DR Congo is often referred to as a forgotten war, but to say that would mean that this war has ever existed in the eyes of people. No, Congo is not a forgotten war, it is a war that is not spoken about because there’s a lot of profit in it. But what I am saying is not really true. One speaks of the Congo to say that there is a civil war, or to say that there is an ethnic war. The Congo is therefore not different from any other African country, where civil wars and ethnic problems are the daily bread of Africans, according to the West. This deeply simplistic discourse is either intentional or stems from sheer ignorance but in both cases, it cannot account for the magnitude of the tragedy that the Congolese people are experiencing.
So what does it mean to be a Congolese today, and more specifically what does it mean to be born in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo? What does it mean to be born in the Kivu province?
Being Congolese today means facing a low-intensity war. This dates back to 1996 when Laurent Désiré Kabila aided by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) and Uganda overthrew Mobutu, who ruled the former Zaïre for more than thirty years. During this march to power, the Congolese have seen hundreds of thousands of Hutu Rwandans and Congolese being slaughtered by Paul Kagame’s Rwandan army. Soon after, key cabinet posts and the national army were staffed at the highest levels by Rwandan Tutsis. Kabila had believed himself to be the master of the game but he noticed very quickly that he was not. Congo was in the hands of its small neighbor. His decision to send them back to Rwanda in 1998 was a pretext for the RPA, supported by Uganda to wreak havoc in the country again. Kabila was supported by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia but that support did not benefit the Congolese people. All warring sides took advantage of the situation to make money. Zimbabwe took control of the Congolese copper mines, while Rwanda and Uganda plundered gold and diamonds. In the thick of this chaos children were used as soldiers, women were raped or forced into sexual slavery. Other civilians died from hunger or sickness and millions of people were displaced.
The gross violation of Congolese sovereignty was never condemned and it is the case today again. At the minute, I am writing the Rwandan government has again sent troops in the Congo. More than 6 million people have died and more than 500 000 women, children and men were raped but this has never been a reason to officially name the aggressors, that is to say that Rwanda has never stopped creating proxy militias, first the RCD-Goma who became the CNDP then finally the M23 dispatched to destabilise the Congo. One would now ask, why is it so? Why would the international community let Rwanda operate freely without having to account to any international instance? I fear that the answer is not a very fancy one. It is the same old story of power and greed.
The Congo, like other African countries, is the playground where Western powers fight each other for power. The aim of this fight is the control of mineral wealth. Controlling the mineral production and supply is a way of maintaining the lifestyle of Western countries. So Congolese are assassinated for the control of minerals such as coltan that it used to manufacture cellphones, playstation or missiles. The safest way for Western strategists to have access to these minerals is to destabilize the country, put at its head an incompetent and ensure that the targeted area becomes a weak state which will serve as a raw material supplier. In order to achieve this goal, countries like the US, Great Britain, Canada or Belgium and their armies work hand in hand with the global corporates and they need to put in place a thoroughly corrupt African governments to help them. They control the army through the corrupted state and they need to be sure that people will be weak enough not to rebel, hence the starvation and so forth…
Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi have made the choice to be the armed wings of the U.S, Great Britain, Canada and Belgium in the region. The head of these countries are perpetrating a genocide in the Congo with the blessing of their hell-fathers. I guess this is all worth it when one runs for the ”darling dictator of the year” or when one wants to be called ”our kind of guy” by Bill Clinton. Yet more than 1000 Congolese die everyday, yet 1152 women, children and men are raped everyday, yet thousands of Congolese loose their home everyday. More than 6 million people have died, half of them were children and nobody says something about that.
What can we do? With all of the “revolutions”, “civil wars”, “brutal dictatorships” that constantly pepper news media coverage, the ongoing situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire)
**6 to 8 million people have been killed in the past 14 years (Estimated) – 3 to 4 millions of which have been children (That’s over 1000 deaths every day for 14 years).
**500,000 women, men and children have been raped since 1996 – a daily average of 1152 rapes per day in the DR Congo. (Estimated)
**80% of the world’s known reserves of coltan, (Estimated) a key mineral for mobile phone manufacturing exists in the DR Congo.
**450,000 artisanal miners, including children work in unregulated, foreign-controlled coltan extraction mines. There is no transparency or security for the people working in these mines.
**85 American and European companies that have been identified as directly benefiting from the illegal trade of coltan, diamonds, gold and other commodities. Thus, they promote a predatory war.
**For 19 years the United States and Great Britain have given multi-faceted support to Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda to muzzle, intimidate, bully and kill dissidents; promote rape and massacres in DR Congo.
**There are 3,200 plant species endemic to the DR Congo. 12.5% of the world’s rainforest lies in the DRC. 30% of this forest will be gone by 2030, if the war continues.
Benedicte Kumbi was born in the Congo, when it was still called Zaïre.She is an activist and political commentator.She left her country at the age of 5 and landed in Romania. Later she found herself in Switzerland, where she now lives. She studied history, English literature and political science in Geneva, and now works as a teacher, which she would not trade for anything in the world