Mystery Solved (Day 9)

It was now nearing the end of our trip, and we were tying up loose ends, meeting with the orchestra conductor, giving small gifts to our new friends, and strategizing a plan for moving forward with our project.

But first things first. We were invited to a goodbye party for a couple who had been working for the British Embassy, on a rooftop bar overlooking the Congo river. So off we went!

I met a Congolese man named Jean-Claude there, who spoke French, Swahili, and was learning Dutch as well. He was very friendly, and even though he didn't speak a word of English, I was able to communicate with him using my French, Lingala, and gestures. He was overjoyed when I introduced myself in Lingala to him, and he practically fell over laughing when I began singing their national anthem. He told us the Kimbanguist Orchestra was famous, and he had seen many musicians walking for hours towards the rehearsal site, singing Beethoven 9. He was also amazed by the amount of local cuisine Kaori and I had eaten during our short stay, and refused to believe that this was our first trip to Kinshasa. Then, I shouted "Chitunga!" (See Chitunga) He clapped his hands together and shook his head in disbelief, so I asked him, what exactly does that word mean? 

Over dinner the night before, Kaori and I had asked Tom, the Lingala expert, if he had heard of that word before. He had not. When he asked a Congolese man in the area, he had only said, "It means nothing." Someone at the orchestra had used the word "ambience" to explain it, but we still weren't 100% on the meaning.

Jean-Claude was stumped for a while, but then explained that during the World Cup, when one team scores, they yell, "Chitunga!" 


Kaori and I finally understood. It's probably like saying "Woo-hoo!" or "Hooray!!" It doesn't quite mean anything, it's an ambiance, but I guess the orchestra musicians were really happy that day. Happy to have solved one more mystery, I waved good-bye to my new friend.

- Nana