Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tit-for-tat massacres kill hundreds in eastern Congo

While the M23 rebellion is taking up most of the Congo news in Congolese and foreign press, a series of largely unconnected massacres has been taking a far larger human toll in the area of Bunyakiri and Ufamando. According to United Nations reports, over 200 civilians - and possibly many more - have been killed in tit-for-tat massacres between the Rwandan FDLR rebels and the Raia Mutomboki militias since the beginning of the year.

These retaliatory killings go back to at least 2011, when the Raia (a profile will come in another post) was revived through the regimentation process of the Congolese army, which led to their withdrawal from rural areas in Shabunda territory. The Raia militia, which had initially been formed in 2005 and then slipped into dormancy, filled the void left by the army in Shabunda. They were led by former Mai-Mai commanders and deserters from the Congolese army, and were made up mostly of local youths.

The spate of killings accelerated sharply in October 2011, when Raia attacked FDLR camps in northeastern Shabunda, allegedly killing 49 people, mostly Hutu refugees. The retaliation was slow to come, but in the first days of January FDLR troops entered the villages of Luyuyu and Ngolombe, killing 58 people, according to local military and civil society sources.

This pattern persisted, with military casualties overshadowed by the civilians who were the principle focus of the revenge attacks. Since these killings, however, the attacks have been moving slowly northwestwards. Between March 1-4, 2012 Raia conducted another attack against FDLR dependents in Bunyakiri, Kalehe territory, killing 32 civilians. This movement was surprising, given the local nature of the Raia - these killings took place around 80-90km away from the home turf of the Raia and outside of their Rega community.

The retaliation killings were in the same area, and came around two months later. Between May 7-15, the FDLR reportedly killed 51 people in the Bunyakiri villages of Kamananga and Lumenje. The United Nations peacekeepers, who have a base 3 kilometers from Kamananga, were mobbed by the outraged local population following the massacre, injuring 11 blue helmets.

Now, in the past weeks, the violence seems to have migrated even further to the northwest. Initial reports from Ufamando groupement, in southern Masisi territory, suggest that several people were killed by the FDLR on May 9, including four people who were burned alive in their houses. Local chiefs from the same area told me that the Raia retaliated by attacking Congolese Hutu civilians in the same area, allegedly killing 48 civilians.

The total of just these, the largest massacres, could be 242 people, if the figures are correct. That does not include numerous smaller incidents.

We should be careful to note that the Raia, while still poorly understood, do not appear to be a cohesive force, or even one group. As one of my colleagues suggested, they operate as a franchise, with separate local militias in different areas adopting the name and the sentiment of - as their name suggests - outraged civilians.

This still raises the question of how the group has been able to spread so far so quickly against the battle-hardened FDLR. Groups that identify themselves as Raia Mutomboki can be found in Kalehe, Kabare, Shabunda and Masisi territories. They have been able to push the Rwandan rebels out of some areas of Shabunda, and when Major Idrissa, an FDLR commander in Shabunda, deserted recently, he was "scared out of his wits" by the Raia, according to a UN official who spoke with him.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the Raia's violent tactics have only bred more violence.

(The red blotches on the map are areas where Raia have clashed with the Congolese army or FDLR in the past 18 months)


67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, thanks for the posting, but is it possible you made a typing error in the following sentence: "The red blotches on the map are areas where FDLR have clashed with the Congolese army or FDLR in the past 18 months"?
GM

Jason Stearns said...

Thanks, I fixed it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post.

I was told by local authorities that RM are also present more in the South, in Tanganyika sector (around Mboko).

blaise said...

@ Jason,
if it's not too much to ask, is it possible to have the same map showing the progression of the M23 vs Fardc?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 2:05 AM

I've got the same information. Some people referred to the MM Bwasakala and Halleluia, apparently the ones on the outskirt of Mboko-Swima, to be connected to the Raia Mutomboki

Anonymous said...

