Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in the continent of Africa. More than 200 different ethnic groups live there making up a population of over 71 million people! The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a different country from the Republic of the Congo. They are located next to each other and have similar names, but they are different countries.

The DRC straddles the Equator in the middle of Africa. In the country you can find the mighty Congo River. This river stretches 2,900 miles (4,700 kilometers) through the heart of Africa. DRC has a poor road and rail system, so the Congo River provides the main means of transportation, moving products and people over the country’s great forests and savanna.

DRC has more natural resources than almost any other country in Africa, including fertile farmland, acres of woodland and millions of tons of precious minerals. Yet, it is one of the world’s poorest countries. This is due to its troubled history. Like most countries in Africa, over the last 500 years DRC was taken over (colonized), first by Portugal and then by Belgium. When the Portuguese took over they killed anyone who could give them trouble and took millions as slaves. They kept the country’s natural resources for themselves. Families were split apart and people lacked even basic education. When Belgium took over they continued to do the same.

It’s not surprising that when the DRC gained its independence from Belgium in 1960, there were no Congolese (people from DRC) leaders left to rule the country well. And so, since 1960, the DRC has endured years of war. More than 5 million people died as a result of the conflict.

Thankfully, there are many in the country who work hard to build peace and bring people together. Children who belong to Mission Together (called Holy Childhood in DRC) groups, gather together to pray and follow the example of Jesus, who showed us the importance of forgiveness and fresh starts. Watch the film below to see children from DRC Holy Childhood groups singing and dancing in worship. They are singing in French – the official language of DRC. Do you recognise any words?