Um Bongo Um Bongo they (don’t) drink it in the Congo

Way down deep in the middle of the Congo
A hippo took an apricot, a guava and a mango.
He stuck it with the others, and he danced a dainty tango
The rhino said “I know, we’ll call it Um Bongo”

If a 1980s fruit juice advert is the first (and maybe only) thing that comes to mind when you think of ‘Congo’ – you’re not the only one. It’s a huge place. Actually it’s two huge places. Here’s a few random facts.

  • There are two ‘Congos’ – The Republic of Congo (sometimes called Congo Brazaville) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo Kinshasa).
  • The rule of thumb applies: If a country has the word ‘Democratic’ in its name, it usually isn’t.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo was known as Zaire between 1971 and 1997 – a name given to it by President Joseph Desire Mobutu.
  • D.R. Congo played host to the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ – probably the most famous boxing match ever. Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in the Mai 20 stadium in the capital Kinshasa.
  • D.R. Congo is the size of western Europe but has a population roughly the size of the UK’s. More than 5 million people died as a result of the conflict there – that’s the equivalent to the entire population of Scotland. Half of them were children.
  • Hippos and rhinos are now nearly extinct in Congo. And no one there has ever even heard of Um Bongo.