I was wondering where the FRDC troops got fighting tricks to push back M23, however i have been told that, there are the old CNDP troops who have remained with FRDC (The so called Gov loyalist - most of them are commanded by Col. Innocent) who are on the front line doing unbelievable job.

I knew there was no story written about FRDC troops winning any war.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous

FARDC have deployed their best trained battalions from Lokando (Maniema province). These FARDC drove out the CNDP from Masisi. If they get ammunition and other supplies, they can defeat the CNDP soldiers. Back in may 2004, I witnessed first hand the defeat of Mutebusi and Ruhorimbere at the hands of General Félix Mbuja Mabe (Bukavu, may 2004), though I must admit that without the critical help of maimai warriors led by Colonel Kahasha (Foka Mike), the FARDC were all but defeated.
Where did you learn that Col. Innocent was commanding the Rusthuru front?

blaise said...

@ anonym MAY 21, 2012 5:38 AM
We have to give credit where credit is due. I don't think the reason the Fardc have been defeat was by cowardice or lack of training.
It's most likely because they were betrayed more than once. It's easy to avoid an ambush when you know in advance the enemy game plan.
We have good soldiers out there, I just think they are not efficiently used.
"When an amateur talk about tanks to win the war, the experience warrior think about logistics" Unknown.
General Wesley Clark said that for an army to be successful, you need food, fuel and ammunition.
For example, the Americans turned the tied in the Korean war when they effectively reconquest Seoul hence cutting the supply line between the North and the Punsan perimeter.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,


Plz pardon my ignorance. Can anyone plz tell me, what is the mandate of MONUSCO in Congo? Assume it is “to protect civilians”, can anyone plz give me 1 instance (not 2) where MONUSCO have protected Congolese civilians. Now that thousands Congolese civilians r scattered everywhere without help, MONUSCO has chosen to be anonymous.


Now in June MONUSCO’s unknown mandate is up 4 routine renewal. I was suggesting that instead of spending their tourists’ time in Congo tanning in the African sky with pubescent Congolese girls in their arms after selling arms to rebels (ref. Nkunda) and smuggling coltan to Rwanda (ref. all reports), the MONUSCO be given a single mandate:


( The 10 000 MONUSCO troops should be posted along the Congo-Rwanda border to prevent the FLDR and PARENCO death squads to cross to Rwanda and M23 and CNDP Kagame’s death militia to cross into Congo. The UN should be forbidden from cooking self-congratulatory reports, but rather produce progress (regress) assessment of their achievement in Congo. American people,4 ex., who spend $1 billion annually should demand accountability from MONUSCO. )


Now, where are the many NGOs and activists who say they care about Congolese civilians; I dare u to challenge useless MONUSCO. You will save millions of lives.


muanacongo

FrancoPepeKalle said...

This story backs my argument that the Congolese Army is a total mess right now. We have good soldiers not being allowed to see oversee the unbelievable violence that is occuring in Kivu. We need to find to get all these rebels and hold them accountable.

Anonymous said...

fardc were succefull in small part in masisi cause of some former cndp soldiers that kabila is using by bribing them like innocent gahizi with big money to fight ntaganda for my understandin some of them they r pro-nkunda n would like to see BN dead for what his done to nkunda.all this bs that FARDC is winnin the war is bushyt.this war is deeper than we knw.. cant u ppls ask a question to yourself why is the west silent about it? because it is an economic war between the west n them chingchong ppls who just invested 10billions of dollars

Rich said...

Blaise -

Ref # "is it possible to have the same map showing the progression of the M23 vs Fardc?"

Here is something you may find useful. I pinched it from the Virunga national park rangers' blog.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9yj5k04Lx1oLVpNY2F4b3F1Z1E/edit

Rich

Rich said...

Sorry this is off topic -

Looking at the map, I must say rwanda and indeed uganda borders with DRC need to be monitored by independant bodies and discourage any sort of support to the mutineers.

I just cannot comprehend how a supposed small group of mutineers can resist for this long with no external support and sometimes have the audacity to initiate attacks on an almost entire reinforced regiment surrounding them on the Congolese side.

