When independence comes to the Belgian Congo, June 30, the new government - composed of Africans with limited administrative experience - will attempt the difficult task of controlling remote tribes almost devoid of political sense, with no concept of the workings of a modern state.
When independence comes to the Belgian Congo, June 30, the new government - composed of Africans with limited administrative experience - will attempt the difficult task of controlling remote tribes almost devoid of political sense, with no concept of the workings of a modern state. Parties have been formed, and coalitions have developed, but these reflect tribal rivalries and affiliations, rather than genuine political ideologies or programmes, as the modern world understands those terms.
North-west of Luluabourg in Kasai Province - where Lulua and Baluba tribesmen have fought each other intermittently for months - lies the country of the Balubas. The King of the Mushenge village Bakubas, Lukengu, will probably lead his people against the Balubas - traditional enemies - when Belgian administration ends; this will be the final flourish of a once great warrior-people who expect the urbanised politicians to strip them of all vestiges of power in due course. The Balubas support Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's foremost political leader, who heads the Left-wing Congo National Movement: automatically therefore, the Bakubas most oppose it.
Another anti-Baluba tribe are the primitive Asala Mpasu, some of whom inhabit Ulunga, near Kapanga. Pacified as late as 1927, they are still largely untouched by civilisation - practising polygamy, slavery, and - according to some - ritual cannibalism. Only their chiefs are faintly/concerned with politics, generally supporting the moderate National Progress Party. When independence comes, the Balubas - the territory's traders - will find it safer to leave.
Happiest are those tribes with no old scores to pay off; the Babunda, an offshoot of the Babindji, famous for their colourful ceremonial dances, have scarcely entered the political scene. And in some parts of the Congo, vivid memories of past violence dissuade the inhabitants from fresh outbreaks; the Rutten Falls on the Lufuku River, tumbling 600 feet to cascade into 5 separates, would appear - to the stranger - just another beauty spot; to the natives they remain a traditional hiding place of warriors after the abortive Bapende Rising of 1934; firmly suppressed, it left the people of those parts with little taste for further warfare.
The future of the Congo is uncertain. Everything depends on the events following June 30. It remains to be seen whether a stable government is established and whether the Army - 24,000 Congolese and 1,000 Belgian officers - co-operates with the administration. A strong government and a loyal army will be the Congo's best safeguard against inter-tribal anarchy.