GEOPOLITICAL AND ECONOMICAL VIEW
LOCATION OF KIVU IN THE NATIONAL TERRITORY
Republic of the Congo (DRC) is Africa's third largest country and relating
to its population one of the most populated (approximately 50 million
Sub-saharan state, Congo Kinshasa is situated in the South-Centre of
Africa and it is surrounded by 11 Countries. Core region is a big basin
to the west bounded by Mayumbé Mountains and to the east by Mitumba
mountains, which are one of the highest chain in Africa.
DRC is considered one of the richest country in the continent relating
to its agricultural potential and huge natural forests, which cover
50% of the soil representing 10% of tropical forests of the whole world.
It is full of minerals too.
DRC is administratively shared in 11 provinces: Bandundu, Bas-Congo,
Equateur, Kasai Occidental, Katanga, Kinshasa (the capital), Eastern
and in the region of Kivu: Maniema, North and South Kivu.
Kivu is constituted by three provinces divided from 1988: Maniema (chief
town: Kindu), North Kivu (chief town: Goma), South Kivu (chief town:
Bukavu). From the political and administrative point of view, each region
has in theory a self-government management.
Three provinces, historically belonging to the same region, cover an
immense territory of 260,000 square kilometres representing about 11%
of the national surface. There are 6 million of inhabitants who represent
16% of the entire population. (back
CHARACTERISTICS OF ITS THREE PROVINCES
the three provinces of Kivu cover eastern part of the country that runs
along the frontier with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania beyond
This territory has a lot of peculiar and unique characteristics in the
DRC, especially for different climatic and geological conditions as
well as its population.
The eastern part, relating to Maniema Province, is in the plateau and
core basin areas.
Height reaches 500 metres and the equatorial forest overgrows an important
portion of the area. These lowlands are barely populated. The climate
is hot and the region has a short dry season. The agricultural output
is composed of tuber (manioca), bananas, rice plantains, as well as
industrial cultures such as oil palms, coffee etc.
Height rises towards the east and reaches 1,500/2,000 metres with peaks
of 5,000 metres in a mountainous and plateau area. This area, relating
to the north and the south of Kivu, is called "Mountainous"
Kivu. It is the congoleese part of the large depression, characterised
from range of mountains and tectonic deeps, that crosses from the north
to the south of Africa for 1,400 kilometres, from the Red Sea to Zambesi
River. This depression conditions the hydrographic net, because of a
system of lakes that are situated at the bottom of it. From north to
south there are the following lakes: Albert, George, Edward, Kivu and
Tanganyika. The chain creates a division that splits up the waters of
two big hydrographic basins of Congo and Nile rivers.
Relating to the climate, the region has different temperatures because
of the succession of the heights starting from the west that enable
heat flux to pass through the lowlands of Maniema to the temperate conditions
of the northern and southern Kivu regions. In the North, the region
is crossed by equator, but the altitude reduces the heat and average
annual temperatures that reached 25° C in the mountainous Kivu.
Average rainfall is all over the territory 1,400 millimeters, passing
from a lowest of 1,200 millimeters in the south-eastern at the most
of 2,200 millimeters in the wet equatorial area.
The eastern portion of Kivu, characterised by plateau and big lakes,
has a good quality soil for agriculture and enable a large variety of
food and industrial cultures either mild or tropical climate.
Some areas, especially around and in the north of Lake Kivu, are constituted
by rich soil of volcanic origin. All these aspects contributed to improve
population along north portion of lake Tanganyika and northern of region.
Relating to its orography, Kivu has three distinctive areas: the first
one is that of central basin and western uplands; the second is constitued
by the eastern plateau. Between these two areas there is one of "transition"
where at a short distance of 400 kilometers, the height progressively
decreases between 3.000 metres and 500 metres above sea level.
AND SOCIAL CONTEXT
regional culture of Kivu is linked to tradition and socio-political
environment as well as to external influences.
Its community culture is reflected in the social and economic organisation
that it gives to it as well as in the values that its people share.
The peculiar culture in Kivu involved different exchanges among ethnic
groups during many generations of people.
