Kisangani /kiːsəŋˈɡɑːni/ is the capital of Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the third largest urbanized city in the country and the largest of the cities that lie in the tropical woodlands of the Congo.
Formerly known as Stanleyville in French (or Dutch as About this sound Stanleystad (help·info)), the city takes its present name from Boyoma, the seven-arched falls located north of the city, whose name was also initially given to the landscape on which the city is located, Singitini (or Singatini) as rendered in Lingala, (Kisangani is from present Swahili), each of which share the same meaning “the City on the Island”, in reference to the surrounding tributaries (whose waters separate much of Kisangani from the mainland). It is also known as "Kisangani Boyoma", and the demonym for Kisangani is Boyoman (or Boyomais in French).
The languages most spoken at home by the population in the city are Swahili and Lingala, followed by French. The official language of Kisangani is French as defined by the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Some 1,300 miles from the mouth of the Congo River, the city of Kisangani is the farthest navigable point upstream. Kisangani is the nation’s major inland port after Kinshasa, an important commercial hub point for river and land transportation and a major marketing and distribution centre for the north-eastern part of the country. It has been the commercial capital of the northern Congo since the late 19th century.
Kisangani has been home to influential politicians, including the national hero Patrice Emery Lumumba, the first prime minister of the country.
Kisangani is strategically placed at the junction of the Congo, Tshopo, and Lindi rivers and at the crossroads between eastern and western Congo. Approximately central of the African continent, it is located in North-eastern République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), central of Tshopo Province. The location at the northernmost tip of the Congo River, navigable for large waterborne cargo between Kinshasa and Kisangani, which feeds into a naturally transportation waterway for much of the Congo Basin, has helped the city grow in significance as a trading city.
Kisangani is at the centre of the Tshopo, and is bordered by the city of Banalia to the north, Ubundu and Opala territories to the south, Isangi to the west and Bafwasende municipalities to the east. The city of Kisangani lies 324 km from Buta, 572 kilometres (355 mi) of Isiro, 696 kilometres (432 mi) from Bunia and 2,912 kilometres (1,809 mi) from Kinshasa.
The Lualaba River flows through a bend to a confluence with the Congo River, at the alteration of the waterways lies the city of Kisangani. Much of Kisangani City is built on the location of land defined in between the river stretches of Tshopo river on its north and by the Congo River on its south. Many tributaries and islands are intertwined conducive to moving inland waterways. Tidal straits actually separate L'Île Mbiye from mainland of Kisangani City. The city is locally referred to as Boyoma after the prominent geographical feature on land, Boyoma Falls. The seven cataracts have a total drop of 61 meters (200 feet). Falls Wagenia where the fishery is installed on the rapids can be seen.
The city's land area is estimated at 1910 square kilometres. The City of Kisangani has a density of 229 inhabitants per km². The city seats in the midst of the vast and isolated Congo Basin, the second largest tropical woodlands on the planet. It is located at 0° 31' north latitude from the equator (57 km), 25° 11' east longitude from the meridian of Greenwich and 1 404.1 feet (428 meters) above sea level.
L'Île Mbiye is situated on the Congo River in the Eastern part of Kisangani. It is located upstream of the Wagenia Falls, between latitude 0°31' North and longitude 25°11' East, with 376m of altitude. It adjoins the town of Kisangani, and it is 14 km long and 4 km wide. All around Kisangani, L'Île Mbiye is the only ecosystem that has a dense forest that is relatively well preserved. The Island is part of the Sustainable Forest Management in Africa Symposium project of forest ecosystem conservation conducted by Stellenbosch University. The Island has an area of 1,400 ha, and it comprises three types of forest: dry land forest, periodically flooded forest and swampy forest.
Despite being adjacent to the equator, the city has a tropical monsoon climate due to the fact that its driest month (January) sees on average below 60 mm of rain. Kisangani experiences an average relative humidity of 86%.
