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God and Caesar in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Negotiating church-state relations through the management of school fees in Kinshasa's Catholic schools

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This article argues that state (re)construction and functioning involves negotiated governance between both state and non-state actors, in which power relations between local actors are not just implicitly present or co-influencing policies but are of uttermost importance to the formation of policy and state. One of the main nonstate actors in African service delivery is the church. State and church are two major poles of power which determine – through negotiation – large domains of service delivery, such as education. We discuss a major attempt by the Catholic Church to reform the school-fee system in Kinshasa (DRC). The attempt largely failed, but its analysis reveals the political capabilities of different actors involved. The arrangements of state and non-state actors largely evolve in a roundabout way, not at all along the lines of an explicit negotiation process, and are very much determined by local-level governance instead of higher-level policies.
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God and Caesar in the Democratic
Republic of Congo: negotiating
church–state relations through
the management of school fees in
Kinshasa's Catholic schools
Kristof Titeca a , Tom De Herdt a & Inge Wagemakers a
a Institute of Development Policy and Management , University of
Antwerp , Antwerp , Belgium
Published online: 01 Mar 2013.
To cite this article: Kristof Titeca , Tom De Herdt & Inge Wagemakers (2013) God and Caesar in
the Democratic Republic of Congo: negotiating church–state relations through the management of
school fees in Kinshasa's Catholic schools, Review of African Political Economy, 40:135, 116-131,
DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2012.761963
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03056244.2012.761963
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God and Caesar in the Democratic Republic of Congo: negotiating
churchstate relations through the management of school fees in
Kinshasa’s Catholic schools
Kristof Titeca, Tom De Herdt and Inge Wagemakers
Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
This article argues that state (re)construction and functioning involves negotiated
governance between both state and non-state actors, in which power relations
between local actors are not just implicitly present or co-influencing policies but are
of uttermost importance to the formation of policy and state. One of the main non-
state actors in African service delivery is the church. State and church are two major
poles of power which determine through negotiation large domains of service
delivery, such as education. We discuss a major attempt by the Catholic Church to
reform the school-fee system in Kinshasa (DRC). The attempt largely failed, but its
analysis reveals the political capabilities of different actors involved. The
arrangements of state and non-state actors largely evolve in a roundabout way, not at
all along the lines of an explicit negotiation process, and are very much determined
by local-level governance instead of higher-level policies.
Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); state; church; governance;
education sector
[Dieu et Ce
´sar dans la Re
´publique De
´mocratique du Congo : les ne
´gociations des
relations entre l’e
´glise et l’e
´tat a
`travers l’administration des frais de scolarite
´dans les
e
´coles Catholiques de Kinshasa.] Cet article soutient que la (re)construction de l’E
´tat
et son fonctionnement impliquent une gouvernance ne
´gocie
´e tant entre les acteurs
e
´tatiques et non-e
´tatiques, et dans laquelle les relations de pouvoir ne sont pas
seulement pre
´sentes implicitement ou ne font pas qu’influencer conjointement les
politiques, mais sont d’importance capitale a
`la formation de la politique et de l’E
´tat.
Un des acteurs non-e
´tatiques principaux dans la fourniture de service en Afrique est
l’E
´glise. L’E
´tat et l’E
´glise sont deux po
ˆles importants de pouvoir qui de
´terminent - par
la ne
´gociation - les grands domaines de fourniture de services, comme l’e
´ducation.
Cette e
´tude examine une tentative de re
´forme majeure du syste
`me des frais scolaires a
`
Kinshasa (RDC) par l’E
´glise catholique. La tentative a e
´choue
´en grande partie, mais
son analyse re
´ve
`le les capacite
´s politiques des diffe
´rents acteurs implique
´s. Les accords
des acteurs e
´tatiques et non-e
´tatiques se de
´veloppent majoritairement d’une manie
`re
de
´tourne
´e, pas du tout dans le sens d’un processus de ne
´gociation explicite, et sont tre
`s
largement de
´termine
´es par la gouvernance au niveau local a
`de
´faut de politiques d’un
niveau supe
´rieur.
Mots-cle
´s:Re
´publique De
´mocratique du Congo ; l’E
´tat ; l’E
´glise ; gouvernance ;
secteur e
´ducatif
#2013 ROAPE Publications Ltd
Corresponding author. Email: Kristof.Titeca@ua.ac.be
Review of African Political Economy, 2013
Vol. 40, No. 135, 116– 131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03056244.2012.761963
Downloaded by [University of Gent] at 08:10 09 January 2014
Introduction
The state is often portrayed as a coherent organisation that controls a specific territory and
represents the people within this territory. This is also the dominant paradigm shaping pol-
icies of post-conflict state reconstruction. The paradigm has recently been challenged,
however, by empirically founded studies pointing to the varieties of statehood that can
be found in both ‘failed’ and ‘accomplished’ states (Hagmann and Hoehne 2009,
Hameiri 2007). The DRC is a case in point: although the country has been described as
‘a total vacuum of authority’ or ‘a black hole into which a failed polity has fallen’
(Rotberg 2002, p. 90), the reality is in fact one of ‘negotiated state(ness)’ as described,
amongst others, by Menkhaus (2006), Raeymaekers et al. (2008) and Hagmann and
Pe
´clard (2010). This expression underlines the ‘co-existence of multiple public authorities’
linked to ‘multiple parcels of authority’ within the public sphere, each giving their own
meaning to authority and political power (Arnaut and Hojbjerg 2008, Lund 2006,
p. 694). These various ‘power poles’, as Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan (1997) call
them, interact and negotiate with each other over the everyday governance of public ser-
vices. As such, they are all involved in ‘doing the state’, and importantly, both in
cooperation and competition (Hagmann and Pe
´clard 2010). Strategically positioned
actors might simultaneously cooperate on certain matters and compete on others; this con-
tinuous negotiation is what determines the actual functioning of public-service delivery.
The notion of ‘negotiated state(ness)’ also underlines the permanent negotiation between
different centres of authority and indicates that the production of a public service
depends upon different processes of negotiation with non-state authorities, to provide
certain governmental functions (Raeymaekers et al. 2008, p. 17). It is important to recog-
nise that these processes of negotiated statehood involve actors with unequal power pos-
itions. Such power differentials affect both the outcome of this ‘negotiated stateness’ and
how governmental functions are delivered (Titeca and De Herdt 2011).
