Survivor's Notebook

Congo Conundrum Part 2

LAST MONTH, WE EXPLORED the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and how we are supporting that conflict. The International Rescue Committee says that 5.4 million people have died as a result of this conflict from 1998 to 2007, and the death continues to happen at the rate of 45,000 every month. This month we will explore the background and history of the DRC and what is contributing to the most deadly conflict since World War II.

The majority of the conflict is taking place in the Eastern region of the DRC, though this conflict needs to be looked at in its entirety from East to West of the country. The East of the DRC is part of the Great Lakes Region of Africa (Merita). This region is known and recognized as the birthplace of humanity. It is also the source of the Hapi (Nile) River, along which humanity’s original civilization was established and thrived for tens of thousands of years. This civilization, Kemet, has been the inspiration for all of humanity, reaching across the entire continent of Merita and most of the rest of the world, including Maanu (North and South America) where pyramids stand to this day. Knowing of this rich history makes the reports of widespread killing, rape, sexual mutilation and cannibalism that much harder to believe. Let’s see how descendants of the original cultures of humanity can seemingly be reduced to the level of barbarians.

An estimated 10 million Congolese were killed in the conquest of the Congo by Belgium under the command of King Leopold who claimed and treated the Congo, (which is measured to be 905,567 square miles) as his personal property.

An estimated 10 million Congolese were killed in the conquest of the Congo by Belgium under the command of King Leopold (left) who claimed and treated the Congo, (which is measured to be 905,567 square miles) as his personal property.

To see the true nature of this conflict and the surrounding factors that fuel it, it’s not enough to see it as an isolated incident. The situation in the Congo can be seen as a series of events that personify the nature of colonialism and it’s long term effects around the world. As we say at the Earth Center, evil does not have a face. It can take form in anyone and everyone. For us humans, there is no limit to how far we can sink into barbarism. This is regardless of race, gender, culture or any other background that we may have.

The first thing to understand is that since the invasion and conquest of the Congo by King Leopoldof Belgium, in which an estimated 10 million people died from 1886-1908, the people of the Congo have been systematically stripped of their land, their cultures and their values. This has continued since the Congo supposedly gained its independence in 1960. Since that time, the Congo has been governed almost exclusively by dictators, warlords and men educated and supported by colonial institutions.

Although there are about 250 distinct ethnic groups in the Congo, it’s currently estimated that 80% of the population is Christian and 10% Muslim, leaving 10% or less that still practice their traditional cultures and values. This must be considered in any analysis of the situation because it’s our values that define us more than anything else. Our values determine all of our behaviors and actions. Regardless of ideals held by religious followers worldwide, the fact is that the colonial forces who imposed Christianity forcibly onto the people of the Congo are the same ones who introduced the barbaric behaviors that we now see enacted by the forces currently fighting for control over the DRC.

As usual, it’s the people who are caught in the middle. As usual, it’s the people who take the blame. In this case, Hutu and Tutsi people, who were at the center of the conflict in Rwanda that directly preceded the conflict in the DRC, are targeted by the colonial media as the main parties involved in the current conflict. However, there are about 250 tribes in the Congo. The millions of people dead come from the many different ethnic groups. Western media has tried to coin the conflict as an ethnic one, when in fact the ethnic reason is a pretext to justify the deaths in the Congo.

A Brief History of the Conflict

Following the Rwanda genocide of 1994, Hutu militias, who are blamed for the deaths of almost a million Tutsis, crossed into the DRC (Zaire at the time) fleeing from the Tutsi led government of Rwanda that was installed in the aftermath to the genocide. From there, the conflict continued with the Hutu militias conducting cross-border raids against the Rwanda government. The Rwanda government then began arming groups of Tutsis in Zaire.

This traditional man belongs to the Mbuti people (also known as pygmies) who are some of the regions original inhabitants. The Mbuti have been systematically marginalized by colonialism.

In 1996, Congolese rebel leader, Laurent Kabila, with the assistance of the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and Angola and an army of mostly Tutsis, with the full backing of the United States, overthrew the government of Mobutu Sese Seko, who had ruled Zaire since the CIA-backed coup in 1965, four years later after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Upon taking control of Kinshasa, Zaire’s capitol city, he renamed Zaire as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kabila later expelled the Rwandan and Ugandan military who had helped him come to power. This led to his opposition by Rwanda and Uganda who then began to fight against him in 1998 and invaded the Congo for the second time. Kabila then called on support from many neighboring countries including Angola, Zimbabwe and Libya as well as the Hutus. This lead to what has been called Africa’s World War.

