'La Belgique tient ses promesses'
(Belgium keeps her promisses)
Coll. RMCA

Beginning in 1956, the political pace quickens. Originally written in Dutch, Jef van Bilsen's Plan de trente ans pour l'émancipation de l'Afrique belge ('Thirty Year Plan for the Emancipation of Belgian Congo') is published, which inspires Catholic members of Conscience africaine to call for independence in the long-term. ABAKO counters with a call for immediate independence. In 1957, the first elections take place in Leopoldville, Elisabethville and Jadotville: African districts elect their own mayors.
The right to vote is limited to men 21 and over. ABAKO wins the elections in Leopoldville. Joseph Kasavubu becomes mayor of Dendale Township. Many people in Bas-Congo see him as Simon Kimbangu's successor and their liberator. Beginning in 1958, Belgian political parties are introduced to Congo and the first Congolese political parties are created. The colonial administration subdivides the Congolese population into races and ethnic groups, based on a European model that ties ethnic group to language. Yet the precolonial Congolese realities are more complex. Nevertheless, constrained by the colonial system, the majority of the first political parties are based on ethnic or local identity.