Évolué (French: [evɔlɥe] , lit. "evolved" or "developed") is a French label used during the colonial era to refer to a native African or Asian who had "evolved" by becoming Europeanised through education or assimilation and had accepted European values and patterns of behavior. It is most commonly used to refer to individuals within the Belgian and French colonial empires. Évolués spoke French, followed European (rather than customary) laws, usually held white-collar jobs (although rarely higher than clerks), and lived primarily in urban areas of the colony.
The term was also used to describe the growing native middle class in the Belgian Congo (the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) between the latter part of World War II and the independence of the colony in 1960. Most évolués emerged from the Congolese who filled skilled positions (such as clerks and nurses) made available by the economic boom in the country following the war.Colonial administrators defined an évolué as "a man having broken social ties with his group, [and] having entered another system of motivations, another system of values." While there were no universal criteria for determining évolué status, it was generally accepted that one would have "a good knowledge of French, adhere to Christianity, and have some form of post-primary education."
Early on in their history, most évolués sought to use their unique status to earn special privileges in the Congo.They asked that the colonial administration recognize their role as mediators between the Belgians and the native "savages." On 12 July 1948 the Governor-General of the Belgian Congo issued an ordinance creating the carte de mérite civique (civic merit card), which could be granted to any Congolese who had no criminal record, did not practice polygamy, abandoned traditional religion, and had some degree of education. Literacy was required except for those persons who had served 20 years as a customary chief or who had provided "good and faithful service" for 25 years in the administration. Cardholders were given an improved legal status and were exempt from certain restrictions on travel into European districts. Of the thousands of évolués in the Congo, only a small proportion of them earned a carte; in 1957 there were 1,557 cardholders. There was discontent about the limited nature of the privileges attached to the carte de mérite civique, so in 1952 the colonial administration introduced the carte d'immatriculation, which granted to those who obtained it full legal equality with Europeans. The latter card was much more difficult to obtain; one who sought to obtain it had to have a letter of recommendation from his employer and pass an evaluation. The evaluation was administered by an investigative commission, which would visit a candidate in his home, examine his household items such as linen and silverware, and ascertain if he ate with his wife at the table and communicated with his children in French. After this, a candidate and his wife had to appear before the head magistrate of the provincial court to answer a series of questions. By 1958 only 217 Congolese had been awarded a carte d'immatriculation. Most évolués found immatriculation irritating and by the mid-1950s the project was thoroughly discredited.
Since opportunities for upward mobility through the colonial structure were limited, the évolué class institutionally manifested itself through clubs and associations. Through these groups they could enjoy trivial privileges that made them feel distinct from the Congolese "masses".In 1947, there were 110 social clubs consisting of 5,609 members throughout the Congo's cities. From 1952 to 1956, the number of clubs rose from 131 to 317, with their membership increasing from 7,661 to 15,345. Most of these associations were rather small, but some eventually grew in size to encompass entire regions and ethnic groups, such as the Alliance des Bakongo . Évolués organised most of the educational opportunities for women in the Belgian Congo, since the colonial government put little effort into such a venture.
By 1958, colonial officials estimated that there were 175,000 people who could be classed as évolués in the colony.In the final years leading up to independence, évolués played a major role in colonial propaganda as they were felt to exemplify the success of the Belgian civilizing mission begun under King Leopold II. In particular, it was felt that after independence, the assimilation of European values by the évolués meant that Belgian civilian inhabitants of the Congo could continue to live in the Congo as part of a culturally European multiracial state. Over time many évolués grew disillusioned with their attempts to assimilate with European culture, as it did not lead to full equality and the elimination of discrimination they sought. As this occurred, many became politically active and began pushing for Congolese independence from Belgium.
In 1954, the colonial government opened Lovanium University in Léopoldville in order to provide university education to Congolese évolués.
Many of the leaders of the African nationalist parties in the Belgian Congo were members of the évolué class. In the 1970s, President of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko launched a policy known as Authenticité in which he called for Zairian people to renounce all the cultural legacies of the colonial period by dressing and speaking in an "authentic" Zairian manner.
In the French colonial empire, évolués were seen as individuals who were the desired end product of France's assimilation policy. Évolués were treated as an élite and a privileged group by the colonial administrators.
Discovered in the 1990’s, human remains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been dated to approximately 90,000 years ago. The first real states, such as the Kongo, the Lunda, the Luba and Kuba, appeared southern Equatorial coastal forests|equatorial forest]] on the savannah from the 14th century onwards.
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. Ideologically an African nationalist and pan-Africanist, he led the Congolese National Movement (MNC) party from 1958 until his assassination.
The Belgian Congo was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960. The former colony adopted its present name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964.
Moïse Kapend Tshombe was a Congolese businessman and politician. He served as the president of the secessionist State of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1964 to 1965.
The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo between 1960 and 1965. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.
South Kasai was an unrecognised secessionist state within the Republic of the Congo which was semi-independent between 1960 and 1962. Initially proposed as only a province, South Kasai sought full autonomy in similar circumstances to the much larger neighbouring state of Katanga, to its south, during the political turmoil arising from the independence of the Belgian Congo known as the Congo Crisis. Unlike Katanga, however, South Kasai did not explicitly declare full independence from the Republic of the Congo or reject Congolese sovereignty.
