It has been called Africa's World War a.k.a. Great War of Africa call it what you may the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is simply War. The war is reported to have began in 1998 and officially ended in 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. What started as a civil war to overthrow dictator the late President Mobutu Sese Seko soon escalated to an enormous scale. Solders from neighbouring countries joined in the mayhem with the troops all having different agendas as for their engagement in the conflict. Some observers allege that many are fighting for the control of the regions extraordinary mineral wealth whilst others are out to grab whatever they can get.
Some of the resources allegedly being fought over and is reported as being utilised to finance the conflict include diamonds, water, timber, copper, cassiterite, coltan, tin just to mention afew.
Countries involved in the DRC dispute: Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, Hutu and Tutsi aligned forces. ( There are other countries who have also been claimed to have been allegedly involved in the conflict but their level of involvement has not yet been clearly ascertained)
Despite a 2003 peace agreement and recent elections, conflict still rages on in eastern DRC. Armed militia groups continue to terrorize civilians in the eastern part. The war is reported to have taken over 4 million lives more than any other conflict in the world since world war II.
Effects and tactics used in the war are numerous. In addition to the wanton killings, there is pillaging of communities, corruption, forced labour, ethnic rivalries, rape, shifting of alliances to achieve economic exploitation and much more. War rape in the DRC is one of the horrific and traumatic events that pose a serious challenge for those seeking to protect the civilians caught up in the war.
VICTIM OF WAR
This is a true story of a lady 29 years old from Nindja Village eastern DRC.
Due to conflict and insecurity in her village the women would hide in the nearby bushes away from the militia who are notorious for rape, cannibalism and other forms of brutality. On this occasion the solders found them in their hiding place. The solders killed the village chief and his children. The lady was hiding with other 50 women and with her were her three children and older brother.
The solders ordered her older brother to have sex with her, he refused and so they cut of his head and he died. One of the solders forced her to drink his urine and eat his feces. The solders then killed her three children.Following that one after another they raped her ripping apart her vagina and anus.
She recalls as one of the solders cut open a pregnant woman and removed her mature baby and killed it. They cooked the baby and forced the women to eat it.
She was able to escape and get away. Soon she was found by a man passing by where she was and he was able to trace her due to the bad stench in the area. It was the lady smelling due to the wounds inflicted in her during the rape she was unable to control her urine or feces. He took her to a nearby hospital where she received treatment to her wounds.More on this report from Glamour Magazine September 2007 issue Written By Eve Ensler, "Women Left For Dead -and the man who's saving them"
Stories of war rape and other war crimes/effects ought to be told again and again as long as the conflict prevails in eastern DRC with the hopes that the silent cries of the victims of this instability will fall on listening ears and lead to action to end their silent screams.
African newspapers and other media houses do not report extensively on the conflict and situation on the ground in DRC and other conflict prone areas within the continent. Most of the news we read or watch on TV covering this events are reported by foreign media houses. Some of the African print media and the news stations source for their news on the African continent from western media forums such as Reuters, AP etc. Whenever the foreign media houses take the initiative to report on these events, their initiatives and efforts elicit enormous criticisms for being biased, poorly researched, etc yet Africa media houses efforts are lacking due to a myriad of reasons. African media houses need to assume a leading role in reporting on current events within the African continent and not leave the assignments largely to foreign media houses.
Here are some of the initiatives we can assume to spearhead action by creating more awareness on areas embroiled in conflict.
- Tell a friend, family or colleagues about these events
- Write about it in your blogs/to local newspapers/ make recommendations
- Write plays, poems and songs about such events and perform them in public forums
- Advocate and find ways to convince the militia that cannibalism does not add super natural strength and the witch doctors they revert to face justice for propagating and abetting criminal acts.
- Constant coverage of the events as they unfold and call for action reported in the local African media forums
- Donate to institutions that are working on the ground such as the local hospitals such as Panzi hospital in Bukavu. Donations can be in any form and within your means even a letter or a handkerchief can go along way to show that you care and are thinking about them in their plight.
(if you have anymore suggestion please email me or leave a note on the comments section)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TURBULENT HISTORY
History has been unfair on the DRC nation and its people for over the past 100 years. DRC formerly Belgian Congo inhabitants were tortured by King Leopold II of Belgium who 'acquired' the Congo. Between 1885 and 1908 Belgium exterminated an estimated 10 million people. Shortly after attaining independence in 1960 the military leader Mobutu Sese Seko came to power in a bloodless coup with military support from the United States, Belgium, and European mercenaries. Mobutu was internationally condemned as a dictator and was overthrown in the First Congo War by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was supported by the Tutsi governments of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Tutsis had long opposed Mobutu, due to his open support for Rwandan Hutu extremists responsible for the Rwandan genocide in 1994. When his government issued an order in November 1996 forcing Tutsis to leave Zaire on penalty of death, they erupted in rebellion. From eastern Zaire, with the support of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Rwandan Minister of Defense Paul Kagame, they launched an offensive to overthrow Mobutu, joining forces with locals opposed to him as they marched west toward Kinshasa. Ailing with cancer, Mobutu was unable to coordinate the resistance, which crumbled in front of the march, the army being more used to suppressing civilians than defending the large country. On May 16, 1997, following failed peace talks, the Tutsi rebels and other anti-Mobutu groups as the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) captured Kinshasa. Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others credit him with keeping the country relatively stable and peaceful throughout most of his rule and for providing Zaireans with a sense of national identity and pride. In a country with over 200 tribes, Mobutu was able to maintain order and avert civil war, although at high cost.
"Today, Mobutu is deposed and dead, but his legacies live on. His family holds his fortune, and his country holds his $12 billion debt. In a nation with an annual income of $110 per capita, each resident theoretically owes foreign creditors $236."
Still Waiting for the Jubilee, World Watch Institute, 26 April 2001.
- Population - 56 million people
- The Congolese people are made up of around 200 separate ethnic groups. These ethnic groups generally are concentrated regionally and speak distinct languages. There is no majority ethnic group - some of the largest ethnic groups are the Luba, Kongo and Anamongo. The various ethnic groups speak many different languages but only four indigenous languages have official status - Kiswahili, Lingala, Kikongo and Tshiluba. French is the language of government, commerce and education. Societal discrimination on the basis of ethnicity is widely practiced by members of virtually all ethnic groups and is evident in private hiring and buying patterns and in patterns of de facto ethnic segregation in some cities. In large cities, however, intermarriage across ethnic and regional divides is common.
- Around 1,200 people die each day as a direct or indirect result of the conflict - more than half of them children.
- The $870m diamond industry provides work for around one million people, but many diggers earn less than $1 a day in dangerous conditions.
WATCH VIDEO ON DRC WAR
Children of Conflict in the DRC Part 1
Children of Conflict in the DRC Part 2
Human Rights Watch Democratic Republic of Congo
Foreign Policy on Focus: War in the Congo
Global Issues-Conflicts in Africa DRC