Kandale, DR Congo
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.”
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).
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.