Kandale, DR Congo

Nearest cities: Gungu (30 miles), Kikwit (150 miles). Kinshasa, the nation’s capital, is 500 miles from Kandale.

Nearest cities: Gungu (30 miles), Kikwit (150 miles). Kinshasa, the nation’s capital, is 500 miles from Kandale.

Kandale is a collection of about 100 villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Its estimated population of 70,000 inhabitants is mostly young and unemployed. Those relatively few who do work in salaried jobs, such as teachers, tend subsistence farms in order to feed their families.

Kandale is also home to a Mennonite mission station founded in 1926 by an independent Canadian Baptist missionary, Percy Near (pictured), known locally as Fumunene, or  “Mighty Chief.”

Mr. Percy Near “Fumunene” in Kandale - 1955

Mr. Percy Near “Fumunene” in Kandale - 1955

During his ministry, he planted orange groves in and around Kandale mission station from the orange seeds he brought on the ship from Canada. Due to a lack of success, Mr. Near handed over the management of Kandale mission to the American Congo Inland Mission “C.I.M” in 1954. In 1971, CIM became Église du Christ au Zaire (ECZ), now Communauté Mennonite au Congo (CMCO)with the Rev. Kabangy Moise, from Kashitu village in Kandale, as the first elected president (1971-1979).

The Reverend and Mrs. Kabangy Moise - 1974

The Reverend and Mrs. Kabangy Moise - 1974

Kandale CMCO is the official site of REVE Kandale and its more than 100 dues-paying community members partnering with the US-based Reve Kandale Foundation to build a better future for the children of Kandale and their families. It is 30 miles from Gungu (population 23,893) in Kwilu Province and about 500 miles from the nation’s capital city, Kinshasa.   

Geography

Kandale-Mukedi path

Kandale-Mukedi path

The climate is tropical with two main seasons: a prolonged rainy season from mid-August to mid-May (9 months) and a pronounced dry season from mid-May to mid-August (3 months).

Culture

Popular Pende masks, Mingaji dancers at Kandale -  October 2018

Popular Pende masks, Mingaji dancers at Kandale - October 2018

The largest cultural group living in the Kandale community is the Bapende or Pende.  The Pende people traditionally speak their own language, Kipende, which is part of the Central Bantu group of languages. The Pende are particularly known for their traditional dances and art, which is complex and includes traditional masks “Mingaji” with fully body suit made out of raffia. These dances are associated with initiation rituals. In traditional Pende society there was no centralized political authority and communities were organized around extended family groups rather than through chiefly authority.

The number of people who consider themselves to be ethnically Pende is estimated at more than 250,000. Their culture has survived since ancient times through periods of conquest by other tribes and through centuries of the slave trade and colonization by Belgium from 1887 to 1960. They have gone through long periods of hardship including war, hunger, and disease.     

Land

Some young people in Kandale picking mushrooms in the nearby field.

Some young people in Kandale picking mushrooms in the nearby field.

The people of Kandale are rooted in a centuries-long relationship with their land. Kandale is considered one of the bread baskets in the Gungu District of Kwilu Province. Locally produced crops include cassava, millet, maize, rice, beans, palm oil, peanuts and a wide variety of fruits such as bananas, pineapples, mangoes and wild berries. However, poor farming and hunting practices, which engulf vast savannah land in fire every year, are threatening the areas with major environmental degradation and food security problems. Much of the indigenous wildlife that had been  part of the local diet has steadily disappeared.

Center of Education

Kibanda Village primary school children in Kandale -  1955

Kibanda Village primary school children in Kandale - 1955

Kandale has been a center of education and training that has served students from the surrounding countryside since the original Baptist missionaries became established there in the 1920s.  Kandale is home to several primary schools, a high school (Institut Gufwa-Gubila), and a secondary level school with sewing and business programs (Lycee Gin’a Gisanga). Due to the severe economic problems experienced by the country in recent years, only about 40 to 50 percent of children in the larger community surrounding Kandale attend school.

Former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers to Kandale and current board members, Peter Lane (L) and Greg Ramm (Back)

Former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers to Kandale and current board members, Peter Lane (L) and Greg Ramm (Back)

REVE Kandale aims to improve the quality of life for children and their families in Kandale. Our goal is to make Kandale a shining example to other communities in the region and eventually serve to spread the message of hope and economic and environmental improvement throughout the region.

Some News You Could Use

USA-Kinshasa - 18-hour Flight (Airlines - Ethiopian, Air France, SN Brussels, Turkish Air)

USA-Kinshasa - 18-hour Flight (Airlines - Ethiopian, Air France, SN Brussels, Turkish Air)

Kinshasa-Kandale-13 hrs (4x4 Vehicle with overnight in Kikwit)

Kinshasa-Kandale-13 hrs (4x4 Vehicle with overnight in Kikwit)

Festival National de Gungu every summer - featuring Pende Mingaji dancers

Festival National de Gungu every summer - featuring Pende Mingaji dancers

Lukuila canyons (5 miles away)

Lukuila canyons (5 miles away)

Pende art museum in Gungu (25 miles away)

Pende art museum in Gungu (25 miles away)

Kakobola Waterfalls (30 miles away)

Kakobola Waterfalls (30 miles away)

REVE Kandale: Building a Community in Congo - video