Congolese publisher, writer, and linguist Bienvenu Sene Mongaba reportedly died of a heart attack on Monday, January 31, 2022.
Bienvenu Sene Mongaba was born in Kinshasa, DR Congo on January 28, 1967, and grew up to pursue undergraduate chemistry studies at the University of Kinshasa. He moved to Belgium in 1996, to continue his postgraduate studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and ended up settling there.
Holder of a thesis written entirely in Lingala in 2013, Professor Sene Mongoba is best known for having written books, textbooks and translated documents into national and Congolese languages. He translated into Lingala, the periodic table of chemical elements. He was also the author of the novels En cavale dans le gouffre vert (2003), Fwa-Ku-Mputu (2002), Bamama ya Congo na France (2004) and Bokobandela: lisolo (2005), the short story collection Pillage à Kin (2005), as well as 100 verbes pour parler lingala (2006).
In 2000, he set up Editions Mabiki to publish magazines from African expats in Belgium, and then novels and school books in African languages, mainly in Lingala. Since then, he has published books in the four national languages of DR Congo while organising events to promote the awareness that culture and education in Africa can and should be spread using African languages. Some of the books he has published include Richard Ali’s Ebamba. Kinshasa Makambo and Et les Portes Sont des Bouches and many others you can check out by clicking here.
There has been an outpouring of grief in the literary community he comes from with Richard Ali saying, “Ah, My Old Man! My editor! My master! Ah, teacher! What is this? I can’t believe it! I can’t handle it! I’m not coming back! At noon we talked for a long time, you promised to follow me up around 3 p.m. and at 6 p.m. we announce your death! What is this story then!? I’m not coming back! I still can’t believe it! Ah!”
Blaise Ndala said, “There is pain without name With no cure Speechless Bienvenu Sene Mongaba brother, friend, author, editor, linguist, one of the pioneers in the African language edition of the Congo basin, went without screaming station, in Wavre, in the Brabant Wallon where he lived when he was not not quiet in Kinshasa; Wavre, the city where he created the editions Mabiki Wavre, where he taught with the faith of the charcoal maker these languages which had become his reason for living over the years. He came to my meeting at the BOZAR last fall, and with my friend Ali Richard, no later than this morning, on Whatsapp, for this edition in African languages which was also his brand of fabric, we were exploring together a horizon like the mort just got butched. I still don’t believe it My brother and sister I still don’t believe it You broke my back.”
Fête Du Livre-Kinshasa which starts on Friday put out a statement with the words, “The world of Congolese literature is mourning. It is with deep regret that we have learned of the death of Professor Bienvenu Sene Mongaba, a man of letters and science, Fervent advocate of Congolese languages, founder of Editions Mabiki. The organizers of the Fête Du Livre-Kinshasa send their deepest condolences to their loved ones, their family, friends, colleagues, and to the whole Congolese literary world.”
Blog Lareus Gangoueus, run by Réassi Ouabonzi, said, “Crying my big brother: Bienvenu Sene Mongaba A brother from the other bank. We had similar visions. A passionate and conscious man of the power of culture to transform our dismembered societies, distructed by centuries of slavery, colonial and neocolonial oppression.”
Listen to an interview with the late publisher, writer, and linguist below;