Africa Essay, Research Paper
Lesotho – Maseru
Religion and Language About 90 percent of the people of Lesotho are Christians, mainly Roman Catholics, Lesotho Evangelicals, and Anglicans. Most of the remainder follow traditional beliefs. English and Sesotho, a Bantu language, are the country s official languages.
Under the terms of the constitution of 1965, which was suspended in 1970, Lesotho was a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature. After a coup in 1986, legislative and executive powers were vested in the king but actually exercised by a 6-member military council and a 20-member council of ministers. In 1993 Lesotho adopted a new constitution that redefined the role of the monarchy and altered the legislative branch of the government. The king, who is head of state, has no executive or legislative authority. Executive power is held by the prime minister. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly and is responsible for appointing a cabinet. The legislative body includes the National Assembly, consisting of 65 members elected by universal adult suffrage, and the Senate, made up of traditional chiefs and nominated representatives. Lesotho has ten districts, which are subdivided into wards and administered by hereditary chiefs.
Angola – Luanda
Language and Religion Portuguese is the official language. More than 90 percent of the population speaks Bantu languages, the most important of which are Kimbundu, Umbundu, and Kikongo (see African Languages: The Niger-Congo Family). Before independence an estimated 2.2 million Roman Catholics, including most of the 400,000 Portuguese, lived in Angola, as well as a smaller number of Protestants. In the early 1990s most of the population professed Christian beliefs; many also practiced traditional religions.
Local Government Angola is divided into 18 provinces, each governed by a commissioner appointed by the president. These provinces are further divided into councils and communes. During the civil war, UNITA had control over large areas of Angola. After the creation of a coalition government in 1997, control over these parts of the country began to be transferred back to the government.
Democratic Congo – Kinshasa
Religion About 75 percent of the DRC s people are nominally Christians, primarily Roman Catholics, who account for about 52 percent of the total population. Most of the rest adhere to traditional African beliefs. Syncretic sects, which combine practices of different religions, have significant numbers of adherents. One of the most popular sects is Kimbanguism, which fuses Christian and traditional elements. There is also a small Muslim community.
GOVERNMENT After the Congo received its independence from Belgium in 1960, it experienced five years of political turmoil. In 1965 army chief of staff Joseph D sir Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko) seized power in a coup. For 32 years Mobutu ran a corrupt, undemocratic regime, concentrating power in the executive branch and favoring those loyal to him. His party, the Popular Movement for the Revolution (Mouvement Populaire de la R volution, or MPR), became the sole legal political party, and dissidents were suppressed. In May 1997 rebels led by Laurent Kabila seized control of the country, overthrew Mobutu, and suspended the constitution. Kabila declared himself president and promised legislative and presidential elections by April 1999.
Burundi – Bujumbura
About two-thirds of the population is Christian, chiefly Roman Catholic, and 32 percent adhere to traditional beliefs, which are based on belief in a spirit world and a single abstract god, Imana. About 1 percent are Muslims.
A 1981 constitution established Burundi as a single-party republic with a directly elected president. The nation s sole legal political party was the Union for National Progress (Union pour le Progr s National, or UPRONA). Following a coup in 1987, the National Assembly was dissolved and the constitution was suspended, as the Military Committee for National Salvation assumed executive and legislative authority. A new constitution adopted in March 1992 introduced a multiparty system, with a directly elected president and an 81-member National Assembly. A 1993 constitutional amendment transferred the election of the president to the National Assembly. The constitution was suspended and the National Assembly dissolved after another military coup in July 1996. While the National Assembly was allowed to reconvene in September, its role is limited while the constitution remains suspended.
Malawi – Lilongwe
Religion and Language
About one-fifth of the inhabitants of Malawi practice traditional religions. About two-thirds of the people are Christian, and some 15 percent are Muslim. English is Malawi s official language, and is the primary language of instruction in the schools. Chichewa, a Bantu language, is the national language, and a number of other Bantu languages are widely spoken.
Under the country s new constitution adopted in May 1994, Malawi is a republic with an elected president, who is both the head of government and the head of state. Cabinet ministers are responsible to the president, who is elected to a five-year term by universal adult suffrage.