converse with them, a matter a great deal more difficult, and not only with strangers, than is commonly recognised.” [16]

This truly relates to the balance between the empathy required in an alien context to reach understanding (and conversation), and one’s own context and background, which must, by definition, be the point of departure. Returning to the first quotation (from Asselberghs and Lesage), the logical consequence is that this balance, situated by Geertz in the framework of anthropological research, is as acutely present in all other human sciences. In my opinion, the combination of both quotations clearly indicates that this relates to a view of the world rather than a research method. Consequenty, it also explains why we chose to study the environmental factors the missionaries “took with them” within the limitations already mentioned. All too often we start from specific hypotheses, from certain beliefs, in which colonialism is given a purely negative connotation without adequately taking account of the historic attitude – often idealism – that formed the basis of the mission despite all the possible negative effects. I often catch myself thinking while reading contemporary documents and testimonies from the colony: “It’s unbelievable that people dared write or say such things.”

In this we are actually touching on questioning our cultural self-image, something that is expressed in numerous works on cultural history and conceptualisation.[17] After all, the need to understand something can only be explained from a person’s own context of ideas and own position. The act of understanding relates to a personal determination, not to lose or disavow but rather to be able to situate and distinguish that which we want to understand. I would like to consider this more deeply because my own experience over recent years has made me truly conscious of the difficult nature of the position of the scientist in this debate and in relation to this subject. I would like to mention two concrete experiences here. In January 2002, I was present at a colloquium in the Africa museum in Tervuren. The reason for the colloquium was the presentation of a book on the flight of Belgian colonists from the Congo in 1959 and 1960.[18] Former colonists were present both among the speakers and the large audience. When an account was made at one point about the general background to colonialism, it could be observed that a number of these people found this difficult. Afterwards the speaker, who talked about the system of de facto apartheid as a part of the colonial regime amongst other things, was subjected to strong criticism from these people. [19] The existence of websites for associations of former colonists like the one mentioned by Asselberghs and Lesage also indicates that a strong position is still taken by certain people who experienced the colonial period.[20]

I experienced the opposite phenomenon myself at a conference in the United States. I gave a lecture on this research project in which I apparently made a strategic mistake by stating that I did not believe that the missionaries who were active in the Belgian Congo had a conscious strategy of oppression in their minds through which they approached their daily activities. The commentator, a Congolese researcher living in the United States, tried to convince me in a polite but very insistent way that he rejected my standpoint on the moral qualification of the behaviour of the colonisers. He thought – and said so in so many words – that colonisation should be rejected in the strongest terms and be qualified as reprehensible in the name of all the suffering done to the Congolese. And I had apparently not done so. Nor had that been my intention. It may be advisable to refer back to the position I was defending at that time, not to defend it again but because this also clarifies my position here.

“It seems to me that talking in terms of a strategy behind an educational program, as has been done regarding colonial education, is a bit confusing and to some extent falsifies the image. A strategy not only presupposes the existence of certain ideas or principles living in certain groups of society, it needs explicit formulation of certain goals to achieve. I do think that if a general educational strategy is to be found, it will be in the school programs developed by the colonial administration in co-operation with the leading representatives of Catholic missions. It is indeed interesting that the missions had a decisive say in the creation of government regulations on education, but it is not hard to explain given the fact that it was almost entirely left in their hands.

I don’t think that we can qualify the general attitude or behaviour of the missionaries working in Congolese villages as belonging to a strategy. The question to be raised is rather whether there was an attempt at or a habit of making people do things in a certain way, with a purpose to obtain a certain result. When asked what they thought they were going to do over there, individual missionaries will generally respond: “To go help the black people in Africa” or “to let them know about God”, the two obviously having different meanings as to their content, but perhaps not differing so much regarding their underlying intentions.” [21]

Even if now, almost five years later, I would formulate my opinion differently (and undoubtedly in a more subtle way), I still maintain the point I wanted to make. More specifically, this does not mean condemning anything or any person but neither does it mean that one can take a “neutral” or purely “objective” standpoint. However, understanding and contextualising takes priority.[22] That fits with the remarks above with regard to “thick description”. This understanding may also be explained in another way: “The West and otherness relate not as polarities or binarisms in postcolonial discourse but in ways in which both are complicitous and resistant, victim and accomplice.”[23] I am not so much interested in the label used but the practice behind it and the way it is approached. Peter Pels considered this in more detail in his doctoral thesis. The introductory considerations that he presents as essential in the beginning of this thesis make me think that one should really take great care in the way in which one posits arguments. In any event, that carefulness does not stop him from telling a good tale. However, somewhat to my surprise he argues against the practice of “thick description” (not against the practice in itself but against its unilateral use or overemphasis). “A plea for tactility suggests that we should not let the thick description of webs of significance obscure the thin description of the events, objects and performances that (partly) escape these webs of significance.” I disagree with him in this.

