Introduction / History
The Tembo people live in the hills west of Lake Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The main town is Bunyakiri, on the Luhoho River. There is one mostly paved road through the Tembo area, running from Bukavu through Bunyakiri toward Walikale, in the river valley. Apart from this road and a track running northeast from Bunyakiri to Tshihombehombe, access to Tembo villages is by footpath. Bicycles are also used by those who can afford them.
The Tembo sell palm oil, peanuts, potatoes and maize for cash. Lumber and gold are other local sources of income. About half of the Tembo are literate in Swahili. The Roman Catholic church runs a literacy program in the area, using the Freire method to teach young adults and teens who have not had schooling. Traditional leaders and may locla people see literacy as a way to economic advancement. Some outside political leaders, however, are cautious of vernacular literacy programs, which they consider divisive. The Tembo are cautious about accepting change and value social cohesion. Life in the Tembo area has been disrupted by war, militia activities, and ethnic clashes since the mid-1990s.
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