|Author:||Dieudonne Mbala Nkanga|
|Title:||"Radio-trottoir" in central Africa|
|Publication info:||Ann Arbor, Michigan: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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"Radio-trottoir" in central Africa
Dieudonne Mbala Nkanga
Evanston, IL: Program of African Studies, Northwestern University
no. 4, pp. 4-5, 8, 1992
|Author Biography:||Dieudonne Mbala Nkanga is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University.|
"Radio-trottoir" in Central Africa
It sometimes starts by: "Do you know what I heard?" or "Did you hear what happened to such?" From that apparently innocent question, a conversation ensues that deals with the "doings" of someone or with a burning issue in the community. And from there what has been said spreads within the community and beyond. From simple gossip, the news spreads fast and becomes a rumor. Generally, it is considered with skepticism by Western (even African) scholars and administrators, and when used in social studies, it appears in the label of "general belief" or "according to popular belief," or the like.
In this paper, I intend to review some aspects of the scholarly discourse on rumor as it is related to social and political processes. In addition I intend to examine how artists in general, and performers in particular appropriate rumor for their own artistic discourse. Central Africa is the geographical pretext for the analysis of a phenomenon that seems to be widespread across the whole continent.
When considered in the long term, a rumor is a sophisticated phenomenon for which the origin or the author is hard to detect. David White writes of it:
Rumors are folk tales: they help people define the undefinable. They give expression to a fear, or meaning to a crowd. 
Generally, scholars have explored rumor as an enduring phenomenon of interpersonal and collective communication. Ralph Rosnow posited three characteristics of rumor that differentiate it from ordinary gossip:
Rumor can be described as (a) communication process (or pattern) as well as a product, (b) one that is easily treated and disseminated but which may be difficult to stop, and (c) one that is constructed around unauthenticated information. 
In the same vein, Rosnow posits three main views that dominate the literature on the function of rumormongering. The first view is represented in the work of Tamotsu Shibutani. Called the "sociological view," it is developed around the idea that societies, being always in flux, give rise to crises whenever there is some event that "cannot be understood in terms of established assumptions." When facing an external threat, members of a community develop a system of informal communication that helps them maintain a certain form of order and control over elements of change. They check and compare one another's impressions of the collective experiences and the effects of the changes in their lives.
Developed from Jung's psychoanalytic interpretation of rumormongering, the "psychoanalytic view" is based on the idea that rumor is a way of venting anxieties and hostilities. This view is rooted in individuals' emotion and dreams created by fantasy, fear of the unexpected, tendency to self-fulfilling prophecies, and hopes for the better. Rosnow writes: "There are rumors that are expressed in the form of visions, or that owe their existence to visions and are kept alive by them." 
Finally, the "socio-psychological view" is a reflection of the relation between the individual's expectations and meaning, and the social environment. Rosnow develops this view from Gordon Allport and Leo Postman who postulated that the principal motivating force in rumormogering is the pursuit of meaning and good closure. The individual expects to find meaning and understanding about events happening in the society through the news, and "rumors will emerge whenever events are important and news is lacking or ambiguous." 
Rosnow's classification seems helpful in understanding the dynamics and the ways of rumormongering as mode of interpersonal communication among people subjected to dominant social and political forces. Thus, this classification can be related to James C. Scott's analysis of rumor which places it in the context of "voice under domination," and describes it as a "tactic" to maintain anonymity while criticizing or attacking the political or social powerholders. The use of rumor in the context of powerlessness of the oppressed is one of Scott's examples of forms of resistance among peasants in Malaysia. He writes:
Subordinate groups have developed a large arsenal of techniques that serve to shield their identity while facilitating open criticism, threats, and attacks. Prominent techniques that accomplish this purpose include spirit possession, gossip, aggression through magic, rumor, anonymous letter, and anonymous mass defiance. 
More specifically, Scott asserts:
Rumor is the second cousin of gossip and magical aggression. Although it is not necessarily directed at a particular person, it is a powerful form of anonymous communication that can serve particular interests. 
Scott's study of rumor is within the context of the struggle for economic and political share of production means and their benefits by the members of impoverished communities, located in a non-Western world. Therefore, rumor is of particular interest in the context of so-called "Third World" countries because of its centrality as mode of information and communication.
