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Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren - Belgium
Tel. (+32) 02 769 52 11
Fax (+32) 02 769 52 42


Publications RMCA

New publications

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Virunga, Archives and collections of an outstanding national park

By Patricia Van Schuylenbergh & Han de Koeijer (eds)

Publishers: Royal Museum for Central Africa
Partnership with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Co-published with Philippe de Moerloose

Series « Collections of the RMCA »
ISBN : 978-9-4926-6906-3

Retail price: 19,50 € 
190 p.



Today, and from its creation, the Virunga National Park, formerly known as the Albert National Park, is internationally renowned and recognized. The oldest national park in Africa, founded by Belgians with the support of American scientists to protect the mountain gorilla, Virunga covers a vast zone with a diversity of natural habitats sheltering exceptional flora and fauna that had to be protected come what may. For this purpose, scientific management of the park sought primarily to carry out full inventories and monitor the environment over the long term.
The collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences conserve a significant portion of the documentary heritage amassed in the park and which recounts the fascinating and sometimes challenging human adventure behind it. Institutional archives, reports, scientific publications, photographs, maps, and above all, multidisciplinary collections from exploratory and fieldwork missions conducted until the early 1960s embody a formidable source of knowledge, from which researchers and environmental conservation managers can still reap enormous benefits today. The gradual classification and digitization of these data, available in open access, will lend maximum visibility to these sources for their many users. Meanwhile, historical research makes it possible to contextualize them with precision and grasp the issues at stake. Our two institutions preserve and enhance the value of these unique testimonials from the past, for our present and our future.

Patricia Van Schuylenbergh
holds a doctorate degree in history. Head of the History and Politics scientific service at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, she specializes in Belgian colonial history, in particular the history of the environment, natural sciences, and protection and conservation of fauna in Central Africa. Virunga National Park is an important focus of her publications.

Han de Koeijer has been affiliated with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences since 1999 as a scientific assistant and officer in charge of the Belgian Clearing House Mechanism. He is behind the CEBioS programme of the RBINS, which is involved in capacity-building within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity in developing countries.

With Jean-Pierre d’Huart, Jackie van Goethem, Benoit Smets, Caroline Michellier, François Kervyn, Ivan Samin, Laurence Cammaert…


Des entités singulières dans un espace politico-administratif

By Jean Omasombo (ed.)

Volume n° 10 of the collection 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD)

ISBN : 978-9-4926-6908-7

Retail price: 29,00 €

688 p.
Only available in French

Special offer for individual customers:
Buy here the book Kasai (Monographie) and receive a 15% discount on Kasaï. Rencontre avec le roi des Lele by Marc Pain
if you purchase them together.
(Offer good while supplies last.)


Kasaï province is a vertical strip stretching from north to south, with the Kasaï river serving as its spine as it traverses all of the province’s territories with the sole exception of Dekese up north. A transit zone, Kasaï is connected to neighbouring provinces via two main routes that connect Kinshasa and Lubumbashi: by rail (Ilebo-Lubumbashi line) and by road (RN1, the national road). Rail transport is functional but slow, as is the port at Ilebo (Port-Francqui), which serves as the junction between rail and the Kasaï river towards Kinshasa. Meanwhile, the RN1 section crossing the province from east to west seems to attract attention from both the government and international donors. It passes through the heart of the province, Tshikapa, which has now become its capital. Moreover, it is the only point in common between the new province and its predecessor, Unité-Kasaïenne (1962-1966). The latter had been envisioned as a means of bringing together the ethnic minorities of ‘Grand-Kasaï’ in a single entity, in contrast with the newly-created mono-ethnic neighbouring provinces.
Kasaï province is the meeting point of major sociocultural trends from both the south and north-west of the DRC, resulting in an amalgam of diverse populations whose main strongholds are all found outside the limits of the province. Only the Kuba differ in this respect, as their cradle is located in Mweka territory whose administrative borders coincide with that of the chiefdom. From an ethnographic point of view, the Kuba propelled Kasaï to fame and continue to be a source of fascination owing to the weight of their history, the symbolism surrounding their power, and the brilliance of their art. A nuanced insider’s view by a well-placed member of the Court takes you through the maze of streets in Mushenge, their capital. The Ndengese-Ikolombe-Isodvu (Isolu) and Yaelima who occupy Dekese territory are also specific groups that integrate more with the Mongo. This is also the case for their forest space, more a part of the Congo basin than the wooded savannahs of the Kasaï. As for the Lele found on Ilebo territory, they obviously hold similar artistic and cultural aspects with the Kuba, and share many traits with them, in particular the nyimi.
Kasaï continues to be a land of contrasts. The apparent uniformity of Congolese state structure looks increasingly random the deeper one delves into actual situations. An example such as the creation of the territory of Kamonia illustrates the extent to which socio-political and economic realities disrupted administrative partitioning.
Today’s province bears the same name as the former large province of Kasaï, as if to demonstrate that it is a better illustration of what the previous version was supposed to embody. The original name was taken from the Kasaï river crossing the province. Later it became associated in the collective Congolese mind with the Luba and Lulua communities, despite the fact that the main centres of these two groups were the cities of Mbujimayi (Kasaï-Oriental) and Kananga (Kasaï-Central) respectively, through which the river does not flow. Finally, the name ‘Kasaï’ also conjures up images of riches from the diamond deposits that seem to follow the geological vein lying across Tshikapa and its region. This mining town and former headquarters of the Forminière has become the province’s economic engine, but its influence goes far beyond its borders. This bastion of inventiveness-based economics, founded mainly on the (semi-)artisanal utilization of diamonds for the gem trade, assembles all the players of a chain connecting the digger to the powerful merchant. Trading activities supported by mining flourish here, but while money circulates in the province, it does not remain in it. Diamonds are looted, for the survival of some and the enrichment of others. Ultimately, they beget greater instability and conflict than social or economic advances.


The Inland Water Fishes of Africa
Diversity, Ecology and Human Use

IRD Editions (France) in partnership with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium)

ISBN : 978-9-4926-6910-0

Retail price: 49,00 € 
678 p.



The equilibrium of inland hydrosystems is presently a cause for concern, with species extinction rates there estimated to be 5 times higher than for terrestrial fauna in the 21st century. Urgent measures must be taken to conserve these ecosystems particularly with regard to fishes, which represent an especially rich and diverse evolutionary heritage.
Fishes were long unaffected by human activity on the African continent, but anthropogenic pressure has increased in recent decades. Good management of African continental waters is thus of paramount importance in terms of heritage and economics, as fishes are a vital natural resource for the people in sub-Saharan Africa.
In view of biodiversity conservation, African fishes are investigated here as a biological model owing to their enormous ecological and genetic diversity. It is essential to know the ecology and structure of various communities, and to understand the impact of human activity. This book discusses the diversity of environments, the origin and evolution of species, survival and adaptive strategies, the structure of fish communities, and the impact of human activity. It also devotes a section to fisheries and fish culture.
This ambitious project summarizes the current state of knowledge on African fishes and their populations, highlighting the mechanisms regulating their equilibrium and the causes contributing to their erosion. It is a reference not just for readers involved in African aquatic environments, but for anyone interested in biodiversity conservation in general.

The Editors:

Didier PAUGY and Christian LÉVÊQUE are research directors at IRD. They have published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris. Olga OTERO is a professorial lecturer at the University of Poitiers (Institute of Paleoprimatology, Human Paleontology: Evolution and Paleoenvironments). She studies the evolution and diversification of African fishes to reconstruct the relationships between their spread, diversification, and the paleoenvironment.

With contributions from:
Jean-François Agnèse, Jean-Jacques Albaret, Rémy Bigorne, Randall Brummett, Lionel Cavin, Gaël Clément, Fabrice Duponchelle, Yves Fermon, Bernard Hugueny, Raymond Laë, Marc Legendre, Jacques Lemoalle, Alison Murray, Aurélie Pinton, Jos Snoeks (RMCA), Kathlyn Stewart.


Exploring Africa with Ancient Maps
By Wulf Bodenstein

Publishers: Royal Museum for Central Africa
Co-published with Philippe de Moerloose

Series « Collections of the RMCA »
ISBN : 978-9-4922-4479-6

Retail price: 19,50 € 
296 p.

DVDrom including 250 maps, atlas and photo’s


Since the Middle Ages, maps have documented human progress in exploring and understanding the world in which we live. In this publication the Royal Museum for Central Africa presents a selection of 80 pieces from its collection of ancient maps, dating from the late 15th to the early 20th century, of Africa and its parts.
Western maps of Africa from the early 15th century were based on ones originally defined in Alexandria by the Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD. While the shape of the continent was gradually improved as a result of early Portuguese explorations, fabulous creatures and beasts continued to populate the unknown interior, giving rise to creative map embellishments, until scientific explorations in the early 19th century began to replace fables by facts.
As the small format of the books in this series cannot do justice to the large size of our maps, a DVD is included to permit their detailed study.
This publication wants to offer, above all, a leisurely, stimulating journey through time, in the company of maps of all shapes and sizes, many of them of an immediate artistic appeal, each one a treasure-trove for the curious reader.

The Author
Wulf Bodenstein, developed an interest in the history of Africa on his return, in 1966, from a six-year civil aviation appointment with the Brittish Crown Agents in East Africa. Upon his retirement from the European Organization Eurocontrol, he followed courses in the History of Cartography at Utrecht University, specializing on the mapping of Africa, and in 1998 founded the Brussels Map Circle. He looks after the collection of ancient maps in the RMCA on a voluntary basis.


Fleuve Congo River
Picha Publishing

ISBN : 978-90-826666-0-1

Retail price: 45,00 € 

Bilingual EN and FR




Glissement politique, recul économique
By Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka, Sara Geenen, An Ansoms & Jean Omasombo Tshonda (eds)

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 91 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan & RMCA & CRE-AC/E-CA

ISBN : 978-2-343-12021-8
350 p. 

Retail price: 37,00 € 

In French


2016 was going to be a crucial year not only because, in accordance with the Congolese constitution, it was supposed to mark the end of Joseph Kabila’s sixteen years at the helm, but also since a large swathe of the opposition and Congolese civil society had sworn that the president would have to leave by 19 December 2016 at the latest, by force if necessary. Things did not go as expected. The highly anticipated change did not take place. Kabila remained in power and continues to exploit the divisions within the political opposition to reinforce his position. Time was the main ally of the presidential majority, a majority obtained in large part as a result of interminable political dialogue. All the Constitutional Court had to do was to interpret article 70 of the Constitution: in case elections are not organized, it would be up to the president to continue to remain in power.
But 2016 will also have been the year of great political difficulties from which the presidential majority has barely recovered today – most notably, the schisms that drove some of its leading lights into the opposition. It still remains deeply weakened, even though interest in the matter had waned by yearend and attention was focused on the Congolese opposition instead.
Even more seriously, 2016 saw the gradual collapse of certain socio-economic changes that were the government’s main accomplishments, as we underscored in 2015. A decline in production in the Copperbelt was one of the primary causes of economic fluctuations in the DRC, which in turn led to a slowdown in growth. While these problems justify the reduction of budget estimates, they also have a negative impact on advances in the social arena as well as on the funding of the ongoing electoral process.

Volume editors
Previous volumes were edited by Professors Stefaan Marysse and Jean Omasombo Tshonda. In 2016, the former relinquished his position at the head of CRE-AC to a new team of three researchers: Sara Geenen, professor of Globalisation and Development at the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) at the University of Antwerp; An Ansoms, professor of Development Studies at the Center for Development Studies of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL); and Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka, postdoctoral researcher affiliated with UCL and IOB.
Jean Omasombo Tshonda is a researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in the ‘History and Politics’ service.


Field Manual for African Archaeology
By A. Livingstone Smith, E. Cornelissen, O.P. Gosselain, S. MacEachern

Online series 'Documents oon Social Sciences and Humanities'

In English or in French


This manual aims at explaining essential concepts pertaining to the practice of conducting archaeological field work in Africa. No fewer than 63 authors draw on their practical experience in the field to cover specific topics.
It seeks to provide concise and readable notes that can be consulted in the field. Each chapter corresponds to a specific phase in the investigative process, from locating and excavating a site, to cataloguing and interpreting findings, and then publishing the results.
The book is online for free in English and in French. It has 9 parts and a total of 79 texts. Users can download the full manual or separate chapters, in high and low resolution versions.



Ressources naturelles et développement :
le paradoxe congolais
By Theodore Trefon & Thierry De Putter (eds)

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 90 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan & RMCA & ERAIFT

ISBN : 978-2-343-11407-1
204 p. 

Retail price: 24,50 € 

In French


Ressources naturelles et développement : le paradoxe congolais presents a different story of the relationships between power and nature. Much academic research on the Congo focuses on politics and security aspects. This book has a rather different starting point. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has natural resources the world needs. Its ores help satisfy our craving for the latest electronic gadgets. Global warming depends on the fate of its forests. Congolese farmers can feed a billion people. The Inga dam could light up the entire African continent. All these factors help redefine the strategic contribution of the DRC in a globalised world.
This book analyses the new dynamics at play in the management of forests, mines, land, water, and oil. It links these sectors by connecting them with each other and integrating them in transnational, African, and international systems. Written in a clear and direct style, the volume presents a range of facts and analyses that make it an essential companion for any reader interested in the political economy of resource management in Africa.


La société congolaise face à la modernité (1700-2010)
Mélanges eurafricains offerts à Jean-Luc Vellut
By Pamphile Mabiala Mantuba-Ngoma & Mathieu Zana Etambala (eds)

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 89 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan & RMCA

ISBN : 978-2-343-11120-9
392 p. 

Retail price: 38,00 € 

In French


The integration of Congolese society into the modern era, with its continuities and its breaks, its challenges and effects, have always been at the heart of the preoccupations of Jean-Luc Vellut, emeritus professor of the Université catholique de Louvain, who long taught social and economic history in various universities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and created essential working tools and devoted much research to the history of Central Africa.
The articles collected here in his honour show not only that precolonial societies were dynamic, but also that Belgium struggled to impose itself as a colonial power in Europe. Moreover, aspects of the external dynamics – such as indigenous policy, paid labour, religion, education, and opportunities for exploiting natural resources – were at the root of violence and the invention of new social hierarchies, new identities, new forms of belief, new economic activities, and reconfigurations of space and habitat.
This book is particularly interesting because of the many previously unpublished documentary resources, written and oral, used by the contributors to allow a reading of colonial history that breaks the silence on some topics held taboo.
It is part of a broader approach to history in which historiography delves into material culture, the psycho-history of international relations, the relationships between religion and politics, the socio-history of the colonial educational system, the social and economic aspects of the environment and urbanism, as well as the socio-cultural factors that are part of the backdrop of post-colonial political history.

