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December 07, 2009


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The New York City Math Teacher

Were you walking along the Avenue de Fleuve Congo or the Avenue des Nations Unies?

Doug M.

Nations Unies, over at the west end.

Doug M.

Black Mage

Something I am curious about...

How do the Congolese refer to, uh, the other Congo (Congo-Brazaville)? Do they say 'I'm from Congo' or 'I'm from the DRC' or 'I'm from Zaire'? Do they refer to the other nation as 'the Republic of Congo' or 'Brazzaville'?

Does confusion arise?

Doug M.

Nobody uses "Zaire" any more. I guess it's politically incorrect now?

The other Congo seems to be "Congo-Brazzaville", "Brazzaville" (most common), or just "Brazza".

Doug M.


About that dock...it might not have been owned by someone as important as that. There's a huge smuggling business in Kinshasa and Brazzaville, consisting of everything from mom-and-pop smugglers to international cartels. Every time either government taxes something, the arbitrage boys step in. Some of them have contacts with the Congolese expatriates in Paris and Brussels, too. There's more smuggling on those docks then there is legitimate business in all of Congo.

There's a great book on this (which unfortunately is written in dense academese): "Congo-Paris: Transnational Traders on the Margins of the Law" by Janet MacGaffey and Remy Bazenguissa-Ganga.


As to why nobody uses "Zaire," the name was Mobutu's personal choice, so it became tainted by association. When Mobutu allowed more press freedom in 1990, people began demanding the name revert to Congo almost immediately.

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