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From The Hippo’s Ears: The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Facts you may not have know about The Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (République démocratique du Congo), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa.

The DRC is a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic, and gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

Common greetings include handshakes, as well as hugs and cheek kisses for those who know each other well. Hello in Lingala is “mbote”. How are you is “ndenge nini?. In French, these would be “bonjour” and “comment allez-vous?” respectively.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is culturally accepted as the lingua franca facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo. According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) could read and write in French.

Approximately 242 languages are spoken in the country, but only four have the status of national languages: Kituba (“Kikongo ya leta”), Lingala, Tshiluba, and Swahili.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in DRC. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Music is a large part of Congolese culture. The DRC has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuban rumba, and merengue to give birth to soukous, a genre of dance music from the Congo Basin.It derived from Congolese rumba in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s in France.

For a taste of soukous music, listen to Dibolo Dibala’s Michel.

Aerial view of Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Kwassa kwassa is a dance created by Jeannora, a mechanic in Kinshasa. It started in the 1980s, spread across Africa, and was made popular by soukous music videos.

Watch kwassa kwassa dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

National Heroes’ Day

Referred to as “Heroes’ Day,” this public holiday is celebrated annually on January 17. It commemorates the death of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s popular leader. It is one of the two festivals that commemorate Lumumba’s fight for human dignity in the region.

National Liberation Day

The Congo observes National Liberation Day every year on May 17. This is a public holiday, so all offices and most businesses are closed. It pays tribute to the efforts of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo rebel group who fought the government during the second war. MLC was led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, the son of Bemba Saolona, a Congolese billionaire. Street parades and cultural shows are held.

Parents’ Day

The world observes Parents’ Day every August 1, but in the Congo, it is considered a public holiday. Locals are enthusiastic about giving greeting cards and gifts to their family.

9. What are the seasons like?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo lies on the equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands, with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains.

South of the equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours. The average rainfall for the entire country is about 1,070 mm (42 in).

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Félix Tshisekedi has served in the position since January 2019. He is the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the oldest and largest party of the Democratic Republic of Congo, succeeding his father – Étienne Tshisekedi – in the role. Tshisekedi’s election at the end of 2018 marked the first peaceful transition of power since the DRC became independent from Belgium in 1960.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals were estimated in 2011 to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion. The DRC’s main exports are gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, crude oil, and wood.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include visiting Lac Ma Vallée, Mount Mangengenge, and the National Museum of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

View down a road in Kinshasa.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Ginger drinks and rice-based beers are popular. Linguila is a local wine made by fermenting sugar cane.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Popular DRC dishes include Chikwangue/kwanga (cassava, cooked and stored in banana leaves); loso na madesu (rice and beans); and liboke Ya mbika (steamed pumpkin seed pudding).

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

The DRC uses the Congolese franc (CDF). (1 USD = approximately 1,666 CFA).

3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant: 10,796 CDF
Apples (1 kg): 9,996 CDF
Milk (1 l): 3,382 CDF
Cappuccino: 5,198 CDF
Water (350 ml): 1,283 CDF
Loaf of white bread: 2,116 CDF

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Crime is common, and being vigilant is advised.
  • You should avoid using any taxis in DRC. If you must take a taxi, use a privately booked one. Don’t hail taxis in the street.
  • On 17 July 2019, the World Health Organisation declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following an outbreak of the Ebola virus in eastern DRC. New cases continue to be reported across the affected areas including the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu.
  • Travel within 50km of the border with the Central African Republic and South Sudan is advised against.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Patrice Lumumba, a Congolese politician and independence leader, who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic.
  • Robert Kidiaba, former Congolese international footballer who played for TP Mazembe, as a goalkeeper.
  • Le Grand Kallé (Joseph Athanase Tshamala Kabasele), a Congolese singer and bandleader, considered the father of modern Congolese music.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].

Our New Integrated Program Has Won a Cartus 2019 Innovation Award

Earlier this year, in response to our clients request for shorter packages for their assignees, while still maintaining the same high level of service they were used to receiving, we launched our new product – the Integrated Program.

The Program centres around an online portal, through which assignees can access a wealth of information about the cities they’re moving to, as well as information about their relocation. The portal introduces the assignee to their Relocation Consultant and as well as providing them with a secure platform to store any pertinent documents for the assignment.