The authors
Pamphile MABIALA MANTUBA-NGOMA holds a doctorate in ethnology, and is a professor and the head of the department of historical sciences of the University of Kinshasa.
Mathieu ZANA ETAMBALA holds a doctorate in history and is a scientific collaborator of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren. He is also a professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven).     



Kasaï. Rencontre avec le roi des Lele.
Carnets de voyage
by Marc Pain
Introduction by Viviane Baeke, ethnologist, RMCA

Publisher: Husson (Brussels) in parthnership with RMCA

ISBN: 978-2-916249-95-7

Retail price: 29,80 € 

In French only


An encounter with a king yielded field notes and photographs taken by geographer Marc Pain, a specialist in the tropics. The most important of these images, kept at the RMCA, are published here for the first time.
This account, recorded in 1980 and 1981 among the Bashilele of Kasaï, tackles the history of a lost culture and a people riven by conflict. These Carnets bear witness to the life and traditions of a forgotten kingdom in the immense Congo. Photographs illustrate their art, whose obscurity is in sharp contrast with the ubiquity of the art of the Kuba people found on the other side of the Kasai river. Other than a few academic studies, there are no publications or photographic reports on the Lele.
RMCA researcher Viviane Baeke describes a ‘unique documentary source’ that is even more precious given that most of the objects have been destroyed, pillaged, or sold. This original account, parts of which are included in Kasaï (series ‘Monographie des Provinces de RDC’, 2017), complements the studies being conducted on the realms of the savannah, as well as the articles circulating today on a population in decline.



Précarité et bien-être à Goma (RDC)
Récits de vie dans une ville de tous les dangers
By Theodore Trefon & Noël Kabuyaya

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 88 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA & GeoRisCa

ISBN : 978-2-343-10503-1
196 p. 

Retail price: 21,50 € 

In French


Goma is a fascinating city of around one million people caught up between volcanic eruption and armed conflict. Capital of Congo’s North Kivu Province, it is living hell for some but a city of promise for others. In contrast to doomsday discourses, this book relates the population’s attitudes about well-being, resilience and opportunity. Resigned and hardened by struggle, they give the impression that life is neither beautiful nor ugly, but an unending skirmish with destiny. Like other towns and villages in the DRC, there are glimmers of hope amid uncertainty and hints of order in disorder.
Based on twelve personal narratives, we recount the story of an urban landscape in an authentic and humanizing way. The revelations are sometimes agonizing, often surprizing but always full of meaning. This qualitative approach helps make sense of this vast enigma of a city and the relationships between the population and their economic, social, ecological, political and religious environments.
This book is an invitation to discover the intimate feelings and multiple realities of ordinary people determined to define their future.

The authors
Theodore Trefon studies state-society relationships in the DRC at the Royal Museum for Central Africa.
Noël Kabuyaya, a professor and researcher at the Université de Kinshasa, studies urban and peri-urban spaces and their environment and risks.
Avec des illustrations d’Albert Tshisuaka.




Congo Art Works
Popular paintings
By Bambi Ceuppens & Sammy Baloji

Series  "Collections of the RMCA"

Publishers: Royal Museum for Central Africa & Lannoo

ISBN : 978-2-87386-991-5
192 p. 

Retail price: 19,50 € 


In the wake of independence, the first popular paintings began to appear on walls inside Congolese homes. These works have been called ‘conversation pieces’ because they are not so much objects as images whose meaning is not fixed: they are very much open to individual interpretation and as such, invite reflection and debates about everyday concerns.
Often looked upon as a colonial art-form, popular Congolese painting is part of a long pre-colonial history of drawing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In 2013, the Royal Museum for Central Africa acquired some 2000 canvases, collected by professor Bogumil Jewsiewicki and his Congolese colleagues between 1968 and 2012 in 15 DRC towns and cities: Beni, Bukama, Bunia, Butembo, Goma, Isiro, Kananga, Kikwit, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Kolwezi, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Mbandaka and Mbuji-Mayi. It is a major collection in terms of its scale, the number of works and the archives that accompany it, including photographs of workshops, life stories, interviews with artists and chronicles.

This catalogue accompanies the first (eponymous) exhibition that the RMCA is dedicating to this collection (BOZAR, 7 October 2016 - 22 January 2017).



Statuary and religion from south-western Democratic Republic of the Congo
By Julien Volper

Series  "Collections of the RMCA"

Publishers: Royal Museum for Central Africa
Co-published with Philippe de Moerloose

ISBN : 978-9-4922-4425-3
112 p. 

Retail price: 16,50 € 

This book studies a little-known religious tradition known as nswo and shared by several groups from the south-western part of the Démocratic Republic of Congo, including the Yansi, Sakata, Hungana, Buma, Mfunuka, Tsong, Mbala, Teke, Dikidiki, and Yaka.
Numerous examples of sculptures used as part of nswo practice are found in the collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium) and account for a significant part of the book’s discussion.
The book investigates the origins of the religion, its spread, and its regional variations as expressed in the nature of both the rites and the statuary.
Julien Volper is an art historian and researcher with the Heritage studies service of the Royal Museum for Central Africa.



Coverequateur Équateur
Au cœur de la cuvette congolaise
By Jean Omasombo Tshonda (ed.)

Volume n° 9 of the collection 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD)

ISBN : 978-9-4922-4423-9

496 p. 

Only available in French


  • Download pdf
  • If you wish to obtain a printed copy of this book, please contact Dirk De Croes for a price quotation or to place an order.
  • Other online volumes of the "Monogrphies des provinces de la République democratique du Congo"

The current province of Équateur is not the birthplace of President Mobutu. It includes the majority Mongo people along with ethnic minorities in the territories of Bomongo, Mankanza, Lukolela and other Ngombe enclaves of the territories of Bolomba and Basankusu. Équateur also includes the Ekonda and Ntomba, who are also Mongo but whose relations with the Nkundo-Mongo are still marked by mutual mistrust, if not outright contempt and prejudice.
The Mongo socio-cultural spaces in Équateur province is vast if we include the Tshuapa who occupy the hinterland, that of the ‘miscellaneous Mongo’. On the ground, there are indeed many Mongo groups, but the ‘great Mongo people’ is nothing but a pure product of colonial anthropology. The Catholic Sacred Heart missionaries based in Mbandaka/Bamania imposed Lonkundo as the only unified Lomongo language. In doing so, they hoped to counter the efforts of the Scheutist congregation based in Lisala among the Ngombe, who had worked to promote Lingala. Despite their efforts, Lingala won out.
This failure at the cultural level had its counterpart in the political jockeying that took place during decolonisation. Although they initially had no particular inclinations in this area, the Mongo threw themselves into the political arena out of resentment over rising Ngombe influence. As such, the Union Mongo (UNIMO) party did not arise from the dynamism of the Mongo elite, even though history erroneously credits Justin Bomboko as its founder and president. Bomboko himself states he was a ‘Somi ya Mongo’ – First of the (sons of) Mongo – within the party. In the 1960 elections, UNIMO was overtaken by the Parti de l’Unité nationale (PUNA) led by Jean Bolikango, from the Mongala. The Ngombe were increasingly perceived as an obstacle to Mongo success, and the separation of the two groups triggered the creation of a new ethnic Mongo administrative entity called the ‘Cuvette centrale’.
During the First Republic (1960-1965), the divided and competing Mongo elite nonetheless dominated representation of the province at the national level. President Mobutu, a native of the far northern area of this ‘Grande Équateur’, knew the Mongo region, people, and milieu well owing to his birthplace (Lisala) and education (Mbandaka). Knowing that the Mpana, Losakanyi and Banunu-Bobangi had little affinity for the Nkundo (Elanga), Ekonda, and Ntomba with whom they were nonetheless integrated in the territory of Bikoro, he established the Lukolela district as a territory (1976). This was also the case for the Mankanza district in Bomongo territory. The political gain prevailed over all other motives. The ethnic minorities had more representatives and positions of power, awarded to those close to Mobutu’s circles. The construction further up north of the city of Gbadolite among the Ngbandi exacerbated the marginalisation of the Mongo, as it supplanted Mbandaka as the province’s political centre.
While Mbandaka was neglected for a time on the political level, it still remained a dominant river town towards which boats converged as they travelled between the country’s east and west, as evidenced by its many ports. Traders sailing on the river tributaries draining the hinterland also flocked to Mbandaka, bringing raw materials to the town and departing with imported manufactured goods to compensate for the lack of local production and the absence of major industries.
In addition to being the main channel of communication, the water – like the forest – represents a food reservoir for the population, which pits the province against a complex challenge. The once seemingly limitless natural resources of Équateur have now been revealed to be not only finite, but threatened by the manner in which they are being used. The region remains an area of ‘harvest’ where the reign of anarchy is encouraged by geographic isolation. Rubber, Wenge wood, palm oil, charcoal, ivory, fumbwa: all are raw materials sourced from the Congolese cuvette’s forests and rivers, which are under constant pressure from a poor and growing population.


Cover CA87

Entre incertitudes politiques et transformation économique

By Stefaan Marysse & Jean Omasombo Tshonda (eds)

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 87 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA/E-CA – CRE-AC

ISBN : 978-2-343-08858-7

326 p. 

Available in French

Retail price: 35,00 €

2015: a year of dashed hopes. An election year wherein no election was held. A year of inclusive and national political dialogue that was still left hanging as of 31 December. A year of decentralisation that witnessed provincial autonomy being rapidly confiscated by central authorities. A year with a strengthened opposition that saw major politicians joining it, yet destabilised by the government’s repressive policies. A year marked by calls to respect the Constitution but that were countered by attempts to change it or diminish its power. A year where peacekeeping efforts met with some success in the east, owing in part to the Sokola I and Sokola II operations, but where violence continued and even intensified in certain places.
It was thus a year of questions and confusion, but this was not the case for the country’s economic and – in part – social transformation. Compared with the 1990s, the country has undergone remarkable changes, with a sustained growth rate over the past decade that is reflected by increased production in the mining, construction, and communications sectors, and which has led to some reduction in household poverty. In addition, the shift to more regular and electronic bank payments for agents of the state has undoubtedly improved the lot of civil servants. Like all changes, the tangible reforms that were implemented are the result of different factors, such as the support of the international community and the influx of new foreign and local investments. In this framework, the government has also chosen to integrate this globalization, making the most of the natural resources offered to newcomers by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nonetheless, this evolution comes with the danger that this very same growth would engender a new form of extraversion. As such, the government has also opted in recent years to speed up the development of agriculture, whose neglect for almost three decades has led to greater dependence on food imports. This gamble on ‘modernization’, among other topics, will be analysed in the 2015 edition of Conjonctures congolaises.
The fundamental problem being outlined is thus the contradiction between promising economic development and a stagnant or deteriorating political landscape. This paradoxical transformation could imperil the modest but real gains in the country’s reconstruction.

Cover Philatelie UK

Going Postal. (Hi)stories and philately in Belgium
By Mathilde LEDUC-GRIMALDI (ed.)

Series “Collections of the RMCA” (special issue)

Exhibition’s catalogue Going Postal. (Hi)stories and philately in Belgium, BELvue, 6/02/2016-9/04/2016

ISBN EN: 978-9-4922-4422-2

96 p. 

Retail price: 16,50 €

Going postal brings us on a journey through postal history and stories of postage stamps as recounted by the collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa and pieces from private collections. In these pages, the reader sees how a postage stamp is made, from the original design to the sheets distributed in post offices, with glimpses at the work of artists, painters, graphic designers, engravers, and colourists. This catalogue considers the specifics of stamp collections as well as developments in philately up to the present day.
Through postage stamps with their proofs and preparatory drawings, and through the letters upon which these stamps were affixed, we see a (hi)story that places Belgium at the heart of the world and the world at the heart of Belgium. These two square centimetres herald the plethora of exchanges we see today on mobile phones and social networks, and their art reminds us of the persuasion, urgency, emotion, curiosity, and familiarity that govern human relations.

Cover La Révolte de la Force publique congolaise

La Révolte de la Force publique congolaise (1895)
Les papiers Albert Lapière au Musée de Tervuren

By Rik Ceyssens & Bohdan Procyszyn

Academia (Louvain-la-Neuve) in partnership with RMCA (Tervuren)

ISBN : 978-2-8061-0246-1

256 p. 

Only available in French
Retail price: 27,00 €

The ‘papers’ of Albert Lapière, notes taken on the spot and family correspondence, are written by a witness and protagonist of events surrounding the 1895 military revolt in Luluabourg-Maladji. Their publication now makes it possible to study the full set of available historical material. In addition to the major primary sources that have long been available (Verbeken 1958), missionary archives have become accessible and, with digitisation, secondary sources (in particular, numerous and diverse national and local press) are easier to consult. The detailed presentation of all these documents is a clear opportunity to examine how historians used them – in other words, ‘the point of history is to study historians, not to study the past’ (Evans 1997).

The authors
Rik Ceyssens
, who holds degrees in archaeology and art history (Université libre de Bruxelles) and a doctorate in cultural anthropology (Radboud University, Nijmegen), and is the author of several works published by the RMCA, and Bohdan Procyszyn, who has a degree in romance studies (Université libre de Bruxelles), both worked in secondary and higher education in Kananga (D.R. Congo) as part of Belgian Technical Cooperation, the former from 1965 to 1990, the latter from 1972 to 1981.


Cover Katanga

Des animaux et des hommes 
(special issue)
By Michel Hasson

Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) & Biodiversité au Katanga, in partnership with RBINS (Brussels)

ISBN : 978-9-4922-4417-8

Slipcase containing two hardcover volumes (not sold separately):
Volume 1 = 296 p./ Volume 2 = 496 p. 

Only available in French
Retail price: 95,00 €

Found together in a single slipcase, these two contrasting volumes tackle the relationship that has always existed between human society and fauna in Katanga.

