Saturday, February 23, 2008

"A perverse belief in Harry Potter has gripped Kinshasa"

Last Wednesday, I posted "Recommended reading: Planet of Slums." The following description of what’s happening in Kinshasa, the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, caught me by surprise:

Kinshasa, a city of 6 million, is described by its own inhabitants as a “cadaver, a wreck.” Less than 5% of Kinoans earn a regular salary. According to Mike Davis, the author of Planet of Slums, “Kinshasa, like the rest of Congo-Zaire, has been wrecked by a perfect storm of kleptocracy, Cold War geopolitics, structural adjustments, and chronic civil war.”

“The Little Witches of Kinshasa” are described on pages 191-198 in Chapter 8, “A Surplus Humanity?” As a result of the collapse of Kinoan society, “The bitter frustration of the people led to an imaginary yet vicious mentality of sorcery….” As a result, literal, perverse belief in Harry Potter has gripped Kinshasa, leading to the mass-hysterical denunciation of thousands of child “witches” and their mass expulsion to the streets, even their murder.”

The same fictional character who enchants our safe, well-fed children (and adults) stands for something else in a country where the basic care and protection of children has broken down.

(photo of Kinshasa: 3 Quarks Daily)


Anonymous said...

FYI: People born or living in Kinshasa are known as Kinois (singular) and Kinoises (plural) in both English and in French


Gail Jonas said...

Thanks, Loraine. I noticed these correct descriptions of Kinoises (both singular and plural) in Davis's book.

I believe my post referred to the country but not to the people, which is not as desireable.

Thanks for bringing my attention to the fact that it's people, not abstract countries, that are affected.

Gail Jonas said...

Oops, it's Lorraine.