These factors shape the relationship between the state and the church. A significant
body of work exists on the relationship between the state and the church, and the political
role of the church in Africa (Haynes 1996, Sabar-Friedman 1997, Marshall 2009, Philpott
2004, Van Hoywegen 1996). Churches (and religious movements in general) can at times
become ‘voices of democracy and protest’ (Manglos 2011, p. 336) and can more generally
play important public roles (Ellis and Ter Haar 1998, 2004). In this context, churches also
provide an important role in the provision of social services (Hearn 2002). However, dis-
cussions of the relationship between the church and the state have been conspicuously
absent from current debates of state (re)construction in Africa. This absence may reflect
the emphasis in this state (re)construction literature on the macro-level, notwithstanding fre-
quent pleas to engage in empirical research and study ‘new forms of governance beyond the
state’ (Engel and Mehler 2005, cited in Hagmann and Hoehne 2009, p. 44). The literature
on the ‘negotiated state’ has a clearer empirical focus, analysing for example negotiations
between rebels and traders (Raeymaekers 2007, 2010), government and traders (Menkhaus
2008), the centre and the periphery (Kefale 2010), and so on. In this literature, the church as
a pole of power has been largely absent. Both ‘the church’ and ‘the state’ represent vital
poles of authority in many African countries, sharing a history of cooperation and compe-
tition typically stretching back to colonial times (Gifford 1994). This article focuses on the
relationship between the state and the Catholic Church, the biblical Caesar and God, in the
context of the education sector in the DRC.
1
In doing so, we want to gain a better under-
standing of the day-to-day functioning of the state and public services in the DRC. Concre-
tely, the paper does so by discussing the ‘Fonds Commun de Solidarite
´(FCS) or ‘joint
Review of African Political Economy 117
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solidarity fund’. The FCS was an initiative taken by the Catholic educational network for
the city of Kinshasa at the start of the 200809 school year to introduce uniform school
fees. The FCS initiative was an important incident in the relationship between the church
and the state, allowing an analysis of the ability and willingness of different actors to
‘take issue’ with the initiative and to mobilise their resources to react.
To engage in an analysis of the evolving balance of forces between the church and the
state, it is useful to remember Max Weber’s classical distinction between power and dom-
ination. Weber defined power as ‘the probability that one actor within a social relationship
will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance’ (1978, p. 53). For Weber,
power contrasts with domination or authority, i.e. ‘the probability that a command will be
obeyed’ (1978, p. 53). In contrast to the case of power, people do not adopt a course of
action contrary to their own will because they genuinely accept obedience; the disciplining
is at least partly done by themselves. In reality of course, different sources of power and of
domination often combine. At face value at least, the religious and the bureaucratic-state
modes of governance
2
mobilise quite different sources of authority to increase the prob-
ability of genuine obedience. But both institutions also wield considerable sources of
power which can be mobilised to increase the probability that other actors carry out the
will of the state or the church, and not their own.
Although he does not refer to Weber’s classical distinction, power and domination each
play a role in Paul Gifford’s (1994) explanation of the relatively weak position of the main-
stream churches vis-a
`-vis the state in contemporary Africa. First, Gifford argued that these
churches have been weakened as African states wielded greater sources of power, enabling
the latter to co-opt the former. Given that these churches have been among the most signifi-
cant nation-wide institutions in almost all African countries, their voice has political signifi-
cance, but granting them privileges and favours provided a means for the state to keep this
‘voice’ in check. Jean-Franc¸ois Bayart likewise suggests that while conflicts between the
sphere of God and the sphere of the state have been paramount, ‘what is nevertheless sur-
prising is the more or less great ease with which compromise and reconciliation is even-
tually restored’ (1989, p. 12).
But negotiations between the churches and the state do not play out solely in terms of
power. A second hypothesis advanced by Gifford brings in the factor of domination:
churches ‘have been greatly influenced by the “Big Man” model of leadership which has
characterised African regimes’ (Gifford 1994, p. 43, Haynes 1996). By replicating the
‘Big Man’ model, church leaders mobilise another authoritative resource than mere reli-
gion, in which they have been able to use mechanisms such as ‘tribalism, abuse of authority,
misappropriation of funds and so on’ (Gifford 1994, p. 44) and through which they mirror
the ways in which African state regimes exercised their authority (and through which state
incumbents mobilised another authoritative resource than mere bureaucracy). Here Gifford
again concurs with Jean-Franc¸ois Bayart’s analysis that the authority of the churches is
partly founded in the ‘ecclesiology of the chefferie’ (1989, p. 12), partly in the ‘ethos of
munificence, inherent in the politics of the belly’ (1989, p. 10), the very same sources of
authority Bayart identifies at the heart of state authority in Africa.
Both the church and the state are depicted here as ‘twilight institutions’ (Lund 2006).
Even if, on the face of it, the state and the churches rely on distinct sources of authority,
in reality state incumbents and church representatives draw on a mixture of authoritative
resources. Their underlying logic is also similar: institutional actors ‘have to get along in
a network of already established forces and representations’ (de Certeau 1984, p. 18) and
hence, in order for the subjects to genuinely accept to obey, the source of authority is
partly negotiated. However, the dilemma faced by the churches in relation to the state is
118 K. Titeca et al.
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that while mobilising the Big Man model of leadership as an authoritative resource may,
internally increase the probability of obedience, externally it weakens the churches’ auth-
ority to oppose the state. How credible are church criticisms of the state for abuse of auth-
ority and corruption if, by mobilising similar authoritative resources, it makes itself
vulnerable to the same accusation?
In sum, in their modes of governance, the state and the church both rely on a variety of
sources of authority and sources of power. Importantly, these modes of governance do not
exist in a vacuum, and are affected both by other poles of power (e.g. how initiatives of the
church are accepted or not by the state) and by the difficulties they experience within their
own (e.g. within the church or state). The way in which their authority manifests itself is not
static, but depends on the way it is received by its subjects. In this way, different levels of
negotiation take place: between the poles of power (the church and state), but also within the
poles of power themselves, regarding who wishes to have their authority accepted.