It also seems like the mutineers objective is Bunagana so that they can man that important border crossing hence improving their supply.

There are rumours that a group of ex bosco collaborators have been summoned to Kinshasa for a seminar. It seems that after the meeting with rwanda, these ex cndp will be given the opportunity to do to bosco what he did to nkunda in 2009. As long as they can be sure for not having innocent congolese blood in their hands they should now understand that you can only be loyal to one country and the choice is theirs...

Rich

Anonymous said...

Let ICC or Gov Congo guarantee to give out 1bn Us Dollars to catch Bosco Ntaganda.
We could have seen if Kagame or Museveni's Mafias will not make that sum.
By the way, that is the only solution to see Bosco Ntaganda behind bars.
Kagame and Museveni are on the last term of their presidency - both shall run after this deal in order to make much sum of money which will secure them for the rest of their lives.

CHURUCHURU

Anonymous said...

Rich I totally agree with you.

This once again (as it was the case with CNDP) show the limit of actual peacekeeping practices.

The UN groups of expert is not enough I think;

andrea

(ps I'm gonna write you during the week)

blaise said...

@ Rich,
Thank you so much for this document, appreciate that.It's exactly what I had in mind. You should catch in on your talent of researcher ( just kidding).
T o follow up with your puzzlement, it's indeed choking to see such a determination in that small group. My take is that they probably dig out the arsenal they hide when they started the integration. It won't be surprising either if they have some kind of resupply by air ( we don't have the technical ability to monitor planes crossing our frontiers).
another possibility is that we still got moles in the army. I don't know if you remember a couple weeks ago the testimony of this officer who said that they were pushing back the rebels and suddenly another group appear in a supposed secure area.
Idk, Bosco is cornered, he got the motivation to resist. I still believe that the superiority of the Rdf is overrated. Some soldiers just have a complex toward them.
The Fardc are doing good so far. As long as they are inspired, they will prevail.

Rich said...

Here is something that may get kagame animated -

http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2012/05/22/le-rwanda-doit-extrader-et-livrer-a-la-cpi_1705367_3232.html

Rich

blaise said...

@ Rich,
Really interesting. I was just wondering why those groups decided to be more active while the Fardc are tracking their worse enemy. so those clashes and killings are like mafia wars.

SILVIA said...

such a perfect blog sweetie!!!
=D
xoxo

FrancoPepeKalle said...

bosco may actually get a better chance of not getting arrested. He has managed to do many things.

FDLR seems to become disorganized and that is not good for the army. Other army forces that are for East Congo need to organize and dappen the violence that have been occuring.

blaise said...

@ Franco,
the Fdlr killed again those killed are not RDF. How are they supposed to help us again?
When I was in Kalemie during Moba 1 and 2, the local told us not to trust Rwandese, all of them.
http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2012/05/22/nord-kivu-des-rebelles-fdlr-mai-mai-assassinent-plus-de-100-civils-ufamandu/comment-page-1/#comment-72184

Rich said...

Blaise -

This recent killing can well be as Jason has explained but there are more and more reports saying that people are crossing from rwanda to DRC through Ruhengeri to support rebel movements.

It is alleged that some of those crossing are demobilized fdlr who had already been sent back to rwanda but now being used by officers in rwanda to re-infiltrate DRC and back rebels be it fdlr or indeed m23. There were reports of heavy fighting around Ruhengeri yesterday...

I would suggest a thorough criminal investigation on the political authors of these killings. it is striking that they have increased in such proportions since DRC decided to stop parallel chains of command run by ex-cndp...

As you said, I don't trust rwanda's honesty when they say what's going on in DRC is Congolese matter. An independent investigation around the borders between the two countries will reveal embarrassing things for rwanda despite its denial...

Rich

Anonymous said...

@Rich

Ur analysis is so accurate. The M23 militia is beyond doubt a Rwandan import, that is given soldiers, food and weapons by Kigali.