The first volume provides an overview of the province’s geographic and historical context before exploring customs and beliefs regarding fauna. The author then discusses the animal-related activities that are hunting and fishing, before ending with the more contemporary concern of nature conservation.

The second volume is a guide of vertebrates in Katanga. For each featured species, the description of biological characteristics is accompanied by details on folklore, beliefs, or hunting practices. Invertebrates are also examined in the context of their interactions with humans, and discussed in areas as varied as medicine, agriculture, and folklore.  At the end of the volume, the reader will find fauna lists drawn up by specialists from the Royal Museum for Central Africa. All known vertebrates in Katanga are included.
This constitutes the first complete guide to vertebrates in Katanga.

The author
Michel Hasson was born in 1955 in Kalemie, near the edge of Lake Tanganyika. His family arrived in Katanga in 1932. An ardent lover of nature, he is active in several associations working to preserve biodiversity in Central Africa.

Cover Mongala

Jonction des territoires et bastion d’une identité supra-ethnique
By Jean Omasombo

Volume n° 8 of the collection 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD)

ISBN : 978-9-4922-4416-1
372 p. 
Only available in French

  • Download pdf
  • If you wish to obtain a printed copy of this book, please contact Dirk De Croes for a price quotation or to place an order.
  • Other online volumes of the “Monographies des provinces de la République democratique du Congo”


Despite its 58,141 km2, Mongala, with only three territories, is the smallest administrative group of the 26 provinces of the DRC as laid out in the Constitution of 18 February 2006.
Its organization reflects political and administrative considerations. Mongala thus stretches from west to east, the result of a desire to bring together a core of the Ngombe around Lisala and to include the Budja, established in Bumba territory, and traditionally related to the populations in Province-Orientale (Mbole/Mobango, etc.). In 1955, during the last major administrative reform of the Belgian Congo, Bongandanga was appended. This turbulent history expresses a disparate whole, which appears to be the effect of a geographic position that is a transition point in the confluence between the spaces for the Mongo, ‘people of the water’, Ngbaka, Ngbandi, etc. and which makes it appear to be a gathering of peoples and territories marked by their dispersion.

The creation of Mongala implicitly raises the problem of identity, as the regional particularity of the district arose from two competitive relationships: the exterior one pitting the ‘locals’ with the neighbouring ethnic groups, particularly the Ngombe with the Mongo; and the internal one, involving two dominant populations, the Ngombe and the Budja. While the tensions between the Ngombe and the Mongo emerged around political leadership in Équateur province at the time of independence, they find their roots in the rivalry between the Scheut fathers and the Sacred Heart missionaries. The various peoples of Mongala belong, in a broad sense, to the Bangala, a supraethnic identity based on the language used in trade by peoples living along the Congo river. Codified and spread by the school system, the language also widened in reach through the Force Publique.
From the outside, it shaped the identity of Mongala, an identity that would in turn overtake the Equateur province. Mongo identity acted as a counterweight to this success, by promoting the Lomongo language which was supposed offset the influence of Lingala.

Internally, differences hardened and affected even the organization of space. A rivalry was born between the Ngombe and the Budja and their antagonism was expressed symbolically in the opposition between their respective administrative centres. Lisala-the-bureaucrat, seat and centre of instruction and cultural influence, used familiar terms to address Bumba-the-trader and its surrounding farmland, the focal point of the populations and economic activities in the country’s north.

An area dominated by forest and used in places for crop farming, its natural riches have always been coveted. Such riches made the region a site of still-controversial operations. Human activity there bears all the marks of a booming economy, for which Mongala paid the (human and environmental cost) already in the late 19th century. The scars of ‘red rubber’ long remained fresh there, and recent campaigns against the desecration of forest seem to echo them, and also poke a finger into the sensitive topic of (forest) environmental protection. From way back in the past up to the present, the river and its branches are one of the – if not the major – elements of continuity in local economic changes.
Serving as the junction of several territories, Mongala’s hydrographic network connects the province with the Equateur district and Kinshala, Sud- and Nord-Ubangi, Ituri and the two Ueles, from Aketi and finally, to Kisangani. Bumba and Lisala siphon off the agricultural surplus and forest products of their inland regions to send them via the river to neighbouring regions, or by road to the Central African Republic (via Akula-Zongo). Carried aloft by these natural pathways, Mongala is an important area of production, with its health currently in remission. This, combined with an advantageous geostrategic location, has made it the target of several governmental and private development programmes.


Cover Limbum-English

Limbum-English Dictionary
& English-Limbum Index

By Francis Wepngong NDI

Series "Tervuren Series for African Language Documentation and Description"

ISBN : 978-9-4916-1527-6
420 p. 

Retail price: 27,00 €

Limbum (the Mbum language) is an Eastern Grassfields Bantu language which is made up of three dialects. According to Cameroon’s 2010 population census results, approximately 1.340.000 people speak Limbum. Most speakers are natives of the Nkambe Central and the Ndu subdivision of the North West Region of the Republic of Cameroon.

This dictionary is a practical guide to Standard Limbum with over 8.343 references. It is the first lexical database of the Mbum language which covers a wide range of grammatical findings.

Francis Ndi Wepngong, born in Mbot on the 15th of January 1968 holds a Research Masters (MPil) in Linguistics from Leiden University. He started his lexicographic work on Limbum in the year 2002 while working as a volunteer at Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) in Yaounde, Cameroon. Since 2010, he has been working as an independent linguistic consultant based in Leiden, The Netherlands. His research interests are Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics. 



Cover CA86

Politiques, territoires et ressources naturelles : changements et continuités
By Stefaan Marysse & Jean Omasombo Tshonda (eds)

Series  « Cahiers africains », n° 86 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA/E-CA – CRE-AC

ISBN : 978-2-343-05981-5
300 p. 

Available in French

Retail price: 32,50 €

The question of depth – or lack thereof – in the changes seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past ten years or so serves as the backdrop for this volume. Certain breaks with the past are evident, but deeply-rooted cronyist behaviour in the political sphere renders such advances fragile.

The economy, as well as the governance underlying such economic reforms, demonstrates the most concrete changes. After three decades of implosion of the formal sector, the country has managed to sustain real economic growth. In another first since independence, the exchange rate has remained stable for more than seven years on the foreign exchange market. It not only serves as an indicator that the country is no longer growing poorer compared with the rest of the world, it also shows that currency inflows and outflows are balanced. Here we see some of the characteristics of the growth model. The engine for this newfound growth is the booming mining industry which has attracted international companies from all directions.

This new interest from abroad was the result of the economy’s liberalisation under the aegis of international financial institutions. The model was copied by national political authorities, who drafted a new mining code and – despite resistance from some quarters – adhered to new instruments accompanying this transformation, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
In addition, progress has been made in other areas. Reforms supported by the EU with regard to the payment of state employee salaries, via the introduction of electronic payment methods, has ruffled the feathers of those benefitting from salary payments made by hand.
Other economic sectors, in communication and construction among others, also took off. All of this has helped the formal sector bounce back in and around major urban and industrial centres. However, such progress has hardly spread to the rest of society, which often still remains isolated and cut off from good communication networks, energy supply, and other public infrastructure – and therein lies the weakness of the new growth model. It remains dependent on foreign demand for natural resources, with very few social benefits inside the country. Employment numbers show both the success and the limits of this economic renewal. At the start of the millennium, barely 10% of the active population had access to (irregular, poorly paid) salaried work. Economic growth has lifted the number of (more regularly and better-paid) salaried workers to 30% of the active population.
Is this economic growth sustainable, and does it signify a permanent break with the past? Affirming this statement depends on the country’s political evolution, as has been amply documented and analysed for many other African countries and the DRC in particular. Yet this is precisely where the problem lies. In 2014, the electoral outlook and the end of Joseph Kabila’s mandate in 2016 made headlines, but none of the essential questions have been answered. The formation of a government with broad national cohesion, announced in October 2013, only took place in December 2014, but the event had already lost its meaning. Since then, tensions and instability have invaded the political scene, bringing along the risk of chaos.




Cover Masques geants UK

Giant Masks from the Congo
A Belgian Jesuit ethnographic heritage

by Julien Volper et al.

Series  "Collections of the RMCA"

Catalogue of the Giant Masks from the Congo exhibition, BELvue, 13/05-08/11/2015

ISBN : 978-9-4922-4415-4
152 p. 

Retail price: 19,50 €

The remarkable collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa were assembled over a period spanning more than a century through purchases, field work, and donations. The collectors came in many guises: territorial agents, agricultural engineers, ethnologists, soldiers, physicians. And some were missionaries.
Jesuit missionaries acquired an impressive number of pieces from the south-western part of what is now the current Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their collection work and the scientific ties they created with the RMCA are the subjects of this book.
The Jesuits, men of the cloth who were also researchers, contributed to a greater knowledge of the diverse cultures of the RDC.
Numbering in the thousands, the pieces they gathered were initially divided between the museum in Tervuren and the Leuven-Heverlee missiology museum. The latter is now closed but its collections, a little-known part of cultural heritage, were entrusted to the RMCA in 1998.

A selection of these ‘Jesuit objects’ are presented in context in this book, which also discusses why and how these pieces, destined to become part of the museum realm, were procured. This book is also the catalogue for the Giant Masks from the Congo exhibition (BELvue, 13/05-08/11/2015).

The authors
Wauthier de Mahieu
is a Jesuit priest with a PhD in cultural anthropology (KUL) whose main area of study was the culture of the Komo, who live in the equatorial forest southeast of Kisangani in the DR Congo. De Mahieu has published several articles and books, including Qui a obstrué la cascade ? Analyse sémantique du rituel de la circoncision chez les Komo du Zaïre (1986).

Viviane Baeke holds a PhD in social anthropology (ULB) and is a curator with the Heritage studies service of the RMCA. She is particularly interested in the comparative study of thought systems in Central Africa, especially Cameroon and DR Congo. Baeke’s articles and books include Le temps des rites; Ordre du monde et destin individuel en pays Wuli (2004).

Julien Volper is a curator with the Heritage studies service of the RMCA. He has a PhD in art history (Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne) and specialises in the study of the art and ancient cultures of Central Africa, particularly DR Congo. The published books and articles of Volper include Ora Pro Nobis: étude sur les crucifix bakongo (2011).




Tanganyika. Espace fécondé par le lac et le rail
by Jean Omasombo

Volume n° 7 of the collection 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD)

ISBN : 978-9-4916-1587-0
440 p 

Only available in French

Download pdf

If you wish to obtain a printed copy of this book, please contact Dirk De Croes for a price quotation or to place an order.


From an early time, the Tanganyika region piqued the curiosity of Western and Arab scholars who were eager to identify the sources of the Nile. The region covers nearly 135,000 km², or a little under 6% of the country’s total territory, in an area roughly located between the Lomami-Lualaba ridge line to the west, a rocky swell to the east, and, in the south, the Kamalondo depression and the barrier of lakes Mweru (northern point), Mweru Wantipa (Republic of Zambia), and Tanganyika (bottom). Only the northern limit running along the 5th parallel south, from the intersection with Kiangwe river to the eastern border of DR Congo, appears to disregard natural circumstances completely.
Its economy was boosted in the previous century by the union of water and iron. From the coastline of the entire eastern side, railway tracks crossed the landbound portion of the country, in search of the Lualaba river, and meeting it at Kabalo, the junction of railway lines between the north (Kindu, Maniema) and south (Kamina, Haut-Lomami). The river itself, replaced by the railway between Kabalo and Kongolo, offers a navigable channel stretching over several hundred kilometres from Malemba-Nkulu (Haut-Lomami) to the Portes d’Enfer falls downstream from Kongolo. This structure progressively developed, along with a vast road network (around 5,000 km) connected to it, until the eve of independence. Several economic sectors grew around this framework. Some of the gems of colonial industry established themselves locally: CFL and Filtisaf in Albertville/Kalemie; Géomines in Manono; Cotanga in Kongolo; etc. Significant trade also grew via its port which connected to the centre and east of Africa, especially along the Kigoma–Dar-es-Salaam corridor. Tanganyika became especially known for its maritime trade, in contrast with the mining areas of the south, even though the region also favoured the agro-pastoral economy.
Given this brief overview of a few economic characteristics specific to the region, it is tempting to shift to politics and, in hindsight, view the short experience of the first decentralisation (1962-1967) as an extension of a regional peculiarity. The map of the 22 provinces included in the Constitution of 1 August 1964 (known as the Luluabourg constitution) recognized the existence of a province of Nord-Katanga that stretched to Tanganyika and Haut-Lomami to cover the so-called “Luba-ised" peoples, while the political scene was dominated for a while by the work and image of the Balubakat, the leading party in the north of Katanga province. But rather than reflecting a given regional identity, this situation is above all the result of situational developments. A detailed analysis of this important period in the district’s history shows a complex situation, where tensions between unitarists and federalists, ethnic reflexes, strategic calculations, personal ambitions, and power struggles all mingled. The prospect of a unified Katanga in a centralised Congo remained the general objective, and the players only accepted the notion of this province created from scratch as a temporary measure, as there was no better alternative for neutralising the Tshombe-led secession. Unsurprisingly, Nord-Katanga officials had mixed reactions to subsequent moves to break up the province. Since that time, with the accession to the highest levels of power by several of its natives, beginning with Laurent-Désiré Kabila, and the actual benefits of this falling short of the initial hopes of locals, the population adjusted their view of decentralisation: it could well be the path they needed to follow in order to take charge of their own development.
Like its predecessors, this monograph of the ‘Provinces-Decentralisation’ project devotes a large portion to historical, socio-administrative, political, and socio-economic developments. It nonetheless seeks to provide an analysis and survey of knowledge not limited to these aspects alone. Discussions of its nature (fauna, vegetation, hydrology, geology, geography) and other areas of human science (anthropology, musicology) all contribute to a better understanding of Tanganyika, in the wealth and complexity of these many dimensions.