Belgium controlled 3 colonies and 3 concessions during its history, the Belgian Congo from 1908 to 1960, and Ruanda-Urundi from 1922 to 1962. It also had a small concession in China and was a co-administrator of the Tangier International Zone in Morocco.
General elections were held in the Belgian Congo on 22 May 1960, in order to create a government to rule the country following independence as the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Léopoldville), scheduled for 30 June. The 137-seat Chamber of Deputies was elected by men over the age of 21. The seats were filled by district-based lists, although only two parties, the Mouvement National Congolais-Lumumba (MNC-L) and the Parti National du Progrès, submitted lists in more than one district.
The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa, created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was also known as Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its northwestern neighbor, which is also called the Republic of the Congo, alternatively known as "Congo-Brazzaville". In 1964, the state's official name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the two countries continued to be distinguished by their capitals; with the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa in 1966, it became also known as Congo-Kinshasa. After Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country, it became the Republic of Zaire in 1971. It would again become the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997. The period between 1960 and 1965 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic.
The Confédération des associations tribales du Katanga, or CONAKAT, was one of the main political parties in the Belgian Congo and was led by the pro-Western regionalist Moïse Tshombe and his interior minister, Godefroid Munongo. It became the ruling party of the State of Katanga whose declaration of independence sparked the Congo Crisis.
Antoine-Roger Bolamba, later Bolamba Lokolé J'ongungu, was a Congolese journalist, writer, and politician. He edited the monthly journal La Voix du Congolais from 1945 until 1959. He also served as Secretary of State for Information and Cultural Affairs of the Republic of the Congo in 1960 and then as Minister of Information and Tourism from 1963 until 1964.
The Speech at the Ceremony of the Proclamation of the Congo's Independence was a short political speech given by Patrice Lumumba on 30 June 1960 at the ceremonies marking the independence of the Republic of Congo from Belgium. It is best known for its outspoken criticism of colonialism.
The Léopoldville riots were an outbreak of civil disorder in Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo which took place in January 1959 and which were an important moment for the Congolese independence movement. The rioting occurred when members of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) political party were not allowed to assemble for a protest and colonial authorities reacted harshly. The exact death toll is not known, but at least 49 people were killed and total casualties may have been as high as 500. The Congo received its independence on 30 June 1960, becoming the Republic of the Congo.
Jean Bolikango, later Bolikango Akpolokaka Gbukulu Nzete Nzube, was a Congolese educator, writer, and conservative politician. He served twice as Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, in September 1960 and from February to August 1962. Enjoying substantial popularity among the Bangala people, he headed the Parti de l'Unité Nationale and worked as a key opposition member in Parliament in the early 1960s.
The Lumumba Government, also known as the Lumumba Ministry or Lumumba Cabinet, was the first set of ministers, ministers of state, and secretaries of state that governed the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from 24 June until 12 September 1960. The government inherited many problems from the era of the Belgian Congo, a tightly administered colony which for most of its existence had few political freedoms. Its members came from different social classes, different tribes, and held varied political beliefs. Weak and divided, its tenure was dominated by a widespread mutiny in the army and two secessions. An exodus of thousands of Belgian functionaries—who had controlled most of the bureaucracy—left the administration in disarray. The United Nations created a large multinational peacekeeping force to assist the government in reestablishing law and order. Western nations were under the impression that Lumumba was a communist, and the United States, Belgium, and France all worked to undermine and divide his government. Domestic opposition to the government cemented by late July, and Lumumba increasingly relied on only a few advisers, and rarely consulted the full Council of Ministers; several members of the government began acting without his direction. He resorted to increasingly authoritarian measures to maintain control over the country.
Joseph Ngalula Mpandajila is a Congolese writer and politician.
Barthélemy Mukenge Nsumpi Shabantu was a Congolese politician who served as President of Kasaï Province from 11 June 1960 to January 1962 and July to September 1962. He was a president of the Association des Lulua-Frères, a Lulua ethnic syndicate, and a leading member of the Union National Congolaise. Though initially allied with nationalist Patrice Lumumba, he later denounced him and aligned himself with more moderate politicians. Following the division of Kasai Province in late 1962, Mukenge became Minister of Health and Minister of Social Affairs of the new Luluabourg Province. He later served as Governor of Kivu Province and on the Political Bureau of the Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution. He withdrew from politics in 1974 and died in 2018.
On 5 July 1960, soldiers of the garrisons of Léopoldville and Thysville of the Force Publique, the army of the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo mutinied against their white officers. The revolt quickly spread throughout the Lower Congo and engulfed the country in disorder, beginning the Congo Crisis.
The Lumumba Government was the first set of ministers, ministers of state, and secretaries of state that governed the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from 24 June until 12 September 1960. It was hastily formed over the period of several weeks in June, and was supported by a slight majority coalition in Parliament. Weak and divided, its tenure was dominated by a widespread mutiny in the army and two secessions.
In August 1960 troops of the Republic of the Congo attempted to crush the secession of South Kasai by invading the declared state's territory. Though initially militarily successful, the attack faltered under intense international and domestic political scrutiny and the Congolese troops were withdrawn.