Typical climate in regions through which the Congo River flows is that of Kisangani, a town situated on the river’s right and left bank slightly north of the Equator. Humidity is high throughout the year, and annual rainfall amounts to 64 inches (1,620 mm) and occurs fairly regularly; even in the driest month the rainfall totals more than 2 inches (53 mm). Temperatures are also uniformly high throughout the year, and there is little diurnal variability. The average temperature at Kisangani is in the mid-70s F (mid-20sC). Kisangani is also a beneficiary of a cool breeze that often blows off the Congo River.
Culture and contemporary life
The city is a centre for television productions, radio, theatre, film, multimedia and print publishing. Kisangani's many cultural communities have given it a distinct local culture. The city's waterfront allure and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. As a Central African city, Kisangani shares many cultural characteristics with the rest of the continent. It has a tradition of producing African Jazz, Nu-Rumba, African Folk, Rumba and Ndombolo music. The city has also produced much talent in the fields of visual arts, theatre, music, and dance. Some of its better known popular culture residents include Aberti Masikini, Anne-Sylvie Mouzon, Barly Baruti, Koffi Olomide and Moreno (Batamba Wenda Morris). Yet, being at the African confluence of the South and the North and West and East traditions, Kisangani has developed a unique and distinguished cultural face. Another distinctive characteristic of Kisangani culture life is to be found in the animation of its downtown, particularly during summer, prompted by cultural and social events, particularly festivals. The city's largest festival is the Cercle Boyoma Culture festival, which is the largest in the world of its kind.
Other popular festivals include the Kisangani Jazz Festival, Kisangani Film Festival, Nuits d'Afrique and the Kisangani Fireworks Festival.
Entertainment and performing arts
Strongly influenced by the city's immigrants, productions such as those of Barly Baruti and others used song in narratives that often reflected themes of hope and ambition. Artists of all cultural disciplines in Kisangani such as musicians, stage actors, comedians, fashion, cultural operators, draftsmen, folk music, painters, sculptors, and silkscreen meet annually for the seasonal culture shows. Cercle Boyoma Culture is one of such shows where cultural activities of Kisangani come together synergistically for an exchange and reflection involving different associations of all cultural disciplines. Cercle Boyoma Culture is annually held in Makiso on 14 Fina Avenue from the month of December through to June. The culture show displays a digital audio recording studio, a large stage show, 10 booths that host libraries, internet cafes, sewing stations, interactive gaming machines and cafeterias.
The cultural space in Kisangani provides multitudes of beauty pageants a platform to exchange experiences, provide mentoring consultation and hosting of training seminars. Miss Boyoma is annually held in December, organised by the cities’ authority to determine the most beautiful girl in Kisangani. Elysée of 17 years old is Miss Boyoma 2009.
In the summer, many outdoor concerts are given which present performances of free plays and music in Central Park and free concerts, dance, and theater events across all six communes in the summer months. The platform creates a framework for discussion and dialogue to promote cultural activities in the city by informing, educating and raising cultural awareness. Through the cultural framework of entertainment development of talented artists, writers and designers is supported by providing the young or obscure individuals with a platform to contribute in Kisangani’s cultural society.
Other live music genres which are part of the city's cultural heritage include Kisangani Blues, Kisangani Soul, African Jazz, Rumba and gospel. The city is the birthplace of Congolese legendary musicians Aberti Masikini and Koffi Olomide and is the site of an influential Nu-Rumba scene. In the 1950s, the city was a center for African Folk, Rumba Lingala and African Jazz. This influence continued into the Rumba of the 1960s. The city has been an epicenter for Ndombolo culture since the 1980s. A flourishing independent folk music culture brought forth Kisangani Blues. The city has also been spawning a critically acclaimed underground Nu-Rumba scene with various bands gaining national attention in the Nu-Rumba world. Annual festivals feature various acts such as the Cercle Boyoma Culture Festival.