The political structure, either the former colonial regime or the latter
after independence, has influenced the social organisation, the standards
of living and the political institutions, but it has not cancelled the
traditional cultural practices, which already have a strong impact on
the rural environment where 80% of regional people live.
Life styles are very similar to those that existed in previous years
and the traditional practices have always had a big influence on daily
activities such as agricultural techniques, feeding habits, the technique
of building houses, the general movement of people and trading which
not have changed a lot. This means that people maintain their tradition
also in the social organisation: the leaders play a first-rate role
in society, the ownership of land is constant and males and females
keep their roles unchanged.
Tradition is of great importance among people and their families and
there is a huge solidarity among distant relations. To a certain extent,
this guarantees a social and economic security for all the family starting
from a share of goods and earnings among its members. On the contrary,
this practice brings those who are not as successful as others in the
family to be considered and to live as parasite in it.
The culture and social behaviour in Kivu are characterised by a mixture
of traditional and colonial influences that lead to a hierarchical system
based on a strong discipline by the leader, the administrative managers
or politicians. It is a paternalistic system, similar to a feudal one,
where people are accustomed to receiving everything from the state or
by the chief. A report from CCZC
(Population of the North-Eastern Zaire: population,
health, education - September 1988) analyses
that lead people to bow their head in front of every act from
the Authorities. Such traditional attitude conditioned and go on conditioning
every popular behaviour in front of the Authorities such as, State,
Church, dealer or people more or less privileged".
This aspect is very important to understand the social organisation
and the power relations in Kivu.
After independence, this passive attitude enabled people to submit themselves
to the new political context and, in the meantime, to learn certain
rules to survive: e.g. corruption, favouritism to receive a job or a
tax abolition. First, many of them searched easy earnings without doing
big effort; secondly the other lost their values and their social rules.
The administrative and political contexts do not make morality disappear
in the community. In this way, the spiritual practices and beliefs are
still alive. There are a lot of religious confessions beginning from
the great religions such as Catholicism, Protestantism, Kimbanguism
and Islamism, to a great deal of groups of Christian tradition.
the daily life there is a combination of beliefs and practises that
go from the traditional animism to dogmas and recognised religions.
The presence of great religious groups and similar movements enable
some communities to organise their socio-economic lives with the introduction
of a health pedagogic system and trade, to foster of traditional agricultural
technique etc. The religious life is an important aspect of the regional
culture where different Missions play a spiritual role.
Different ethnic groups have as cultural characteristics, besides their
peculiar languages and dialect, broad traditions including dances, songs,
handicraft, music, costumes, a distinguished cooking and a particular
way of life. This culture hands on with tales, riddles, songs, proverbs
etc. But this education fades away little by little, particularly in
the urban environment, and do not exist a political or community will
to preserve or to foster it. It is clear that the most recent assets
composed of buildings, public facilities and infrastructures, are decaying
The regional culture is also produced by influences and relations from
the outside. These exchanges exist since ages and go on through trade,
introduction of foreign products, tourism as well as the access to services
and cultural assets coming from abroad.
Diffusion of cultural productions, either from Congo Kinshasa or from
outside, is really difficult because of the state of road network and
the lack of any facilities. The region is lacking in equipment and goods
that enable it to develop a cultural and artistic life.
(...) Usually, the cultural exchanges were organised in public places
or because of particular events: markets, familiar or religious feasts,
marriages. This practise is still alive but it is not supported by places
of diffusion that enable to introduce shows, plays, sport, cinema or
to let people know the history of the country or of the region. (back
PHENOMENON IN KIVU BEFORE THE TWO WARS (1996 - 1998)
its geographic position, Kivu can be considered as the natural territory
accepting migrants from the neighbouring countries.
The ethnic Communities located in the mountainous region of Kivu share
a great deal of socio-cultural aspects with the Rwanda and Burundi populations.
Along the years, there were a lot of migrations among these communities
that were reduced by marking the borderline.
The migrations exist since ages and for two main reasons. The first
one depends on natural causes and on being in need of labour that pushed
families or group of people to leave their environment in the search
of land to cultivate, areas of living or work in big plantations.
