Churches Commit to Congolese Development Process

Back yard processing of palm oil in village of Ikengo. Until gifting of Congo’s palm oil plantations to administration cronies in the 70’s, the country was one of the world’s leading producers.

Where is a church digging wells for clean water, organizing microcredit loan programs, educating the community in AIDS prevention, and training women and youth in productive, profitable agriculture? Why in the Congo of course where the role of the State in the economic and social development process has been limited to non existent in the fifty seven years since it became a new nation in 1960. Those who are disturbed about government involvement in the economy and even basic services in the U.S. might consider the effects of a “hands off”/”laissez faire” approach to governance in the Congo. One of the richest countries on earth in terms of natural resources ranks 176 out of 185 nations in the world in the most recent UN Human Development Index. The UN development study further figures that 77 per cent of the Congolese population live on the equivalent of less than $1.90 a day.
As a newly “autonomous”, self governing and self sustaining church body in 1965, the Disciples of Christ of the Congo included in its mission the economic and social development of its primarily rural membership in the poorest province of the country. Cattle raising in the fields of the Church’s first mission station, a youth agricultural training farm in the village of Ikengo, a cement block and sand dredging small business, training in sewing and tailoring had all been started and were managed by church staff and volunteers by the late 1960’s. In the early 70’s the Disciples churches had changed the landscape of the provincial capital Mbandaka with the house building program in the Bokatola quarter of the city. With the assistance of missionary couple Millard and Linda Fuller, over one hundred new houses were built using the “sweat equity” approach that became Habitat for Humanity in the U.S. and world wide.
A recent article by the Disciples Church’s Director of Communications updates us on more recent development projects and emphases of the Church’s Development Department. (read the article and others in French at http://natana.tumblr.com/ ) M. Nathan Weteto reports that the former Director of the Ikengo Agricultural Training Center M. Celestin Engelemba now serves as Director of the Department. Assisted by advisors M. Desiré Safari and Disciples missionary Paul Turner, M. Engelemba’s success in restoring and growing the training at Ikengo in the early 2000’s is likely to be duplicated across the vast reach of the Disciples’ churches.
What follows is a photo display depicting some of the current development programs of the Disciples of Christ in Congo. It should also be noted that the Disciples’ contributions to economic advance in the communities they serve has been supported by the Development Department of the Church of Christ of Congo. The Disciples are one of over 60 Protestant church bodies or “Communautés” (Communities) making up the union of Protestant churches in the country.

Celebrating Women in Leadership

150 Congo Disciples women began their gathering this month with a march from the headquarters chapel to the cathedral Mbandaka III church. The meetings’ theme: “A wise woman takes action for development” (Prov 14:1) Photo by Nathan Weteto

Across Africa today, major change is taking place as a result of women in leadership.  While Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s election and re-election in Liberia captures the headlines, it is grassroots women leading community development projects in rural and urban settings that signals significant change throughout Africa.  In Liberia, the election of President Sirleaf followed in the footsteps of the hundreds of women who marched for a peaceful resolution to thirty years of civil war in the country.  Elsewhere, it is often the women who lead in organizing the water projects, microcredit groups and agricultural programs that are saving communities from the ravages of climate change across the continent.

It is no different in Congo where the Disciples of Christ Community has made the education of women pastors a priority and recognized the traditions of patriarchy (polygamy among them) as a drag on the country’s development.  There is no more hopeful sign that God is indeed “making all things new” in Congo today than the emerging of women leaders in the Church and in Congolese civil society.  This blog celebrates the work of four Disciples women and the contributions they are making to healthier, more peaceful and more prosperous communities.

But first here’s a little history. A strong women’s movement characterized the newly “autonomous” (African led and governed) Disciples “Communaute” of the 1960’s.  Led by Mama Leale the women of the disciples Mbandaka parishes met regularly to celebrate

1969 Disciples women outside Mbandaka III church including Mama Leale, l. of center woman in blue, and Mama Entombodji to her left.

and support each other’s work in their respective parishes.  Disciples President Rev. Dr. Paul Elonda (later Elonda Ifefe) involved the women in the women in a two year process of theological dialog on polygamy.   As a result, Disciples called for monogamy as a requirement for pastors and church employees and defended the rights of women, and wives in particular, to assume active roles in the economy, civil society and church of the new nation

Revde. Christiane IKETE

Building on the legacy of strong women’s leadership embodied by her predecessors, Revde. Christiane Ikete has in recent years served as Director of the Disciples Office of Women and Family. Mama Christiane has helped organize the micro credit groups among the women of several Mbandaka parishes and most recently in the rural posts of Monieka, Boende, and Boyeka.  In the isolated, impoverished villages around Boyeka, initial distribution among 25 women of $2,159 after six months of loan activity provides a powerful incentive for organizing more micro credit groups.