He states that his “plea for tactility” is a defence or reaction against objectifying “meaning” in accordance with Geertz. Here, I cannot agree in the first instance: it is as though you assume that you can convey your information, a story, a history to others (because the intention is surely to share the scientific conclusions gained?) without creating a meaning in it, without making any interpretations, without causing any distortion, no matter how slight. Can all meaning (or lack thereof) implicit in a specific gesture, touch, presence be conveyed? No, that is impossible. You can talk about it, you can draw it, even film it but that does not necessarily reflect what happened exactly at that moment. He also mentions this himself: “The latter argument connects up with a last, maybe obvious, but extremely important point: that tactility is impossible without perceiver and perceived being co-present.”[24]

What do I infer from that for my own research? Pels states that knowledge is acquired through contact between the scientist (anthropologist) and the object of the research, a fact that is not, or only insufficiently, taken into account in the final communication of the results of the research. It is negated. By focusing on the nature of that contact he comes to the conclusion that this is very often a non-verbal event. This finally leads him to the conclusion that “decisive developments in the construction of colonial society are often not, or only partially, experienced consciously by the participants.”[25] In my opinion this statement is valid both for the people who were present and involved in the event (at the time) and for those who subsequently go in search of these events. These conclusions are certainly not new for a historian, but they are still very important. This kind of thinking may lead to excessive relativism (or, if one prefers, pessimism), insofar as it may be concluded that it is not really possible to write history. Of course, this can also be looked at from another angle, claiming that “the construction of colonial society” and more specifically every society, is finally the result of many forces, of which one is directed more consciously than the other by individuals or institutions. Johannes Fabian defines this problem very accurately when he talks of the nature of our knowledge in relation to colonial dominance: “We have gotten used to looking at colonialism in Africa in retrospect, that is, from the point of view of fully established rule and clearly differentiated institutions. … Even the most critical historical studies suffer sometimes from the burden of perceived results; the factual outcome of colonisation tends to overshadow the precariousness of the enterprise and the massive ideological support that was needed in order to get pragmatic results”[26]

And what does that then mean for a person wanting or having to write about it? In essence, this is about giving an account, telling a story about certain events, situations in a particular place, in a specific region at a given time in a defined period. No matter how deep you try to dig through sources and testimonies about that past, you will never be satisfied if you want to represent everything. I have noticed that these conclusions correspond to a great extent with a statement by Marc Depaepe on the position of the educational historian in the academic and by extension the social field. Instead of “a plea for tactility” we might be able to suggest “a plea for modesty”. In Depaepe’s opinion this would not necessarily result in nihilism or immobilism, on the condition that some kind of intellectual “ascesis” is implemented: “Such an intellectual ascesis is not based on a philosophical, religious, and/or political dogmatism and fanaticism, which always wants to demonstrate its own correctness in a power struggle, but on a realisation of human dignity.”[27] This ascesis relates to the consciousness of the fact that historiography as an activity has two faces: on one side is the knowledge of the past enriching the contemporary public and on the other side it always remains an impoverishment in relation to the original reality, the complexity of which can naturally never be caught in a representation post factum.

Structure of the thesis
The question “how can one give a proper representation of what happened in that education?” also plays a part here. Modesty implies circumspection and consequently a clear indication of the boundaries within which the story is enacted. In other words, delimitation is important in the representation of reality. Consequently, the delimitation of the subject has clearly been a decisive element in structuring this thesis. The different “themes” involved while considering what is truly important in the composition of “a colonial educational reality” were brought together in the diagram below (Diagram One).


Diagram One

This diagram represents what is involved, both internally and externally, if we want to penetrate the black box of the classroom. It has been established in the meantime that the reality we are studying here is far from monolithic. Consequently, we had to try to find a way to disentangle both the educational reality “per se” in all its components while simultaneously taking account of the fact that there were very many different realities, even if we restrict ourselves geographically to one specific area. There were different types of education, different congregations, different levels of professionalism, different recipients, etc. and all these developing over a period of approximately fifty years…

In order to be able to create a practically feasible description of this reality, it seemed advisable to continue working within the regional delineation given above (Mbandaka/Coquilhatville region, or more precisely: the mission region of the Sacred Heart Missionaries). The intention was to descend to the micro level step by step. I have tried to show this clearly in the structure of the account. The thesis has been subdivided into three parts. The first part considers the wider contexts or outlines within which the education was given. This covers three chapters. Firstly, the colonial education policy and teaching plans are analysed so that the official educational aims are clearly put in context (Chapter 1). The second chapter then forms the link from the Belgian context to the colony, focussing on the training and ideas given to the missionaries. Finally, an outline of the development of the educational structures in the Vicariate of Coquilhatville gives a concrete framework of reference. This chapter also discusses in more detail the education given in different places and by different congregations (Chapter 3). This was also an important stage in the research itself: it gave us insight into which places had enough fundamental information available to allow a description of concrete educational practice.