To illustrate how different sources of power and forms of domination play out between
the church and the state in DRC, it is useful to focus on a specific incident, taking inspiration
from the Foucauldean idea that ‘the forces in play in history obey neither an intention nor a
mechanism, but rather the contingency of the conflict’ (Foucault, cited in Bayart 1998,
p. 15, authors’ translation). Thus, political actors’ political capabilities can best be identified
‘in the process’ of an unfolding event. This article accordingly analyses the Fonds Commun
de Solidarite
´(FCS) or ‘joint solidarity fund’. This initiative was identified as particularly
significant because (1) it covered the whole city of Kinshasa; and (2) if successful, it
would imply a major shift in the (economic) power wielded by the church, depriving
state education personnel of important salary complements, namely school fees. Both
schools and the state education bureaucracy depend on these fees to pay salaries. The
article focuses on the first year of the initiative, an intense period of change; this change
was much less significant thereafter. This year can be considered an ‘open moment’,
when ‘the social rules and structures are suddenly challenged and the prerogatives and
legitimacy of politico-legal institutions cease to be taken for granted’ (Lund 1998, p. 2).
By studying these ‘particularly intense periods of rearrangement of the social order
(Lund 1998, p. 1), we gain insight into processes of authority and political control, and
how they are questioned, challenged and possibly redefined (Wagemakers and Makangu
2011). The different levels of negotiation described above became more visible during
this period.
This article arises from a larger research project on the primary-school sector in the
DRC (reported in De Herdt 2011). The study combined qualitative research at the micro-
level, and secondary sources, national-level surveys and macro-data, focusing on a particu-
lar Foucauldean incident. The introduction of the Fonds Commun de Solidarity (FCS) was
studied both as it was conceptualised and perceived by the relevant policy actors (of the
church and the state) and as it was experienced at the local level, within Catholic and
other schools. Interviews were conducted with policy actors throughout Kinshasa and
local-level studies were conducted at a set of schools in Kimbanseke (one of the largest
communes and representative of the poor areas of Kinshasa) and at schools at the wealthier
end of the socio-economic spectrum, in central Kinshasa (Gombe).
The article first presents the context of the DRC’s state– church relationships in the edu-
cation sector, before analysing the joint solidarity fund (FCS). The article reconstructs the
fund in the context of the history of education policy in the DRC, and more particularly the
role of the Catholic Church. The following sections describe the way in which the FCS has
been put into practice analysing how the initiative reveals the relations between different
actors within the Catholic Church, and between the church and state authorities.
Review of African Political Economy 119
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The article then explores the new version of the solidarity fund, in place since the 200910
school year. Finally, conclusions are drawn in relation to the ‘negotiated state’ perspective
on state reconstruction in the DRC.
A brief history of the church and the state in the education sector in the DRC
The creation of the FCS has to be situated in the larger context of the education system in
the DRC, which is characterised by two important elements. First, non-state actors have
been centrally involved in school provision since the formation of the educational
system. Education was seen as one of the pillars of the colonial regime. This educational
pillar was assigned to the churches, primarily and principally the Catholic Church (see
also Leinweber, this volume). It was only in the late colonial period that the state developed
a network of public schools an evolution that reflected Belgian political debates of the
1950s among Catholic and secular political networks (Boyle 1995). Nevertheless, religious
networks have dominated school provision until the present day. In 1974, this position was
briefly interrupted by a major nationalisation initiative by the Mobutu regime. However,
without the assent of the religious networks, particularly their financial support and person-
nel, the entire education system, in the context of the wider economic crisis, came close to
collapse. The government sought to convince the Catholic Church to cooperate in a state-
regulated education sector. This resulted, in 1977, in the signing of a convention between
the state and the churches for the management of national schools. This marked the start of a
fragile peace within the education system. Since then, two management regimes of public
schools have coexisted: the official or ‘non-convention’ network, as well as several ‘con-
vention-based’ religious networks. The 1977 convention stipulated that although the
state assigned the management of these schools to the churches, the state retained the
organisational power (‘pouvoir organisateur’) over the sector. Every public school – con-
vention-based (managed by the religious networks) and non-convention (managed by the
state) alike was in principle financed by the state. According to the latest data of the Min-
istry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education, convention-based schools attract
three-quarters of all students. Among these, Catholic Church schools provide education
to about 50% of all pupils. In the urban centres, the Catholic network is disproportionately
represented at the wealthier end of society (De Herdt et al. 2012, Titeca and De Herdt 2011).
The Catholic network is itself composed of many religious orders which run schools in
different parts of the country. Different orders have varying school policies, pedagogical
approaches and management styles. They are however coordinated by central single Catho-
lic administration, based in Kinshasa. Although differences of opinion, stance and (some-
times) conflicting interest arise between the orders, the Catholic network is generally
organised in a strongly hierarchical way, despite the official decentralisation of the edu-
cation sector. As will be shown below, the archbishop the highest canonical position
of the Congolese Catholic Church also plays an important role in this. Because the Catho-
lic network is the largest religious educational network in the DRC and is therefore the main
focus of interaction on issues of educational provision with the government, this article will
focus solely on the Catholic network and the Catholic Church.
From the 1980s onwards, the state retreated further from educational provision, with
drastic reductions in funding reflecting structural adjustment policies and economic
crisis. While the state still invested US$159 per pupil in 1982, this had fallen to only
US$7 in 2006 (De Herdt et al. 2012). This evolution coincides with and reinforces
the diminishing purchasing power of the state agents’ salaries (teachers, public adminis-
tration agents, and so on). As early as 1982, state agents’ salaries had only one-fifth of
120 K. Titeca et al.
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the purchasing power they had in 1970 (Be
´zy et al. 1981). By 1987, they were worth only a
third of what they had been in 1982. In this context, the state hires civil servants, but pre-
sumes that they will have to ‘steal carefully’ (‘yiba moke’)
3
to complement their salaries
with side activities thereby gradually transforming the state bureaucracy into ‘a
“market” where office holders compete for the acquisition of material benefits’ (Lemarc-
hand 1988, p. 153). In the education sector, parents have become the primary source of
additional revenue. Initially, a system of user fees was advocated by the World Bank in
the early 1980s to compensate for reduced state budgets and to improve accountability.