The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa
Handbook for all Odonata from Sudan to Zimbabwe 
by Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra & Viola Clausnitzer

Series "Studies in Afrotropical Zoology" , n° 298                    

Published by the Royal Museum for Central Africa,
in partnership with Naturalis (Leiden) and the support of JRS Biodiversity Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education & Research

ISBN: 978-9-4916-1506-1

264 p.
Retail price: 30,00 €


Few animal groups can represent the greatest (insects) and most threatened (freshwater) biodiversity on earth as well as dragonflies, perhaps the best-known and most colourful of all aquatic insects. Fifteen years in development, The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa is the first handbook of its extent and detail on tropical Odonata. Extending from Sudan and Somalia to Zambia and Mozambique, including the entire eastern half of the Congo Basin, the book covers a third of Africa, about ten million square kilometres, an area comparable to China or the United States, but treats almost two-thirds of the continent’s species. More than 500 species are illustrated with 1120 original drawings and over 360 colour photographs portraying 320 species. Identification keys to adult males of all species set a new standard for recognising ‘the birdwatcher’s insects’ in Africa, detailed genus descriptions provide the most comprehensive account of their ecology and taxonomy so far, and all species have been furnished with a vernacular English name for the first time. Verified checklists are presented for Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The authors
KD Dijkstra
was the author of the highly successful Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe.
Viola Clausnitzer has been chairwoman of the IUCN Dragonfly Specialist Group for more than ten years.



Cover CA85

La gestion macroéconomique de la République démocratique du Congo durant et après la Transition démocratique
by Claude Sumata

Series Cahiers africains n° 85 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA

Available in French

ISBN: 978-2-343-04106-3

256 p.
Retail price: 27,00 €


This book is an attempt to understand the macro-economic situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past few decades. The widespread economic stagnation after 50 years of independence is reason enough to study the structural causes of its persistence in order to find the suitable lines of a policy that can truly turn the situation around.
The Congolese economy’s collapse and its mutations since the 1960s have led to a major regression in social conditions for the population, given the concomitance of two primordial factors: weak growth and the absence of a policy ensuring equitable distribution of national revenue. Growing poverty led to a process of continuous immigration. Civil war and armed conflict promoted the country’s division and the isolation of certain regions. Proliferation of parallel trade, mainly through the interference of neighbouring countries, only complicates the situation further.
Implementation of structural reforms is necessary to allow the reorganisation of the financial system in the post-conflict period, so that it can effectively take on its role in economic growth and poverty reduction. A proactive and purposeful policy is needed to promote entrepreneurship by improving the business climate. Leadership and good governance are prerequisites for this positive dynamic, as their existence ensures adequate functioning of institutions at the national level.
Increased mobilisation of financial resources and their channelling towards priority sectors for the national economy should be given top priority. Consequently, the transfer of funds from the diaspora could play an essential role if adequate measures are taken to steer them towards productive investments. Incentives should be created to encourage the creation of small and medium enterprises and industries by foreign-based Congolese.

The author
Claude Sumata has taught in several universities and higher education institutes in DR Congo, France, and the UK. He is currently a professor of economics at the Université catholique du Congo (UCC) and the Université pédagogique nationale (UPN) in Kinshasa. He is also an international consultant for various United Nations agencies and an expert in macroeconomics for Bricks International. His recent work on macroeconomic policy in the DRC studies dynamics of growth and poverty reduction. He also carries out research on banking and financial systems, migrant fund transfers, and entrepreneurship.




Cover nom et usages

Noms et usages de plantes, animaux et champignons chez les Mbuun, Mpiin, Ngong, Nsong et Hungan en RD Congo
by Joseph Koni Muluwa
Ed.: M. Devos

Series '"Tervuren Series for African Language Documentation and Description"

Available in French

ISBN: 978- 9- 4916-1528-3
168 p.

Retail price: 18,00 €


Nsong, Ngong, Mpiin, Mbuun and Hungan are Bantu languages spoken in and around the city of Kikwit in Badundu province, DR Congo. These minority languages have been gradually abandoned by speakers, who instead favour the country’s national and official languages.

This book is a collection of traditional knowledge on the plants, animals, and fungi of the region. It describes various uses – nutritional, medicinal, artisanal, meteorological, ritual – of these organisms. Such uses have been tested in these societies and may also benefit others if scientists are able to explore them. Unfortunately, such knowledge is fast disappearing, hence the importance of this lexicon.

Joseph Koni Muluwa, born in Kikwit, DR Congo in 1964, holds a doctorate in languages and letters from the Université libre de Bruxelles (2010). He began specialising in the relationships between linguistics and biodiversity in 2005 and devoted several years of study to the subject. He also worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren until 2012. At present, Koni Muluwa is connected with Ghent University, where his work focuses on endangered Bantu languages. His areas of speciality are comparative and historical linguistics and the documentation of endangered African traditional cultural knowledge.

More information about this series 'Tervuren Series for African Language Documentation and Description or email to  lingui@africamuseum.be



Cover Conjoncture congolaises

Conjonctures congolaises 2013
Percée sécuritaire, flottements politiques et essor économique

By Stefaan Marysse & Jean Omasombo Tshonda (eds)

Series" Cahiers africains" n° 84 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA/E-CA – CRE-AC

Available in French

ISBN: 978-2-343-03304-4
272 p.

Retail price: 28,00 €


2013 was supposed to mark a turning point. Pacification of the Congo, the launch of national talks (the concertations nationales), adoption of structural reforms on the political and administrative level, and addressing security problems were all on the agenda. By yearend, results appeared to be mixed: victory over the M23, improvement of several macroeconomic indicators, and renewal of the CENI were offset by other events that illustrate how security in the DRC is still characterised by instability, volatility, and the unpredictability of threats.
In the east, several prerequisites for change (change in military command, international intervention brigade, pressure from the US, etc.) that came together for the first time made it possible to break a deadlocked situation manifesting in several ways (RCD, CNDP, M23) but stemming from the same reality.
These bright points for the Congolese authorities were tarnished by a series of widely covered events targeting the president of the republic. In addition to the many questions they raised, they also brought political unrest and deep discontent out into the open. In any case, the simultaneous attacks in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Kindu on 30 December betrayed how authorities – still weakened by the 2011 elections – have but a tenuous grasp on power.
Up to late 2013, the government of national unity announced in October was yet to become a reality.

Political deadlocks contrasted with a small but genuine improvement in economic governance. There have been some successes on the economic and social front. The current administration has managed to stabilise exchange rates, control inflation, and re-establish sustained growth. Through the rise of the mining sector, the latter in particular has brought about an increase in budgetary revenue which, combined with better management (salary payments through banks), has led over the past two years to social improvements much appreciated by employees. Nonetheless, the majority of the population making their living  in the informal sector feel the impact of such improvements to a much lesser extent. Relative economic and social progress has fanned hopes, but political deadlocks fuel inaction and resentment. The concept of authority and the way of running the State has, in fact, yet to see sufficient change.



Cover Décentralisation et espaces de pouvoir

Décentralisation et espaces de pouvoir

directed by Paule Bouvier & Jean Omasombo
Tshonda (RMCA)

Published by the Royal Museum of Central Africa (Tervuren) and supported by The Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD)

Series: 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Only available in French

432 p.
Retail price: 29,00 €
ISBN : 978-9-4946-1525-2


What state structure is needed for successful decentralisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)? How can geopolitics come to the aid of decentralisation efforts? What are decentralisation’s detours and stumbling blocks? These are some of the many questions tackled in this book.

Décentralisation et espaces de pouvoir  follows the previous volume published in 2012 (La Décentralisation de la Première à la Troisième République), which analysed the many attempts to implement decentralisation in the country since 1960. This complementary volume expands the scope of discussion by viewing this issue from various angles (geography and land-use planning, governance, economics, history, etc.) and tracing the varying ambitions of the succession of players in the political arena.

  • The first part contains about a dozen contributions discussing some of the issues raised. The notion of ‘space’ remains plural, and is used here to refer to several aspects. It first refers to land-use planning, to the space that gives inhabitants a sense of citizenship and identity from their location. It also refers to the other areas and powers that affect the country’s development and that of its residents: how resources are appropriated; social and cultural aspects; striking the right balance between deconcentration and programming a ‘new’ decentralisation; the partnerships between the State, the provinces, and the decentralised territorial entities (ETD, entités territoriales décentralisées). This covers the DRC as a State and its territory as a whole, the internal consistency of decentralised entities, and the relationships of the latter with the central government.
    The concept of spaces of power also refers to the concept of borders. In the DRC, the image of decentralisation comes hand in hand with the partitioning of space. Borders represent delimitation, a means of separating or combining inhabitants and resources in relation to the land. They are the fruit of historical processes with complex roots. In Africa in general, colonial domination had a heavy influence on the way border lines were drawn. To consolidate the new states and ensure that their physical integrity would be maintained, the African heads of state at a 1963 meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia made reference to the doctrine of uti possidetis juris, already applied in South America. These new state powers’ main inheritance from colonisation appears to have been the conferring of sovereign rights over their respective territories. In this sense, retracing the history of the formation of the DRC’s external borders contributes to the handling of a decentralisation process that must sidestep the pitfalls of breaking up a territory.
  • The second part of this book focuses on this goal by presenting a very detailed chronology of political and diplomatic events, reconstructing the history of border formation from the Congo State of 1876 to the country’s independence in 1960.

Alongside these contributions, it was also relevant to study the internal borders of provincial and territorial entities as well as sectors and chiefdoms that were passed on from the colonial period, and often a source of conflict. Completion of the RMCA’s ‘Provinces-Decentralisation’ project covering the 26 provinces will be a fitting occasion for carrying out a nuanced analysis of these internal borders that goes beyond general considerations of how they came to be.


Cover Sudubangi

Sud-Ubangi. Bassins d’eau et espace agricole

directed by Jean Omasombo (RMCA)

Co-edition: Royal Museum of Central Africa (Tervuren), Samsa Editions (Brussels)

Series: «  Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo »

Only available in French

464 p.
Retail price: 29,00 €
ISBN : 978-2-87593-014-9

Since 1977, the name ‘Ubangi’ has been shared by two districts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nord-Ubangi and Sud-Ubangi. They are so named because of their geographic position relative to the river of the same name. This administrative restructuring took place following the attempt at decentralisation during the Première République (1960-1965), during which numerous border disputes broke out in the Équateur province. Ngbandi territories were fought over by the ‘new’ provinces and, in some cases, by peoples laying claim to a local leadership role.

Located on the borders of the Congo in the bend of the Ubangi river, the district of Sud-Ubangi stands out for the vitality of its population in an otherwise sparsely-populated north-western location. Occupation is nonetheless uneven. Ngbaka-dominated areas have highly populated spots that thin out as one heads from Gemena to the west and north. Meanwhile, savannah land in northern Libenge territory and the Ngiri marshy zones in the southern portion of Kungu territory are vast isolated tracts.

Sud-Ubangi is not limited to the Ngbaka alone. In its southern area, various communities live side by side: Ngbandi, Ngombe, Mbandja (or Banza), Bambenga (Pygmies) as well as groups referred to as ‘water people’, ‘marsh people’, or ‘inhabitants of the Ngiri’ to designate communities living primarily in the marshy region between the Ubangi and the Congo river. They include the Libinza, the Bamwe, the Bomboma, and the Lobala, with the last two groups directly involved in the so-called ‘Enyele’ conflict.

Resident populations are joined by neighbouring foreign merchants attracted by the district’s unique location. Sud-Ubangi’s proximity to Bangui places it in a northern trade corridor stretching east to west from Ituri to Ubangi (Butembo, Beni, Lisala, etc.). Nande, Sudanese, Central African Republic, Chadian, and other traders cluster around the nerve centre that is Gemena as well as the border town of Zongo, from which they organise the export of the region’s agricultural produce in exchange for manufactured goods from the CAR (detergents, cosmetics, etc.) or East Africa (motorcycles, trucks, etc.).

Cover La dynamique des masques

La dynamique des masques en Afrique occidentale Dynamics of masks in West Africa

 by Anne-Marie Bouttiaux (ed.)

Series: “Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities”, n° 176

Available in English and French

216 p.
Retail price: 45,00 €

ISBN : 978-9-4916-1509-2

The dynamics of masks come into full view when they are vibrant and alive in their place of origin, rather than drained of life and movement when confined inside museum walls. Incarnated by human beings that infuse them with their energy, masks become potent powers: the communities 'presenting' them hope to receive many blessings, yet also fear their wrath.
In West Africa, their appearances are still part of the daily life of many populations. Several distinctive examples are analysed in this book.

Adventures of an American Traveller in Turkey

Adventures of an American Traveller in Turkey by Henry Morton Stanley

by M. Leduc-Grimaldi (RMCA) & J.L. Newman (eds)

Series: “Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities”, n° 177

Foreword : M. Wynants
144 p.
Retail price: 35,00 €

ISBN : 978-9-0747-5299-2

This is the first volume of an intended series based on the Henry M. Stanley Archives housed at the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It covers a trip to Turkey that Stanley made with two companions in 1866, and which resulted in their pursuit, capture, and imprisonment. The main item is a transcription of a manuscript he wrote a year later, and which has been withdrawn from public use due to its very fragile condition. Detailed notes and a comprehensive index have been added to aid future researchers interested in both Stanley and Turkey at that period. Also included in the volume are relevant transcriptions from other documents in the archives and various letters pertaining to what happened to the three young men. 

The authors
James L. Newman is professor emeritus of geography at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY). A lifelong student of Africa, Newman is the author of Imperial Footprints: Henry Morton Stanley’s African Journeys (Brasseys/Potomac, 2004), translated into French as Stanley Entre Couronne et Empire (Luc Pire, 2006) and in Dutch Stanley Ontdekkingsreiziger in Afrika (Lannoo, 2006), through the generous support of the King Baudouin Foundation.

Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi, PhD, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society  (FRGS), has been in charge since 2006 of the Henry M. Stanley Archives, held in trust at the Royal Museum for Central Africa on behalf of the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF). She curated the exhibitions Images from Africa: Mr Stanley, I presume (catalogue published by the KBF, 2007) and Dr. Livingstone, I presume? (2013). 

cover les chants du grelot

Les chants du grelot et de l'arc au pays des esprits chasseurs
Chants et poésie de chasse au Rwanda

by Jean-Baptiste NKULIKIYINKA (RMCA)

Series: “Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities”, n° 175
Available in French

Forewords : D. de Lame et Y. Bastin (RMCA)
778 p.
Retail price: 45,00 €

ISBN : 978-9-4916-1510-8

This vast book first presents a solid, detailed study of hunting songs as they were traditionally practised in Rwanda by the country’s three population groups: the Twa, the Hutu, and the Tutsi.
Bow hunting was mostly practiced in the forests and savannahs of the east, while hunting with dogs – ‘bell hunting’ – essentially took place in the marshes, rivers, and valleys in the rest of the country.
The author discusses their socio-cultural context, history, content, the musical instruments played, and so forth.