Dedication festivities last year for the new Restaurant Entombodji

The sale of purses with cap made by Congolese Disciples women at the 2010 Women’s Quadrennial helped fund the initial phase of the Restaurant Entombodji next to the Disciple headquarters in Mbandaka.  Revde. Ikete envisions the Restaurant as providing training in food service and business management as well as tasty food for Mbandaka visitors and residents.  Several small shops behind the headquarters  have been leased to women entrepreneurs for years.

Revde. Janette Bafalanga

One of the first Mbandaka micro credit groups was organized at the dynamic Nouvelle Cite parish where Revde. Janette Bafalanga provided crucial leadership as Assistant Pastor in the parish. Women of the parish have also led in the parish’s aid programs for orphans, in organizing a highly successful preschool and in participation in the literacy classes at Nouvelle Cite.  (See  https://lokoleyacongo.wordpress.com/?s=nouvelle+cite                                             blog for more detail on the parish outreach programs)

In addition to her work at Nouvelle Cite, Mama Janette has also headed the Disciple headquarters’ Outreach and Service Department (“Diakonie”). That Department’s corn and manioc field on the outskirts of Mbandaka models for other parishes a profitable income generating project.  Mama Janette in 2010 hoped to fund new fields and service projects through purchase of a mill to process others’ produce as well as that of the Department’s field.  In 2011 Revde. Bafalanga became Senior Minister at Nouvelle Cite so the current status of the Diakonie projects is not known.

Revde. Madeline Bomboko

The first woman ordained by the Disciples in Congo, Revde. Bomboko, dared to reach out to women fleeing the catastrophic violence and mayhem in eastern Congo.  Meeting one woman who had walked one thousand kms. to what she hoped was safety in Mbandaka was the genesis of her Woman to Woman Listening Ministry that served over 50 refugee women.

Although most of the women had returned home when I met Revde. Bomboko in 2010, she introduced me to a woman whose entire family had been killed in the warfare and who considers Mbandaka her only home now.

(For more of the story see https://lokoleyacongo.wordpress.com/2010/10/)  The pain and suffering of Marie Sauve Vie and other refugee women had deeply touched Mama Madeline and the courageous openness and compassion of Mama Madeline’s response recalls W.H. Auden’s definition of Christian faith:

To choose what is difficult to do all one’s days and make it seem to be easy that is faith.”  (from For the Time Being )

We can celebrate that Revde. Bomboko now serves the Disciples parish next to the Mbandaka headquarters.  And she remains a good friend to Marie Sauve Vie.

Revde. Antoinette Bailu

With an outstanding academic record behind her, 2010 graduate of the Theology Department of the Protestant University of Congo, Revde. Bailu follows a large vision in her call to ministry.  Not only does she fill the traditional roles of pastor as Assistant Phe astor of Mbandaka I.  Revde. Antho has started agricultural projects in both the parishes she has served.  She reported in a recent email, “the pineapple field has begun producing but we need to hire a sentry and enclose the field as our produce continues to be stolen”.

In another recent email, she wrote, “In Equateur Province, our leading natural resource is the rainforest and we must take more advantage of it.”  She sees herself as a spokesperson for the importance of agriculture in the region’s economy and continues “to exhort my friends and fellow pastors to place more importance on developing projects in their parishes”.  She summed up her vision with these words, “I will hold to my mission of struggle against poverty through agricultural development and I know that in spite of difficulties I will achieve this goal”.

NOTE TO READER: This is the final lokoleyacongo post for the time being as Doug Smith and Kate Moyer complete preparations to begin a two year mission assignment with the Disciples and Congregational churches in Mexico.  To follow their work and commentaries on Mexican culture and society and  Mexican Protestant churches’ witness   go to their blog http://erasingborders.wordpress.com/ .  