However, in the DRC this system was pushed to an extreme, where parents eventually
paid the full cost of the service provided. In 1992, parents stepped in to pay for so-called
salary top-ups for the teachers, By the end of the 1990s, a range of other fees had been
created, which not only financed schools but the whole education system including
state- and non-state actors up to the highest national levels of the administration.
The position of the church towards school fees confirms Gifford’s hypothesis of the
ambiguous relationship between the Catholic Church and the state. On the one hand, the
church often criticises the ‘corrupt’, ‘disorganised’ and ‘irresponsible’ state which preys
on the parents’ contributions. The Catholic Church in the DRC has a long tradition of criti-
cal behaviour towards power. For instance it supported the democratic movement against
the Mobutu regime in the early 1990s (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2002). On the other hand, as
the managing authority of public schools, the church has become part of this state
system; it depends upon the state for the payment of teachers’ salaries. Indeed, notwith-
standing its opposition to parental contributions, it is the church (as the largest provider
of education) that mobilises most of these school fees. This very ambiguity is exemplified
by the church’s decision in 1992 to authorise teachers to ask parents for a supplement to
their salaries. When teachers went on strike to pressurise the weakened Mobutu regime,
the Catholic Church re-established social peace and alleviated this pressure. This led
directly to the introduction of the system of ‘salary top-ups’ (‘frais de motivation’); since
then, parents have paid most of teachers’ salaries. The church therefore not only contributed
to the foundation of the current system of user financing; it also benefits from the revenues
generated by the system and helped liberate the regime from pressure by teachers and
parents that it take responsibility for education provision.
The parental fee system kept the Congolese education sector afloat: indeed, it continued
to expand despite decades of severe political, social and economic crisis (World Bank 2005,
pp. 21, 42), as measured by the number of establishments, teachers and students (World
Bank 2005, p. 27, table 2.2). This remarkable expansion has been achieved solely by Con-
golese actors, since for long periods external aid for education has been effectively unavail-
able (World Bank 2005). Even more remarkable is that the percentage of people who have
never attended school is well below the average of less-developed countries and of sub-
Saharan Africa, as shown in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Percentage of people who have never been to school.
Aged 6–16 Aged 17–27 Aged 23–27
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Less developed countries 22 26 20 32 24 39
Sub-Saharan Africa 24 27 21 33 25 39
DRC 16 22 6 20 7 21
Source: UNESCO data, http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport/dme.
Review of African Political Economy 121
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The de facto privatisation of the education sector played an important role in this
outcome as parents strongly contribute to the survival and functioning of the education
sector. Yet, although remarkable, this is a two-edged sword. Parents are on the one hand
extremely willing to send their children to school and are even willing to contribute, but
on the other hand these costs are the main reason for non-attendance or early school
drop-out (World Bank 2005).
4
Thus, even though the state largely retreated from the financing of the education sector,
education is still provided mainly by the church and paid for mainly by parents. Both
church and state benefit from this system. Yet, this system is problematic, as it effectively
liberates the state from its responsibilities, places a high burden on parents, and has negative
consequences for school enrolment and drop-out rates. This is precisely the point at which
the FCS becomes relevant.
The idea of a ‘joint solidarity fund’: the church versus the state
The current archbishop of Kinshasa, Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo, has long been one
of the visible spokesmen of the church’s position vis-a
`-vis the state. Since his nomina-
tion as president of the National Sovereign Conference (‘Confe
´rence Nationale Sou-
ve
´raine’) in 1991, he has played an important role in holding the state to account. In
2004 Monsengwo strongly criticised the system of salary top-ups, supporting teachers’
unions, which had negotiated an agreement to increase their salaries. And since his
nomination as archbishop of Kinshasa in 2007, Monsengwo has taken several initiatives
concerning school fees, including the creation of the joint solidarity fund (FCS) in 2008.
He first created a commission made up of pedagogues and religious (Catholic) leaders.
On its recommendation, Monsengwo fixed the school fees for the 2008 09 school year
at US$65 for primary schools and US$95 for secondary schools, each paid in two instal-
ments. The stated objective of the FCS was to abolish inequality within the Congolese
educational system. In the letter announcing the initiative, the archbishop claimed that
the existing salary top-up paid by parents favours the better-off and undermines
access to education for the poor.
5
In previous years, schools enjoyed significant autonomy in fixing school fees:
every school decided the amount to be paid by parents, creating significant differen-
tials. Under the FCS, all schools and students within the Catholic network would
pay the same amount. This money would have to be transferred to a bank account
controlled by the diocese’s financial administrator, and would be topped up with
donor money. The revenue generated would constitute a real ‘solidarity’ fund: the
Catholic administration would finance the school’s most urgent needs, such as repair-
ing dilapidated buildings. A second stated objective of the fund was to abolish the
system in which parents assume responsibility for the teachers’ payment and which
accordingly puts strong financial pressure on the parents. In this way, the Catholic
Church sought to pressure the state into resuming its responsibility for paying the tea-
chers’ salaries.
Before we examine the problems of implementing the FCS, it should be noted that the
conception of the fund is remarkably reminiscent of Bayart’s description of religious ever-
getism, the practice of collecting (more or less voluntary) parishioners’ contributions for
specific purposes such as the construction or restoration of a school or a health centre,
whereupon a ‘Big Man’ can then publicly demonstrate his generosity (Bayart 1989,
p. 10). This is then a practice reinforcing the above ethos of munificence or ‘Big Man’
leadership.
122 K. Titeca et al.
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Religious power and authority mobilised for and against the FCS
In this section the article analyses how the solidarity fund was received and perceived by,
and how it affected, both parents and teachers. In doing so, we will analyse how the
church’s mode of governance plays out on the ground.
Parents’ reaction and the inability to pay
Study of the actual implementation of the FCS shows that it was mostly the less well-off
schools in Kinshasa that participated in the solidarity fund. These poorer schools, mostly
situated on the outskirts of the city, hoped to receive more resources through the solidarity
fund. As mentioned above, the aim of the FCS was to redistribute the proceeds of the school
fees from the rich to the poor schools. From the start however, several difficulties arose: for
poorer parents, the requested US$65 represented an enormous amount of money and a sub-
stantial increase. The previous year, the fees for such schools generally did not exceed
US$40. In practice, the FCS had driven down the number of pupils in convention-based
Catholic schools. Fewer pupils registered and more dropped out during the school year
(data collection, research 2008 12).