The second part of the book is a collection of original songs, transcribed in Rwandan, and their translation in French. These pieces of hunting literature evoke the world of the forest, of animals being tracked, the feats of hunters and their dogs, and the hardships encountered during such expeditions.
The songs are accompanied by detailed notes that explain meaning, allusions, and other peculiarities of texts that are often written in strange, cryptic, occasionally impenetrable language that plays on and with words.

A catalogue of all the recordings kept at the Tervuren museum after these were collected in the field appears at the end of the book. It provides the catalogue number for each sound recording, the song category and title and its translation, the region in Rwanda where they were collected, the population group to which the hunters belonged, and the person or mission that collected the recording.

See also: Music CD Les chants du grelot et de l'arc (Bell and bow hunting songs) by Jean-Baptiste Nkulikiyinka

Cover algemeen Rijksarchief en Kmma

Proceedings of the international colloquium 'Africa Europe Archives. Requirements? Collaborations? Plans? DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Belgium' organized by the National Archives of Belgium and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (15-17/12/2010)

by Pierre-Alain Tallier & Sabine Bompuku Eyenga-Cornelis (eds)
Co-edition: National Archives of Brussels with a partnership of the RMCA
Series NAB : « Studia», n° 138 Multilingual: French, English & Dutch

338 p.
Retail price: 19,00

ISBN : 978-90-5746-593-2

Archival heritage is essential to facilitating reform and modernization in the public sectors and societies of the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Belgium. The archives of former colonial metropolises can also be crucial, especially to matters of filiation, the provision of evidence, migration, borders, resource management or data for international research.

It is important to be able to satisfy society’s requests for material, whether it concerns the academic sector, non-government organizations, civil society or state structures. Models of good governance/management/facilitation of access to archives can be offered by some European countries. It would also be appropriate to undertake a needs assessment in the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda, and to listen and respond to expectations in these countries regarding archive research, access and management as well as mutual capacity building.


cover La Saga d’Inga

La saga d’Inga.
L’histoire des barrages du fleuve Congo

by François MISSER 

Series" Cahiers africains" n° 83 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA

Available in French
ISBN : 978-2-343-00639-0

224 p.
Retail price: 24,00 €

 ‘The Inga hydroelectric dam (DR Congo) is the keystone to this intersectoral study that only François Misser could have written. Few experts have his capacity to grasp the complex relationships between the geostrategic sectors of the Congo. Misser’s deep understanding of the country’s renewable and non-renewable resources have led to the writing of this highly readable book that will interest development experts and donors, as well as a broader readership interested in the twists and turns of Congo’s development saga. A meticulous review of available literature on the topic and numerous interviews were used to craft a book written in the style of an accomplished journalist who has covered the topic for over thirty years.

In one way or another, Inga’s hydroelectric power is essential to the improved management of energy, forests, agriculture, poverty reduction strategies, macroeconomic development, and even Congo’s external relations. Inga Dam is not only relevant locally, but presents high stakes for the international community’s attempt to fight the effects of climate change.

In the attempt to reconstruct the Congolese state and re-establish its sovereignty over its natural heritage, all aspects must be given priority. Misser makes a convincing case that national and regional development would be hindered in the absence of significant investments in Inga. The author is sensitive to the social implications of Inga’s development without losing sight of the financial aspects of the issue.

Africa is the continent of the 21st century. Misser points out that Inga has the potential to help Congo join the ranks of other African nations that now see growth and development. Yet the message of the book is clear: the potential is indeed there, but turning Inga into an engine for change is a political challenge and the real debate is neither solely technical nor financial but relies on good governance as well.’ (Theodore Trefon, Foreword)

Natural resources and their relationships with power and energy issues are the focus of journalist and researcher François MISSER, whose specialization on Central Africa dates back to some thirty years.



cover-cahier africain 82

Conjonctures congolaises 2012.
Politique, secteur minier et gestion des ressources naturelles en RD Congo

by Stefaan Marysse and Jean Omasombo

Series" Cahiers africains" n° 82 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA

Available in French
ISBN : 978-2-343-00465-5

320 p.
Retail price: 33,50 €


2012, the first year of a new legislature, was a stormy one in both political and security terms. The president claimed victory in a hotly-contested election, yet neither the local opposition nor the international community were able to challenge the results. The opposition was too weak, divided, and inconsistent. Meanwhile, the international community may have deemed that pressure from it would further imperil the security situation in the absence of a politically credible solution, but also found that its means did not weigh enough for its views to prevail. The elected government thrust out the heavyweights of the past, and includes a number of lesser-known technocrats and personalities. The posts for prime minister  and economics ministers were given to men who could cajole the international funding agencies. This did not stop the IMF from blocking financial aid owing to poor transparency in mining-related transactions, an area still under the ultimate control of the presidential sphere. While some economic progress was made, the security situation in the east remains precarious. The government and the army were shown to be ineffectual once more in the face of new insurgency in the region.

The fragile political and security situation overshadows and compromises hints of progress that, in some conditions, could mark a turning point in the reconstruction of the State and the country's recovery. This book focuses mainly on the question of management of natural resources: mines, oil, and forest. The mining sector has seen spectacular development in Katanga, due primarily to foreign companies using plenty of capital and small workforces. In the east, the predominantly traditional mining industry is heavily disrupted by the security situation. The oil sector creates the fewest jobs but is the State's leading source of revenue. Tropical rainforest management has stagnated the most and seen the greatest damage. Quality of governance remains the Achilles heel of Congolese economic policy. Will the government finally be able to rise to the challenge?



Le paternalisme en question.
Les anciens ouvriers de la Gécamines
face à la libéralisation du secteur minier katangais (RD Congo)

by Benjamin Rubbers

Series" Cahiers africains" n° 81 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L’Harmattan/RMCA

Available in French
ISBN: 978-2-343-00238-5

320 p.
Retail price: 33 €

In 1926, the Union minière du Haut-Katanga laid the foundations of the paternalistic policies that would affect the daily lives of its workers for more than half a century. In 2003, after a decade of uncertainty, 10,000 workers were dismissed by the firm as part of a World Bank-designed effort to liberalize the mining sector. How did these workers react to their ‘abandonment’ by the company? How did they come to grips with their newfound independence? What effects did the decline in their living conditions, then their dismissal, have on their relations with their spouses, children, and close circles?
Based on ethnographic research in a worker’s camp in Likasi (Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo), this book attempts to answer these questions using a Foucault-inspired analysis framework, an approach that allows it to develop a broader consideration of an actual paternalistic experience in the new economic order that the World Bank seeks to impose on this part of Africa.

Benjamin Rubbers holds a PhD in anthropology from the Université libre de Bruxelles and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales. He teaches at the Université de Liège and is a lecturer at the Université libre de Bruxelles. Rubbers has been studying economic and political changes in the Katanga mining basin (DR Congo) since 1999.
His last book, Faire fortune en Afrique. Anthropologie des derniers colons du Katanga, was published by Karthala in 2009 as part of the 'Les Afriques’ series.


Congo : colonisation/décolonisation. L'histoire par les documents
Congo : kolonisatie/dekolonisatie.
De geschiedenis in documenten

Edition: RMCA

ISBN FR: 978-9-0817-9407-7
ISBN NL/ 978-9-0817-9407-7
100 p. + 1 DVD
Retail price: 26 €

(from 30/01/2013)

This publication is the fruit of close collaboration between the Education and Culture service and scientists from the Colonial and Contemporary History sections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren.
It was designed in close collaboration with education experts and teachers from different networks and streams in order to meet the needs and requirements of school programmes in the best possible way.
The educational book and its companion DVD-ROM seek to provide a nuanced view of the Congo’s colonisation and its subsequent independence, with the help of numerous documents giving several viewpoints and contextualized by historians. It hopes to encourage students to think critically and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for the study of history. It should be noted that the bulk of the archives on the colonial period was produced and assembled by Europeans, whereas historical sources from Africa itself are much rarer. We have attempted to cite them as often as possible to provide a balanced portrait. Despite our best efforts to provide a finely-shaded picture of the period with the help of our Congolese colleagues, it should be recalled that this book was written in Belgium. A similar book written in the Congo would likely highlight other historical details and take a different approach to the period.
Given the diversity of educational networks and streams, we deliberately refrained from providing specific lesson plans, instead proposing a set of documents that can be used by the teachers to design their lessons.


La Décentralisation. De la Première à la Troisième République
(RD Congo)
by Paule BOUVIER
(ed. Jean Omasombo)
Special edition vol. 1 of collection 'Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo'

Edition in cooperation with RMCA (Tervuren), Le Cri Edition (Brussels), Buku Editions (Kinshasa)

Texts in French
ISBN : 978-2-8710-6618-7
368 p.
retail price: 29 €


Since 2008 the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), in collaboration with the Centre d’Études politiques (CEP) in Kinshasa and Centre d’études et de recherches documentaires sur l’Afrique centrale (CERDAC), and with the support of Belgian Development Cooperation, has been conducting a research programme on decentralisation in the DR Congo.
It comprises two complementary components: a study of the future provinces on the one hand, and an analysis of the decentralisation process on the other.

The former is in the form of a collection of monographs, three of which (Maniema, Haut-Uele and Kwango) have been published to date. Collection of data from the different provinces is well underway, while the team of researchers from RMCA, CEP, and CERDAC are drawing on their experience with the first monographs to refine their work methods.

La Décentralisation en RDC : de la Première à la Troisième République (1960-2011) is the title of this publication which launches the second component. A second volume, slated to appear in 2013, will gather contributions from about a dozen experts from around the world, selected by the RMCA for their reputation and field of research. Each author was invited to discuss a topic relating to Congo’s decentralisation. In-depth discussions tackle the questions of governmentality and Administration, borders, geography and land planning, finance and the economy, citizenship, identity, and human resources. These topics are essential for an informed and critical reading of the ongoing political process, given the ambiguities and wait-and-see attitudes on the ground that obscure the perception of decentralisation itself.
This first volume by Paule Bouvier owes its originality to the way the author traces the path taken by the decentralisation process as an institutional component of the Congolese state, from independence to the present day, its high moments and its low points. Like other events of the past, certain decisive moments in decentralisation have been quietly forgotten in the official narrative.

Paule Bouvier gained her expertise on African and Congolese politics from her academic work combined with her experience in the field.


Kwango. Le pays des Bana Lunda
Directed by Jean Omasombo (RMCA)

Co-edition: RMCA (Tervuren), Le Cri Edition (Brussels), Buku Editions (Kinshasa)
Available in French
ISBN: 978-2-8710-6605-7
456 p.
retail price: 29€

The Kwango region was annexed in 1890 to the Congo Free State, becoming its 12th district. The border with Portuguese Angola, gradually determined through a series of bilateral agreements, crosses the former areas of the Kongo, Lunda, Yaka, and Chokwe kingdoms, and which are bound by cultural, historical, and commercial ties.

This book seeks to provide an analysis and overview of available knowledge on the current district of Kwango, in both the natural and social sciences, and in the wealth and complexity of these many dimensions.


Lives in motion, indeed.
Interdisciplinary perspectives on Social Change in Honour of Danielle de Lame
by Cristiana Panella (ed.)

Series 'Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities' vol. 174
Texts in English or French
ISBN : 978-9-4916-1500-9
376 p.
retail price: 37€


In her work, Danielle de Lame (Social Anthropology section) has always favoured an approach disentangling the contradiction and fragmentation of the day-to-day, relationships between ‘top’ and ‘bottom’, representations of the Self, ties between the Self and objects, and creation and management of differences and hierarchy – everything that comprises the production of social change.

This interdisciplinary volume takes different spatio-temporal trajectories to reflect these themes and explores recurring fundamental points in human and social sciences: ‘in-disciplinarity’ and comparison as methodological tools, the role of the researcher in the face of power, the representation of political and historical ‘truth’. It pays tribute to the intellectual integrity of Danielle de Lame and her scientific rigour and trailblazing endeavours.

africanjunctions2.jpg Interface empiriques de la mondialisation.
African junctions under the neoliberal development paradigm.

by Danielle de Lame & Jacinthe Mazochetti (dir.)

Series 'Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities' vol. 173
Texts in English or French
ISBN : 978-9-0817-9409-1
352 p.
retail price: 36€


Pursuing the work of the Association euro-africaine pour l’Anthropologie du Changement social et du Développement (APAD), this book is a plea for ‘subaltern studies’ conducted with the necessary methodological precision, taking a bottom-up approach to link all intervening levels up to the top.
It promotes the rigorous empirical analysis of responses to the implementation of locally reinterpreted neo-liberal injunctions, with similar issues emerging at the local interfaces despite the diversity of situations. The chapters bring out the contrast between the ‘need for State’ that underlies a people’s submission and the disengagement of the State as recommended by the Bretton Woods institutions.


conjonctures-jun12.jpg Conjonctures congolaises.
Chroniques et analyses de la RD Congo en 2011
by Stefaan Marysse & Jean Omasombo (ed.)
Series" Cahiers africains" n° 80 (issn : 1021-9994)
Co-edition : L'Harmattan (Paris) / RMCA
Available in French
ISBN : 978-2-296-97034-2
272 p.
retail price: 28,€


2011, the fifth year of the Third Republic of the DRC, was a crucial year: the year when the president and members of parliament first came up for reelection. With the 2006 elections deemed generally credible, confirming the country’s engagement in the process of democratisation was thus at stake. While no final verdict can be drawn as yet, it is widely acknowledged that the sole true merit of the 2011 elections is that they were even held. The results are widely contested, and have led to new and serious political tensions.

This is not a yearbook, but an attempt to shed light on the situation in the DRC at this point in the country’s history by comparing and contrasting viewpoints and questions.

It begins with two articles on the year’s political developments with a special focus on the elections.

Several chapters are ‘progress reports’ on fundamental aspects of the country’s social and economic advances and its external relations. These reports, whether on debt reduction, mining sector reform, or investments in electricity and infrastructure, show how the country’s reconstruction remains fragile and unable to address poverty effectively.