In the last case, thousands of people coming from Rwanda went to Masisi
or the Rutshuru area in order to work in the industrial agricultural
production during the colonial period.
The second one is a socio-political cause related to social conflicts,
wars or any of retaliation or disagreement that have obliged people
to search another place to live.
Considering its big territories and its propitious climatic conditions,
Kivu becomes an acceptance region for all these different kind of migrants.
It is difficult to know exactly how the migration phenomenon goes on.
According to scientific census in 1984, 10% of population in the three
regions and 20% of population in the North Kivu region are migrants.
In fact, the World Bank during a mission in the urban environment of
Kivu in 1987, estimated that a number comprised by 1,5 and 2 million
of migrants, i.e. more than 25% of regional population, would be established
in the region during previous decades. This difference between the World
Bank figures and the data of the census could depend on the fact that
newcomers declared themselves to be zaireeses (congoleeses) in the census
in 1984, and so they were not classified as migrants.
It is undoubtedly that Kivu is up to the lack of spaces and cultivated
land of Rwanda (inhabitants are more than 250 per kmq) and Burundi people,
where people reach 200 inhabitants per kmq.
In these two countries where the agriculture is the main activity, the
density of the rural environment with its three inhabitants on average
per hectare on the rural surface has reached the saturation point that
will improve the rural migration phenomenon in the next years.
The northern Kivu has known migration movement, organised by landowners,
which have gathered thousands of workers.
In the southern Kivu the flux of migrants, mostly composed by Burundeeses,
were less important. The main settlement areas are been Fizi, Uvira,
Walungu and Mwenga while in the northern Kivu the provinces of Masisi,
Rutshuru and Goma have welcomed the most part of migrants. Relating
to Maniema, it seems that the migration phenomenon do not involve a
lot of these provinces even if it is a huge territory with a big possibility
Besides the migration from the neighbouring countries, there are also
the internal ones from the three provinces conntected to particular
causes such as transhumance on the plateau which imply temporary displacement
of farmers in search of new pasturages who usually be back to their
The phenomenon of gold handicraft production involves thousands of people
who move close to the stope area. There are also the movement of people
and families which every year leave rural areas overpopulated in search
of a land to grow. This phenomenon regards about some thousand people
per year, even if the administrative figures do not give any data or
analysis in this sense.
These internal movements bring rural population to leave the uplands
or landless areas to urban centres or fertile lands.
Another cause of migration is also constituted by the land ownership.
In the 50s, the development of big farm obliged 4.000 banyamulenge families
to leave their settlements for going to Shaba. A similar situation was
occurred in Masisi province. Mostly, the conflicts between landowners
and peasants obliged the latter to resettle themselves elsewhere. Relating
to the territory overpopulated such as the mountainous Kivu, the migrants
arrival provokes a strong increase of the population and has a big influence
on the occupation and density of the soil.
Northern and Southern Kivu have a big gap in its development due to
exhaustion of forests and rural spaces as well as overpopulated areas.
There are also social tensions between the indigenous groups and the
The arrival of external or internal migrants raised a lot of problems:
for farmers accustomed to grow in the height, the settlement in the
lowland implies a strong cultural adaptability apart from different
sanitary conditions: heat, malaria, sleeping sickness, etc. The settlement
in these underdevelopped areas or uninhabited needs of infrastructures
such as dispensaries, schools, churches, trade of provisions and materials,
shops and canteens.
Altough these regions have a very big spaces suitable of settlement
(Maniema: all the areas - North Kivu: Walikale and Lubero - South Kivu:
Fizi, Mwenga, Shabunda), do not exist will or programmes to foster the
settlement of migrants on these lands.
In northern Kivu some projects of peasants settlements are still organising
and among them there is that of the UGIPA. (...) This experience has
cope with some problems related to the peasants selection, their rights
and duties in the project. A global evaluation would be necessary for
implementing similar projects in other places of the region.
In spite of everything the needs linked to the increase of new fertile
lands and population spaces seem very big.
source: Schéma régional d'aménagement
du Kivu, Sept. 1991) (back
(Translated by M.B.)