6
Further, very few parents actually paid their chil-
dren’s school fees that year.
7
However, in contrast to previous years, the majority of stu-
dents who completed the school year but had not paid their fees were not expelled.
Teachers’ discontentment and non-mobilisation of the state
The FCS has had a complex impact upon the teachers’ wage problem. As mentioned above,
the aim was to abolish the practice of salary top-ups in place for many years: one of the
objectives was to hold the state to account for paying teachers’ salaries. This however
created a contradictory situation in which most parents were paying more than in previous
years, but the teachers were earning less. The money paid by parents was no longer staying
in schools, but rather going to the FCS.
8
Naturally, this created significant discontent among
teachers, leading to a number of strikes in different schools at the beginning of the school
year. However, the reaction of the Catholic network was also swift: teachers were informed
that they could expect a standard salary of US$150 per month through the FCS. There was
nonetheless a major condition: if the state accepted its responsibility to pay teachers an offi-
cial salary of US$100 (its value at the start of the school year), the FCS would then contrib-
ute a supplement of US$50. This precondition made it unlikely to become a reality – it
nevertheless had a strong effect on the ground. In the poorer schools it led teachers to
return to work as their salaries had been lower than even US$100. However, in richer
schools in the city centre, teachers continued their strike. Many so-called associational
schools (e.g. Jesuit schools, or the elite schools of other congregations) had refused to par-
ticipate in the solidarity fund from the start. In previous years, fees in these associational
schools were around US$135, which allowed salaries for their teachers of around
US$300 per month, considerably higher than the FCS arrangement. Continued strikes in
these schools obliged the Catholic network to effectively authorise these schools to
restart the old system. In practice therefore, the association schools in the city centre
have never participated in the FCS.
9
The fact that rich schools did not want to transfer money to the fund, and poor schools
could not pay, created a deadlock in the functioning of the FCS and more generally in the
Catholic educational network in Kinshasa. By the end of the first term (December 2008),
schools that had transferred money to the bank had not received anything in return.
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Consequently, they could not meet their usual obligations: salary top-ups, fee payments for
administrative offices, and so on. This situation lasted until the end of December, when
many teachers went on strike. Teachers were joined by their students in protests calling
for the payment of teachers’ salaries. This stalemate obliged the Catholic administration
to negotiate with the schools. Although these strikes were not a general practice, and hap-
pened sporadically throughout Kinshasa, the administration nevertheless allowed all
schools that had contributed to the FCS to collect their money from the bank, in order to
pay the teachers.
During the second semester, the basis of the FCS was further undermined: money col-
lected by schools was no longer transferred to the bank, but was instead retained and
managed by the school.
A Big Man mode of governance?
The failure of the FCS was not only caused by issues of power, but also issues of authority.
In the Catholic Church, policy is heavily based upon personalities the ‘Big Man’ rule. As
Sahlins (1963) argues in his seminal article, personal power is at the heart of Big Man rule:
The indicative quality of big-man authority is everywhere the same: it is personal power. Big-
men do not come to office; they do not succeed to, nor are they installed in, existing position of
leadership over political group ...[His authority] rather is the outcome of a series of acts which
elevate a person above the common herd and attract about him a coterie of loyal, lesser men.
(Sahlins 1963, p. 389)
Similar processes were at play in the FCS, which was primarily a personal initiative of Mgr
Monsengwo. It was his idea, he appointed the commission which drafted the scheme, and
he took any decisions with regard to the fund. Questions about the initiative were directed
by all actors to the archbishop, since he was the only one able to answer them. By attribut-
ing the FCS to Monsengwo, other actors within the Catholic network could keep a certain
distance from the initiative and its difficulties, yet remain respectful for the hierarchical
commanding structure.
However, while personal relations are the basis of the Big Man’s power, they are
simultaneously a major weakness. As Sahlins (1963, p. 292) argues, ‘personal loyalty
has to be made and continually reinforced; if there is discontent it may well be
severed’, which may lead to ‘comparative instability’. The Big Man’s capacity to
sustain a following is therefore largely dependent on his capacity to personally assist
his followers (Utas 2012, p. 6). Personal links therefore have to be continuously
strengthened, or this will create instability. These dynamics also played out for Mon-
sengwo and the FCS. The strong personalisation referred to above made resolving the
problems created by the FCS more difficult. The archbishop, the main (or single) respon-
sible person behind the initiative, as an ‘international personality’,
10
often travels outside
the country, and this made it difficult to respond to problems as they arose. Moreover,
when lower-level authorities both state and non-state actors were confronted with
these problems, they always followed the hierarchical order: schools told parents that
they did not have the authority to change the initiative; the Catholic administration
told schools the same, and so on. No one could change the situation and everyone
hid behind the orders and authority of the archbishop. This created significant frustration
throughout the whole administrative chain. While the Big Man – Monsengwo – had
strongly personalised the initiative, he did not provide any solutions, nor did he
engage personally in its implementation.
124 K. Titeca et al.
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Communication around the FCS was thus very poor. Rather than giving the schools
time to prepare this initiative, instructions were only sent to the schools at the very start
of the school year. As one school director argued, ‘the solidarity fund was a surprise to
us. It fell on us like that. Parents were upset. We have not been consulted.’
11
Moreover,
although the initiative changed the situation profoundly, no solutions were offered for
the problems that arose. For example, there were no instructions on the management of
the FCS, and many questions for those involved. How would the money be distributed?
How much would the teachers receive? How should the schools transfer funds to the admin-
istrative institutions? Many such questions went unanswered. After the initial communi-
cation in September 2008, no other instructions were sent to the schools. The end result
was Sahlin’s comparative instability (see above), a situation characterised by confusion,
tensions and conflicts within the schools, for example between the teachers and the head
teachers, between the parents and the head teachers, and so on. Conflicts in schools
those that were solved were solved on a case-by-case basis rather than on a structural
level. As one school director told us: ‘There is total silence! We do not know what to do!’
12
This instability in turn led effectively to disloyalty to the Big Man rule, and the instruc-
tions of the Catholic network, as the schools resorted as far as possible to ‘old’ solutions.
