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  • Writer's pictureWhat is Happening in Congo?

What will it take for Congolese lives to matter?

It’s been over 25 years since the east of Congo has been embroiled in war. People have been displaced, children have been deprived of basic necessities due to human greed and the world believing that they have the rights to the resources found in Congolese soil. The atrocities have been denounced in numerous ways. It can’t be more triggering and descriptive than Congolese women and young girls describing having their labia cut off or being raped in front of their entire village. There are testimonies of women having rifles shoved up their vaginas by rebels and being killed in that manner. One can’t forget to mention how AIDS has been purposely transmitted to these women by these men. Women, children and even some men have been violated in the cruelest ways as an act of war and yet the world has continued to remain silent.

Dr. Mukwege, renowned for his work in the east with his Panzi foundation, has worked tirelessly to help the women regain a second lease of life. He has denounced the atrocities, advocated for the recognition of the UN’s mapping report and even gone as far as winning a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and yet Congo is still met with the world’s wilful ignorance.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen five presidents since gaining independence from Belgium on June 30th, 1960 and we have yet to resolve any socio-economic problems plaguing our country, let alone finding a solution to a siege by neighbouring countries, supported by the global west. The sheer incompetence from Mobutu to the current president, Felix Tshisekedi cannot be ignored. Diplomacy” has been a key term used for the apparent lack of action on Tshisekedi’s part but diplomacy hasn’t stopped M23, diplomacy hasn’t reduced the number of Congolese lives being displaced, nor has it put an end to loss of innocent lives and it especially has not stopped Congolese minerals from being siphoned.

It has become apparent that people will make mention of Congo when it comes to our mineral rich soil though. Sure people are important, but that’s not what makes the world go ‘round, is it? Oftentimes, because of minerals like coltan and lithium, that power our portable devices, the DRC is compared to Wakanda. “If Congo were able to protect their resources, they’d be Wakanda”, “Congo is actually Wakanda…”, “ Congo is the real Wakanda. They have vibranium”. It is not only incredibly unintelligent to refer to a real country, to a work of fiction but it is equally disrespectful to the citizens of said country who have been completely removed from the narrative and their humanity has been reduced to second place over our iphones, electric cars and dollar signs. Kagame’s Rwanda has managed to establish themselves as a household name in the production of coltan, exporting 28% of the world’s 8,807,232 kg tantalum production in 2013. These numbers were made possible by the instability they have been causing in the great lakes region with the likes of Museveni’s Uganda.

Individuals may say “I was unaware” however is that really a valid answer in a world where we literally have every answer to every question posed in the palm of our hands? If Congolese lives are going to be lost for the mini computers in our pockets, they may as well be put to good use, right? The average person spends 11.7hr/month on instagram and 5.1hr/month on twitter, so I’m sure most people have seen some variation of news on the DRC. There have been many hashtags over the years that have gained traction, namely #CongoIsBleeding, #NoCongoNoPhone, #WhatIsHappeningInCongo etc. Celebrities like Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie have spoken on the situation in Congo, Leonardo DiCaprio produced Virunga that touched on the crisis, athletes like Chancel Mbemba and Serge Ibaka have highlighted the situation in the east. Which is applaudable, when many Congolese artists themselves have chosen to remain silent on the matter and their fans have found a way to absolve them and themselves of any responsibility to the nation responsible for their existence. All of this in turn leads to the question, what will it take for Congolese lives to matter?

The #MeToo movement took the world by storm, advocating for women’s right to not be sexually assaulted in the workplace and in their day-to-day lives, did that not apply to women in Africa? Is the right to have your voice heard and action implemented reserved for women in the global west? How about the oh so necessary Black Lives Matter movement, is that limited to Black lives in the USA and the UK or are the Black Lives lost due to systems put in place and wars funded by white world leaders and corporations not of consequence?

The matter of Congolese lives impacts us all because as a global community, almost no person on this floating sphere has not benefitted from the spillage of blood in the DRC. In our hands we hold the blood of nameless victims who have died by the million. They’ve been reduced to numbers and statistics used to implore the world to help us fight our enemies. Congolese people do not want to have to keep using their trauma for the world to see us. One must not have to beg for their humanity to be recognized and fought for. Phone or no phone, minerals or no minerals, Congolese lives matter, too. So please, sign the petitions, repost the posts, tell the stories because we can't win with indifference.

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7 days ago

"almost no person on this floating sphere has not benefitted from the spillage of blood in the DRC."

Facts, a tough truth that we must acknowledge and address. I have switched phones to the conflict materials-free Fairphone (which I recommend) but it's not enough. 12 million lives have already been lost (and counting). Western imperialism and capitalism must end!

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