To follow news of the Disciples of Christ Community in Congo, subscribe to the Community’s blog authored by Director of Communications, and micro credit trainer!,  M. Nathan Weteto at  http://natana.tumblr.com/

How Ikengo Hospitality Saved Henry Morton Stanley

1970 Ikengo villagers with a skinny 23 year old Doug Smith in front of the chicken coop at Disciples' Agricultural Center
1970 Ikengo villagers with a skinny 23 year old Doug Smith in front of the chicken coop at Disciples' Agricultural Center

“The village of Ikengo welcomed me as a son of the village on my return” was the beginning of this blog’s “Return to Ikengo” on July 13, 2010.  In that article I described how I had been joyously welcomed  back by the people of Ikengo 39 years after my last visit.  Only this past week did I learn that the great grandparents of Ikengo villagers had saved from starvation Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame) on the first descent of the Congo River by a non African.

Having fought repeated battles with the aggressive, obstreperous Bangala who controlled the river trade, Stanley threw

Stanley with Kalulu
Stanley with Kalulu, the African boy he “adopted” as his gun bearer and servant. In 1877 Stanley christened the site of the boy’s death on the Congo River Kalulu Falls. It remains one of the few Stanley place-names that has not been changed

himself and his men on the mercy of the people of Ikengo, located twenty five kilometers below Mbandaka.   “Since the 10th of February we have been unable to purchase food or even approach a settlement  for any amicable purpose” Stanley wrote in his February 18, 1877 journal entry quoted in Through the Dark Continent .

In the next day’s entry, the bold adventurer overcomes his fear of the local populace by dwelling on a greater fear, “This morning we regarded each other as fated victims of protracted famine, or the rage of savages, like those of Mangala.  But as we feared famine most, we resolved to confront the natives again.”  Reflecting throughout his account the racism characteristic of 19th century Europe and America, Stanley finds his fears unfounded in meeting the inhabitants of Ikengo and nearby villages.

“We arrived at Ikengo, and as were almost despairing, we proceeded to a small island opposite this settlement and prepared to encamp.  Soon a canoe with seven men came dashing across, and we prepared our moneys for exhibition.  They unhesitatingly advanced and ran their canoe alongside us.”  After Stanley and crew presented gifts and were rendered “rapturously joyful” by this meeting, the explorers and villagers  “proceeded to seal this incipient friendship with our blood with all due ceremony”.

Stanley titles this section of the book, “Among Friends” and sums up his account of the day with the words, “During the whole of this day life was most enjoyable, intercourse unreservedly friendly and though most of the people were armed with guns there was no manifestation of the least desire to be uncivil, rude, or hostile.”  The explorer characterizes the encounter with the Ikengo villagers as an “act of grace”.

How their hospitality was ultimately received and repaid is a woeful fact of Congo’s history.  As the European/American explorer who contributed the most to knowledge of African geography, Stanley also bears responsibility for opening up Congo to the brutal exploitation of King Leopold’s Congo Free State.  So far as we know, Henry Morton Stanley never returned to Ikengo.

2010 Ikengo villagers in the Disciples parish manioc field. Pastor Luc is third from right.
2010 Ikengo villagers in the Disciples parish manioc field. Pastor Luc is third from right.

That the people of Ikengo have continued to welcome visitors from afar in our times with joyous hospitality is an “act of grace”.  That the Congolese as a whole have held to their traditions of welcome after centuries of foreigners’ abuse of their trust is also a matter of grace.  What a gift to us all.

The Real Results of the Congo Election

There are 80 million hectares of arable land in Congo
There are 80 million hectares of arable land in Congo

We are accustomed to reading about the violence on women and children in the eastern Congo but what about the deaths caused daily by the country’s “highest rates of malnutrition in the world”?   Consider these other facts from the IRIN (UN) News article published on February 17:

–      “90 percent: Proportion of arable land not cultivated, largely due to insecurity preventing access to fields and markets.

–      69 percent: Prevalence of under-nutrition in the DRC; up from 26 percent in 1990-92. Under-nutrition includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin (wasted) and deficient in vitamins and minerals (micronutrient malnutrition).

–      Congo’s per capita daily protein intake is almost half the world’s average daily protein consumption.”