For example, when schools finally (in December) received authorisation to withdraw
their money in order to end the teachers’ protests (see above), again there were no instruc-
tions concerning the use or management of the money by the schools. Negotiations there-
fore took place within the schools, allowing most to reach a division of the funds for paying
teachers (about 60%) and for running the school (about 40%). All this was decided at school
level; there was no hierarchical instruction to untangle the impasse schools found them-
selves in. In practice, from December onwards, the old system of school fee distribution
was re-established.
Behind the ‘personalisation’ described are hidden tensions within the Catholic network
itself. As Mrsic-Garac (2008) documents, the Catholic network has long been divided over
the question of school fees. For example, since the introduction of salary top-ups in 1992,
there have been many strikes in which teachers asked the state to take charge of their sal-
aries. During these strikes, which mostly happened at the beginning of the school years (for
example in September 2005 and 2007), members of the Catholic network have encouraged
teachers to restart work, thereby encouraging the continued payment by parents of salary
top-ups. On the other hand, Mgr Monsengwo President of the Episcopal Conference
since 1997 supported these strikes, and consistently opposed the payment of salary
top-ups by parents (Mrsic-Garac 2008). This division has persisted within the network.
One part of the Catholic network was against the FCS, and another part was in favour.
More generally, the Catholic network’s stance on school fees has always been ambivalent:
on the one hand, the Catholic Episcopate (under the initiative of Mgr Monsengwo) decided
in 2004 to abolish salary top-ups; at the same time, however, the Catholic network itself
kept imposing various costs on schools and therefore on parents (Mrsic-Garac 2008, p. 5).
General tensions within the Catholic hierarchy found concrete expression in relation to
the FCS. On the one hand, Mgr Monsengwo defended the introduction of the FCS. He
argued that the fees were not too high, as these were based on a sector-wide audit and an
ad hoc commission ‘as the sum of US$65 was calculated in a scientific way, it could
not be changed’
13
and no exceptions were possible. According to the archbishop, all
schools had been convinced to continue participating after further explanation, and he
remained convinced of the fund’s positive effects and that it would meet its stated objec-
tives. However, Mgr Monsengwo was the only actor within the church hierarchy who
remained positive. Other actors interviewed had strong concerns about its feasibility.
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One of the Catholic coordinators argued: ‘The initiative was based on the advice of ...
economists and financial advisors. But they clearly didn’t know much about psychology!
They did not take into account how the parents were going to react.’
14
One of those
involved in the sector audit criticised the FCS’s chaotic implementation: ‘The biggest
problem is that the initiative has been decided unexpectedly and without preparation.’
15
Such statements reflect serious frustration on different levels of the hierarchy. In sum,
the authority of the ‘Big Man’, fragile and unstable in practice, proved to be insufficient
to impose its view on reality. It led to severe tensions with the schools, and within the
Catholic network.
While the Big Man rule was important in implementing the FCS, it was not the only
source of authority. As suggested by Weber (1978), different sources of authority are
usually combined to secure obedience. In this case, the Catholic Church utilised both
‘Bigmanity’ and bureaucratic rule to introduce the FCS. The church (as well as the other con-
vention-based churches) exhibits a ‘full-fledged organizational structure encompassing
almost every aspect of socio-economic life’, through which it can be considered ‘the organ-
ization with the most extensive and effective institutional set-up’ (Tull 2005, pp. 219, 245).
However, both of these elements proved insufficient to push through this initiative effectively.
At a deeper level, the FCS demonstrated how the church strongly neglected different
sources of power within the education system. In practice, the Congolese education
sector is to a large extent financed by the schools themselves, which means the economic
power of the education system and the churches resides with them. Schools therefore have
the power to contest decisions that affect them negatively. On the one hand, parents and
students had no choice but to leave the schools, as fees were simply too high for them.
On the other hand, both parents and teachers acted in different ways to contest the initiative.
One of the most important results is the relative autonomy of schools even in relation to
the religious networks to which they belong. This applies not only to the ‘big’ Catholic
schools at the wealthy end of the market, but also the other convention-based schools,
which ultimately refused to follow the initial direction of the FCS in order to retain their
niche and stay in business in the narrow space between parents’ buying power and teachers’
salary requirements.
The joint solidarity fund and the state’s mode of governance
The study of the FCS also sheds light on the effectiveness of the states attempts to regulate
and impose its policies. Although the FCS was proposed by the Catholic church, it has to
function in a context where the state claims to be the main organisational power. In the first
instance, state representatives were forced to intervene in actual practice, though hardly to
enforce the law. As indicated above, the initiative created myriad conflicts at the level of the
schools themselves, pitting the teachers, deprived of their salary top-ups, against the school
heads. The state representatives were forced to calm the situation. This was why the highest
authority in the Kinshasa education sector, the Urban Commission of the Provincial Min-
istry of Education, took the decision in December 2008 to suspend the FCS. Similarly, the
provincial minister of education denounced the initiative. This was done on the basis of
three arguments. First, it directly contradicted the authority of the state as the ‘organising
power’ of the education sector.
16
Second, the most important concern of government and
donors alike is the reduction of school fees, for which a number of initiatives have been
put in place (for example the World Bank projet Projet d’urgence pour la re
´habilitation
urbaine et sociale (PURUS) paying the ‘fees for school functioning’ frais de fonctionne-
ment to the schools). The FCS goes directly against these initiatives, by in fact raising
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school fees for parents. The third, and most urgent, reason for intervention was the fear for a
collective protest movement of the teachers against the state. As their salary top-ups were to
be abolished through the implementation of the FSC, the teachers might demand higher sal-
aries from the state (which had already been promised for many years). These actions were
an (implicit) objective of the initiative.
Yet, although the Urban Commission and the provincial minister
17
suspended the soli-
darity fund, this decision was never officially communicated to the schools, nor to other
state actors. In other words, the state did not in practice intervene. As an official of the
Catholic network put it: ‘Everybody knows that when the state takes such a decision, it
will not enforce this measure.’
18
The state’s fatalism towards the FCS is similar to its fatal-
ism towards other school fees: as described above, salary top-ups were declared illegal in a
2007 decree, yet the state does not prevent them continuing. In fact, doing so would be
against its interests, as it is not in a position to meet the pay gap that would then result.
