I love this video, below, from the Congolese crew Lopango ya Banka (House of the Ancestors). Oddly, they don’t define themselves as a hip-hop group (at least on their site), but rather an initiative founded in 1997 to educate Congolese youth about the country of their origin. Five years (!!!) after launching, members of the group “decided to spread their ideas through the universal culture of hip hop in order to reach out to [C]ongolese youth everywhere around the globe.” Bifuku Mitano literally translates to mean 5 million, Kambale of Friends of the Congo told me. The number pays homage to the millions of Congolese killed. They are just telling the world that we have not forgotten our million of people killed and asking the Congolese people to RISE!
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE CONGO:
1. The Congo was colonized in 1908 by a country 80 times smaller than them: Belgium (80 times smaller than the Congo). Ruled by King Leopold II from 1885 – 1908, a brutal period during which anywhere from 10 million to 15 million slaughtered Congolese were casualties of his quest to enrich himself. In the process of imposing forced labor on the natives in order to rape the land of as much rubber as possible, he introduced the act of amputation and other forms of mutilation in order to terrorize the Congolese into submission.
2. While 8-30 million Congolese perished during his reign, King Leopold never set foot in the Congo.
3. The Congo gained its independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960; Patrice Emery Lumumba was elected as its first Prime Minister.
4. Described by some as Africa’s first World War, the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), which broke out in 1998 over control of the country’s natural resources, has involved seven nations; 45,000 people continue to die each month.
5. Rape is used as a tool of war. According to an excellent article by François Grignon: “The non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has reported that 75 percent of all the rape cases it dealt with worldwide were in the eastern Congo. A census by UNICEF and related medical centres reported treatment of 18,505 persons for sexual violence in the first 10 months of 2008, 30 percent of whom were children. This year, the situation deteriorated further still, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reporting a huge surge in sexual violence and rape in eastern Congo.
7. In appearance, coltan is a dull black ore. Tantalum from coltan is used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, and computers.
8. According to the United Nations, “In order to mine for coltan, rebels have overrun Congo’s national parks, clearing out large chunks of the area’s lush forests. In addition, the poverty and starvation caused by the war have driven some miners and rebels to hunt the parks’ endangered elephants and gorillas for food.”
9. The Congo has the hydro capacity to provide electricity for the entire African continent, southern Europe and parts of the Middle East.
10. The Congo has the agricultural capacity to feed the entire world through 2050