It also has an easy to follow new 20-step Relocation Overview guide, city guides, and videos. This information can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.

Thus far, the Integrated Program has allowed us to offer even more value to our assignees and business partners, while being more flexible for the assignees, it allows for cost savings for our clients.

Our MD, Rene Stegmann, with the 2019 Cartus Innovation Award.

Our submission to Cartus’ 2019 Global Network Conference awards was a chance for us to summarize the great achievements following on from the launch of this Program. In return, Cartus chose to award us their Silver Supplier Innovation Award at their banquet in Boston, MA in October 2019.

This recognition reinforces our drive to exceed client expectations, and continue innovating in the relocation industry as part of our promise to Embrace the Unknown.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

A Warm Welcome to our Two New Team Members

We have recently added two new team members at our Head Office in Cape Town, South Africa. We would like to officially wish them both a warm welcome, and introduce them to you.

Lynn Mackenzie
Immigration Lead

Lynn has joined us as our Immigration Lead. As such, she will be heading up our Immigration division, and is responsible for

In January 2018, Lynn returned to Cape Town, her hometown, after spending 17 years studying and working in Los Angeles, California, USA. She received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and her Juris Doctor in Law from California institutions.

Whilst studying, Lynn worked as an executive assistant for a faith-based organisation, where she excelled in administratively managing the daily operations of the organisation. Upon graduation from law school in 2011, Lynn was motivated to pursue her interests in law and politics, and began working as a Legislative Analyst with the California Treatment Advocacy Foundation. There, she wrote policy recommendations to further legislative initiatives, required to be presented before the California Health Senate. She thoroughly enjoyed this position as it sharpened her skills and knowledge of the legal and legislative process.

In 2014, Lynn accepted a position as the Legal Services Advocate with the Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service in Los Angeles. There, she managed various programs and worked tirelessly with the Immigration team to help clients file numerous immigration applications before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the US Department of State.

In 2019, Lynn completed her Master in Laws (LL.M) in Public Law, specializing in Human Rights Law, from the University of Cape Town. She was extremely motivated to resume her work within the immigration law space, and as such, joined Relocation Africa in June 2019.

Lynn is currently Immigration Lead for Relocation Africa, and is therefore responsible for the entire immigration product line for the African Region. She is also an avid fitness enthusiast, who believes that daily exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul.

She is happy to have returned to her country of birth and is looking forward to all that lays ahead, both personally and professionally.

 

Chantelle Butcher
Client Account Specialist

Chantelle has joined us as our newest Client Account Specialist. As part of our Mobility team, Chantelle is responsible for

Chantelle has in-depth knowledge of and experience in the hospitality and culinary industries. Completing a Hospitality Management Diploma at the Cape Town Hotel School in 2008 established the foundation for the enriched, decade-long journey through the industry. It is during this time that she completed her service intervals at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel and the Mount Nelson Hotel. She obtained years of experience at 4- and 5-star properties in Cape Town.

Chantelle established her career as one of the members of the opening team for the Taj Hotel, Cape Town in 2009 – on the eve of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. With a wish to branch out overseas, she embarked on a yearlong journey on the 6-star Silver Seas cruise ship in 2012. The experience taught her the true value of hard work, patience, and international hospitality standard practices.

Arriving back in Cape Town in 2013, she returned back to her first love. She challenged herself to a career change, moving into the events industry. Working for Urbantonic as their Staffing Manager provided the opportunity to invest her years of experience by enriching and developing the skills and knowledge of South African youth looking to enter the exciting industry.

She joined the Relocation Africa Mobility team in July 2019, as a Client Account Specialist.

In her spare time, she enjoys keeping up-to-date with international current affairs, and meeting new people. Chantelle believes that enriching your life through other people’s experiences adds value to your journey.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Expat Story: Lessons from a Nomadic Childhood

Being born into a family of diplomats has both its pros and its cons, says expat Diana Predosanu. On the one hand is a great adventure, even a life of privilege. On the other hand, many families lack the support they need for the ongoing changes of this nomadic lifestyle. Here are some of the lessons Diana learned as a child ‘growing up between worlds’.