You can eliminate over population, ignorance, or any other factor that would point a finger at the rural majority of people in Congo.  According to the IRIN article, there has been a 544 drop in daily calories consumed per capita comparing 1992 and 2007 (2,195 kcal and 1,651 kcal, respectively).  Acute malnutrition caused by a “sudden, drastic decline in nutrition intake” is now experienced by over 10 per cent of the population in 53 of the Congo’s 87 “territories”.  The decline in food production and food intake since 1992 points to the state administration as impeding Congolese trying to grow their own food.

The primary factor behind children’s deaths and low life expectancy in Congo is the succession of

Civil Society is Weakened and Repressed in Congo; here a priest is arrested last week in Kinshasa
Civil Society is repressed and weakened in Congo; here a priest is arrested last week in Kinshasa

predatory regimes beholden to foreigners intent on exploiting the riches of the country. As the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Kinshasa Frederic Etsou declared just after Joseph Kabila’s first election in 2006, “,  “I say no to this exercise in imposing on the Congolese people a candidate whose sole mandate is to satisfy the gluttonous and predatory appetites of his foreign handlers”.  Until international donor nations withhold support for ruling administrations who directly and indirectly war on their own people, thousands of children in Congo will succumb to malnutrition before reaching the age of five.

In a powerful recent article from the Guardian Global Development Network (London) journalist Chris Bird describes one South Kivu family’s ordeal in a pediatric hospital.  Bird writes, “I quickly felt the child’s feet – icy cold. A careful look at Beatrice showed that all the curves and dimples of a healthy child’s face had shrunk, leaving the forbidding lines of a woodblock print. Beatrice was alert, but silent, which formed an ominous void amid the rheumy eyes that grew dimmer as she seemed to fall into it.

The nursing staff went into action. They gave her glucose to prevent low blood sugar, antibiotics through the drip to fight off infection; they advised her mother to keep her warm, as hypothermia takes the lives of many of these children at night. Careful fluid management and gentle refeeding was started: give too little and the child will succumb to dehydration and shock; too much and the child will die of heart failure.”

But Beatrice’s treatments began too late and Bird describes the parents reaction: “Beatrice’s mother sobbed as we wrapped her daughter in the green cotton cloth in which she was brought. Her father lifted her easily in his arms and left the hospital, his face immobile. Her mother walked, crying, behind him, stopping on the dirt road from time to time as she doubled up in grief. An elderly man going the other way, a Red Cross armband on his left arm, dismounted his bicycle and gave a formal salute to the family as they walked past.”

In an attempt to come to grips with what lies behind the death of Beatrice and countless childen in Congo today, Bird concludes, “Where I am in the east it is green and lush, but after years of war, insecurity and economic collapse, all the children in our tent are malnourished to some degree. It is this underlying weakness that determines how children respond to the infectious diseases that claim their lives with unrelenting regularity.”

While in Mbandaka, Equator Province, far from the fighting in the East, in the summer of 2010,  I asked my cook Papa Jean what happened to his brood of fifty plus chickens.  “They were all taken by the soldiers” he explained.  The Congolese army deployed to protect the citizens of the city of half million plus inhabitants had rioted three times in the years just prior to my Mbandaka stay.  The soldiers had not been paid because their commanders had pocketed the Army’s funding. Is this the kind of security for Congo we want to help provide with our $900 milllion in U.S. aid this year?

To read Chris Bird’s article “The Silent Cost of Child Malnutrition” go to:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201202171371.html

What’s At Stake in Congo

First plantings at Ikengo, 1970.  UN report emphasizes Congo's agicultural potential.
First plantings at Ikengo, 1970. UN report emphasizes Congo's agicultural potential.

The UN office charged with monitoring the health of the earth’s environment has just issued a warning of what is at stake in how Congo’s resources are used in the future.  Some of the report’s findings starkly highlight the need for more sustainable use of the country’s vast wealth in natural resources:

1)    With 80 million hectares of arable land,the DRC has the potential to be Africa’s granary but only around 3 percent of this land is presently under cultivation, mainly by subsistence farmers. Consequently, the DRC has the highest level of food insecurity in the world, with an undernourishment rate of nearly 70 per cent.

