A tale of two cities : urban transformation in gold-centred Butembo and diamond-rich Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Abstract

The recent wars in the DRC are partly caused and prolonged by the existence of lootable resources and have precipitated one of the most severe humanitarian catastrophes of our era in terms of loss of lives and human misery. Nonetheless, certain groups have taken advantage of both the absence of the state and the presence of minerals to modernise and institute new forms of order and development. This contribution provides an anthropological interpretation of the differences in the urbanisation of two mineral cities: Butembo and Mbuji-Mayi, located in eastern and central DRC respectively. Butembo is built on gold mines while Mbuji-Mayi sits on the biggest concentration of industrial diamonds in central Africa. After a critical survey of different approaches to the pace of urbanisation in mineral-rich DRC, an alternative explanation of the differences between the two cities is presented. This rests on the presupposition that processes of urbanisation are shaped by cultural legacies, which make the social pressure for redistribution stronger in some secondary cities than others.

Citation

Kabamba, P. A tale of two cities: urban transformation in gold-centred Butembo and diamond-rich Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journal of Contemporary African Studies (2012) 30 (4) 669-685. [DOI: 10.1080/02589001.2012.724870]

A tale of two cities : urban transformation in gold-centred Butembo and diamond-rich Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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