In Africa, especially in Francophone Africa, the rumor machine is known as Radio-trottoir, the news broadcasted on the sidewalk. It goes beyond the understanding of Rosnow to what Shibutani has called "improvised news," for people turn toward non-conventional forms of media to get their information on "what is going on." This is because people want to establish some sort of meaning for what they do not understand from the official press. In most cases, such as in Zaïre, Congo, and Gabon, the press is owned or controlled by the state, and everything that is published for people's consumption is selected and censored by one party rule machine.  Because dominant/official political and social discourse is monopolized within the constitutional framework of the party, press organs such as Salongo and Elima in Kinshasa, L'Union in Libreville, were not allowed to contradict or to challenge the official news reports or the state system. Therefore, those who are not involved in the party turn toward rumor, or more specifically, radio-trottoir.
My interest in this phenomenon is in the way radio-trottoir signifies the ideas and the feelings of the people as it resists official discourse and conventional mass media. I view radio-trottoir as a text of class struggle against political and economic oppression. As a mode of representation, it is a private transcript jettisoned to public space in direct opposition to official reporting. As I hope to show, artists in general, and playwrights especially, recuperate the machine of radio-trottoir and use it to voice their criticisms and attacks on the powerholders. What is the credibility of radio-trottoir in a country such as Zaïre? To what extent do art and performance contribute to canonizing radio-trottoir as the voice of the oppressed for social and political action (at least in discourse)? What about the threats of censorship? And how do artists bypass them? These are the cultural/critical issues that make rumor and radio-trottoir significant.
In early 1970s, the Zaïrean government established public television sets at some of the main public places in large cities like Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. This action was meant to give poor people access to news from national television. At the same time it meant that people could get together more regularly around these sets and talk, even comment on their everyday lives and the news broadcasted to them. I noticed at the time that people started contesting the news for lacking insight and for being limited to the official activities of party leaders. Nothing at all was said about various events happening in communities. In the countryside people had no access to information about their area because everything was broadcasted from the capital.  There was a generalized move to sabotage the public sets or to only turn them on when it was time for films and other entertainment programs.
People seemed dissatisfied because they had no in-depth information of social and economic concern. As one might expect the future of these sets was doomed; they were broken, burned or stolen. No effort was made to investigate or to prosecute known offenders. It was as if the destruction of these public places was premeditated by the powerholders, realizing the unexpected political impact and the critical awareness raised by television on the people.
Apparently, the powers-that-be took no action on the demolition of these sets in order to get rid of the meeting places that were created around. What happened was precisely what Rosnow described in commenting on Allport's and Postman's study on rumor: that is the emergence of rumors whenever "events are important and news is lacking or ambiguous."  The people noticed a lot of discrepancies between what they were told and what they were really experiencing everyday. Therefore this new channel of information (rumor), was spontaneously created to compensate for what was missing. On such occasions, analysis and judgement of the official discourse is done in depth. Those doing the analysis know enough of the truth to comment openly. It is taken by others as the truth that is being hidden from them.
This mechanism is powerful because of longstanding oral traditions in Zaïre. But the same is true in other African countries as well. Even within official channels, rumor circulates and sometimes challenges the official information. An example is the one reported by Ahmed Rajab  when he writes:
You rise with rumors and go to bed with rumors. In between you read the dailies. Banner headlines on the front page deny the main rumor. Down the page 'rumormongers' are warned. As always the reports never question the existence of this species.
Warnings to the rumormongers are the most intriguing part of the scenario. They come from every officer in the government structure, including the minister and the president himself. And according to Rajab:
There are times when one is left wondering whether it is not rumourmongers who are warning each other. There are times when the warnings themselves have all the hallmarks of a new rumor in the making.
What Rajab reports demonstrates the conflict that is created in the media between, those of the people who know the truth but cannot speak out clearly, thus try to present it in one way or another to those who have no knowledge of it, and the officials fearing the danger of an exposure to public criticism.
Another example about rumor or, now, Radio-trottoir, comes from Mali where Touré Keita calls attention to the "internalized frustration" felt among journalists whose actions are controlled and checked in every detail. This causes stress among journalists who therefore do not always do their jobs in the public's interests. Instead, they cultivate "the art of elaborate circumlocution," and make "enigmatic pronouncements,"  so that "the reader has to read both behind and between the lines."
If we consider the warnings of the powerholders as alluded to by Ahmed Rajab, and the enigmatic discourse of the media, it is easy to understand the public's lack of confidence and disbelief toward the official organs of information, and to the official news in general. In contrast what is heard through the 'grapevine' system is accorded more credit for it bears the mark of popular consensus. Through rumor, the public engages in social-political critique and counter-attack. And nobody can be detected as the originator of the rumor.