The same applies to the FCS. If the state were to actually suspend the fund in other
words if the state acted against the Catholic network there would be no more educational
services. As spelt out above, state and church educational administrative offices are only
able to function because part of the fees paid by parents pays for them (De Herdt et al.
2012).
Notwithstanding the difficulties encountered in its operation, the FCS continued in the
following year, 200910. This time, the state took effective action: it called on the arch-
bishop to negotiate another solution. The result was reflected in two decrees on the level
and distribution of school fees by the city/province of Kinshasa, and in two new decrees
issued by the Kinshasa archdiocese. The decrees of the province stipulated that in addition
to school fees fixed by the province, each school could still propose ‘punctual intervention
fees’ (primarily, salary top-ups for teachers). In this situation, the school fees of the FCS are
no longer only fixed by the Catholic administration, but once again at school level.
However, 20% of the ‘punctual intervention fees’ must be transferred to the solidarity
fund (Hofmeijer 2011). In return, two civil servants of the Kinshasa government are
appointed to the management committee of the FCS. Meanwhile, in the decrees of Kinsha-
sa’s archdiocese, school fees were now differentiated according to the financial situation of
the families concerned. This ranged from US$30 for lower-income families, to US$60 for
middle-income, and US$100 for higher-income families. The parish priests were charged
with determining the financial situation of the families concerned. In doing so, school
fees could in theory better respond to the different needs of the families and schools,
through which the system could become a ‘real’ solidarity fund.
Given the above, it should be clear that the ‘renewed’ version of the FCS was signifi-
cantly different to its predecessor. This time there has been an immediate contact between
state and church representatives and, above all, it corresponded more closely with the prac-
tical norms already in place. The level of school fees was fixed at school level and there was
a division of benefits between the school, teaching staff, and different offices of the state and
the Catholic administrations. In this way, the new version of the FCS represented a clear
compromise with existing power dynamics. As explained above, the economic power of
the education system lies within the schools and more particularly with the students
and parents. By allowing the salary top-ups to function, and school fees to be determined
mainly at the school level, the arrangement partly reflected the effective power balance.
Moreover, by no longer questioning the system of salary top-ups, the FCS was no longer
a vehicle through which the church opposed the state and its system of school fees. In
line with Gifford’s (1994) and Bayart’s (1989) analyses cited in the introduction, this
shows how the confrontational position of the church eventually ended in a compromise
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between the state and the church. However, in contrast to their analyses, we have shown
how power is not only situated with the state which forces churches into a compromise
with the state but how power is much more dispersed. It was primarily the actions of the
schools that forced the church to adapt its initiative.
Conclusion: from negotiation towards permanent provocation?
In this article, we have shown how the Congolese state and the Catholic Church rely on
various sources of authority and power in their modes governance. In enforcing the solidarity
fund, the church relied both on its bureaucratic authority and on the ‘Big Man’ authority of
Archbishop Mgr Monsengwo. However, as argued above and as demonstrated by the case
of the FCS, given the de facto privatisation of the educational sector in Kinshasa, politics
of school fees are determined in the first place by schools themselves, whose main constraints
are imposed by supply and demand for education. Schools must respond to the limited pur-
chasing power of parents on the one hand, and to the problem of teachers’ salaries on the
other. Parents can ‘vote with their feet’ and take their children away from school; teachers
recurrently use strikes as an instrument. We have seen how these two elements had an influ-
ence on the management of the FCS, and how the actual functioning of education as part of
the public sector is largely determined and driven by local-level realities (i.e. the schools),
rather than by policies of the state or the church. In this situation, the state regulatory frame-
work is relatively powerless. In addition, the policies of donors (which have to work through
these relatively powerless official structures to reduce school fees) will have to take this reality
into account. Finally, even the churches’ action must be responsive to these conditions as long
as school fees are considered to be the best guarantee for regular financing of the schools –
and of the education system at large. If governance is overwhelmingly determined at the local
level, primarily based upon negotiations between local actors, this should be taken into
account by the ‘larger’ power poles at a higher policy level. Local governance and public ser-
vices are not produced by the state, but by a larger network of actors – something Clements
et al. (2007, p. 48) call a ‘hybrid political order’. In this article, we have shown how the
‘hybrid political order’ of a specific part of the public sector (in this case the education
sector) is composed of different entities.
If the existing situation analysed above is compared with the ‘negotiated state(ness)’
concept, it is possible to reach wider conclusions. As explained above, the idea of the ‘nego-
tiated state’ suggests that the state emerges as a product of negotiation between different
state and non-state actors or centres of authority (Raeymaekers et al. 2008, p. 17). The
case of the FCS allows us to add two elements.
First, the literature on ‘negotiated stateness’ has shown how these negotiations take
place between ‘large’ categories or power poles such as rebel groups, governmental
actors, trading groups, and so on (e.g. Raeymaekers 2010, Menkhaus 2008). In this
article, we have emphasised the struggles within power poles. The FCS shows how the
Catholic Church failed in its efforts to enforce its decisions on schools within its
network: from the start, the ‘associational schools’ did not participate in this initiative,
neglecting the rules imposed by the senior levels of the Catholic network. In addition,
the initiative itself has been contested by other actors within the Catholic network itself.
The fact that through the system of school fees much of the economic power lies at the
local level (away from the large and high-level power poles) further weakened the capacity
of the church to act as a unitary actor vis-a
`-vis the state. These weaknesses were all that was
needed for the representatives of the state to oppose the FCS initiative. Yet, the state would
not by itself have been capable of intervening, because it is itself fraught with internal
128 K. Titeca et al.
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contradictions. While its senior officials are responsive to the donors’ aim of reducing
school fees, lower-level state representatives seek to complement their salaries by securing
their slice of the school fees ‘cake’. In the end, the ‘new’ version of the FCS was a victory
for the lower-level officials of both the church and the state: the fund became just one more
cost in the long list of parents’ payments to the school.
