Debate from ROAPE Volume 29 Number 93/94
Research Note on Congo's Nationalist Paradox
Precious little is redeeming about the state in Congo. Created as a foreign enterprise of exploitation, it reproduced as the instrument of an extractive colonization system, in turns violent and paternalistic. Once independent, it provided the stage and the reason for five years of sheer chaos and three decades of brutal arbitrary rule, predation and economic ruin, before collapsing at the end of the 1990s into civil wars marked by ethnic polarization, displacements, plunder, deprivation and death. Yet Congo endures, and the Congolese profess unusual fervor in their attachment to it. Their support for its territorial integrity and its failed institutions is stronger even than their powerful commitment to democratic principles and it stands in contrast with the lack of material benefits that the state has ever provided the larger mass of them. This is Congo's nationalist paradox.