As part of the Festival of Cultures of the Biennale of Luanda 2021, discover the cultural content proposed by Congo!

Enjoy your visit!

About Congo

  • Official name : Republic of Congo
  • Location: Central Africa
  • Independence 15 August 1960
  • Capitalcity: Brazzaville (1,560,000 inhabitants, 2010 estimate)
  • Area: 342,000 km2 (average density 11.7 inhabitants/km2)
  • Population: 4,636,000 (2020 estimate)
  • Political system: Presidential
  • Departments : Likouala (Impfondo), Sangha (Ouesso), Cuvette Ouest (Ewo), Cuvette (Owando), Plateaux (Djambala), Pool (Kinkala), Bouenza (Madingou), Lékoumou (Sibiti), Niari (Dolisie), Kouilou (Diosso), Pointe-Noire
  • Hydrography: Congo River (the largest in the world after the Amazon). About thirty other navigable rivers such as the Kouilou, Niari, Bouenza, Alima, Ngoko, Sangha and Likouala to the grass.
  • Currency: CFA franc (fixed parity with the euro, 1 euro = 656 FCFA)
  • Languages: French (official), Lingala and Kikongo (national)
  • Literacy rate: 78.6
  • Unemployment rate: 38% (for people aged 15 and over)
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Nouabale NDOKI National Park

Classified as a World Heritage Site since 2012, the Sangha National Park is located in the north-western part of the Congo Basin, where Cameroon, Congo and the Central African Republic meet. The site comprises three contiguous national parks, covering a total area of 750,000 hectares, which have been little affected by human activity. The full spectrum of tropical rainforest ecosystems can be found here. The rich flora and fauna include Nile crocodiles and the large predatory Goliath tigerfish. The clearings offer herbaceous species and the Sangha supports significant populations of forest elephants, as well as critically endangered western lowland gorillas and endangered chimpanzees. The site's environment has allowed ecological and evolutionary processes to continue on a large scale, as well as maintaining high biodiversity, including many endangered species.

The Sangha Tri-National (TNS) is a transboundary nature conservation complex located in the north-western Congo Basin, where the Republic of Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic meet. The TNS comprises three contiguous national parks covering a total area of 746,309 hectares defined by law. These are Lobéké National Park in Cameroon, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo and Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic. The latter is composed of two separate units. The parks are embedded in a much larger forest landscape that is sometimes referred to as the "Sangha Tri-National Landscape". In recognition of the importance of the landscape as a whole and its inhabitants to the future of the property, a buffer zone of 1,787,950 ha has been established. It includes the Dzanga-Sanga Forest Reserve in the Central African Republic which links the two units of the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. 

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Catafalque of King Makoko

The king's catafalte is the coffin that accompanies the body of the king to its final resting place. It is made of traditional materials in the shape of a funnel that represents power and the throne. It is an essential element in the ceremony and the Royal funeral ritual of the Teke people.  

Congolese Rumba: Les Bantous de la capitale

The history of Congolese rumba, as Professor YOKA LIE, President of the Scientific Committee for the inscription of Rumba on the World Heritage List, so aptly puts it, is one of multicultural crossings. From the beginning of urbanisation, both in Congo-Brazzaville and in Congo-Kinshasa, music has been part of the euphoria, so to speak. It's the history of the songs of the pirogues on the Congo River, it's the history of the railway, it's the history of the sailors who come from Europe, who bring back vinyl records with Afro-Cuban songs... It's the history of the folklore of our country, it's the history of the Caribbean. It's all this that makes modern Congolese music so strong, because there are very particular accents in it, particularly the Lingala language, which is the language of inventiveness par excellence. 

Continue watching the special concert of the Bantous de la capitale, given during International Jazz Day 2021!

Thus, an official campaign to promote the inscription of Congolese rumba, a major style of African music, as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The dossier, submitted to UNESCO last year, is being defended on both sides of the Congo River by the two countries that take their name from it, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, Congo-Kinshasa) and the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville).

Poto-Poto painting school

Created in 1951 by Pierre Lods, a former French Resistance fighter during the Second World War, the Poto-Poto Painting School introduced young people to the principle of free creation. The learning method consisted of providing them with paper, brushes and gouache without any particular technical guidelines. But long before the arrival of this art enthusiast, painting was by no means unknown in the Congo.