Lesson #1. As a child, leaving friends behind was hard, but making new friends was relatively ‘easy’
Leaving friends in my ‘home’ country to accompany my parents on their mission was never easy, but the excitement of taking a flight and moving to a new country usually outshone any doubts or fears.

I was nine years old when we moved to Brazil. I have memories of learning Portuguese at home and slowly becoming integrated at school. Unlike other diplomats’ children, I never joined the international schools, so every move, every country, came with the challenge of learning the local language and making friends with locals. Often, the only ‘different’ child in school was me. But I found the other children were open and friendly and, as I was quite resilient, I made friends easily in Brazil (and later in Colombia).

My basic approach was: learn the language, go to school, make new friends and keep in touch with friends back ‘home’ via letters.

Later I did my university studies in Australia. In this environment – where everyone is ‘new’ and part of a multicultural society – I found my place and was able to enjoy the melting pot of Sydney.

Lesson #2. Going back ‘home’ was more challenging than I ever imagined it would be
Going ‘home’ was hard, arguably harder than arriving in a new place. Leaving everything that had been built in those years and going back to a place that had changed, as a person who had changed too, was never easy. I was expected to belong, but I didn’t… not really, not anymore. The experiences abroad had filled my soul with other smells, colours, tastes. I rekindled childhood friendships, but found it hard, as a teenager, to make new friends at ‘home’.

Lesson #3. A heart in search of a home and yet ‘itchy feet’…
Growing up constantly moving from one country to another made me think that I would like to settle somewhere and build a home. But my reality has turned out to be so different! I continued to study abroad and I accepted jobs in different countries. I realise I feel the need to keep moving, to keep trying new destinations. Every place I go to, I feel that something is missing. My first reaction is to pack my bags and head somewhere else. I keep trying to find that one place that will feel like my home, a mix of the various experiences I’ve had. Time is passing and I am still looking…

Lesson #4. It’s never the same when you visit any of your adopted countries
In my experience, no matter how well we keep in touch with a place, or with people, things change. In 2012, I went back to Australia, hoping to ‘get back’ my life there and with it my friendships and habits. This turned out to be impossible. Although my friends welcomed me back, so much had changed. My friends were now adults, employed, married, with commitments… we were no longer students. I, on the other hand, was employed part-time and no longer had both my friends and my family in one place. Things had evolved and I couldn’t go back to how they had once been.

Lesson #5. Home is everywhere you’ve lived, and nowhere
(See Lesson #3!) I have called every country I have lived in ‘home’. I am proud to have adapted each time, as a chameleon blends in with its environment. But nowhere have I really belonged. In my ‘home’ country, I don’t feel quite at home – after all, I have lived abroad for more than half my life. I don’t speak the same as my local peers and I think differently to young people my age. In my adopted countries, I may have adapted, but I wasn’t born there, so I am not quite one of them either. Home really is everywhere and nowhere.

 

Author: Vivian Chiona (Expat Nest). Source: [1]. Image source: [1].

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Trends From IBA’s 2017 Global Immigration Conference

Relocation Africa recently attended IBA’s Global Immigration Conference 2017 in London, U.K. From the numerous talks, two main trends emerged.

Firstly, corporates are choosing regional immigration and mobility suppliers instead of global ones. This is due to regional suppliers having a much better focus on and knowledge of their own regions, and thus being able to provide a better quality of service to their clients. The infographic below describes the many benefits of using a regional supplier, such as Relocation Africa.

Secondly, corporate procurement divisions are working more and more with HR teams in order to ensure that the services they procure are truly meeting the specific needs of the business. This trend involves a move away from procuring suppliers based purely on price, and towards procurement based on considering quality of service.

Some suppliers make use of pricing models whereby a low price is quoted, without adding exclusions, for additional services which will be needed. Procurement divisions that are not aware of this may choose a supplier with a lower initial quote over a supplier that is more upfront, and provides a comprehensive quote for the entire service offering.

It is important for procurement to consider the above in order to ensure that the best possible supplier is sourced, based on reputation, and the exact business needs at the time.

Relocation Africa is focused on Africa, and has decades of experience throughout the continent. We also have an upfront approach with our clients, and consider each business’s unique and changing needs.

For an overview of the services we provide, view our digital brochure here.

For more information about how we can help your company with Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration services, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +21 763 4240.