‘In Congo there are many anonymous Lumumbas and Sankaras—many of them have died, but many are still alive’

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Interview with journalist specialized in Africa Rosa Moro

Protesters call for Congo leader Joseph Kabila to step down. Photo credit: DNA India
Protesters call for Congo leader Joseph Kabila to step down.
Photo credit: DNA India

By: José Ángel Oria / Source: Gara / The Dawn News / February 8, 2017

In this interview, Rosa Moro offers a different view on what’s going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been torn for two decades by massacres (8 million people have been killed since 1996) and massive human rights violations that are largely ignored by the world and, at most, get a few paragraphs with no context in mass media. Now, Congo is news again with the mass mobilizations against President Kabila at the end of his second mandate.

Is Joseph Kabila a President imposed by outside powers?

Yes, he’s a president that had he was imposed by outside powers. Many even maintain that he’s not really the son of Laurent Kabila—they say Kabila adopted him because he was the son of a Rwandan military cadre called Hippolyte Kanambe. In fact, he grew up Rwanda, among Rwandans, not in Congo among Congolese people. He was never respected in Congo because he speaks French with foreign accent. Lingala with foreign accent, when it’s supposed to be his mother tongue, imagine that! And the languages he speaks fluently are Kinyarwanda and English. This is unimaginable for a Congolese leader. Kinyarwanda, which is the official Rwandese language and English, the language of the current Tutsi regime—of which many members were raised in Uganda.

Rwanda used to speak Kinyarwanda and French, but when Ugandese Tutsis took control, they changed the national language in the blink of an eye.

Who benefits from Kabila being president? Which powers or companies?

Joseph Kabila’s father, Laurent Kabila, was placed in power by the US, through its representatives in the area: the Rwandese. Some companies, such as the Barrick Gold Corporation, linked to the Bush family, even closed deals on mineral and oil exploitation licenses with Laurent Kabila when he was still a rebel fighting in the jungle—that’s how certain they were that Laurent Kabila would end up in power.

They financed him, they gave him as many sophisticated weapons as he needed, and military training. With these conditions, victory is inevitable.

The deal was that Rwanda would help him reach power in exchange for the Eastern area of the DRC, but Laurent changed his mind and attempted to expel the Rwandese from his territory. That’s why he was murdered and his alleged son occupied his seat.

The guerrillas that media always refers to when it speaks about the Congolese genocide, and the mass rapes used as warfare, are a creation of the Rwandese regime. As an example, one of them, the RDC, legally owned 75% of a company created to exploit coltan in Congo: the Société Minière des Grands Lacs. Now, the Government of Rwanda is the main exporter of coltan—Congolese coltan.

Another guerrilla, led by the famous Nkunda, is also representative of this. When they made their demands to put down arms, they requested the dissolution of a deal over minerals with China, which was one of the main interests of Freeport McMoran, a company tied to the Clintons and which many consider the main monetary backers of the operation to place Kabila Jr. in power.

What can we expect regarding the agreement reached by the government and the opposition organized around the Rassemblement?

Right now they have to put in practice the old maxim: “change everything so that nothing changes”. They have to change Kabila for a different representative of the big powers (the US, the UK and Rwanda), so that everything remains the same. Some Congolese youth believe the West is giving them opportunities to speak their truth and denounce the wrongs, but Congolese historian and human rights activist Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko, known as BK Kumbi, asks them to “think again”, and reminds them that “this is not being done because they care about Congo”. We can push to change the heads of State, and today it’s Kabila’s turn, but things will substantially stay the same. BK Kumbi insists: “We the Congolese must be intelligent regarding this situation, so that we can end the genocide of our people”.

Neither during the process of dialogue prior to the latest protests nor during the posterior negotiations has the genocide of eight million people been discussed. And people continue to be massacred.

Every time a new rebellion is born in the East, the government of Congo is forced to include rebels in the army—they invite the fox into the henhouse. So the Congolese government is filled with Rwandans, and the army too. The soldiers speak Kinyarwanda! So the rebels sent from Rwanda become soldiers deployed in the same territories where they looted and raped, commanded by the Rwandese army. The Congolese army doesn’t pay its privates, but they know how to make a living by looting.

Nobody asks the obvious question: how is it possible for an army supported by the longest withstanding, largest and most expensive UN mission, the MONUSCO, which is backed by the armies of neighboring countries, is still not able to end with what are supposed to be a group of crazy rebels that live in the jungle and loot villages to survive?. Where do these alleged rebels get their weapons and the financing to build a business network that exports minerals to Rwanda, which in turn ‘legally’ sells them? Does nobody suspect from this in the international arena? We’re being lied to. The UN troops don’t do anything to protect anything other than the exit of riches to Rwanda, and Congolese people throw rocks at them when they see them. Every time a Congolese captain has done its actual work and fought against the alleged rebels, he has been murdered immediately.

BK Kumbi maintains that the most important thing right now is to recover the sovereignty of the DRC, so that there can be justice for the victims. How can the country achieve that sovereignty?

Congolese people would recover their sovereignty if they didn’t allow the ‘international community’ to impose their favorite on them.

It’s difficult to recover sovereignty when the army is commanded by the enemy, but if the UN was honest, it would achieve it in no time. Since there’s no hope that this might happen, I think the Congolese people must decide. Activist Kambale Musavuli says Congolese society must decide on the transferral of power.  None of the pawns that participate in official dialogues has the will to change the fact that Congo is ruled by Rwanda and will continue to be, and that Rwanda is annihilating the Congolese population, raping them and pillaging to expel them from their lands and conquer Eastern DRC.

Kumbi sees powers like the US and Great Britain pressuring Kabila and the opposition—the Rassemblement. Is there in the DRC any citizen movement that demands true democracy, that might be linked with movements like the one that emerged in Burkina Faso in 2014? Is there a Sankara in Congo?

Yes, Kambale Musavuli speaks of such movements in his articles. Congo has its own martyr in the struggle for dignity: Lumumba. In Congo there are many anonymous Lumumbas and Sankaras—many of them have died, but many are still alive, like Jean-Marie Kalonji, who is the coordinator of the Quatrième Voie (Fourth Way) and of Il est Temps (I’ts Time). He was released a few months ago after being imprisoned in a hole, where he was tortured and isolated. Kambale wrote that ‘youths like Jean-Marie Kalonji have no hope for an external solution. They see that the definitive solution must come from their own will as social justice defenders and from an informed Congolese society that seeks to radically transform its society’.

‘The people of Congo need a revolution’ says Kumbi. Is it possible to make a revolution in a country with over 200 ethnicities?

These ethnic groups know each other, respect each other, and are aware of the mutual need for one another. The problem isn’t among them. The problem is the miserable life conditions and the lack of future that has been imposed on them for so long. The problem is the manipulation of foreign interests to confront these ethnic groups with one another. The Congolese people is brave, conscious and fighting—they had no choice but to be. When Belgians said during colonial times that Congolese people were lazy and ignorant, it was because they were oblivious of the real movement there was within the community—a movement hidden to the colonizers. They ignored that the refusal of many Congolese people to work for them was a political stance that came from their consciousness, commitment and bravery—because they risked losing their hands for refusing.

Photo credit: Ultimate History Project
Photo credit: Ultimate History Project

Revolution is possible in Congo, but the capital is on the side of those who can’t allow that to happen. To the masses it may seem that Congo is being largely ignored by the world order, but according to Snowden it is the most surveilled country of Africa. It’s the piece of land with most riches in the world, and this attracts a lot of interests that have annihilated and suffocated its people. The powerful only see material riches in Congo, but the true wealth of Congo is its people!.

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