Here, the issue arose as to the shape that description should best take. In the first instance I considered basing the work on a number of case studies. These would be based on the place in which the education was provided and also include a number of themes that could be defined in advance and which would then be considered in each of the cases. In this I started from the assumption that comparisons could be made with regard to specific themes between different locations but that complementariness would have to be sought between other themes. In time, however, it became clear that the information was undoubtedly too fragmented to be able to make properly supported comparisons. Therefore, it seemed more meaningful to structure the issue on the basis of the various protagonists and their respective angles and experience.

An obvious criticism of the latter method was that this would give an excessively polarised image of the reality, divided between two neatly delineated groups. Peter Pels described this as follows: “Studies of colonial curricula and education policies are very useful, but tend to concentrate, due to the nature of their subject matter, on colonial policy on the one hand, and African motivations for or resistance against European education on the other.“[28] In my opinion, the implementation of this structure is not necessarily reflected in the fragmentation of the reality we are trying to represent. After all, the intention was precisely to avoid an excessively bipolar view of reality. The following statement must immediately be made here: it seems obvious to me that there was certainly a very explicit case of two clearly distinct groups in the Belgian colony and that this was also generally experienced by people present at the time.[29] Nevertheless, as stated by Pels, there is the risk that the two groups will each be pushed into a stereotypical “role” (“oppression” versus “opposition”, for example) and that more “positive” or “creative” attitudes in relation to the existing social structures would not be considered as a result, i.e. the fact that despite the forced nature of colonial dominance people still lead their lives, allowed for the given situation, as well as possible and “just got on with it”.[30] We do want to take this into account, as should be apparent from the following paragraphs relating to another problem that arose during the development of our research questions, namely the problem of examining the effects of the educational, training or civilising process.

It seems especially difficult to estimate the influence of the colonial educational experience on the Congolese. We may assume that there was an effect in the short term, but how can we reconstruct that now? We could of course formulate a number of hypotheses or take these from existing scientific research on this theme. It seems likely that the conflicting but simultaneously causal connection between the paternalistic attitude of the colonists on the one hand and the colonised striving for emancipation on the other is a recurring motif. From the perspective that “opposition” was always present in the colonial project itself and specifically in the colonists’ establishment of dominance, we should be able to find a way to allow our sources to say something about that. The long-term traces left behind may be slightly easier to grasp on the basis of testimonies from people who experienced the colonial period. Whether we can grasp the result of it better is not at all as clear to me. After all, contemporary anthropological approaches to colonialism and post-colonialism tend to place rather great emphasis on the feeling of confusion, complexity and diversity.[31]

In one of our conversations, Pierre Kita told me the following: People say in the Congo that, although the Belgian education did not found any universities, it did give a greater consciousness of society to the people, a sensitivity for the common good, for dignity and responsibility, perhaps you could even call it a “national feeling”. However, that must also be treated with the necessary circumspection, as Kita himself immediately added.[32] It is undoubtedly true that the effects of colonial education can still be found today in those aged fifty, sixty or older, in the framework, the context and the society in which contemporary Congolese education must attempt to organise itself.[33] Despite this, little can be found in the literature on colonial education concerning the testimonies relating to this period and the after-effects of it, whether negative or positive.[34] We have tried to complement this literature with a number of interviews with people educated in that system. However, these interviews must be interpreted very carefully. After all, the reality of that education was experienced in different ways, including by the pupils and it is consequently very dangerous to start generalising here.

I tried to reconcile these different considerations in the structure of the thesis. This resulted in a further division of the structure into three parts. After the first part, which I have already discussed and in which I bring the contexts together, there are two more parts. Part II is entitled “Realities” and part III is entitled “Effects”. Four chapters in the second part give a description of the reality (realities) of missionary education. Each chapter starts from a different angle. Together they should provide an image of the way in which the missionaries practically approached the educational project. In general,it may be stated that the “missionary” source material predominates in this image. This does not mean that the Congolese voice disappears completely, but I cannot deny that it’s part is limited. Partly because of this I chose to conclude the study with a third part, which considers in more detail the effects of the education in the short and long term through an analysis of the reactions to and memories of colonial education.

