Congolese Hip-Hop & The Killing Fields of Central Africa

Congolese hip-hop!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.

6. 80% of the world’s known coltan supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Coltan can be compared to conflict diamonds in that this natural resource has fueled a brutal conflict there.

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

For more information, the latest news about the Congo, and how to get involved visit Friends of the Congo.

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  1. MJPC blames the Congolese Government for the Deteriorating Situation in East Congo(DRC)

    “There is no excuse for missing to pay salaries to soldiers in lawless eastern Congo for six months”

    Following the deteriorating situation in east Congo, the MJPC called today for the Congolese Government to urgently pay the salaries to thousands of soldiers who have not been paid for over six months in eastern Congo, take swift action to enforce the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant against Bosco Ntaganda and to hold accountable perpetrators of sexual violence against women for their acts.

    “Failing to hold accountable individuals who commit war crimes and crimes against humunity continues to be the leading cause of widespread and systematic sexual violence acts against girls and women in the easten Congo” said Makuba Sekombo, Community Affairs Director of the Mobilization for Justice and Peace in the DR Congo (MJPC).

    Mr. Sekombo again criticized the government of Congo for not only the continuing failure to protect women and young girls from sexual violence, but also for “encouraging conditions that create opportunities for sexual violence to occur”. “There is no excuse for missing to pay salaries to soldiers in the lawless eastern Congo for six months” said Sekombo. The MJPC has also renewed its call for the Congolese government to take urgent needed action to end human rights abuses in east Congo, hold perpetrators accountable and ensure reparation for the victims of sexual violence.

    The MJPC has been urging the Congolese government to compensate the victims of sexual violence in order to also help combat impunity in eastern part of Congo where sexual violence against women and children has been widely used as weapon of war for more than decade. The MJPC online petition calling for help to put pressure on Congolese Government to compensate victims of sexual siolence in Eastern DRC can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/26180.html

    About MJPC
    MJPC works to add a voice in advocating for justice and peace in the DRC particulary in the east of DRC where thousands innocent civilian including children and women continue to suffer massive human rights violations while armed groups responsible for these crimes go unpunished
    For more information about the MJPC and its activities, visit http://www.mjpcongo.org. or call Makuba Sekombo @ 1-408-8063-644 or e-mail: info@mjpcongo.org. The online petition calling on the Congolese Government to put urgently in place a comprehensive program of compensation for the victims of sexual violence in eastern Congo can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/26180.html

  2. Peace in Congo Requires More Than Just Pictures of Kabila and Kagame Together

    As President Obama himself likes to quote, the insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Sadly that is exactly what has been happening in Congo for more than 10 years….

    It is impossible not to recognize that the growing rapprochement between the Congo and Rwanda, is a signal that the Congo is likely to achieve some form of stability under the Obama Admnistration . It seems President Obama is very firm in the expectations of wanting to see both President Kagame and Kabila working together for the sake of peace in the Great Lakes. While it’s too early to say for sure whether this will bring the kind of stability needed to end the violence and impunity, often described by many human rights organizations as terribly systematic and endless, in Eastern Congo, it is clear that none of these two heads of state can afford to defy the United States at this time.

    On one side, without implying any causal, president Kabila knows what happened to all previous presidents of Congo who attempted to resist the demands of Washington. They all failed and lost their lives in tragic circumstances. Kabila must be intelligent enough not to repeat this. He has to do what his father failed to do when it comes to dealing with the USA. Do what they ask you to do and seek to tactically negociate later!!!. He is also a young man who probably understands quite well how much president Kagame was able benefit in the past when the congolese authorities used some fatal tactics of resisting to the prescriptions from Washington

    On the other side, Kagame knows that it would be his end if the USA is not behind him. He has been mostly untouchable in the region because of the unyielding support he enjoys from the most powerful country on earth,(USA) which are believed to have supported the rebellion that led him to power via Uganda in the 1990s. He does not enjoy this kind of wide support in the Europe where even some countries have tried to arrest members of his cabinet for allegedly being behind the shooting down of late Habyarimana’s plane. For the moment, he has been safe because he has the USA on his side. By all accounts, President Kagame can’t afford the luxury of shooting himself in the foot by opposing the prescriptions of the Obama Admnistration. In similar way, this would benefit President Kabila as this could make President Kagame look like enemy of peace in the Great Lakes.

    While the current events in Congo must be applauded by all, any peace effort between Rwanda and Congo which excludes finding alternative solutions to the problems of FDLR would not be a lasting one. The need for changes in the strategies on how to effectively force the FDLR to return to Rwanda is imperative simply because the current strategies of machine guns have failed to make this happen for more than a decade now.

    In watching the celebrations on the streets in North Kivu when Kagame arrived in Goma over the weekend to meet with Kabila would make one ask if the Congolese have misdiagnosed the security problem in their country. The challenging relationships between the two presidents have never been the cause of the problem. Why? The answer is quite simple; because the two capitals have worked together in past and failed to force FDLR to leave Congo with their machine-guns. One should even be reminded that Rwanda occupied that part of the Congo for more than year, reportedly for the same reasons and failed to do this with machine-guns. Maybe this time the Obama Administration will encourage Kagame to find alternative solutions on how to force the FDLR to return to Rwanda without relying on the use of machine guns.

    As President Obama himself likes to quote, the insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Sadly that is exactly what has been happening in Congo for more than 10 years with regards to the FDLR. The consequences of doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results have been very disastrous and catastrophic for the Congolese people. In the last decade more than 5 million have died in Congo mostly women and children and almost half a million women and children have been raped and tortured because of the same approach of doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. Machine guns have been the biggest failure in Congo and whole region at large.

    Whatever happens in Congo after the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, let’s hope that this time the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results will not be repeated again in Congo with the Obama Administration.

    About the Author
    Amédé KYUBWA, MA, MPA, is the Executive Director of MJPC, a nonprofit organization that promotes peace and justice in the DRC through actions aimed at fighting against impunity, sexual violence and other serious violations of human rights in DRC. The MJPC also advocates peaceful resolution of conflicts (non-violent approaches to conflict) For more information about MJPC and its activitts, please visit http://www.mjpcongo.org

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