Dr Elijah Ngurare
There is a lot that can be said about the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was once known as Republic of the Congo and it was meant to be a pro-Western government at independence (30 June 1960).
Here is my succinct view on it, particularly in the aftermath of the recent historic elections wherein for the first time since independence in 1960, there is a peaceful transfer of political power from one president to another.
Then called Belgian Congo, its first prime minister was a nationalist called Patrice Lumumba and the first president was Joseph Kasavubu. This also occurred at the height of then proxy Cold war confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Of course, in it all, the Belgians aligned with the United States of America.
The archives of history tell us a lot in that regard. The ocular geography equally illustrates so. The country of Patrice Lumumba who called it the Democratic Republic of Congo has over 84 million inhabitants. It has 26 provinces and I deliberately list their names; Kinshasa, Kongo Central, Kwango, Kwilu, Mai-Ndombe, Kasai, Equateur, Tshuapa, Sankuru, Tshopo, Mongala, Sud-Ubangi, Nord-ubangi, Bad-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, Tanganyika, Maniema, Lomami, Kasai Central, Haut-Lomami, Haut-Katanga, Lualaba, Kasai-Oriental.
In 2009, DR Congo, had an estimated of over US$24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, including the world’s largest reserves of coltan and significant quantities of the world’s cobalt.
Coltan is used for the production of tantalum capacitors used in many electronic devices including mobile phones in your hand from which you are probably reading this or that television on which you are watching that music, news or sports etc.
It borders Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo (the distinction at the time is Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville) and of course the Atlantic Ocean. Arguably the only African country with so many bordering countries. As we know, the borders in Africa are a result of that artificial experimentation done in Berlin, Germany at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-5 which Scrambled Africa like pieces of pizza to be eaten by Europeans Only. Belgium, France, USA and all of them are accomplices to the instability and looting of Congo. Belgium and its King Leopold, barbarically murdered millions of Congolese, through a holocaust of astronomical proportions.
The European rule Congo was not through democracy it was a forced and ruthless colonialism upon the people of the Congo throughout those years.
In other words, the Democratic Republic of Congo also flirted with independence in the 1960s just like all other occupied African countries from Ghana to Kenya from Zambia to Senegal. Once again, the Europeans decided the heartbeat of such independence. They decided the type of artificial insemination to administer into the womb of an expecting nation of Congo. They eliminated Patrice Lumumba and gave birth to their puppet Mobutu Sese Seko whom they delivered and projected as the messiah for Congo.
Mobutu changed the country’s name to Zaire. This was because in the manufacturing of chaos the European powers were reaping enormous profits.
It is a game as old as empires. Political instability is good for business through corruption of the mineral rich Congo. This is what Mobutu delivered to Western capitals. They smiled from mouth to ears and showered him with all sorts of titles. He became richer than the country. At times, it was reported that the country got loans from President Mobutu. He built a jungle paradise called Gbadolite endowed with all amenities imaginable, even an airport to land any plane including Concorde. It was dubbed Mobutu’s African Versailles. At its entrance there was a big inscription “Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Gbendu Waza Banga.” Today even snakes and ghosts have run away from that jungle paradise. All the money and all the puppetry died with him on 7 September 1997, Rabat, Morocco. I should hasten to add, all the billions of dollars did not go to heaven with him, because in heaven as you know, there is no ATM to access one’s earthly material possessions.
Those that killed Patrice Lumumba went through his fellow Congolese, went through Africans in other words. The Kasavubus, the Mobutus and others. Peace remained elusive in Congo ever since. With all his might and Western backing, the African people stood up against Mobutu Sese Seko. There were many who stood up against Mobutu dictatorship. Notable is the late Patrice Lumumba, late Laurent Kabila and late Etienne Tshisekedi.
A few years before Mobutu died, an internal uprising was led by a pro Patrice Lumumba rebel leader Laurent Kabila. In 1960 Kabila became a youth leader in a political party allied to Congo’s first post-independence Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. It is worth adding that Kabila had worked with Che Guevara around 1964 of course as part of the internationalist outreach of Fidel Castro, the true friend of Africa and Africans. Kabila studied philosophy at a French University and later at the University of Dar es Salam. His rebel movement which was supported by Uganda and Rwanda was successful in toppling Mobutu Sese Seko. Uganda and Rwanda would later turn against Laurent Kabila and threatened to overthrow him. They felt he was not being a pawn he was supposed to be. They were nearly successful until a SADC intervention made up of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia thwarted their advance to Kinshasa and therefore restored order in DR Congo. On 16 January 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguard according to media reports. Speculations are that the assassination was ordered by those who killed Patrice Lumumba as well as those accomplices I alluded to earlier.
After the death of Laurent Kabila, his son Joseph Kabila ascended to the Presidency of the DRC and became Africa’s first young president.
18 years later, the young Joseph Kabila decided to step down to pave a way for the just ended elections, but the Paul Kagames and the Yoweri Musevenis he found in office are still presidents. There are many other African presidents clinging to power too in the Togo, Gabon, Cameroon etc. I say this not because I think Joseph Kabila is a saint. I say this not because I think Joseph Kabila is the best African president. I say this because, the Democratic Republic of Congo is not an easy country to govern. The population of 84 million and the complicated geopolitical issues in there makes it all the more difficult. Joseph Kabila has tried and Joseph Kabila has done well to be the architect of a peaceful transfer of power. It is a commendable development.
To maintain peace requires all Congolese to work together. It requires all Congolese to surrender to the fatigue of war and instability. It requires all Congolese to reject foreign meddling in the internal affairs of their country. It requires all Congolese to reject moniecracy and choose genuine democracy. The electoral body of DRC has declared the son of former opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi as the winner, Felix Tshisekedi. Another contender who is a successful businessman Martin Fayulu has disputed the electoral outcome. Fayulu has approached the Constitutional Court and is awaiting the response therefrom. That is how the rule of law supposed to work. That is how responsible citizens should be, namely using institutions of State to resolve whatever differences there may be including electoral disputes.
It is the Kabilas, it is the Tshisekedis, it is the Fayulus that must determine the destiny of Congo with their people. Belgium or France; USA or Catholic Church, just bow down in atonement for the sins committed against the people of Congo. Pray for forgiveness. SADC must never be a pawn of western interest in DRC or anywhere. SADC is in no moral position to dictate to the people of Congo what must happen, just like it (SADC) could not do so in Zambia or Zimbabwe elections, similarly let the DRC of 2019 not become the laboratory for any experimentation of neo-colonialism or neo-proxy Cold War ideologies of the 1960s. It is time for the sun of enduring peace to dawn in Congo. It is time for tears of the Congolese woman to dry. It is time for the Congolese Child to smile, to study and to hope. May God bless the Democratic Republic of Congo!