From one person to another, rumors are amplified and can easily lose their original texture and meaning. This in turn gives rise to new ones that reflect the social and political contentions of those who do not have access to facts. In Scott's view this is a well developed strategy to demonstrate resistance in front of oppressive forces. Subordinate groups use codified languages that are sometimes solely understood by members of that group. From that perspective, radio-trottoir reflects the hopes and anxieties of the people. Radio-trottoir becomes a representation of the expectations of those people who are dissatisfied with the powerholders and their system. The disenchanted conceive of ways to eliminate those in power in order to gain freedom, or at least to dream of it. Perceived in Rosnow's "social-psychoanalytic view" this kind of rumor becomes a "Pipe-dream rumor." It carries the people's hopes and deceptions, at the same time it produces social and political pressure on the powerbrokers.
The site of radio-trottoir is the street. It presents distortions and harmonies of situations and facts in societies. Since radio-trottoir involves an informal and interpersonal communication of information, it hides the name of the informant. It also destroys social barriers in that people can compare personal observations and experiences be they first or second hand. There appears a tendency to inscribe new meanings to help an identification process of the speakers. This inscription of meaning is what David White calls the embedding process:
this process of embedding a rumor had three characteristics: first, the rumor became condensed as it travelled from mouth to mouth, levelling out at the point at which it became no more than a slogan; second, the people in the rumour chain selected certain details and blew them up (big things got bigger, and events which happened "then" were described as happening "now"); third, people allowed their own prejudices to colour the rumour. 
Scott also posited the same thing in what I consider a simplified version of White's model. Thus,
Some ingenious experimental evidence has been developed to show that the transmission of rumor entails a loss of some information and the addition of elements that fit the general gestalt of the messengers. 
Such is the case in an example collected by Yoka Lye Mudaba.  Here are five of the transformations noted by Yoka:
1) At Kinsuka,  at 6:00 PM, a fisherman has been caught by a crocodile.
2) At the river, at 6:00 PM, a fisherman has been killed by a crocodile.
3) At the river, early in the morning a poor villager has been caught by a crocodile.
4) At the river, early in the morning a poor villager has been killed by a crocodile.
5) At the river, early in the morning a poor villager has been seduced by mamiwata.
Yoka contends that this series of transformations is the symbol of the intentionality of the informant, which I consider similar to both the inscription and the embedding processes. Here what counts the most is the wish manifested indirectly. There is an emphasis on such themes as the river, the poverty of the victim, and wish for wealth associated with the name of mamiwata or the siren in some African popular myths. This kind of colported and spread message contains implicitly a strong social and economic analysis. It means, according to Yoka, that poverty and hunger induce people to imagine a supernatural means of getting more money to survive the crisis, for working honestly does little more than endanger the worker's life. The crocodile image is here balanced by that of mamiwata, for the former kills and takes the victim's body underwater, while the connection with the latter gives wealth and good fortune conditioned to the enslavement of the beneficiary to the siren.
Through the transformations of verbal elements and images in this example one can perceive the psychological fantasies created by deceptions and frustrations of not having much for survival. There is a sense of projection of ideas and visions of means that can help get out of misery and deprivation. The transformations also show the cathartic force of rumor, for the speaker at every stage of the propagation of the news adds something that responds to his/her situation. The rumor implies the political context in which people live and the expression of their need for present knowledge. There is a link between poverty, hunger, misery, political oppression, and the mystical enslavement in which the people are kept.
In addition to this example there are cases where the powerholders are identified explicitly because of embezzlement or misuse of the power. Official denial does not mean that the truth is not contained in rumor. Rajab's testimony about warnings and denials in Kenya is very illustrative of the way rumor works. In Zaïre and in Gabon, I have noted, during public speeches, the leaders tended to justify themselves or spend a good deal of time denying information that was not officially released but which was commonly known and shared among the people. In this case there is an opposition between the private facts, hidden by the official aspects of any political decision, and the public representation. The public plays a game of searching for the reality that does not seem to exist in the official version.
