Brazzaville, Congo (June 2018)
Brazzaville is the capital of the Republic of Congo, and the country is sometimes called “Congo-Brazzaville” to distinguish it from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded by the French empire, the city name derives from the Italian-born explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza.
About half of Congo’s inhabitants identify with the Kongo peoples, whose major subgroups include the Sundi, Kongo, Lali, Kougni, Bembe, Kamba, Dondo, Vili, and Yombe. The Ubangi peoples include the Makoua, Kouyou, Mboshi, Likouala, Ngala, and Bonga. The Teke and the Sanga, or “Gabonese Bantu,” are also divided into subgroups. The Binga Pygmies live in small bands, usually as clients of surrounding farming peoples. Except for the Pygmies and the Adamawa-Ubangi speaking populations in the northeast, the indigenous peoples all speak Bantu languages. Intergroup communication and trade fostered the development of two trade languages, Lingala and Kituba (Mono kutuba). Lingala is spoken north of Brazzaville, and Kituba is common in the area between the capital and the coast. French is the official language and the medium of educational instruction, as well as the language of the upper classes.
Precolonial artistic expression emphasized ceremonial music, dance, sculpture, and oral literature. Christianity and colonialism had a great impact on these art forms. The carving of ritual objects became commercialized, and music and dance altered as a result of the introduction of Western instruments and musical styles. In the 1980s the Brazzaville region became a vital centr for the production of contemporary African music, known as Congolese music or rumba. The genre, which mixes traditional African rhythms and instruments with those borrowed from other cultures, enjoys widespread popularity throughout Africa as well as around the world. Popular sports in Congo include football (soccer), men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball.
Land and Climate
Brazzaville is located on the north side of the Congo River and is a relatively flat town. It sits just 315 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean and nearly 300 miles south of the equator. The average temperatures in June average a high of 28 °C (83°F) and a low of 19°C (67 °F). Brazzaville has a tropical wet and dry climate. The rainy season is October to May, and the driest months are July and August.
Conveniently located on the Congo River, Brazzaville grew as an industrial, trading and port settlement, in part due to the accumulation of raw materials extracted during the colonial period. Industries present in Brazzaville include machine shops, textiles, tanning, and manufacturing. As a key port on the Congo River, the city takes deliveries of raw materials, such as rubber, wood and agricultural products. From here they are generally sent onward to Pointe-Noire for export.