Archive for March, 2008

Malthusian trap or social policy ?

March 18, 2008

Check the interaction between fertility and per capita income in Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville in this Gapminder chart.

Did growth in income per capita drive the increased fertility before 1970 ? Was the post-1976 decrease in fertility caused by falling income or was it the result of policy decisions ?

Notice that Gabon had, by far, the lowest fertility rate in 1950 on the continent and the highest per capita income.

I’m also intrigued by the 1978-1984 bump in congolese income per capita. Obviously it wasn’t the oil since Gabon didn’t experience the same thing (though Gabon has a bigger capacity back then). And politically, those were interesting times.

Isn’t this how it always starts ?

March 17, 2008

from the BBC

Bundu Dia Kongo (the People of Congo) challenged the state’s authority and tried to impose its own rule in the villages of western Congo.

This included levying a fine of a pig on those who cheated on their wives, and whipping teachers whose schools were not well-maintained.

But the religious group also has its own militia made of young men armed with sticks and machetes.

First of all, that’s bad translation. Bundu Dia Kongo means People of Kongo, not Congo. The difference being that Kongo is an ethnic group and a former kingdom based around the lower part of the Congo River.

The Kingdom officially converted to Christianity in 1491 and Kongo nationalism has that interesting tendency to express itself through messianic Christian movements (here, here, here, here, here, here, here). That’s for people who haven’t read this.

That said, this is not the point of this entry. I guess the cause of concern is that Bundi Di Kongo seems more active than its predecessors in establishing itself as the legitimate rulers of Kongo both politically and religiously. And the failure of DRC as a state and the absence of any national Kongo political figure makes success a lot more likely.

I don’t have much sympathy for colonial borders and post-colonial states and I think there are strong arguments for most calls for autonomy and independence. But I value secularism even more and this smells like the beginning of something nasty.