Among those most interested in the phenomenon of radio-trottoir are artists and writers who have been courageous enough to appropriate its messages and express them overtly in their art. Because of the lack of confidence in the media as described in the previous lines, the street becomes the site where throbbings of everyday life are performed. The artist turns toward this place of the living present to gather the necessary materials for a committed production that reflects the cause of those who otherwise cannot be heard. In Central Africa, particularly in Zaïre, Congo, and Gabon, artists and writers have shown signs of their interest in the street and the discourse of radio-trottoir.
I personally remember the late Lwambo Makiadi, famous Zaïrian musician depicted by Sylvain Bemba as the "Balzac" of the Congo-Zaïre music. Putting himself in the position of the voice of the people who could not voice their concerns, Lwambo created with pertinence and competence songs based on subjects taken from street conversations or topics talked about in people's privacy. Radio-trottoir was the theme of one of his songs in the Kongo language title of Tuba-Tuba  or hearsay. This song proclaims the power of radio-trottoir in Zaïre—that it is used by both the people on the street and the powerholders and/or those who work for them. Tuba-Tuba indicated the seriousness of the phenomenon of rumor in the dynamics of political and social life in Zaïre, especially when it was used by politicians. Specifically, the song critiqued the politicians' use of their relatives to 'leak information' so as to hear back how the people on the street perceived or reacted to what was leaked. It happens that most politicians in Zaïre are afraid of radio-trottoir because of the potential consequences if their names were cited in one way or another on the streets. Lwambo's song signifies—to adopt Gates' usage—on all those who manipulate radio-trottoir in this fashion. Lwambo is not the only one to use radio-trottoir. Other artists and writers do the same at various levels and intensity, but with the same purpose of representing the popular voice of social and political criticism.
Zamenga Batukezanga, a prolific writer, gives high credit to the street and radio-trottoir by adopting the language and the ideas developed in that context. One of his works that deal with the subject is Mille Kilometres à Pieds. This novel depicts the life of Ikeleve, a Western educated and rich man, who ends up leading an adventurous life from wealth to poverty and back to wealth. The story of the novel is very close to what is commonly said in the street of Kinshasa about people who get rich one day and become poor the next.
The popular painter Cheri Samba depicts radio-trottoir visually in representing what is talked about in bars, restaurants, and streets. Unlike Lwambo who tends to criticize the powerholders, Samba has a moralistic intent. He takes up common issues and represents characters easily identifiable in the society and puts them in context. He does what Bogumil Jewsiewicki describes of the Zaïrian urban painter:
The urban painter, like the rural sculptor, resembles the jazz musician: he develops a theme without pretending to exhaust it. Neither the painting nor the performance is an attempt to surprise its public; instead, it re-creates what everyone knows, and invites the participation of all present.
From his shop on Kasa-Vabu avenue, Cheri Samba presents a scene of a painter submerged in his community. Works such as Bitumba Ya Bana and Les Capotes Utilisées attack vices and wrongdoing in the society from the perspective of what is reported or talked about on the street. Samba's attitude perceived through his paintings is that of a moralist and a teacher, interpreting what is being said for the sake of social and moral changes.
In a different vein, the painter Moke, who uses the same materials and style of painting as Samba, is more involved in social and political criticism. His paintings can be read as a representation of frustration and dissatisfaction of the people toward their administrators and leaders. Street Scene (1990) contains elements from his own observations and what people say about the deterioration of living conditions and morality. The power is reduced to the status of used and torn shoes that do not really protect the wearer who has the tough job of going around in disaffected streets. The cart itself represents a "Mercedes", a car highly used by those who have money and power. In this painting, the "Mercedes" becomes the means to transport goods brought from the popular market. The main character of the painting is the cart pilot who is viewed in Kinshasa as one of the most informed and the most cynical of the street characters. The relation of this painting with radio-trottoir and the street is completed by the attitude of attention and focus of the other characters towards the cart pilot, and by the presence of the radio and television sets hung on the wall of a house.
Another painting by Moke demonstrates his ability to represent and interpret the popular discourse is Mobutu in Bandundu (1977). This painting presents President Mobutu in a procession of animals such as elephants and leopards, while the people look from afar. What could be the meaning of these animals? Why the animals instead of the human body guards like those seen in another procession Motocarde with Mitterand and Mobutu (1990)? Radio-trottoir will report that the animals create a security belt that prevents the people to come close to the president and therefore his visit in that city can be perceived as a simple march past the people without any sense of a visit. People's problems in that city are not the concern of the president. Those of the onlooker people who may be tempted to come closer will be destroyed by the animals guarding the president. That is the image developed by Mobutu and the circle of guards and servants around him. This is the interpretation of the image as perceived by the people of Zaïre by the time of the collapse of Mobutu's popular authority and dictatorship.