Shopping along the avenue de l'Eglise, its many restaurants, as well as Kisangani’s eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the RDC’s third-largest convention destination. Most conventions are held at Stade Lumumba, just north of Stade du Marche. The historic City Hall also now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries and exhibit halls. The Alliance Franco-Congolese (AFRACO) building which hosts governmental conference.
The variety of attractions in Kisangani include botanical gardens, museums, factories, zoos, exhibition halls, elevators, retail stores, breweries, warehouses, libraries, mills, auditoriums and refineries which today provide a legacy of historic and architectural interest, especially in the downtown area.
Rosaire of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Central Market and the impressive 19th century headquarters of all major Kisangani banks on 1st Avenue . Kisangani holds a campus of the National University of the Congo, which includes the renowned Medicine Faculty, made infamous by the Polio virus conspiracy. Kisangani also maintains the city’s focal library at University of Kisangani. The city holds an extensive collection of ancient Congolese and near East African archaeological artifacts, at its regional archaeological and ethnological, the National Museum of Kisangani.
Former Hôtel des Chutes, Kisangani. Now an empty shell.
Other landmarks include: L'Hôtel des chutes, Le Voyageur, Hellénique ainsi que Psistaria, l'Hôtel Congo Palace, l'Hôtel Boyoma, l'Hôtel Kisanganian and L'Hôtel Palm Beach. Place de la Femme which was completed in 1934 as a dedication to Boyomaise women, the landmark One of the most revered religious leaders Reverend Father Gabriel Grison was buried at the Mission St. Gabriel in Kisangani and has monument dedicated to him on Monseigneur Grison Avenue. Mobutus' residential home on route de Lubutu, Place des Martyrs that held the Lumumba Square until 1967, the controversial Central Public Fountain that anchors the downtown park was installed by the distraction of the popular monument of Stanley and its surrounding structures are but a few notable examples of 20th century architecture.
On the right bank of the river Tshopo, the Kisangani Zoo attracts many visitors, as well as the Kisangani Hydroelectric Dam that supplies electricity to the city of Kisangani. At spectacular waterfall of Wagenia Falls, fishing with the old age tradition tools installed on the rapids can be witnessed. Fishing is practiced through a scaffold installed among rocks, with vines attached and serving through the tensioning creels of woven conical vines immersed in the current of the river.
A Major destination include the forest ecosystem of L’Île Mbiye, with is a part of protection conservation forest program called Sustainable Forest Management in Africa as spearheaded by Stellenbosch University. L’Île Mbiye is an ecosystem with a well preserved dense forest. The Island has an area of 1,400 ha, and it comprises three types of forest: dry land forest, periodically flooded forest and swampy forest. The Island is situated on the Congo River in the eastern part of Kisangani. It is located upstream of the Wagenia Falls, between latitude 0°31' North and longitude 25°11' East, with 376 m of altitude. It adjoins the town of Kisangani, and it is 14 km long and 4 km wide.
Kisangani lays claim to a large number of regional specialties, all of which reflect the city's ethnic and working class roots. Included among these is its nationally renowned deep-dish Manioc.
Kisangani’s food culture, influenced by the city's immigrants and large number of dining patrons, is diverse. Eastern Africa and Indian immigrants have made the city famous for their traditional foods. Some of the mobile food vendors licensed by the city have made foods such as husking paddy standbys of contemporary Kisangani street food, although kosa kosa and Kisangani coffee are still the main street fare. The city is also home to many of the finest prawn cuisine restaurants in the République Démocratique du Congo (RDC).
The Riviera, La Vanille and Rwenzori constitute some of the city’s principal restaurants.
Sports of all kinds play an important part in many Boyomai’s lives. The city of Kisangani is home to several stadiums with the 3 main stadiums being Stade Lumumba, Stade du Marche and the Stade of Athenee Royal.
