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How the people of Butembo (RDC) were chosen to embody 'the New Congo': or what the appearance of a poster in a city's public places can teach about its social tissue

Kristien Geenen (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
In the article, I translate local narratives about one particular event into a reading of a city as a whole. The city concerned is Butembo, a secondary city in the North Kivu province (DRC). The incident relates to the appearance of a foreign flower in the late fifties. This water hyacinth – named “Congo ya Sika,” which means “the New Congo” – caused severe damage to the waterways of the Belgian Congo, and the colonial authorities mobilised the population in an effort to eradicate the plague. Pamphlets and posters were spread, with the request to destroy the pictured flower when spotted. People of Butembo reacted in a most particular way to the appearance of these posters in their city, ascribing the Congo ya Sika flower mythical proportions right from the start. In their interpretation, the appearance of the flower was a sign that “the new Congo” would rise in their town, endowing their place exclusively with a particular force. I scrutinize the myth’s origin and analyse its social meaning, in an effort at a better understanding of Butembo’s society. Throughout my analysis, special attention is paid to (self)representation, and to noise stuck to colonial messages.
Keywords
myth, noise, Butembo, North Kivu (RDC), African secondary city, urbanization, Democratic Republic of Congo, the New Congo'

Citation

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MLA
Geenen, Kristien. “How the People of Butembo (RDC) Were Chosen to Embody ‘the New Congo’: Or What the Appearance of a Poster in a City’s Public Places Can Teach About Its Social Tissue.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH 36.3 (2012): 448–461. Print.
APA
Geenen, Kristien. (2012). How the people of Butembo (RDC) were chosen to embody “the New Congo”: or what the appearance of a poster in a city’s public places can teach about its social tissue. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH, 36(3), 448–461.
Chicago author-date
Geenen, Kristien. 2012. “How the People of Butembo (RDC) Were Chosen to Embody ‘the New Congo’: Or What the Appearance of a Poster in a City’s Public Places Can Teach About Its Social Tissue.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36 (3): 448–461.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Geenen, Kristien. 2012. “How the People of Butembo (RDC) Were Chosen to Embody ‘the New Congo’: Or What the Appearance of a Poster in a City’s Public Places Can Teach About Its Social Tissue.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36 (3): 448–461.
Vancouver
1.
Geenen K. How the people of Butembo (RDC) were chosen to embody “the New Congo”: or what the appearance of a poster in a city’s public places can teach about its social tissue. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH. 2012;36(3):448–61.
IEEE
[1]
K. Geenen, “How the people of Butembo (RDC) were chosen to embody ‘the New Congo’: or what the appearance of a poster in a city’s public places can teach about its social tissue,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 448–461, 2012.
@article{3824425,
  abstract     = {In the article, I translate local narratives about one particular event into a reading of a city as a whole.  The city concerned is Butembo, a secondary city in the North Kivu province (DRC).  The incident relates to the appearance of a foreign flower in the late fifties. This water hyacinth – named “Congo ya Sika,” which means “the New Congo” –  caused severe damage to the waterways of the Belgian Congo, and the colonial authorities mobilised the population in an effort to eradicate the plague.  Pamphlets and posters were spread, with the request to destroy the pictured flower when spotted. People of Butembo reacted in a most particular way to the appearance of these posters in their city, ascribing the Congo ya Sika flower mythical proportions right from the start. In their interpretation, the appearance of the flower was a sign that “the new Congo” would rise in their town, endowing their place exclusively with a particular force. I scrutinize the myth’s origin and analyse its social meaning, in an effort at a better understanding of Butembo’s society. Throughout my analysis, special attention is paid to (self)representation, and to noise stuck to colonial messages.},
  author       = {Geenen, Kristien},
  issn         = {0309-1317},
  journal      = {INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH},
  keywords     = {myth,noise,Butembo,North Kivu (RDC),African secondary city,urbanization,Democratic Republic of Congo,the New Congo'},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {448--461},
  title        = {How the people of Butembo (RDC) were chosen to embody 'the New Congo': or what the appearance of a poster in a city's public places can teach about its social tissue},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2011.01084.x},
  volume       = {36},
  year         = {2012},
}

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