In 2001, Kabila was assassinated. His own bodyguard was accused of being the assassin and more than 100 Congolese were arrested as plotting a coup, some are still in prison today and the murder case hasn’t come to a close. Though Congo is not a monarchy, his son, Joseph Kabila, was selected by a council of ministers and military generals within hours of his father’s death to become the new president. He led the country through a five year transition and subsequently won the 2006 Presidential Election in the Congo. The war was officially ended in 2003 but fighting amongst the DRC’s army and various militias still continues in East of the DRC. Most of the fighting has been in the DRC provinces of North and South Kivu in what has been called the Kivu Conflict. North and South Kivu are also home to vast deposits of minerals such as coltan (tantalum), tin, gold, wolframite, tungsten to name a few.

Mainstream reports on this conflict and its history conveniently ignore the presence of these mineral deposits. They also ignore the companies that are directly on the ground inside Congo or purchasing the harvested minerals from neighboring countries such as Rwanda and Uganda and sell them to the manufacturers of things we use every day. However, with an honest look at the actions of colonial powers when it comes to getting what they want, we can be sure that this is not just a tribal conflict between groups of Africans that are painted as savages by the modern world. The fact that two of the worst genocides in recent memory took place in the area where the little known but increasingly vital mineral, coltan, is found can’t be a coincidence.

The attacks on the Congolese are happening from two sides. On one side are the religious and educational institutions. These institutions define the identities of the leaders of the warring factions in the region. On the other side are the companies that are taking advantage of the conflict by purchasing the region’s minerals. This region’s leaders sell the minerals in exchange for the resources to arm the soldiers, many of whom are children. A person who understands how colonialism works can make the connection between the institutions defining the values of the Congolese and the forces that are exploiting them. The people will not fight for what they have no use for. It’s their education and beliefs that define what that is. Power seeking men graduate from colonial schools intent on returning to their homeland for their piece of the pie. This story is not new to humanity.

Traditional woman belonging to the Mbuti people.

The part that seems to escape everyone’s attention can be found in two little known truths. First is that the most fertile ground for evil is within the human being. Second is that evil is always trying to gain ground. This means that the evil in one human being is always trying to spread to other people. For the ones who have been conquered by evil, it’s not enough to simply enter the country and find a way to get what they want. If the goal is simply to extract resources, maybe with all the minds they have at their disposal, these militias, governments and corporations could develop a more civilized way to accomplish it. One must consider what other motives may play a part in these atrocities which have been ongoing in this region since before anyone found a use for coltan.

For the modern system to get away with its crimes in the Congo and crimes like it across the world, it will have to isolate its victims from the rest of humanity. It will have to convince the rest of us that their suffering should not matter to us. It will have to paint a picture of savages and uncivilized people of the third world who need to be taught our modern concepts of freedom, human rights and democracy in order to move out of the dark ages. This illusion of a civilized “First World” bringing enlightenment to a backwards people has justified most of the genocides and the destruction of cultures in the past 2000 years. In this case, who is the savage? Before the age of the modern system, these same people lived in relative peace and harmony since times immemorial.

Let’s not forget that this region is the home to Humanity’s original civilization. The continent of Merita has been raided by every conqueror who sought glory, fame and power for the past 3000+ years. The current crisis in nothing but the continuation of an age old tradition. The difference between now and 3000 years ago is that before, Kemetic people always regrouped and the invaders were chased from the land. Today, the people have been taken away from their culture and don’t know how to find their way back. Some don’t even want to.

The campaign of terror and destabilization of the Congolese can’t be seen as an isolated incident. Humanity is not isolated as victims of evil. We are all targets. For the modern system to maintain power, it relies on keeping us in such a state of desperation that we have to turn to its institutions for survival, education, spirituality and everything because we are too unstable to maintain our own institutions. How can a people constantly fleeing from armed gangs have any stability. Whether these armed gangs are called Hutus, Tutsis, Ku Klux Klan, Gangster Disciples, the police or the army, the result is the same, people living under constant threat and unable to define their world based on their own values.

If we could fend for ourselves, we would no longer have a use for the modern system. Maybe then we would stop feeding it. On our side, we feed it by funding the conflict in the DRC by buying the products that are made using coltan. On the side of the Congolese, it is fed by mining the coltan and supplying the companies that produce the things we buy. Really, even if we consider ourselves better off, we are in the same position. The position of servitude: slaves. According to Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig, living according to other people’s culture and values is slavery. If we see it any other way, we’re fooling ourselves.

The values we are living by are not fit for civilized human beings. They were implanted in us by the agents of evil who hold a sword in one have and a book in the other. Whether we are the victims of the sword or the book, we end up being the next ones to carry the swords and the books, just like the Congolese children who are captured from their schools and forced into the lives of soldiers or prostitutes. Who will be next? Evil is always trying to gain ground. If we want to protect ourselves, we should start with understanding what evil is. That will start with reclaiming our culture and values. Humanity’s culture. Humanity’s values. We will have to follow our roots right back to the birthplace of civilization: Kemet.

Thanks again to Kambale Musavuli of Friends of the Congo for providing information regarding this subject from a Congolese perspective.

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