 2)    The Congo basin has the highest fish diversity of any African river and supports the largest inland fisheries on the continent, with an estimated potential production of 520,000 tonnes per year. While at the national level this resource is under-exploited with imports accounting for around 30 percent of fish consumption, uncontrolled exploitation has led to serious overfishing pressures at the local level.

   3)   Over half of Africa’s water resources and 13 percent of global hydropower potential flows through the DRC. Yet, only an estimated 26 percent of the DRC’s population has access to safe drinking water, one of the lowest supply rates on the continent. Similarly, access to electrification is estimated at 9 percent in a country with vast energy resources.

Future Forestry Practices in Congo will Affect the World's Health
Future Forestry Practices in Congo will Affect the World's Health

4)    As the tropical world’s second largest forest carbon sink, the DRC’s forests are a critical global ecosystem service provider. The rate of forest loss estimated at 0.2 percent per annum remains relatively low, but is a growing problem in certain areas.

    5)   Its considerable untapped mineral reserves are of strategic importanceto the global economy (estimated to be worth USD 24 trillion). Yet the legacy of a century of mining in various parts of the country,and particularly in Katanga, has created considerable environmental liabilities and a new modern approach to mining is required. Currently, the DRC has the largest artisanal mining workforce in the world – around two million people – but a lack of controls have led to land degradation and pollution

     6)    The DRC has the highest level of biodiversity in Africa, yet 190 species are classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.  Up to 1.7 million tons of bushmeat (mainly antelope, duiker, monkey and wild boar) are harvested annually from unregulated hunting and poaching, contributing to species depletion.

 The UN report also calls attention to the impact on the Congo’s environment of 15 years of occasionally intense fighting in many areas of the country.  Most significant in this regard according to the report is the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) “that still dot the landscape”.  The international Mines Advisory Group    announced this year that it had cleared 4 mine fields with 41 mines in the Disciples post of Ikela on the Tshuapa River.

 With the release of this report, the UN Environmental Program hopes to stimulate a sizable increase in funding of sustainable development practices by international funders and the Congolese government.  A doubling of aid is called for, including an increase of $200 million per year in funding for preservation of the environment.  The report concludes with a summary call to action:

 “The imperative for the DRC to overcome entrenched poverty and recover 20 years of lost development is immense. Long-term support and commitment from the international community to assist the DRC realise its massive potential as one of Africa’s richest countries and key engines for economic growth is essential.

To see the full report of the UN Environmental Program’s “Post Conflict Environmental Assessment of the DRC” go to : www.unep.org/drcongo.

 

Palm Oil Family Production in Congo

 Grower's manual in simple French designed to help Congolese small-scale producers develop sustainable, productive family plantations.
Grower's manual in simple French designed to help Congolese small-scale producers develop sustainable, productive family plantations.

Originating in Africa, the oil palm now leads soy as the most widely grown and widely used oil producing agricultural crop in the world.   Major producers of palm oil are hot, wet tropical lowlands with five to seven hours daily of sunlight, at least 4 inches of rain each month and a yearly rainfall of at least 6 feet.  With Asia now leading in palm oil production and Congo an importer of palm oil, U.S. missionary Ed Noyes at the Lukesele Community Action for Integrated Development (ACDI) is among those promoting family palm oil production in Congo.

 In his blog (http://noyescongo.blogspot.com) of February 10, 2010, Noyes explains, “A family cultivating as little as eight-tenths of an acre (.32 hectare) could boost family annual income by $200, enough to cover most (if not all) health and education expenses for a typical family.”  According to Noyes, since 2002 the Lukesele ACDI agricultural extension program has “has aggressively promoted high-yielding oil palm varieties to replace worn-out family plantations or diversify traditional shifting cultivation”.

 Supplementing the advice of ACDI agricultural agents periodically visiting the 1100 families now growing palms for oil production in the central Kwilu area of Congo, a fine oil palm grower’s booklet has been translated into simple French.  Originally published in English  by the agricultural unit of the U.N., the manual “ has been adapted to the particular needs of small-scale Congolese growers with very limited cash resources”. Highlighted by Ed Noyes in last year’s blog are the “extensive diagrams, pictures (most in color) and informative tables to illustrate the key practices for managing a successful smallholding”.