Specific questions are also tackled, among them the crucial but complex and tense relations with neighbouring Angola, and the pockets of potential armed conflict that emerged or persisted in the ‘post-war’ period that followed the 2003 peace agreements.

Finally, the book includes critical analyses of recent major works with grids for interpreting actual circumstances in the Congo.


Kinshasa, enracinements historiques et horizons culturels
by L. de Saint Moulin

Series "Cahiers africains", n° 79 (issn: 1021-9994)
Co-edition: L'Harmattan (Paris) / RMCA
Available in French
ISBN: 978-2-296-96924-9
364 p
Retail price: 37.50 euro

The appeal of this study lies in its desire to show how deeply rooted Kinshasa’s history is in its pre-colonial and colonial past, and the values and vistas of social perception of those who lived through it. The study culminates in the attempt to offer a vision of man and society, one that takes a holistic approach that is often neglected in past works. Based on field investigations, the analyses shed light on the experiences and impressions of the Congolese capital’s world. The book serves as a reference for readers who want a better grasp of the lively, inventive, and defiant city of Kinshasa in order to draw out the logic, reasoning, and values behind its dynamic nature.
The book revisits the old villages of Kinshasa and the traces they have left in the collective memory. Patient sociography of the city and its neighbourhoods has yielded a better understanding of its current residents’ concerns: among others, democracy, justice, education, water, and electricity. It teaches us to gain perspective on the ethnic problems and misleading impressions of the somewhat imaginary collapse of a Golden Age that all too often marks the narrative on the DRC.



Birds of Katanga
by Michel Louette & Michel Hasson

Series "Studies in Afrotropical Zoology"
Available in English and in French
French Version: n° 296 ISBN 978-9-0817-9400-8
English Version: n° 297 ISBN 978-9-0817-9401-5
Retail price: 65 euro


Part of the museum's 'Studies in Afrotropical Zoology' series,  this is the first illustrated book on the birds of Katanga. The status of the 693 species with confirmed records was investigated carefully, including research on the collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa.
Katanga has five endemic  bird species: Lippens’s Ground Thrush from the Upemba National Park, Greater Double-collared Sunbird from the Marungu mountains, Upemba Masked Weaver (along the Lualaba River), Lufira Masked Weaver (along the Lufira River), and Black-lored Waxbill (along the Lualaba River).
General distribution, presence and status in Katanga, ecology, breeding and migration, notes, and conservation status are discussed for a selection of 248 species that are illustrated in  full colour. Habitat diversity is illustrated by 25 photos.
Given that the photographs for this book were assembled over only three years by a small team, we can conclude that Katanga’s ornithological biodiversity is still relatively well-preserved.



Haut-Uele. Trésor touristique
Ed: Jean Omasombo (RMCA)
Co-edition RMCA, Le Cri Edition (Bruxelles), Afrique Editions (Kinshasa)
Volume n° 2 in the series «Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo»
Available in French
440 p.
ISBN  978-2-8710-6578-4
Retail price: 29 euro

The constitution of the DR Congo, adopted via referendum on 18 and 19 December 2005 and proclaimed on 18 February 2006 by the President of the Republic Joseph Kabila, stipulates that the decentralization principle is a building block of the country’s institutional architecture, in the context of a united state. From a country with 11 provinces, created in 1988, the DR Congo will turn into a country with 25 provinces, plus the city of Kinshasa.

A project initiated by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation and the Belgian Science Policy, concerns the writing of monographs on the provinces. After first demarcating each of the provinces recognized by political decision, the project aims to build up real and precise knowledge of each province with the ambition of providing basic (political, economic, geographic, linguistic, social…) data promoting a far-reaching policy of environmental and regional planning.

The Haut-Uele monograph is the second volume of this series.

The name ‘Haut-Uele’ conjures visions of its famed peoples – the Mangbetu, the Azande, the Logo, the Budu, the Mayogo – whose rich and diverse cultures impressed both Arab and European conquerors.

In addition to presenting these groups, this monograph provides a general overview of the geography, relief, geology, hydrography, flora and fauna, and demography of Haut-Uele. It also analyses the province’s historical, cultural, political, economic, and tourism-related development in greater detail.


The Fishes of Zimbabwe and their Biology
By Brian Marshall
Available in English
294 p. with color drawings and maps
ISBN 978-0-620-47535-8
Retail price: 40 euro

South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in collaboration with RMCA

The Fishes of Zimbabwe covers all 158 species known to occur in Zimbabwe, these are illustrated and their distributions mapped. There are numerous graphs and tables pertaining to the biology of species.  This scientific book is published with the support of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, which is involved in the major publications about African fishes. Contents are related to RMCA’s Ichthyology’s researches and collections.


Maniema. Espace et vies
Ed: Jean Omasombo (RMCA)
Co-edition RMCA, Le Cri Edition (Bruxelles), Afrique Editions (Kinshasa)
Volume n° 1 in the series «Monographies des provinces de la République démocratique du Congo»
Available in French
304 p.
ISBN : 978-2-8710-6562-3
Retail price: 29 euro

The constitution of the DR Congo, adopted via referendum on 18 and 19 December 2005 and proclaimed on 18 February 2006 by the President of the Republic Joseph Kabila, stipulates that the decentralization principle is a building block of the country’s institutional architecture, in the context of a united state. From a country with 11 provinces, created in 1988, the DR Congo will turn into a country with 25 provinces, plus the city of Kinshasa.

A project initiated by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation and the Belgian Science Policy, concerns the writing of monographs on the provinces. After first demarcating each of the provinces recognized by political decision, the project aims to build up real and precise knowledge of each province with the ambition of providing basic (political, economic, geographic, linguistic, social…) data promoting a far-reaching policy of environmental and regional planning.

This monograph of Maniema is the first publication in a new collection on all the provinces proclaimed in the DR Congo’s Constitution.

It was in 1988 that Maniema, up to the Kivu district, became a province. Along with two other districts of the ancient Kivu, it from then on held the same rank as the Eastern Province, Equateur and Katanga.



Museum Dwellers
by Jo Van de Vijver
Bilingual photobook (NL & FR)
28 p.
ISBN: 978-9-0817-9403-9
Retail price: 9.50 euro

This book of photos accompanies the exhibition Museum Dwellers of RMCA photographer Jo van de Vijver, which is on display from 22 September 2011 until 31 August 2012 at the museum cafe and the Okapi room as part of UNCENSORED



Politiques de santé et contrôle social au Rwanda
Co-edition Karthala (Paris) / RMCA.
Author: Anne Cornet
Available in French
480 p.+ colour booklet
ISBN: 78-2-8111-0485-6
Retail price: 32 euro

Rwanda’s history between the two world wars remains relatively unknown, with researchers turning their attention to other eras of the country’s history. Yet this period saw the introduction of a series of administrative, agricultural, social, and health policies that transformed this part of Central Africa.

This book discusses the health policies used by Belgium in the land of a thousand hills between 1920 and 1940 while examining the links between health action and social control. It assesses the roles of various agents of colonisation (the state, Catholic and Protestant missions, private companies) and analyses the fact that medical action was used as an imperial tool, as evidenced by the occasionally hostile response from the local populations.
The book gives a detailed study of health facilities and personnel, campaigns against endemic diseases and epidemics, rivalries and frictions between the state and the missions, and the reactions of the local populations.

The ‘political’ aspect of medical activity in a colonial setting is evident in the correlation between the standardisation of a health system and the coloniser’s hold on society. The administration tied the census to health campaigns; locals were subject to strict obligations or risked fines or imprisonment; African authorities were told to collaborate actively or be threatened with removal.

Seen through this lens, the study also shines a fascinating light on a colonial society crisscrossed by tensions: tensions between health services and administrative services, between leading figures, between missions and the state and between Catholics and Protestants, and finally, tensions between coloniser and colonised — in other words, a white society much less monolithic than it appears on the surface, facing an African society also marked by its diversity.


De Luulu à Tervuren. La collection Michaux au
Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale
In the series ' Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities'
Author: Rik Ceyssens
Available in French
322 p.+ 48 p. booklet in full color
ISBN: 978-9-0747-5296-1
Retail price: 45 euro


The Museum of Belgian Congo obtained the 716 artefacts of the Michaux collection in 1919. After nearly a century of various efforts to conserve, classify, and  make use of them, the time has come to take stock of the results obtained and draw a few conclusions, as ‘imprecise and incomplete’ as they may be.

The ante quem period provides ample room for study. We show the coloniser-collector at work, at times actively bargaining for souvenirs, other times eschewing all pretence of give-and-take and directly confiscating the loot in situ based on the principle of might makes right. We specifically made a push to free the artefacts from the ‘misleading’ environment of museum showcases and place them in their original context, thus highlighting both messenger and message (explicit or not).

As for the inner workings of the museum as a scientific institution, we opted to go beyond the usual reference texts published in recent years, instead methodically tracing the documentary chain beyond the ‘adjacent’ generation, in the hope of separating the wheat from the chaff, in search of deserving instigators wherever they may be.


Mort et dynamiques sociales au Katanga (République démocratique du Congo)
In the series « Cahiers africains », n° 78, co-edition L’Harmattan / RMCA.
Authors: Joël Noret and Pierre Petit

Available in French
160 p.
ISBN: 978-2-296-54252-5
Retail price: 16.50 euro

This work compares the funeral practices by the North Katanga Luba a couple of decades ago with the contemporary funerals of Lumbumbashi. The continuity and the breaks between the rural doings of the past and the urban procedures of contemporary Katanga become apparent throughout the chapters. The evolution of funeral practices and the organisation of mourning underline the social, generational, religious and family dynamics.

The urban funerals of today seem less imbued with the universe of kinship, albeit they still play a fundamental role, while groups of religious affiliations are increasingly playing a part in the social management of death. The book offers the reader a subtle view on the contemporary reconfigurations of Congo’s dealing with death, and an original perspective on social change through funerals.

Sammy Baloji & Patrick Mudekereza en résidence au Musée Royal de l’Afrique centrale. Congo Far West. Arts, sciences et collections
(exhibition catalogue)
Ed.: S. Cornelis & J. Lagae

Available in French
With abstracts in English
and Dutch
120 p.
ISBN: 978-8-8366-2024-1
Retail price: 20 euro

Silvana Editoriale (Milan) in partnership with RMCA

Two young Congolese artists, photographer Sammy Baloji and writer Patrick Mudekereza, were invited in a residence by the RMCA and the Ghent University. They produced some works in interaction with a number of the museum's scholars and it is not by chance that “Congo Far West” is the theme chosen by Patrick Mudekereza and Sammy Baloji for their residency as artists : referring to descriptions of early colonial outposts, this title also evokes the link between the museum’s collections and DR Congo. This “Cahier de la Résidence” and the exhibit (RMCA, 11/05 to 4/09/2011) are the results of this experimental, transnational, intercultural and multidisciplinary project.


Fetish Modernity
(exhibition catalogue)
Ed.: A.M. Bouttiaux & A. Seiderer 
With the collaboration of Noemi del Vecchio

Available in English
272 p.
ISBN: 978-9-0747-5294-7
Retail price: 29 euro

This publication has been produced for the exhibition Fetish Modernity, organized as part of the European project ‘Ethnography Museums & World Cultures’. The exhibition will be presented in Tervuren from 8 April to 4 September 2011 and will travel to five partner museums until 2014.museum/about-us/museum/history/temporaryexpo/modernite
Lead Museum: Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium).
Partner Museums: Musée du quai Branly (France), Pitt Rivers Museum (England), Müseum für Völkerkunde (Austria), National Museums of World Culture (Sweden), National Museum of Ethnology (Museum Volkenkunde) (Netherlands), Museo de América (Spain), Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures (Czech Republic), National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “L.Pigorini” (Italy), Linden-Museum Stuttgart (Germany).
Associate Partners: Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève (Switzerland), The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (USA), Diaspora Association Plus au Sud (Belgium), La Cambre-ISACF (Belgium), Culture Lab (Belgium).

Popular Snapshots and Tracks to the Past
D. de Lame and C. Rassool (eds)
in the series: Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities, vol.  171

296 p.
ISBN: 978-9-0747-5279-4

Retail price: 35 euro

Flexible, informal appropriations of individual creations can combine with other elements and produce specific strategic positioning, act as markers in power games and rally partisans. Yet, in essence they do not have this function. In the first place, appropriations are acts of creation in their own right; they are “expressive acts”. Accordingly, they are comparable with many other collective expressions of belonging that reaffirm the existence of a community and testify to its capability of assimilating novelty and (re)building the past.
In this respect, popular cultural expressions do not differ fundamentally from collective rituals, where memory is enacted and modified through creative changes enabling the social assimilation of novelty. Objects, texts, sets of norms, and museums are like snapshots open to interpretation, ready for recycling.


Mayombe. Ritual Sculptures from the Congo.
(exhibition catalogue)
Ed.: J. Tollebeek (dir.), E. Van Assche, M. Derez, L. Nys, H. Vanhee, A. Verbrugge

Available in English, French and Dutch
ISBN EN: 978-9-0209-9183-3
Retail price: 35 euro

Lannoo in partnership with RMCA

This book serves as the catalogue for the exhibition presented at Leuven’s M Museum from 7 October 2010 to 23 January 2011. Mayombe. Masters of magic presents valuable sculptures and other objects from the Congolese collections belonging to the K.U.Leuven, the Université Catholique de Louvain and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren.
100 years ago, missionaries of Scheut collected these impressive pieces in Mayombe, a region in Lower Congo. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of Congo, M is bringing these rare objects back together again for the first time.


Kinshasa. Architecture et paysage urbains
Authors: Bernard Toulier & Johan Lagae (dir.)

Available in French
128 p.
ISBN 978-2-7572-0362-0
Retail price: 25 euro

Somogy (Paris), Arter-Boa (Brussels) in partnership with the RMCA


Kinshasa. Architecture et paysages urbains (‘Kinshasa. Architecture and Urban Landscapes’) is the result of a 2008 mission initiated by the national leadership of the Bureau Development and Urban Planning Research (BEAU) of the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure of the Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC) and financed by the Support Programme for Urban Development in Congo and the Strengthening of Local Capacities of the Cities of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Kisangani (PRODEV) (a programme of the French Development Agency (AFD)).

