Tshikapa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Situated at the confluence of the Kasai and Tshikapa Rivers, Tshikapa has been known since earliest Belgian colonial days as a diamond mining center as well as the traditional boundary between a cluster of ethnic groups: the Lulua to the east; the Baphende to the west; and the Chokwe, Lunda, and Babindi to the south.
Because the town was planned and built as the administrative center of the Belgian Forminiere Mining Company, local people were viewed primarily as a source of labor and the providers of needed food supplies. Thus they were regimented and closely supervised. While company money was freely used to develop housing for the expatriate personnel, a well-appointed Roman Catholic chaplaincy, a large hospital complex, and extensive camps for workers, Mennonite missionaries were for years tolerated in the camps only on an occasional visitation basis.
In the early 1950s, after much effort, the Congo Inland Mission (CIM) was at last able to secure clearance to build a station near Kalonda village on a hillside overlooking the Kasai River at a distance of some five miles from the town of Tshikapa. The Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Congo Mennonite Church) has since secured choice land at Tshikapa, adjacent to the government airport, where central administrative offices have been built to house the officers and department heads of the church.
In 1986 the Communauté Mennonite au Congo counted nine churches in the Tshikapa area. It offered significant medical service on both sides of the river and sponsored a variety of schools as well as several book shops.
Lying approximately 640 air miles (1050 km.) to the southeast of Kinshasa, the population of the Tshikapa area in 1986 was rapidly approaching 150,000. Its population is estimated at 180,600 in 2005.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 892. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bertsche, James E. "Tshikapa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T810.html.
APA style: Bertsche, James E. (1989). Tshikapa (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T810.html.