Kikwit (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

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A river port on the farthest navigable point inland on the Kwilu River, Kikwit (in Kwilu Province; coordinates: -5.041246,18.815103) early became a center of commercial activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the colonial period, when the area was known as the Belgian Congo. Its location some 390 air miles (625 km.) east of Kinshasa amidst a productive agricultural area has greatly enhanced its growth. Its population in 1986 exceeded 350,000 people.  On 17 May 1995, its population was estimated to be around 1 million people.

Mennonite missionary presence and work in the area dates to the 1920s when, after serving two terms with the Congo Inland Mission, Aaron and Ernestina Janzen, a Mennonite Brethren missionary couple, began an independent work in the Kafumba area some 35 mi. (56 km.) south of Kikwit along the Kwilu River. It was after World War II that the Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions officially picked up sponsorship of the Janzens' work.

Both the Mennonite Brethren Church (Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo) and the Mennonite Church in Congo (Communauté Mennonite au Congo ) are now active in Kikwit. In 1986 the Mennonite Brethren had seven congregations in the city and the Mennonite Church three. Both sponsored grade and high schools in the rapidly growing center. In addition, the Mennonite Brethren operated a three-year Bible School which had some hundred students enrolled in 1986.

Since the 1960s, the Mennonite Central Committee has provided funding and occasional expatriate personnel for a development program which has at different times featured cattle, poultry, a feed mill, and a peanut oil processing plant. It was also at Kikwit that a Habitat for Humanity housing project, for which the Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission provided expatriate administrative personnel, was begun in 1984.


Map:Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo

Author(s) James E Bertsche
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bertsche, James E. "Kikwit (Democratic Republic of the Congo)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 16 May 2022.

APA style

Bertsche, James E. (1987). Kikwit (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 May 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 489. All rights reserved.

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