[1] Depaepe, M.A., Depaepe, M., Lefebvre, R., & Aziza Etambala, Z. (1992). Tot glorie van God en tot zaligheid der zielen: brieven van Moeder Marie Adonia Depaepe over haar leven en werk als Zuster van Liefde van Jezus en Maria in Belgisch Kongo 1909-1961. Antwerpen: Standaard Uitgeverij.
[2] Depaepe, M. & Van Rompaey, L. (1995). In het teken van de bevoogding. De educatieve actie in Belgisch Kongo (1908-1960). Leuven: Garant.
[3] Briffaerts, J. (1995). Over Belgische politiek en Congolese scholen: de schoolstrijd in Belgisch Congo (1945-1958). Unpublished paper in the framework of the seminar “Toepassing van de historische kritiek op de hedendaagse periode”, supervised by Els Witte and Jeffrey Tyssens.
[4] Briffaerts, J. (1999). De schoolstrijd in Belgisch-Congo (1930-1958). In E. Witte, J. De Groof & J. Tyssens (eds.). Het schoolpact van 1958. Ontstaan, grondlijnen en toepassing van een Belgisch compromis – Le pacte scolaire de 1958. Origines, principes et application d’un compromis belge (pp. 331-358). Brussel/Leuven:VUB Press/Garant.
[5] Depaepe, M. et alii (1999). Orde in vooruitgang. Alledaags handelen in de Belgische lagere school (1880-1970). Studia Paedagogica 25. Leuven: Universitaire Pers. The English publication is: Depaepe, M. et alii (2000). Order in progress. Everyday Education Practice in Primary Schools – Belgium, 1880-1970. Studia paedagogica 29. Leuven: University Press.
[6] Kita Kyankenge Masandi, P. (1982). Colonisation et enseignement. Cas du Zaïre avant 1960. Bukavu: Editions du Ceruki.
[7] Kita Kyankenge Masandi, P. & Depaepe, M. (2004). La chanson scolaire au Congo Belge. Anthologie. Paris: L’Harmattan.
[8] Depaepe, M., Briffaerts, J., Kita Kyankenge Masandi, P. & Vinck, H. (2003). Manuels et Chansons scolaires au Congo Belge. Studia Paedagogica 33, Leuven: Universitaire Pers.
[9] Van Wiele, J. (2001). The necessity for a contextual approach in the methodology of religious school textbook analysis. A case study on the basis of the theme Islam. In Paedagogica Historica, XXXVII, 369-390.
[10] Van Wiele, J. (2001). l.c.
[11] Briffaerts, J. (2003). Etude comparative de manuels scolaires au Congo Belge: cas des Pères Dominicains et des Missionaires du Sacré Coeur. In Depaepe, M., Briffaerts, J., Kita Kyankenge Masandi, P. & Vinck, H. (2003). o.c. Leuven: Presses universitaires. p.167-196.
[12] See the complete title of the research proposal at the beginning of this paragraph.
[13] Depaepe, M. et alii (2000). Order in progress. p. 40-41.
[14] Geertz, C. (1993). Thick description: Towards an Interpretive theory of Culture. In id., The Interpretation of Cultures, London: Fontana.
[15] Asselberghs, H. & Lesage, D. (1999). Globalisering als neokolonialisme. Inleiding bij een catalogus voor een mogelijk museum. In id. (ed.), Het museum van de natie. Van kolonialisme tot globalisering, Brussel: Gevaert.
[16] Geertz, C. (1993). o.c.
[17] With regard to “colonial” conceptualization in the Belgian context I would here like to refer to Ceuppens, B. (2003). Congo made in Flanders? Koloniale Vlaamse visies op “blank” en “zwart” in Belgisch Congo. Gent: Academia Press.
[18] Concretely this relates to Verlinden, P. (2002). Weg uit Congo. Het drama van de kolonialen. Leuven: Davidsfonds.
[19] Moreover the speaker, Bambi Ceuppens, describes this herself in the introduction to her book Congo made in Flanders? (XIX – XXVI)
[20] For example www.urome.be the website of the “Union Royale Belge pour les Pays d’Outre-Mer”, which, according to its own description, groups associations of former colonists, co-operators and Congolese residents in Belgium and has around ten thousand members.
[21] Briffaerts, J. (2002). What was it like in the colonial classroom?Ongoing research on the reality of colonial education in the Mbandaka region, Belgian Congo, 1908-1960. Paper presented during the annual conference of the American History of Education Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 30 November 2002. Unpublished.
[22] For the definition of standpoints and the scientific study of the history of education, albeit in a more polemic context, also see: Depaepe, M. (2002). Gesplitst of gespleten? De kloof tussen wetenschappelijke en praktische kennis in opvoeding en onderwijs. Leuven: Acco.
