Fifty years after the occurrence of a major event, a golden jubilee, is often an opportunity for celebration and reminiscing over fond memories. Conventional wisdom would project such an event as a landmark likely to serve as a stepping stone toward greater achievements.
As in most African countries on Independence Day, there were formalities in Kinshasa on June 30, 2010. But while the political establishment— flanked with foreign dignitaries, including King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium—watched a military parade to showcase the existence of political institutions, unusually large numbers of ordinary people went about their normal daily business. The general mood in both the capital city and elsewhere was one of indifference, reflecting the hardships of daily life and the challenges of mere survival: over the course of fifty years, the per capita income had been halved. The whole atmosphere had an eerie feeling, suggesting a tamed anxiety and a simmering anger from unfulfilled promises. The euphoria of the 1960s has withered into the obvious gloom made visible in the tattered infrastructure of the capital city. InJune 2010, the mood was more somber than celebratory.