Painting, music, and novel, are not the only media used by artists to represent radio-trottoir as inspirational source and the voice of the people on the street. Theater and other form of artistic performances are fully used in Central Africa. One of the cases is that of Sony Labou Tansi and his "Rocado Zulu Théâtre."  On October 6, 1989, Labou Tansi and his company created in Limoges (France) a play entitled Qui a Mangé Madame d'Avoine Bergotha? This play depicts a fictional village despot who sequesters the pope to bless his wedding with a woman who, as it turns out, is in fact a man in disguise. He disguised himself in order to escape in a village where all those who speak out against, or oppose, the totalitarian regime are killed.
Despite the fact that the story of the play turns around "symbolisms of food and ritual of eating, the text installs 'the mouth' as the total scenic space"  for the drama. I put aside the form which bears a lot of iconoclastic elements, and the general presentation of the dialogues for the reason of space limitation and look at the story itself. Ngandu Nkashama notes:
The text by itself does not bear the analysis any further. The peasants recover the elements of radio-trottoir, peddling rumors, and restoring a veritable "concrete-thought". 
What is striking in this play is the similarity of details and events with those in the private lives of leaders such as Mobutu, Sassou Nguesso, and other Central African heads of states.
As Ngandu Nkashama pointed it, there are many similarities with factual names and events for which the playwright did less effort to disguise. One can perceive Berengho  behind Bergotha, Joseph-Desiré  behind Jean-Joseph-Desiré, and Président-Fondateur, Pére de la nation  behind Père Inséminateur de la Patrie. So beyond these figures and the grotesque aspects of the characters presented in the play, Labou Tansi deals with both the burlesque and the iconoclasm of Central African politics as perceived and commented upon by the common people.
It could be intriguing to ask the question of the origin of information treated and presented about the political leaders. The answer can be found in the collective memory of the everyday experiences in those countries. What is evident is the fact that Sony Labou Tansi, as well as other artists, writers, and playwrights, handles the information and the materials relevant to powerholders so as not to defend or glorify them but to criticize and attack them in their innermost beings, in what could be considered their private lives known mostly through what is said in interpersonal communication, radio-trottoir. It is not surprising to note that Labou Tansi, like other Central African playwrights such as Sylvain Bemba , Nyonda Vincent de Paul,  and Pius Ngandu Nkashama  is known for his commitment to criticizing and attacking powerholders, not by slander but by reproducing their language and their discourse of oppression and exploitation. He does so by dramatizing them in the context of their everyday lives. In a word Labou Tansi and the others "parody" political situations, in Linda Hutcheon's sense of reproducing them in their art with a critical distance.
What these artists and playwrights do is to depict the grotesque and the ridiculous that characterize these leaders who after all are human beings making mistakes and engaging in other kinds of wrongdoing. Monastic corruption and depravity are criticized the most. That is what communities dwell on because they feel the consequences of them in their everyday lives. In dramatic terms, playwrights use the art of hyperbole to exaggerate the weakness of their 'targets,' as Rabelais did for Panurge and Pantagruel.
Perhaps the best way to perceive radio-trottoir as basis for an artistic discourse representing the voices of the oppressed and the unheard people is to consider what Denis Boyles writes about rumor:
Rumor divided by lies plus witnesses equals history (even if all the equational expressions are out of whack.) Remember? In school they used to tell you, History is fun! about an hour after they told you, Numbers are your friends! H & R Block disabused me of the latter notion, but history—well, it's not fun, exactly, but I like the ordered accretion of gossip, the catalogs of compromised truths. 
Because of the leaders' reactions to plays such as Labou Tansi's, we may wonder about the nature of the "compromised truths" presented in the plays, and how they came to be known by the playwrights. It is reported that Qui a Mangé Madame d'Avoine Bergotha? could obtain any permit to be produced either in Brazzaville or Kinshasa. Instead it was in Europe.