A second related point is that the concept of ‘negotiation’ suggests greater focus than
exists in reality, where the process is much patchier. The story of the FCS initiative has
not involved a singular process of negotiation which has taken into account, or been
accepted by, all the actors concerned. In addition, every centre of authority or power
pole involved is itself a ‘twilight institution’, drawing on contradictory sources of authority
and only partly in control of the sources of power attributed to it. As such, the education
sector is governed by a patchwork of actors with different strategies. For those actors, it
is not at all evident that they should be required to understand each other, let alone share
similar objectives. With every new initiative, conflict or event, it remains to be seen who
will end up on the winning or losing side of the game.
In such a logic, the modus vivendi reflects momentary relations of power and authority, is
therefore precarious and inherently unstable, and consequently can change from one year to the
next. If an arrangement is already negotiated, it is bound to be a partial and temporary arrange-
ment. As has been shown through the caseof the FCS, there was ultimately a certain agreement
between the different parties (i.e. state and non-state actors) on the redistribution of school fees,
but this arrangement hardly qualifies as a solid basis on which to construct a public education
policy. Perhaps the process of state formation resembles much less a ‘negotiation’ and more
what Foucault called a process of ‘permanent provocation’ (Miller, Gordon and Burchell
1991), where each step forward invites responses from different sides, the only certainty
being that the process will never come to rest. The state is permanently under construction.
Though unsettling to external policy planners, this is not necessarily a pessimistic perspective
for the school directors, parents and teachers, who, at their respective levels, have in practice
been making their school function in the interest, as they perceive it, of their pupils and/or
children.
Notes on contributors
Kristof Titeca is postdoctoral researcher from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), based at the
Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Tom De Herdt is senior lecturer at the Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of
Antwerp, Belgium.
Inge Wagemakers is researcher at the Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of
Antwerp, Belgium.
Notes
1. ‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s’
(Matthew 22: 21).
2. The concept of ‘mode of governance’ is borrowed from Olivier de Sardan (2010).
3. Formulated by the president Mobutu Sese Seko in 1977.
4. The annual total mean household cost per pupil in primary education is between US$9 and
US$14, depending on the region; while between and 14% of per capita income is spent on
every child in primary education (World Bank 2005, p. 61).
5. Archeve
ˆche
´de Kinshasa, Informations aux coordinateurs, aux sous-coordinateurs, aux chefs
d’e
´tablissement, et aux repre
´sentants le
´gaux des congre
´gations enseignantes des e
´coles conven-
tionne
´es catholiques de Kinshasa, 19 September 2008, p. 1.
Review of African Political Economy 129
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6. Kimbanseke schools averaged 700 students, a figure which fell to 600 pupils at the start of the
2008–09 school year.
7. In the three poorest schools of our Kimbanseke sample, only 2 to 11% of the pupils have paid
the full amount of school fees. In the three wealthier schools, between 28 and 66% of the stu-
dents paid.
8. Interview, Archbishop Monsengwo, Kinshasa, 23 June 2009.
9. Those schools which did, simply asked for US$65 above the school fees that had already been
fixed, which also boils down to non-participation.
10. Interview with administrator of the Catholic network, Kinshasa, 12 June 2009.
11. Interview, school director, Kinshasa, 11 June 2009.
12. Interview, school director, Kinshasa, 12 June 2009.
13. Interview, Msg Monsengwo, Kinshasa, 23 June 2009.
14. Interview, urban coordinator of the Catholic network, 12 June 2009.
15. Interview, religious administrator involved in audit of the sector), Kinshasa, 11 June 2009.
16. This was denied by Mgr Monsengwo, who argued that the church initiative was not illegal. He
argued how according to the framework law, the church was authorised to levy for punctual
actions. Interpreting the joint solidarity fund as a punctual action, it fitted within the law (Inter-
view Msg Monsengwo, 23 June 2009).
17. According to the minister, this was because it was clear from the beginning that the measure
would not be followed by the schools due to its inherent difficulties (high levels of school
fees, and so on). (Interview with the provincial minister of education and her cabinet’s director,
27 November 2008; interview with her adviser on 12 March 2009.)
18. Interview with an officer from the Catholic network, 22 June 2009.
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... This situation remained until the 1970s when Dictator Mobutu initiated reforms called Zairianisation (Pearson, 2011). In the course of these reforms that aimed at decolonizing the country and stabilizing his power, he tried to bring the education system under governmental control (Titeca, Herdt, & Wagemakers, 2013). 6 Recognizing after some years that this was an unfeasible task, he officially recognized the churches' role in the 5 The term "political economy of critical pedagogy" is used by McLaren to discuss globalization and neoliberal capitalism's influence on critical pedagogy in the United States (McLaren, 1998); I propose to also understand the term in this sense. ...
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This article examines the stages by which the Church in Kenya offered a primary challenge to the closed political system of Daniel Arap Moi's regime, yet without establishing a political party. More specifically, this article reviews the role of the Church between 1986-1992 in generating and sustaining a public discourse on democracy and change in Kenya as well as its organizational grass-root political activities prior to the holding of the first multi-party elections in 1992. Finally, it is argued that the debate between officialdom and the Church - mainly its leading clergy - over the very definition of politics, not only sustained the national discourse on democracy but also spawned demands for the democratization of Church structures themselves. This study is neither chronological nor purely narrative. Rather it is structured around three central foci: first the Churches' critique of the structure of power in Kenya - a structure whose core was the one-party system; second their involvement in local or sproadic controversies and upheavals; and third their active political involvement and information-dissemination campaign prior to the 1992 elections.
Chapter
In many rapidly growing African cities, urban agriculture is of increasing importance for the provision of food for the population. At the same time, the larger a city grows, increasingly fewer areas of land are available for agriculture. This is a contradiction many African cities are struggling with. Also, in Kinshasa (our area of study), a struggle exists between agricultural and residential land uses in the city (Nzuzi, 2009). Because of the growing population and the lack of empty land, there is a movement towards the periphery of the city, consequently threatening urban agricultural space (the former ‘green belt’1 around the city). Yet, at the same time, population growth makes urban agriculture even more of a necessity. As in Kinshasa, leaf vegetables are greatly consumed, especially those vegetables which perish rapidly, their production within the city is of great importance. In addition, urban vegetable gardening is one of the coping strategies of a population that faces a lack of employment. So, on the one hand, urban agriculture is an important and much executed urban activity for the growing urban population. On the other hand, rapid population growth creates a lack of space for cultivation. In fact, two needs come into conflict with one another: the need to produce food and the need to have a place to live.