Chris Blattman

Congo election facts of the day

  • 32 million voters
  • More than 19,000 parliamentary candidates for 500 parliamentary seats
  • MPs paid $6,000 (£3,887) a month
  • The Kinshasa ballot is a 56-page booklet of more than 1,500 candidates
  • 4,000 tonnes of ballot papers
  • 61 helicopters and 20 planes are delivering the election material

From an internal NGO memo I saw yesterday. In case you didn’t take it all in, I reemphasize: the Kinshasa ballot is a 56-page booklet.

Also not to be missed: Newt Gingrich’s PhD dissertation on (who knew?) Belgian Education Policy in the Congo. An excerpt:

Belgian Colonialism left the Congo with a solid infrastructure… but a pathetically inadequate leadership cadre

Personally I’m not so impressed with America’s education system and leadership cadre at the moment.

Readers: Esteem and notoriety go to those who find the best Gingrich quotes on African history.

Finally, for salacious details on yesterday’s Congo elections, see Jason Stearns. Other reader suggestions?

9 Responses

  1. @Dan Kearney: I’m 99% sure that the point was that Gingrich’s quote, exhibiting extremely poor understanding of the outcomes of Belgian colonialism in Congo, makes Blattman unimpressed with the American education system that trained Gingrich (or perhaps just with Gingrich himself, and “America’s education system” was kind of a joking way to bring attention to Gingrich’s poor-quality analysis of his own PhD dissertation topic). “Leadership cadre,” of course, was also a reference to Gingrich specifically, and not some completely gratuitous mention of American leaders being generally imperfect. So the point was not, unless I’m mistaken, about the American education system more broadly, and certainly not some kind of attempt to create a false equivalence between Congo and America’s education systems.

    For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think your comment really paints you in a good light, and I feel that you should probably re-read posts you’re going to criticise and check if there’s a highly plausible (in this case I’d say massively more plausible) interpretation that says something different to what you were angry about, especially if you’re going to be needlessly personally insulting in your comment.

  2. “Even more important than money, it takes a great deal of time to determining whether or not the system is the right one for the particularly country which is building it. An educational investment often becomes profitable only after twenty years” (p.8). Surprisingly good insight, which is often overlooked in the global education agenda and policy.

  3. “Personally I’m not so impressed with America’s education system”

    In a post about the DRC. Great work, but can you avoid sounding like a pompous shit? Yes, yes, America’s ed system needs some work, but to mention it here (and implicitly conflate it with education in Congo) is just a joke.

  4. Texas in Africa actually read Newt’s entire dissertation and wrote a post about it. I don’t have time to look for it at the moment, but should be pretty easy to find. Newt was surprisingly sympathetic to the Belgians, as I recall.

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