Category Archives: Congo

Is it appropriate to use the term "Pygmy" when speaking of…Pygmies?

Left: Efe (Pygmy) man. Right: White guy.
Some of the people who live in the rain forest of Central Africa are known widely as “Pgymies.” That word…Pygmy…is considered problematic for a few different reasons. It refers to a person’s physical appearance, because it means “small.” The word is sometimes used in biology to refer to the smaller species among a group of closely related species, as in “Pygmy Hippopotamus” or “Pygmy Chimp.” In English and probably some other languages, the term is used in a derogatory way to refer to someone who is perceived as not very smart, as in “Pygmy mind.” Sometimes the word is simply used, as it is, as a non-specific derogatory word. Someone might be called a “Pygmy” because by someone who does not like them. Also, more of a distracting complexity than negative meaning, the term “Pygmy” is often misused to refer to a much larger number of different people around the world who happen to be dark skinned and short. We see the term used for the Andaman Islands, in Papaua New Guinea and Australia, for example. These a are some of the reasons the term is considered problematic. Continue reading Is it appropriate to use the term "Pygmy" when speaking of…Pygmies?

A Bend in the River: Get Bent

On of my favorite books is A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul. It is a story set in at the junction of a native and expat community in an African rain forest country with a not very despotic leader (the “Big Man”) at a time when a civil war was about to arrive on the scene. I like the book because of the writing, because of the story, because one of the character is supposedly based on someone I vaguely know (that’s always fun) and because I was there …. living at the juncture of an expat and native community in a rain forested African country with a not-to-despotic leader named Mobutu Sese Seku. And I read a few of Naipaul’s other books and liked them to.

The, I go and find out he’s a dick.

Continue reading A Bend in the River: Get Bent

ca 140 killed in Congo boat sinking

Up to 140 people are feared dead after a boat carrying passengers and goods capsized on a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.

The accident happened on the Kasai river – a tributary of the Congo River – in the western province of Bandundu.

Information Minister Lambert Mende told the BBC the boat had been overloaded and 80 people had been confirmed dead.

After decades of conflict, DR Congo has few roads or rail links and many people travel on often overloaded vessels.

Continue reading ca 140 killed in Congo boat sinking