Indeed, at the time of colonial penetration at the end of the 19th century, traditional Congolese societies were already practising, with relish, graphics as a utilitarian mode of expression. For ritual purposes, they painted animals and other figures on the pediments and inner walls of the huts in order to ward off evil spirits and attract good ones.

Painting, as such, arrived around the 1940s. The Europeans who arrived in the Congo brought with them a different approach to painting and new techniques. Several young people fell under the spell of this new mode of expression and thus trained in the academic aesthetics taught by the newcomers. These newcomers ensured that the beginnings of Congolese painting would flourish. Their merit was to give a taste for art to many young Congolese and to lead them to practice it gradually.

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Congo: 70 years of the Poto-Poto painting school in Brazzaville

The emblematic figures of this young painting are undoubtedly Fylla, Kitsina, Malonga, Balou and Makoumbou, who soon opened workshops where they paint professionally. Then came several others such as: Iloki, Gotène, Bandzila, Zigoma, Okola, Mounkala, Ikonga, Ngolengo, Elenga, Ndinga and Owassa. Some of them, such as Ondongo, Owassa, Thango, Iloki, Ndinga and Gotène, whose work has been celebrated many times, will emerge and make a name for themselves in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The exhibition of the latter's paintings and those of many other painters and sculptors in the premises of Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, is the object of curiosity and attracts many visitors.
Visit of UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azoulay in Congo

Audience with the President of the Republic of Congo

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UNESCO Director-General visits Brazzaville and Kinshasa to highlight the importance of going back to school, especially for girls' education.

The Director-General visited schools on the first day in the capital of the Republic of Congo and the second day in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she inaugurated distance learning tools and interacted with pupils, students and teachers.

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More than 1.6 billion students worldwide were abruptly taken out of school during the COVID crisis. Within the framework of the Global Coalition for Education launched last March, UNESCO has been working with governments to find appropriate solutions and ensure the continuity of education, a cornerstone of equality and development, especially for girls and women. Supported by 150 partners from all walks of life, the Global Coalition for Education has made it possible to put in place very concrete distance learning solutions and to support 400 million pupils worldwide and nearly 13 million teachers.

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Discover the Royal Domain of Mbé

Located about 200 kilometres from Brazzaville, in the Pool department, the royal domain of Mbé is the central link in an ethno-linguistic entity. The Téké Kingdom was known to European explorers in the 15th century as the Kingdom of Anzico.
 

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Discover the Royal Domain of Mbé
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The Royal Domain of Mbé is made up of a series of sites linked to the culture and history of the Teke people, including: the City of Mbé: capital of the kingdom and residence of the Makoko (king). It has been constantly moving throughout history. The pre-colonial Téké cultural tradition demanded that the capital "Mbé" be moved every time a king died. 

The royal domain of Mbé is thus punctuated by ancient sites that were home to the kingdom's capital and which subsequently became sacred forests. It is worth mentioning only :
- Mbe-Nkoulou, 'ancient Mbé' where, according to legend, the powers of the different Teke sub-groups were shared through the Nkobi (deities supposed to ensure protection among the Teke);   
- Nko where Makoko Iloo I reigned;
- Itiele where Makoko Mbaïndele reigned. 

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The places associated with the royal power and political system are

  • Ngabé village, residence of the Ngantsibi (Queen);
  • The sacred royal spring which provides drinking water for the Makoko;
  • The Nkouembali Falls on the Lefini River, a sacred place from which the water used for the enthronement of the Makoko is drawn;
  • The sacred forest of Itiere: place of internment and initiation of the Ngantsibi, guardian queens of the Nkouembali (supreme divinity, moral code, and traditional Teke religion);
  • The sacred forest of Ebala, where the Teke dignitaries were buried until the reign of King Iloo I.
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The places of memory of the Royal Domain :

  • The Ndoua Forest, former food reserve of the kingdom, place of signature on 10 September 1880 of a famous Treaty between the French explorer Pierre Savorgnan De Brazza and King Iloo I.
  • The stele of Itiéle, symbolising the place of massacre of King Mbaïndelé's men by those of De Brazza. 
  • The Royal Estate is traditionally protected and is being reinforced by a World Heritage listing process.
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About UNESCO in Congo
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Disclaimer

The ideas and opinions expressed on this page are those of the Member State; they do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO and the Organization hereby declines all liability. The designation employed and the presentation of material throughout the National Pavilion or this webpage do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Organization, concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.