A LITTLE STORY ABOUT INGA ASSOCIATION
by Fungula Fumu Ngondji, the maniKongo.
Twenty-one years ago, there were a few people originated
from the two Congo in Northern California.
Not all of them knew one another.
Some of them were students at the major universities
of the region such as Stanford, Berkeley,
San Francisco, Sacramento state, etc.
If they ever met, it was only seldom, and on
very special occasions.
They probably felt the urge to socialize
with one another as such is the tradition among
Congolese people, but the opportunity never arised.
In 1983, on the Eve of the New Year, a rumour spread around the region.
A Congolese family of 13 members had just arrived.
A traditional welcoming and blessing of their new home
ceremony was planned for the family.
Ma Bukaka, the oldest and longest Congolese
resident in the region, whom almost everyone knew
or have heard of, was going to be the celebrant.
From curiosity or anticipated excitement,
the news went around and to everyone amazement,
a very large group of Congolese of both countries
and their friends showed up at 5911 Howell Street in Oakland,
where the 13 members of the new family lived.
A live goat, offered by an African American neighbour,
good friend of the Congolese family, was slaughtered
in the backyard of their home.
A small portion of the goat blood was brought
to Ma Bukaka in a tiny plate.
Speaking in Kilari, his maternal language,
he spread some the blood on the floor
and diping one finger in the tiny plate at a time,
he made a cross on top of both feet of each member
of the family, including the baby girl, held in her father's arms.
Then Ma Bukaka pourred the rest of the blood
at the entrance of their home, accompanying
every gesture with loud incantations.
Neighbours of the family, especially children, whites
and blacks who had gathered in great number,
as the ceremony took place outside the family home,
watched with excitement and disbelief.
Some who felt unease about what they were
witnessing called the police.
Two police officers came but kept at a distance,
observing with interest what was going on
without attempting to disturb the gathering.
These officers were so impressed at the end
that they were more interested in learning about
what they thought was African "voodoo" or something else?
THE ALL CONGOLESE FIRST MEETING
This "All Congolese" first meeting took place at
the home of Papa Fungula's family.
A few of the people who were present at the time
are still in the region, such as
(I will name them as my children knew them):
Ma Bukaka (East Palo Alto), Tonton Daniel (Soledad),
Tonton Jean-Claude (Daniel's roomate at the time),
Ya Daisy and Ya Mado (Vallejo),
Tonton Samba Ngo (San Jose),
Tonton Okily and many others I can't remember.
Then fallowed "All Congolese" New Year's Eve party
to the rytm of Tabu Ley, Lwambo Lwanzo Makiadi,
Papa Wemba, Olomide, Kalle Jeff's music,
and you name it. The party lasted almost
until January second, 1984.
There was so much joy, so much delicious Congolese
food and so much drinking that no one wanted to leave.
Those who left came back the next day,
and the next day again. It was one memorable party
that brought back everyone's memory of
"Poto-Poto Mbuka Munene" of Brazzaville.
Those who were tired or drank slept were their feet had left them...
On the floor... On a couch or in their car... parked on the street.
After the party was over, nobody wanted the excitement
to go away. So we started talking about
keeping the spirit of the party.
This spirit was translated into
"Makanisi ya mboka na biso" (our home way of life).
And soon, organizing meetings started to put together
a formal structure of a Congolese Community organization.
They were many meetings. Some friendly.
Some other unfriendly.
Different propositions were formulated about
the character and the name of the organization
until some day, in November 1987,
we finaly agreed on a specific name which,
I believe, was
"Association of Congolese of California (A.C.C.).
It will become Inga Association many years later
In the beginning, most of our meetings took place
at the Fungula's family home or at any other member
of the community. These meetings were not official
so to speak. They were just formal.
Whenever we gathered for any reason or another,
the subject of the association was brought up and debated.
The one most important thing to remember is
that Congolese of both countries were passionate
about preserving " Makanisi ya mboka na biso".
Makanisi, in Lingala, is a word with a vast meaning
like: spirit, thoughts, traditions, values, experiences,
dignity, family, unity and son on and so forth.
THE TRADITION OF INGA ASSOCIATION
Of all the values that Inga Association symbolises,
family, "libota" or "liboke", as we say in Lingala,
has been is "motto".
Unfortunately, not all of us do understand
the meaning of this word as it is understood in
our Kongoleses languages. Because if we knew it,
we should be paying more attention to a few Kongoleses
old men and old women who live among us.
Keep in mind that everyone of us is in the process
of getting old. Do we want to be totally forgotten
by the younger generation we have served so dutifully?
I'm talking here about people like Ma Bukaka,
Papa and Mama Kaninda, Mama Bazinga (Stockton),
Tantine Malou's mother (Richmond),
and you all know the others.
These few I have mentioned are in their 80s or over.
Inga Association celebrate Fathers and Mothers' Day,
which is official holidays in America.
When are we going to have
"Grand-Parents Day (Bakoko na Biso)",
and also, "Children's Day (Bana na Biso)" by the way?
Shouldn't these be really the people to celebrate
in the true Kongolese tradition?
Shouldn't these great grand-parents
be members of Inga Association's Elders Council?
In her 21 years of existence, and especially
under the leadership of the actual president,
Delphin Kubwa, Inga has made some astonishing progress.
It is now about time that we become really innovative
and visionary to show the other Congolese communities
around the US, that we are not only probably the oldest,
the most unified and the most progressive
Congolese community organization,
but, also, the most traditionally oriented.
Such innovations will also be in syncrony
with the spirit of Inga.
The most powerful Dam (barrage) of Africa,
which started some years ago under president Mobutu
with Inga I and II. Soon, we will be talking
about Inga III and IV and probably even Inga V,
under a consortium of financiers from different countries
with South Africa as leader.
These financiers are planning in investing more
than 20 billions dollars in a project that could provide
electricity to almost half of the African continent
and even some European countries.
Inga Association should be involved in such a project
even as only an observer.
A special commission should be set up and get
in touch with those who are the major players in the future of Inga.
This's what I call to be visionary.
by Fungula Fumu Ngondji, the maniKongo.
Le message du peuple congolais doit être diffusé et soutenu
par tous les démocrates ainsi que toutes les forces du progrès
à travers le monde entier.
Le cri de douleur, d'espoir et d'espérance
du peuple congolais doit être entendu clairement partout
sur cette terre. Un fervent appel à l'avenement
de la LIBERTE et la DEMOCRATIE
en République Démocratique du Congo.
Des elections reellement libres et transparentes
doivent organisees par les congolais,
pour tous les congolais et uniquement avec les congolais.
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Kigali - RWANDA
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