The city is represented in Nationwide Football League Linafoot by TS Malekesa, RC Etoile d' and AS NIKA in the 2009/2010 season. They both play their home games at a soccer-specific stadium called Stade Lumumba.
Kisangani is also represented in Province Oriental Provincial League by, CS Makiso, Sotexki SC, RC Stella, AS Kisangani, RC Boyoma, Echo Sport, CS Monami, FC Procure, AS Vita Boyoma and AS Pars. They draw packed crowds at the small but picturesque Stade of Athenee Royal for their regular-season games. The current president of the Kisangani Football Association the Entente Urbaine of Football in Kisangani (EUFKIS) is Anaclet Kanangila who succeeded to the post left by Robert Kabemba.
Key dates of the Kisangani calendar include:
- 4 January – Martyrs' Day of Independence
- 16 January – Anniversary of the assassination of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila
- 17 January – Anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba father of national independence
- 5 June – commemorates the victims of the military clash between Uganda and Rwanda in 2000. The ASBL Solidarity Fund for Victims of Eastern Province Wars chairs the commemorative events. The secretary for the organisation is Aziza Sydol Baele
- 24 June – National day of fishermen
- 1 May – International Workers' Day
- 17 May – Day of the seizure of power by the ADFL (Liberation Mobutism)
- 30 June – Anniversary of independence
- 1 August – Feast of parents / alumni
The transportation system in Kisangani is extensive and complex. It includes the longest suspension bridge in Northern Congo. Public local transport is served by a network of buses, commuter trains and waterways that extend across and off the island. Kisangani is served by Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo, which uses Kisangani Station. Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo provides connections to Ubundu, through a portage railway line over Boyoma Falls.
Unlike many major cities, Kisangani does not have a problem with vehicular traffic congestion. Kisangani’s high rate of public transit use, daily Toleka users and many pedestrian commuters makes it the most energy-efficient major city in the République Démocratique du Congo (RDC). Walk and tolek modes of travel account for high percentage of all modes for trips in the city. The Tolek is a cycling taxi ("Toleka" means "Time" in Lingala), that emerged as the primary means of transportation around Kisangani during the mid 1990s.
Commercial centre of Kisangani. Congo Palace building in the back
As the city lies between stretches of the Tshopo River and Congo River, many tributaries and islands are intertwined conducive to moving inland waterways for the population of Kisangani and the transportation of goods by ships, boats or canoe (paddle or motorized), from one bank to another and from one neighbourhood to the another is made possible. Waterway systems connect Kisangani to various locales within and outside the city (including Isangi and Lomami). Kisangani is the highest navigable point on the River Congo and the terminus of river traffic from Kinshasa and all ports operated by ONATRA.
A considerable amount of automobile taxis and buses are also employed to supporting public transit throughout the city. The building of new gas stations and rehabilitation efforts for redevelopment of urban roads and the opening of the No. 4 National Highway Road are among the main factors behind this resumption of automobiles. The redevelopment of the National Highway Road No.4 has meant an increase in scrambling shuttles of traffic between Kisangani, Bafwasende, Komanda, Nurse, Mambasa, Beni and Butembo. Kisangani provides connections to Ubundu and Opala, along the southern corridors of Ubundu and Opala road respectively as well as long-distance road networks to cities such as Lubutu, Walikale, Goma and Kigali (in Rwanda) by way of the National Highway Road No. 2. Kisangani is part of the Trans-African Highway network 8 (TAH 8), at a length of 6259 km, the Trans-African Highway between Lagos (Nigeria) – Mombasa (Kenya) is longest transcontinental route between East-west of Africa. Kisangani also has access to the Indian Ocean coast by way of a highway corridor connecting the city to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
Kisangani is served by Bangoka International Airport on the far east side and the older Simi-Simi Airport on the west side. Bangoka is for commercial passenger flights and cargo only, whereas Simi-Simi mainly serves military purposes, though it also hosts some private and humanitarian flights