NBA player Serge Ibaka has no country

Last year we pointed to the fact that sports commentators, statisticians and journalists can’t distinguish the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC) from its neighbor the Republic of Congo every time they talk about NBA basketball player Serge Ibaka. He was born in Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, normally referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, not the DRC or what used to be known as Zaire (until 1997) and now commonly referred to by its initials or as Congo-Kinshasa. The only thing the two countries share is a river: the Congo (yeh, that river which  Conrad fictionalized). Earlier this week Deadspin, the American sports blog, pointed out that ESPN lists Ibaka’s birthplace as “Brazzaville, Zaire.” At least they know that Zaire still existed when Ibaka was born in 1989. But again it is the wrong country. Today I noticed they just deleted his country and his birthplace is now only listed as “Brazzaville.” So now he has no country.

Anyway, he acquired a Spanish passport last year and now plays for Spain in international tournaments.


7 thoughts on “NBA player Serge Ibaka has no country

  1. the good old discussion about congo-kin and congo brazza. The truth is when someone says he is from the congo. The default assumption is congo-kishasa.I used to make the same mistake too and I know all sorts of Congoleses. Both nations speak a similar lingala and people have similar features also. The difference is too subtle.Many zulus name are similar to the names you’ll find in congo-kin.It is so easy to assume someone is from a country they were not born it.

    • Let this help people a little bit, Kinshasa(DRCongo) and Brazzaville(Rep. of Congo) are the closest capital cities in the world,more or less than 15 minutes by speed boat. Names alone can’t tell the difference between the people, over the years there have been mariages between them, you can’t tell. The Main tribe in Brazza is a tribe that can be found in Congo-Kinshasa and Angola. Names like Kabongo, Mutombo, Tshilombo, are from the Luba tribe which found in Kasai or Katanga in the Congo(Kinshasa). Names like Moutouari(ou instead of u) reflect Congo Brazzaville.Same people, but one contry colonized by Belgium, the other by France. One doesn’t need a visa to go either places.

  2. @LJK: I saw that Myck Kabongo is listed as coming from “Lumbaschi, Congo … spent his first three years in Congo Republic”

    I am assuming they mean Lubumbashi which is not in the “Congo Republic”

  3. Mr. Jacobs,
    “The ONLY thing the two countries share is a river” this sentence right here also shows your lack of will to do your research properly..ignorance is bliss. the two Congo’s share more than just a river! if you don’t know a nation’s history, please abstain from making a statement just because you can!

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