Radio-trottoir is a form of expression and representation of oppressed and exploited peoples. But the artists' use of it makes it more significant by bringing what is being said in the 'backstage' of everyday life into the front regions. In other words, artists bring radio-trottoir to another, more formalized level of discourse. This phenomenon is part of the signifying language used in Africa. Its significance does not compare to that of rumor as understood in the Western world. Rumor is a representation of the nature of power relationships that exists between people who control everything, including the media, and those who are restricted to word of mouth, whose mode of transmission is from mouth to ear. I understand radio-trottoir as representation itself whereby representations can
no longer bear the burden of being 'mere' representations, but are instead conceived of as the very "stuff" of our existence ... Their representativity was no longer simply an unreal image, a superfluity; it participated in the very structure of all existence. 
I think that what is interesting in its process is its nature of referential textuality. The signifier and the signified are not fictitious, they are thoroughly embedded in the fabric of society. Therefore, understanding radio-trottoir goes well beyond all scientific rationalism. Meaning in this context does not exist without interpretation; indeed interpretation is part of the embedding process of meaning making and shapes what social reality is and how it is understood.
1. David White, "The Power of Rumor," New Society, 30:628 (1974): 135-37.
2. Ralph Rosnow, "On Rumor," Journal of Communication 24:3 (1974): 26-38.
3. Rosnow, 29.
4. Rosnow, 29-30.
5. James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 140.
6. Scott, 144.
7. Despite the sweeping wave of democratization noticed since the end of the "Cold War," and the appearance of private media organs, television and radio station still are state properties. No one is allowed to own a private television or radio business. This is the case in Zaïre, Congo, and Gabon, as well as many other African countries.
8. Since 1982, more news programs are produced by local stations in, and for the inhabitants of,large cities such as Lubumbashi, Kisangani, Bukavu, Kananga, Mbandaka, and Gbadolite. But still stations belong to the state apparatus.
9. Rosnow, 30.
10. Ahmed Rajad completed a two year assignment for UNESCO in Naīrobi in 1984. He reported on the power and the omnipresence of rumor at every level of people's lives in Kenya. "Rumors, threats and sackings in the press" Index on Censorship, 1 (1984): 25-29.
11. Touré Keita, "Radio-Trottoir", Index on Censorship, 15:5 (1986): 27.
12. These ideas come from an analysis Gordon Allport's and Leo Postman's work on rumor. See White, p. 136.
13. Scott, 145.
14. Yoka Lye Mudaba did a research on the transformations of the oral discourse and the change of meaning of message in the process of social communication. See his article "Radio-trottoir: le discours en camouflage," Le Mois en Afrique, 225-226 (Oct.-Nov. 1984): 154-60. My translation from the French.
15. Kinsuka is today a neighborhood located along the shore of the river Zaïre, east of Kinshasa. It used to be a fishing camp.
16. Literally meaning "speak-speak." From one mouth to the other.
17. Sony Labou Tansi is a Congolese playwright and director. He resides in Brazzaville where he produces mostly his own plays with his company the "Rocado Zulu Théâtre."
18. A comment by Pius Ngandu Nkashama in a reading note about Qui a Mangé Madame d'Avoine Bergotha? published in Notre Librairie, 102 (Jul.- Aug. 1990): 152.
19. My own translation of: "Le texte par lui-même ne porte pas l'analyse aussi loin. Les paysans reprennent les eléments de la "radio-trottoir", colportant des rumeurs, et restituant une veritable "pensée-concrète". Notre Librairie, 102 (Jul.-Aug. 1990): 154.
20. City in the Central African Republic where Jean-Bedel Bokassa established his imperial palace. Many murders and execution of political opponents were orchestrated there.
21. President Mobutu's first name up to October 1971 when he launched his cultural and political ideology of Recours à l'Autheticité. Since then he dropped that first name and adopted that of Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Zabanga.
22. Title created by most of the African leaders founder of the one party rule. Mobutu, Bongo, Bokassa, Sassou-Nguesso, and many more took that title at one time or another during their reigns.
23. See especially Une Eau Dormante and L'Homme Qui Tua le Crocodile.
24. See Roi Mouanga, Combat de Mbombi, and Monsieur le Maire.
25. See La Délivrance d'Ilunga, and Bonjour Monsieur le Ministre. The last play was published under the pseudonym of Bakel Elimane (Paris: Silex, c1983).
26. Denis Boyles, African Lives, Whites Lies, Tropical Truth, Darkest Gossip, and Rumblings of Rumor: From Chinese Gordon to Beryl Markham and Beyond (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988), p. 37.
27. D. MacCannell and J. F. MacCannell, The Time of the Sign: A Semiotic Interpretation of Modern Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 126.
passages | http://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/passages/