Democratic Republic of Congo Literature and Theater

By | September 21, 2021

Faced with a rich oral literary tradition, written literature appears belatedly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to poor literacy. The first works of some interest date from the 1950s, when the narrators Ch. Samudju, M. Kasongo, D. Mutombo, J. Bolikwango and P. Lomami-Tshibamba, and novelists such as FJ Mopila and Ph. Edme. At the same time a theater conceived as a show was developing, of which A. Mongita is the best known author. In 1957 a theater was also built in Elisabethville (today Lubumbashi), which revealed the talents of LS Bondekwe, J. Kiwélé, A. Ngongo. The new ferments of vindication and revolt flowed into the writings of future politicians, such as Albert Kalonji, Moïse Tshombe and Anicet Kashamura, but above all in the speeches of Patrice E. Lumumba (1926-1961). The period preceding independence saw the rise of a more committed and militant poetry, albeit rather simple and naive, with E. Boundzéki-Dongala, Ntetembo Eto, A. Ngongo, P. Kabongo, JM Kitikwa.

With the publication of the poetry collection Esanzo (1955), Roger-Antoine Bolamba (1913-2002) made a happy synthesis between traditional Mongo poetry and surrealism, imposing itself on the attention of the West. After the proclamation of independence, the new universities of Lubumbashi and Kisangani, various study centers and journals were founded. In 1966 the poet E. Witahnkengé published works by GI Kabulu, P. Musangi, S. Magys Mukoko, G. Kajiga, A. Vianda, G. Bokémie. Meanwhile many theatrical companies were formed, which revealed good talents, such as the aforementioned Bolamba and M. Mulumba. With peace rediscovered, literature becomes realistic and politicized from being an idealist and romantic. All literary genres develop thanks to various initiatives. In the narrative field, after some good tests by Th. Malembe, Th. Kanza and Batukezanga, the novels Entre les eaux stand out. (1972) by VY Mudimbe (b.1941) and Deux vies un temps nouveau by Ngombo Mbala, which analyze the psychological problems caused by the transformation of society. In line with Mobutu’s doctrine, a return to ancestral values ​​is advocated as a starting point for the construction of new socio-cultural structures conforming to modern reality. Other novelists deal with topical issues, such as DJ Bassembe and MM Ngal, while three names dominate the field of short stories: P. Lomami-Tshibamba, M. Mushiete and Marie Caroline Nsugi. The poets take up the already obvious themes of Nègritude.

According to allunitconverters, most of the university poets are also inspired by African American poets, but they also find personal accents, in a political poem particularly centered on the opposition to colonialism, racism and tribal struggles. These include: MM Tschiakatumba, the aforementioned VY Mudimbe, ET Lukumbi, Ph. NN Masegabio (b. 1944), PO Musangi (b. 1946), AFT Ngoie. Another current is linked to the oral tradition, with Clémentine Madiya Faïk Nzuji (b. 1944), Bukulu and Gabriel NL Sumaili (b. 1946). But there is also an individualist current, which deals with the eternal themes of love and death, represented by Elisabeth Françoise Mweya, ET Lukumbi, Ph. E. Lisembe, BI Bolumbé, DM Kadima-Nzuji, P. Wabeno, FM Mayengo and others. The theater is also expanding, featuring historical dramas, which exalt national heroes, and from socio-political dramas, which deal with current issues. The most prominent authors, Kuseluka, Mvumbi-Mvindu, Hassóudy, J.-M. Kanku, NL Mikanza, Bolamba, Nyemba Ndilu, Ph. L. Elepe and A. Letembat-Ambily. Since the 1980s, the literary panorama has presented two written productions: one in African languages, largely inspired by the new messianic churches, which mobilize the imagination around symbols and visions; and one in French that refers to models of the century. XIX. Multiple literary circles launch new trends: melangism, concretism, hyper-symbolism, traditionalism.

The novel, which prevails over poetry, develops along two main lines: on the one hand linear stories that tend to adhere to reality and denounce social defects; on the other, novels characterized by a power of myth which express, in innovative forms, problems of conscience. But the genre that continues to achieve a place of primary importance is still theater, often epic and redundant, which favors themes such as the dissolution of the family, the demystification of ancient beliefs but also the rejection of modernism. The figure of BE Tandundu dominates the numerous authors, relentless and torrential critic of postcolonial African societies. Starting from the end of the 1980s and still to the beginning of the 21st century, the country, suffocated by the civil war, has not been able to develop a literary production.

Democratic Republic of Congo Literature