Stop the presses! Volume "Z" of the encyclopedia just lost a few pages! A bunch of web sites can help to keep you and your students current on news about the world's newest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
Imagine being mugged as you walk down a street. But you can't turn to the authorities for protection because---chances are---they are the muggers. Now, imagine an entire country of 45 million people being mugged by their own leader. Unfortunately, there is nothing imaginary about this---if you are in Zaire.
So begins an essay, The Roots of Zaire's Unrest, by CNN correspondent Garrick Utley. Utley's essay outlines years of unrest in this country in the heart of Africa. The rule of Mobuto Sese Seko who "for three decades [robbed] his country blind," is chronicled---a rule that was undone with the takeover of Zaire's capital, Kinshasa, by Laurent Kabila on May 17 and the subsequent renaming of Zaire, now called the Democractic Republic of Congo.
CNN has on its web site one of a handful of excellent resources Anatomy of a Rebellion, which reports on the fall of Mobuto and the rise of Kabila. The CNN site includes brief biographies of the "cast of characters" involved, a timeline of recent events, a detailed map of the country, an interactive quiz about the country's history, and a listing of related sites.
CNN's site is a fine resource for any teacher who is eager to include this newsmaking event as part of their classroom curriculum. The background info is straight-forward and easy to follow.
For that matter, this site's information could be handled by most students in the upper elementary grades. Fourth-grade teachers and up might take advantage of this "teachable moment" by challenging two or three responsible or motivated students to file a report on the world's newest country!
Many other sites are available with background and reports on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For hard news, check out the Washington Post. The Post's site includes up-to-date information from its files and from the Associated Press. Another news source, One World News, links to headline news stories from more than 150 leading global justice organizations.
One site will introduce students to an interesting puzzle: Two Nations Called Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo and its next-door neighbor, the Republic of Congo, have very similar names. This site introduces you and your students to these two countries with images of their flags and brief timelines of their histories.
In addition, you might check out the Red Cross's site, Operations in Democratic Republic of Congo. Another site, Great Lakes Crisis, updates you on the major events in Congo during the last two weeks. If you're interested in another detailed map of the new country, check out Zaire map. (Be warned, however, this map---like many others---still reflects the country's old name!)
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1997 Education World