[23] Giroux, as quoted in Novõa, A. (1995). On history, history of education, and history of colonial education. In Novõa, A., Depaepe, M. & Johanningmeier, E.V. (eds.). The Colonial Experience in Education. Historical Issues and Perspectives. Paedagogica Historica. International Journal of the History of Education. Supplementary series, 1. Gent: C.S.H.P.
[24] Pels, P. (1993). Critical matters. Interactions between missionaries and Walguru in Colonial Tanganyika, 1930-1961. Amsterdam: School of social research. p. 7.
[25] Pels, P. (1993). o.c., p. 307 (original quotation in Dutch)
[26] Fabian, J. (1991). Time and the work of anthropology. Critical essays 1971-1991. Chur: Harwood academic publishers. p. 151.
[27] Depaepe, M. (1993). History of education anno 1992: ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’? Presi­dential Address ISCHE XIV. In History of Education. The journal of the History of Education Society, XXII,1, p. 1-10.
[28] Pels, P. (1993). o.c. p. 7.
[29] The examples of this are legion. The term “apartheid” is never included in official discourse and not even used by critics of the colonial regime, insofar as there were any, but the position that there was a very strongly enforced de facto form of racial segregation in the Congo cannot be negated today. For a good example of a detailed study relating to geographical segregation see: De Meulder, B. (1994). Reformisme, thuis en overzee. Geschiedenis van de Belgische planning in een kolonie (1880-1960). Leuven, Unpublished doctoral thesis. 3 vol.
[30] Pels, P. (1993). o.c. p. 197.
[31] De Boeck, F. (1996). Het discours van de postkolonialiteit: de problematiek van identiteit en representatie. In J. Vlasselaers en J. Baetens (eds.), Handboek culturele studies. Concepten-problemen-methode. Leuven: Acco. p.139-149.
[32] Briffaerts, J. (2002). ‘De last van het verleden’. Een bevoorrecht getuige aan het woord over onderwijs in Kongo. In Basis / Christene School, CIX, 14 September 2002, p. 27-30. The work of Marie-Bénédicte Dembour, “Recalling the Belgian Congo” on constructing and consciously manipulating memories in the context of research and the strategies implemented by the interviewer and interviewed gives a very interesting and subtle vision of this. Dembour, M.-B. (2000). Recalling the Belgian Congo: Conversations and Introspection. New York: Berghahn Books.
[33] Briffaerts, J. (2002). l.c.
[34] A few examples from literature that do partly consider this: De Lannoy, D., Seda Diangwala, M. & Yeikelo Ya Ato, B. (1986). Tango ya ba noko (Le temps des oncles): recueil de témoignages zaïrois, Les cahiers du CEDAF / ASDOC-studies, Série 2, 5-6, Bruxelles: CEDAF. This book contains the results of a number of interviews with people from various parts of Zairian society and is certainly not restricted to education. Berman, E.H. (ed.) (1975). African Reactions to Missionary Education. New York/London: Teachers College Press limits itself to education, but does so in a much broader geographical perspective (Africa) but is much less recent.


A Few Preliminary Remarks

Names and spelling of Congolese/Zairian places
I have used the colonial name of the places mentioned in this text. A few Congolese cities had a bilingual name in that period, analogous to the parent country. This was not generally true for smaller places, although there were differences in spelling for a number of place names depending on whether the text was being used in a Dutch language or French language context (the most frequent instances in this thesis are Bamanya-Bamania and Wafanya-Wafania). In my own writing I have opted for use of the Dutch name insofar as possible. In quotations I have naturally adhered to the author’s spelling.

The modern names of the most frequently mentioned cities are given below:
Coquilhatstad( /ville) = Mbandaka
Thysstad ( /ville) = Mbanza Ngungu
Leopoldstad ( Léopoldville) = Kinshasa
Elisabethstad ( /ville) = Lubumbashi

The majority of abbreviations are indicated in brackets on first use. A few common abbreviations are:
AAFE: Aequatoria Archives, School Fund
AAVSB: Aequatoria Archives, Reports of Diocesan Schools (see p. 106)
MSC: Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
FEC: Brothers of the Christian Schools

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