The study is in the context of the regional and territorial development policy accompanying decentralization, and evaluates the conditions for establishing an inventory of urban heritage useful to the maintenance and urban management of Kinshasa. Such an inventory can be used to implement a network of decentralized, heritage-knowledgeable teams integrated in urbain operations of the Democratic Republic of Congo, reform legislation rarely applied and forgotten for nearly a generation, and transfer skills from North to South via a Franco-Belgian partnership.

A scientific committee of French, Belgian and Congolese (including B. Toulier, Minister of French Culture, J. Lagae (UGent), Leon de St Moulin and J. Ibongo) validated an inventory in the form of a database with urban heritage photographs and technical information.

The authors benefited from the support of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, from whose collections they selected the necessary illustrations for their documentation and this volume devoted to Kinshasa.


Villes et organisations de l'espace
en République démocratique du Congo
In the series « Cahiers africains », n° 77, co-edition L’Harmattan / RMCA.
Author: Léon de Saint Moulin

Available in French
304 p.
ISBN : 978-2-296-11999-4
Retail price: 29 euro


The history of cities is doubly useful: it clarifies the transformations of an entire country and the regional contrasts that must also be accounted for in order to understand what is happening.

This volume presents a thorough record of the cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using a solidly multidisciplinary approach, Léon de Saint-Moulin has integrated the best quantitative and qualitative data into a vision that elucidates the most important dimensions of social phenomena and blazes a trail through a wide range of issues. His thinking goes from the ‘micro-scale’ of national space, to the ‘macro-scale’ of neighbourhoods, and to the intermediary scale of relations between cities and their immediate environment.

On the historical front, the author shows that Congolese cities are not colonial creations. The space of Central Africa had long-distance organization and important poles before colonization, which reorganized them for its own profit. Today, new mine exploitation and the spread of motor and air transport has relegated somewhat the once majestic route of the river. The DRC is developing especially its urbanization of the southern plateaus, but a new urban axis is also emerging from Uvira to Bunia and beyond. By reading this book, the reader in some ways visits one of the largest building sites in human history.’

Matonge - Matonge
(exhibition catalogue)
Author: Jean-Dominique Burton

Available in English, French and Dutch
176pp. with 160 pictures
ISBN:  978-9-0209-9156-7
Retail price: 35,95 euro

Lannoo editions in partnership with the RMCA

Through his lens, Photographer Jean-Dominique Burton has observed the twin districts of Matonge Brussels and Matonge Kinshasa.

From these two entities that are thousands of kilometres apart, he is now delivering many captivating and intriguing photographs: a real mosaic of colourful images illustrating everyday life, punctuated by sensitive portraits of inhabitants of the two Matonges.

Geo-graphics. A map of art and practices in Africa, past and present
Authors: Anne-Marie Bouttiaux (RMCA) & Koyo Kouoh

Only available in English
384 pp. with more than 300 pictures
ISBN: 978-8-8366-1658-9
Retail price: 39 euro

Silvana Editoriale, Bozar & RMCA








Geo-graphics is based on a concept developed by artistic director David Adjaye, in which the artworks are grouped according to their geographic zones.

This novel approach allows curators Anne-Marie Bouttiaux and Koyo Kouoh to place ethnographic masterpieces and works of contemporary art along a continuum, thereby creating a dialogue between the pieces from the Royal Museum for Central Africa and from other Belgian collections, both public and private, and the work of the 8 art centres selected for the active role they are playing in the development of Africa’s artistic landscape. These centres and the artists they work with throw new light on the ethnographic pieces, which we can now approach through a more urban perspective and with heightened awareness of their contemporary manifestations.

David Adjaye’s scenography and his photographs of African capitals suggest the subtle but intimate way’s through which cultural output and the urban environment intertwine. What emerges from the meeting of these various elements is e new, and different, history and cartography of Africa.

Si les murs pouvaient parler. Le musée de Tervuren
Author: Maarten Couttenier (RMCA)

Bilingual publication French-Dutch
168 pp. in color including 200 photo's
ISBN: 978-9-0747-5276-3
Retail price: 25 euro

2010 est une année exceptionnelle pour le Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale, puisque il fête le centième anniversaire de son bâtiment public !

Le MRAC, en tant qu’institution, a été fondé en 1898. Il s’appelait alors « Musée du Congo » et avait pris place dans le Palais des colonies. Le bâtiment s’avéra vite trop étroit pour accueillir des collections à croissance galopante, une recherche scientifique qui ne cessait de s’amplifier et un public intéressé. C’est alors que sous l’impulsion du roi Léopold II, un nouvel édifice fut érigé et inauguré solennellement le 30 avril 1910. Le centième anniversaire de cette ouverture officielle, que nous célébrons en ce 30 avril 2010, est l’occasion désignée de publier un livre qui n’a pu résister à l’envie de raconter les pages moins sues de l’histoire de l’édifice et du quotidien de ses occupants.

Au fil des ans, le MRAC s’est développé et affirmé sur la scène internationale en tant que centre de référence quant à l’Afrique centrale. Depuis sa fondation en 1898, le MRAC exerce une double fonction, muséale et scientifique. Il s’est voué dès ses premières années à la constitution de collections, si bien qu’il conserve à présent les collections les plus remarquables d’Afrique centrale, tant en sciences humaines qu’en sciences naturelles.

Après cent années d’existence, le Musée est à la veille d’une révision en profondeur tant du contenu de son exposition permanente que de sa présentation muséographique et de son infrastructure. En 2010 sont lancés les travaux d’un processus de rénovation de grande ampleur du musée et du site entier. Le musée dans sa nouvelle mouture doit être prêt en 2014, et l’achèvement du plan général est prévu pour 2020.

Ce livre décrit principalement la vie du musée au cours du xxe siècle. Elles sont rédigées dans une perspective historique, sur base d’une étude des archives, de publications, d’interviews et de nos collections. Les développements plus récents, les modifications des dix dernières années et l’ensemble du processus de rénovation seront décrits plus en détail dans une publication ultérieure.

Fleuve Congo. 4700 km de nature et culture en effervescence
(exhibition catalogue)
Scientific direction : Thierry De Putter (RMCA)

Available in French and Dutch
96 pp. including 120 photo's
ISBN: 978-90-0747-5274-9
Retail price: 12 euro

In 2010, as the Democratic Republic of Congo celebrates 50 years of independence, the great Congo River flows into the Royal Museum for Central Africa.

The exhibition Congo River is devoted to the many facets of this fascinating, remote river. Majestic and powerful, it produces the world’s second greatest discharge and is surrounded by an immense equatorial forest of remarkable biodiversity – a fitting subject for 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. But it’s also a river to experience, that millions of Congolese use to travel, fish and transport all sorts of merchandise. Its vast river basin receives one-quarter of Africa’s total precipitation: water for drinking, farming and powering hydroelectric turbines, such as those at Inga. It also remains a mysterious river, shrouded in myth from its Katanga sources to its mouth.

This book complements the exhibition, whose themes it addresses through brief texts and rich photographs of people, animals, countryside and RMCA collection objects, many never before exhibited. The whole family will enjoy discovering the world within these pages.

This guide is the culmination of an in-depth study of the vegetation of Moyenne Casamance, which covers roughly the administrative territory of Kolda in Senegal. The guide is based on botanical knowledge acquired on-site over two years: almost all ligneous species encountered (156) are described. This does not restrict the guide’s utility to Moyenne Casamance, whose flora is quite similar to that of the entire region and subject to the same Sudano-Guinean climate.

Fieldwork drew largely on an identification key of major African tree species in Casamance, created by J. De Wolf and other collaborators of Professor P. Van Damme of the University of Ghent, and improved during field expeditions in Senegal and Mali by the Royal Museum for Central Africa.

The authors aimed to create a practical field guide with an identification key based on plant vegetation characteristics. Moreover, species descriptions include information on flowers and fruits, species budding and ecology, and even uses. A partial key based essentially on floral characteristics proved a necessary addition for identifying flowering species stripped of their leaves.

This booklet is intended for children aged eight and up. Booklet and pencil in hand, the child follows a tour of the Museum’s rooms in 11 stages. Guided by a map and drawings, the child searches for animals and objects. He observes his surroundings, looking attentively for information to complete drawings or answer questions.

He uses his creativity to complete his booklet. Before or after visiting the Museum, the child can take up his booklet to read short texts on Africa and learn where Museum objects come from. One chapter offers the chance to learn about the work of eight researchers of the Royal Museum for Central Africa.

The many photographs that illustrate the booklet provide the child with an overall image of present-day Central Africa.

In association with ‘Congo belge en images’ (‘The Belgian Congo in Photographs’) at Antwerp’s FotoMuseum (22 January 2010 - 16 May 2010), Lannoo Publishing has issued a magnificent catalogue that captures this unique exhibition of 100 photographs from the period 1890-1920, selected by curators Carl De Keyzer and Johan Lagae from the archives of the Royal Museum for Central Africa.

In both academic and non-academic circles, there is a growing awareness of our responsibility to document and describe languages as vehicles of intangible cultural heritage, especially endangered languages. It has become widely recognised that at least half of the world’s languages are threatened to disappear. This is also the case in Africa, which is by far the linguistically most diverse continent of the world.

As a world centre of research and knowledge dissemination on Africa, the Royal Museum for Central Africa wishes to play an important role in raising awareness about Africa’s linguistic diversity and the conservation of its intangible cultural heritage. In this regard, the “Tervuren Series for African Language Documentation and Description” is launched as an important vehicle for the diffusion of knowledge on African languages.

This new series intends to publish scientifically high quality books that contribute to both the description and documentation of hitherto poorly or non-described African languages. It will be complementary to Africana Linguistica, the RMCA’s journal of African linguistics, in that it aims at scientific contributions which do not fit the format of a research article. It welcomes not only lexical and grammatical descriptions of variable length (lexicons, dictionaries, full-fledged grammars, grammatical sketches), but also annotated text materials in African languages whose interest is larger than language description.

In harmony with the editorial policy of the RMCA, all contributions to the new series will be peer-reviewed. Contributions can be in English or French and should be submitted, both electronically to Isabelle Gérard and in hard copy to Publications Service, RMCA, Leuvensesteenweg 13, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium.

For more info regarding the contents of the new series sen an e-mail to: lingui@africamuseum.be

About the publication

Yoómbe is a Bantu language spoken by approximately 1,100,000 inhabitants of Mayombe territory in Bas-Congo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The lexicon includes more than 5,000 lemmas. It contains a great quantity of everyday vocabulary but also many specialized terms that sometimes occur only in proverbs. Even though this volume is not a complete dictionary, it is the first lexical study of this scale for Yoómbe.

About the author
Jan De Grauwe, born in Sint-Amandsberg in 1929, is a graduate of Ghent University, where he specialized in Roman philology. He began his work on Yoómbe when he lived in Bas-Congo from 1950 to 1960. He taught at Ghent’s Sint-Barbara secondary school until 1991. His great research passion is history and the spirituality of the order of Carthusian monks in Belgium.

La République démocratique du Congo est un vaste laboratoire où se rencontrent de nombreux partenaires internationaux. Motivés par l’ambition de réhabiliter ce vaste État en faillite, tous visent le rétablissement de la sécurité, la réduction de la pauvreté, l’amélioration de la gouvernance et de la gestion macroéconomique, la réhabilitation des infrastructures. Toutefois, malgré l’importance des financements octroyés par la communauté internationale, la compétence des experts et le désir de changement affiché par les dirigeants politiques congolais, rares sont les signes tangibles de succès en matière de reconstruction.

La volonté d’orchestrer les réformes du Congo est freinée par plusieurs obstacles. Historiquement, la crise est implantée. Elle est complexe sur le plan social et le monde politique y est totalement enlisé. S’il est difficile de savoir par où commencer en matière de planification, il est financièrement impossible de répondre simultanément à l’ensemble des besoins.

Le message principal de cet ouvrage est peu optimiste. Il fait le constat suivant : « nous avons identifié les problèmes, nous en connaissons les causes et les solutions… mais les choses vont de mal en pis ». Les contributeurs montrent que la responsabilité de cet échec est partagée par la communauté internationale, faute d’accord sur un schéma directeur, et par les autorités congolaises, qui s’accommodent le plus souvent d’une situation de statu quo.

Sans être prescriptif, ce livre analyse d’une manière critique les efforts menés pour la réhabilitation de l’État depuis l’ascension au pouvoir de Joseph Kabila. Il poursuit la réflexion entamée dans deux autres ouvrages de Theodore Trefon déjà parus dans la collection « Cahiers africains » : Ordre et désordre à Kinshasa (2004) et Parcours administratifs dans un État en faillite (2007).

Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the first half of 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 validated the administration of Joseph Kabila. Several of his main followers and advisors earned posts as deputies or senators, thereby obtaining popular legitimacy. At the same time, however, the elections brought several new players to power in assemblies, national and especially provincial executive administrations, and state enterprises.

The profile of the senators contrasts with that of the national and provincial deputies. They are, on average, older, and fewer are newcomers. The Senate is actually gaining several political actors from past eras, including those of Mobutu, the ‘democratic transition’, the AFDL, etc. This is due in part to the nature of the indirect ballot (election of Senate members by provincial assemblies), but also to a situation rendered still more complex by the reorganization of the country into 26 provinces. Each constituency was attributed a quota of four senators per new province (Kinshasa, with eight, is an exception). Several pioneers of independence and/or of the First Republic (1960-65), having taken part in various phases of the ‘transition’, were pushed aside (J. Bomboko, C. Rwakabuba, J. Mukamba, A. Kalonji, A. Kithima, C. Kamitatu, etc.). And it was Antoine Gizenga, whom the aforementioned pioneers excluded from power after the First Republic’s initial government (in which he was Lumumba’s vice prime minister), who reappeared, like a meteor, to fill the prestigious post of prime minister of the government marking the country’s entrance into the Third Republic.

 Also of note: despite the dominant regrouping around Kabila, the political trajectories of the actors vary significantly, and those who gained an administration post are much more numerous than before.

This biographical anthology follows a first collection, published in 2006, on actors in the transition resulting from the December 2002 Pretoria Accord. Both volumes cover in a systematic fashion specific and various timelines.

The book offers a panorama of the Congolese political class. Individual careers that reveal biographical details clarify past political history and provide analytical tools for current developments in the country and the perspectives they create.