Copies of the manual can be purchased directly from Lulu Press (click here) at $23.99. (A download copy is available for $3.99.) Mr. Noyes and his colleagues at ACDI expect the manual “will be the kind of resource that helps our small growers move one more step toward independence and responsible stewardship of what God has given them.”

Ed and Miriam Noyes serve with the Baptist Community of the Church of Christ of Congo and the Lusekele Agricultural Development Center.
Ed and Miriam Noyes serve with the Baptist Community of the Church of Christ of Congo and the Lusekele Agricultural Development Center.
 

Congo Can Grow Much More Without Cutting Rainforest

Malaysia Produces Over 40% of the World's Palm Oil Mostly On Plantations Like This One
Malaysia Produces Over 40% of the World's Palm Oil Mostly On Plantations Like This One

After massive deforestation of the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests due to plantation agriculture, economic growth in Congo is being stymied by some environmental groups’ opposition to any rainforest agriculture there.  Palm oil production in particular has been held back in Congo by the debate now raging over any new large scale projects  for biodiesel or other uses.

 In 2007, soon after the election of President Joseph Kabila in Congo, the Chinese company ZTE announced their investment of $1 billion for the cultivation of palm oil trees on 3 million hectares of Congolese soil.  By 2009, the company had reduced the plan to one million hectares, with 90 % of the palm oil produced slated for biodiesel fuel.  To date ZTE has not explained this considerable scaling back of their plan and has been slow to indicate how they will produce palm oil in Equateur, Orientale, West Kasai and Bandundu provinces.

In the first half of the last century, Unilever pioneered in the production of palm oil with their Belgian Congo processing plants and plantations. They have now pulled out of Congo entirely.  Apparently the largest producer of palm oil in the world plans to rely on its supplies in Malaysia and Indonesia, the two nations with 80 % of the world’s output today. The Cambridge World History of Food pays tribute to Unilever for maintaining its Congo operations through the turbulent post-independence years with the words, “Unilever managers remained in place following nationalization in 1975, and the company was allowed to take back full control of the estates two years later (Fieldhouse 1978: 530—45). But at a national level, the research effort was decimated, and new planting was very limited after 1960, in marked contrast to developments at the same time in Southeast Asia.”

A stark sign of the decline of Congo’s agricultural sector is the fact that the country imported 15,000 metric tons of palm oil in 2007, the year the first ZTE China plan was announced.  Imported, manufactured vegetable oil is now cheaper and more widely used in Congolese cooking than locally produced palm oil.  Myself and others who return to Congo after many years are disappointed by how rare “moussaka”, the palm oil sauce, is now used for flavoring of chicken, fish and manioc leaf dishes.   

Tata et Mama Mbwanga showing off the first fruits of their palm oil trees across the river from the Baptist community's Vanga Mission.
Tata et Mama Mbwanga showing off the first fruits of their palm oil trees across the river from the Baptist community's Vanga Mission.

 All who are concerned about the preservation of the Congo rainforest need to keep in mind two facts about Congo’s palm oil production.  First is the fact that there are thousands of hectares of abandoned palm oil plantations in the country.  No cutting of the rainforest is needed for the revival of the industry in Congo.

The second fact about palm oil cultivation in the country is the contribution of small householder plots to the historic growth of the crop in Congo and elsewhere.  According to the Cambridge World History, at the close of the Belgian colonial era, smallholder plots under palm oil cultivation totaled 98,000 hectares while plantations covered 147,000 hectares.   Today, Indonesia produces one third of the world’s palm oil and half of it comes from farmers cultivating fewer than 5 hectares.  

 Greenpeace International, whose Kinshasa office has led in opposing illegal logging of rainforest timber in the country, backs smallholder and plantation cultivation of palm oil in Congo on land that has already been cleared.  With only 4 per cent of cleared land in Congo now under cultivation, the country has the potential to produce palm oil for foodstuffs and biodiesel as well as preserve the most pristine, least “developed” rainforest in the world.

 We can applaud and should support the Congo Disciples plan to convert its coffee plantation in Bokungu to 20 hectares of palm oil production and the Boyeka post‘s palm oil project which is intended to fund education and health programs of the Church.  For several years now, the Baptist community of the Church of Christ of Congo has been promoting palm oil cultivation with provision of seeds and training near their historic post of Vanga.