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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)
(2014) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH. Virtual Issue on Comparative Urbanism(2014).
Author
Organization
Abstract
In this 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 1950s. 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 mobilized 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 to gain 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
Democratic Republic of Congo, Butembo, myth, water hyacinth, Congo Ya Sika

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

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 2014 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Geenen, Kristien. (2014). 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.
Chicago author-date
Geenen, Kristien. 2014. “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.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Geenen, Kristien. 2014. “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.
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. 2014.
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. Virtual Issue on Comparative Urbanism, no. 2014. 2014.
@misc{5651943,
  abstract     = {In this 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 1950s. 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 mobilized 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 to gain 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},
  keywords     = {Democratic Republic of Congo,Butembo,myth,water hyacinth,Congo Ya Sika},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2014},
  pages        = {23},
  series       = {INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH},
  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       = {Virtual Issue on Comparative Urbanism},
  year         = {2014},
}

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