The book is divided into two parts. The first gathers national actors (the head of state, government members, principle army and police leaders, national deputies and senators, business representatives, etc.) in alphabetical order. The second contains assembly and provincial executive members by province and in alphabetical order.

The organological collection at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren currently comprises more than 8,000 musical instruments, three-quarters of which are from Central Africa, the Congo in particular.

These harps, drums and slit drums, lamellophones, bells, flutes, whistles and other wind instruments were collected as from the late 19th century, which means that some items are now more than a hundred years old. So these instruments are also examples of the rich, centuries-old culture of the African continent.

In this publication we open the doors to the reserves and showcases at the RMCA so that, although you cannot hear them being played, you can nevertheless wonder at the beauty and variety of these superbly crafted instruments.

The present atlas provides the first complete overview of the freshwater sponges found from Algeria to the Cape and is therefore a historical document. It not only summarizes the knowledge of spongillofauna of the African continent but provides new as well as historical illustrations and distribution maps for all the species, most of which are endemic to Africa.

A comparative analysis based on original diagnoses, holotypes and materials from historical collections is performed to supply detailed descriptions on 58 African species of the suborder Spongillina (order Haplosclerida) belonging to the families Spongillidae (9 genera), Malawispongiidae (2 genera), Metaniidae (1 genus) Potamolepidae (4 genera) and 1 incertae sedis genus.

In view of the rapid decline of the biodiversity of Africa’s freshwater fauna as a result of climate change and other man-made influences, this publication will remain a milestone for the knowledge on the distribution of these animals. As filter feeders, they are extremely subject to even low levels of pollution and may therefore constitute an ideal gauge for the evaluation of the quality of surface waters.

The authors, Renata Manconi and Roberto Pronzato work in Italy, but this book is for a large proportion based on the study and collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, in Tervuren, Belgium.


Avec 180 masques exceptionnels – dont beaucoup sont publiés ici pour la première fois – et des œuvres d’artistes contemporains africains, cet ouvrage fascinant propose une nouvelle interprétation du masque en tant qu’objet universel qui cache autant qu’il révèle.
En étudiant l’usage, les danses et les rituels qu’il anime et le système de pensée qu’il met en scène, le livre explore tout à la fois les rôles effectifs et symboliques du masque en tant qu’objet « dévitalisé » lorsqu’il est exposé hors contexte, mais qui suscite néanmoins des questions sur l’identité, l’estime de soi et la perception de l’« Autre » dans la société occidentale.

Table of contents
SEYFULINA, R.R. & JOCQUÉ, R. 2009. Venia kakamega gen. n., sp. n., a new, canopy-dwelling, Afrotropical erigonine (Araneae, Linyphiidae).
STAREGA, W. & SNEGOVAYA, N. Yu. 2009. Report on a Southern African collection of harvestmen in the Royal Museum for Central Africa: Family Assamiidae (Arachnida: Opiliones).
DE MEYER M. & COPELAND R.S. 200x A new sexually dimorphic Ceratitis species from Kenya (Diptera: Tephritidae).
HANSSENS, M. 2009. A review of the Clarias species (Pisces; Siluriformes) from the Lower Congo and the Pool Malebo.
MAES, K.V.N. 2009. A checklist of the Pyrausta species of Africa with description of new species (Lepidoptera, Pyraloidea, Crambidae, Pyraustinae).
OPITZ, W. 2009. Revision of the African beetle genus Romanaeclerus (Coleoptera: Cleridae: Korynetinae).
PURCHART, L. 2009. A new Prunaspila Koch (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Adelostomini) from Zimbabwe, with species key to the genus.
JOCQUÉ, R. 2009. Some keep it short: on the radiation in the Afrotropical spider genera Capheris and Systenoplacis (Araneae, Zodariidae) without male pedipalp complexity increase.
VANDENSPIEGEL, D. & PIERRARD, G. 2009. Review of the genus Prionopetalum (Odontopygidae, Diplopoda) and description of new species from East Africa.
DALL'ASTA, U. 2009. Description of a new species of Eudasychira Möschler, 1887 (Lymantriidae, Lepidoptera) with a taxa checklist of the genus.
AZARKINA, G.N. 2009. Two new species of the genus Aelurillus Simon, 1885 (Araneae, Salticidae) from Africa.

Cet ouvrage est l’histoire politique de la République démocratique du Congo dans la période qui va de l’assassinat de Laurent Désiré Kabila en janvier 2001 à la mise en place d’un régime issu des élections générales du second semestre 2006. Il s’arrête en août 2008. Depuis cette date, le nouveau pouvoir politique congolais fait difficilement face d’une part au surgissement de la crise mondiale, d’autre part à un regain menaçant, surtout à l’Est du pays, d’affrontements et de violences. L’avenir de la RDC reste profondément incertain. La compréhension des événements en cours impose de revenir sur ces années cruciales qui ont vu, dans le cadre d’une semi-tutelle internationale, le dénouement de la guerre régionale et civile déclenchée en 2008, et la transformation de confrontations armées en compétition électorale.
L’ouvrage cherche, en démêlant un écheveau particulièrement complexe d’événements dramatiques et confus, à établir les faits et leurs connexions, à discerner le profil et le rôle de multiples acteurs. Il ouvre aussi des pistes pour l’élaboration d’un cadre général d’interprétation des changements qui s’opèrent en RDC. Renvoyant à de nombreuses sources, fournissant des points de repère chronologiques et factuels, donnant des listes d’acteurs avec des indications biographiques, il se veut enfin un outil de travail pour les chercheurs qui reviendront avec plus de recul sur les événements et les phénomènes analysés.
Tout en pouvant être lu de manière indépendante, cet ouvrage est le quatrième de la série consacrée par les « Cahiers africains » à l’époque de la transition d’un régime de parti unique à un régime pluraliste, transition que Mobutu avait été amené à ouvrir en avril 1990.

Gauthier de Villers, sociologue, est collaborateur scientifique de la section d’Histoire du Temps présent du Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale. Il a été le directeur de l’Institut africain et du Centre d’études et de documentation africaines (CEDAF).

In 1999, the RMCA republished Bobo. Nature et fonction des masques, first published in 1980 by ORSTOM (the present-day IRD, Institut de Recherche et de Développement), and signed an author’s contract to publish or co-publish the next volume, which was in the process of being written. Today it is now complete, and the RMCA supported this interesting project in the framework of a partnership with the Parisian publisher Biro and IRD publishing. Since then, the book has been distributed through the Museum’s established channels: Shop, website, etc., and in bookstores managed by Biro publishing.

‘The book restores Bobo masks to their context in accordance with their local importance. Thus wooden masks, so appreciated in the West for their market value and durability, are relegated to the back of the book, precisely reflecting their place among the Bobo, which is certainly essential but to a much lesser degree than that of the very sacred masks made of leaves and fibers.

A detailed first part explains the role of masks within different Bobo groups. The author draws on ancient written sources but also and above all on oral tradition that recounts the creation of the universe and the necessary cohabitation of men and supernatural entities.

The combination of unpublished texts and photographs inspires admiration and fear, which are appropriate given the uses of masks and the ambiguous forces they incite, simultaneously benevolent and dangerous’.

Guy Le Moal, an ethnologist by training, founded and directed the Institut français d’Afrique noire [French Institute of Black Africa] at Ouagadougou in Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) until independence in 1960.

On his return to France, he was posted to Orstom (currently IRD), then transferred to CNRS where he continued his work until 2004, participating in ‘Laboratoires de pensée en Afrique noire’.

This monograph presents climatic, geochronological, radiometric, and archaeological evidence for hominin activities around the Adrar Bous massif on the western edge of today’s Ténéré Desert, Niger. It documents a Late Acheulean lithic industry, a generalised Middle Paleolithic, and an Aterian displaying technological affinities to equatorial African industries.

Table of contents
Ch. 1: Preface, David Hall
Ch. 2: Introduction, J. Desmond Clark and Andrew B. Smith with Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
Ch. 3: Geology, Geomorphology and Prehistoric Environments, Martin A. J. Williams
Ch. 4: The Late Acheulian Assemblages, J. Desmond Clark et al.
Ch. 5: The Aterian of Adrar Bous and the Central Sahara, J. Desmond Clark et al.
Ch. 6: Epipalaeolithic Aggregates from Gréboun and Adrar Bous, J. Desmond Clark
Ch. 7: The Kiffian, Andrew B. Smith
Ch. 8: The Tenerian Andrew B. Smith
Ch. 9: The Ceramics from Adrar Bous and Surroundings Areas, Elena A. A. Garcea
Ch. 10: Technology and Classification of the Grinding Equipment, Diana C. Crader
Ch. 11: The Fauna from Adrar Bous and Surrounding Areas, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez with James Parham
Ch. 12: The Adrar Bous Cow and African Cattle, J. Desmond Clark, Patrick L. Carter, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, Andrew B. Smith,
Ch. 13: Burials and Human Skeletal Materials from Adrar Bous Andrew B. Smith, Elizabeth G. Agrilla, Alison Galloway
Ch. 14: Holocene Flora from Adrar Bous, Andrew B. Smith and James N. Coil
Epilogue, J. Desmond Clark
Summary, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez

A cultural and economic phenomenon of utmost importance in Bamako, resist dyeing draws on a long tradition. Over the past 50 years, the practice spread owing to the importation of industrial fabrics and synthetic colourings that have supplanted woven strips of local cotton and natural indigo. But this proliferation did not affect quality – far from it, in fact, as the craft has proven its vigour, combining ancestral resist techniques with modern dyeing processes.

Richly illustrated with colour photographs, this book sheds light on the great variety of resist techniques whose long, meticulous processes create brilliant motifs reflecting inexhaustible creativity. Behind these luxurious fabrics we discover a world of women and men constantly at work in difficult social conditions.

To more deeply penetrate this world of dyeing, Patricia Gérimont immersed herself in a small dyer’s shop that she depicts through portraits of its employees: fasteners, dyers, pounders…for this book is also a story of friendships and mutual discovery.

The RMCA offered to support this interesting project through a partnership with the Parisian publisher Ibis Press. Henceforth, the book is also distributed via the Museum’s usual channels: shop, website, etc.

This catalogue offers a fresh look at the peoples of the Omo Valley and surrounding regions. It is the first work dedicated to their everyday objects, and showcases their refinement. In addition, author Gustaaf Verswijver reveals the meaning ascribed to each object by the society that produces and uses it. He also explains social and geopolitical challenges and recent problems confronting these pastoral communities.

Table of contents
- Devos, Maud 
         The expression of modality in Shangaci  
- Kawasha, Boniface
         Relative Clauses and Subject Inversion in Chokwe, Kaonde, Lunda and Luvale
- Kutsch Lojenga, Constance
         Nine vowels and ATR vowel harmony in Lika, a Bantu language in D.R. Congo
- Nzang-Bie, Yolande
         La dérivation causative dans les langues bantu du groupe A70 
- Ricquier, Birgit & Bostoen, Koen
         Resolving phonological variability in Bantu lexical reconstructions: the case of ‘to bake in ashes’
- Seidel, Frank
         The hodiernal past domain and the concept of recentness in Yeyi
- Van de Velde, Mark 
        Un cas de changement phonologique par réanalyse morphonologique en éton

Observations from 1981 to 2006 by RMCA ornithologists and collaborators were used to produce the present Atlas of breeding birds of the Union of the Comoros, consisting of the three islands named below (the fourth island, Mayotte, while claimed by the Union, is at present administered by France). This part of the archipelago, which is situated between the African mainland and Madagascar, is home to a total of 59 breeding birds: 47 on Grande Comore, 44 on Moheli and 39 on Anjouan, including no less than 15 endemic species and 51 endemic taxa (see Tables 1-4 for their French, English and scientific names and their distribution).

It is the first atlas of this archipelago’s breeding bird species and habitats, featuring grid maps that locate where each species was recorded. ‘Ecological envelopes’ around these locations delimit potential ranges in distribution and altitude. For this analysis, maps were scanned and georeferenced, while features of special interest (altitude, forested/non-forested areas, rainfall, rivers, lakes, villages and roads) were encoded. Maps grouping the ecological envelopes of all taxa, endemic taxa and endemic species show that the principle habitats for endemic birds are situated at higher altitudes on each island. On Grande Comore, this means the main forest. But on Moheli, the smallest island, intermediate altitudes also contain much endemism, while on Anjouan the forest is restricted to a ‘network of patches’ that, along with agricultural areas (mostly plantations), are inhabited by (the residual) endemic taxa.

As in many parts of Africa, the Comoros suffer from significant conservation problems. Population growth has adversely influenced habitat and species richness. Environmental problems, legal issues, the need to involve local populations in bird and habitat conservation, and prospects for ecotourism are documented in some detail.

Targeting naturalists, teachers and scientists, the book’s aim is to serve as a tool for biodiversity capacity-building and to contribute to the conservation and management of terrestrial communities and birds.

Funded in part by the Belgian Cooperation Agency, the Atlas is the result of a cooperative project between the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium, and several collaborating partners, notably the Convention for Biological Diversity-Comoros and the National Museum of the Comoros (CNDRS).

This original work addresses the question of the ‘participative approach’ in natural resources management and development in Central Africa. The contributions collected here are relevant to the current debate on environmental governance in the region’s countries: Cameroon, Gabon, Central Africa Republic, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad.

The texts are based on the interdisciplinary study of concrete initiatives applied to social forestry, community forestry, protected areas and urban outskirts. An original analysis of associative endogenous movement and potentialities that offer participative approaches in the field is also proposed in the work’s conclusion.

This publication is a result of the research programme entitled ‘Enhancement of the Process of Environmental Governance in Central Africa’ (GEPAC), financed by the European Commission and carried out by the Centre d’Anthrolopologie culturelle de l’ULB, with the participation of the CIRAD.



Joseph Koni Muluwa, born in Kikwit, DR Congo in 1964, holds a doctorate in languages and letters from the Université libre de Bruxelles (2010). He began specialising in the relationships between linguistics and biodiversity in 2005 and devoted several years of study to the subject. He also worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren until 2012. At present, Koni Muluwa is connected with Ghent University, where his work focuses on endangered Bantu languages. His areas of speciality are comparative and historical linguistics and the documentation of endangered African traditional cultural knowledge.

For more information about this series: http://www.africamuseum.be/museum/research/human-sciences/linguistics/publications/tervurenseries or lingui@africamuseum.be


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