Check this horrific account of demobilized FDLR boys being sent back by Rwanda to Congo to rescue M23 (http://www.radiokivu1.com/info_passee/sincerite_veridique_rwanda_en_mal.htm)


The thing is Rwanda wants to have a permanent bargaining chip (RCD-Goma, CNDP,M23) in Congo that it uses whenever it wants something from Congo.So it ritually start wars every 2 years with the same off-the-wall story of Tutsis being exterminated in Congo, and somehow needing a so-called Tutsiland, unlike any other 400 tribes in Congo.


I guess the sure solution would be for Congo to erect a security wall along its border with Rwanda. Because everyone agrees now: Rwanda is a neighbor from hell,Kagame is a curse to our people.


muanacongo

Anonymous said...

@ Blaise, Rich

Rwandese will do what is good and necessary for Rwandese interests - controlling the mining interests in that part of DRC, controlling the DRC military through the different “Brassage”, “Mixage” whose end results are the incorporation into the FARDC of soldiers and officers whose allegiance to the DRC is always in doubt, maintaining a constant state of instability to force the locals away from their lands in order to be replaced over the years by returning refugees from Rwanda whose DRC citizenship is doubtful … basically Rwanda is colonizing this part of the DRC. These things have been happening over time with JK in power in a sovereign nation. Is there complicity? Is JK simply helping to create the enabling environment for some of these Rwanda goals to succeed? Who can say that the Trojan Horse is looking after the interests of the DRC? Most of the programs put in place to bring peace to this region of the DRC have in the end made the position of Rwanda inside the DRC stronger in my eyes. This game has been going on for far too many years. All along, the main actors on the DRC side and on the Rwanda side have been the same. After so many years of playing together, these actors know each other’s goals very well. The appeasement strategy used to please Rwanda by JK has actually contributed to the complete weakening of the state and the army in this region. Who knows actually what is really happening behind the scenes of this new fight against M23 the latest incarnation of the same outfit that Rwanda has been using over the years to destabilize the DRC.Rich says " I don't trust Rwanda's honesty...", how about JK's. JK, Qui Sunt Vere, Who are you really JK.


Bismark

FrancoPepeKalle said...

FDLR is absolutelty a mess and have been for a while. Just this month alone, it was reported on France 24 that it had killed over 50 people in May alone and yesterday 5 people were killed.

We need to find ways to make the Congolese Army be able to become stable and be able to improve and become a strong army. FDLR is becoming a major laughing stock and people with common sense know that.

FDLR is falling apart and that may lead to more violence in Eastern Congo. Eastern Congo is in major trouble and we need to continue to speak about what problems we will face as life gets harder for Congolese in East Congo.

Rich said...

Bismark -

Ref # "how about JK's..."

I don't know if my answer to this question is that important. The rwandan conflict invited itself to the DRC and not (in the same proportion) to any other country in the region. This is to show that there is a deep structural problem within the DRC society that is older, harder and complex than J Kabila.

That said, it is my view that who ever wants to be at the front line of those trying to solve this problem should not move overtly. Remember, L D K died trying to solve this problem, a UN Secretary General died trying to solve the problem of security in DRC. One should learn from that ...

In any case, this is a very difficult situation to be in because as I said once, damn if you do doom if you don't... The other annoying thing is that none of our other political leaders has suggested a comprehensive approach on how to solve this problem.

There were more than 19000 candidates to the parliamentary for last November; it would have been enlightening if we could have had at least 1% of them 190 suggestions about how to solve the problem in eastern DRC.

Rich

Anonymous said...

@ Rich

Thanks for your reply, the situation in the East is indeed a "casse tete Chinois". You are
right about the elected "honorable", may be in time they will come through I hope that it won't be too late.

Bismark

Anonymous said...

@ Rich & Bismark

Rich my brother u read my mind nicely about JK. (lol). I have serious criticisms of JK about our internal politics (autocracy, theft, aloofness…) and his apparent tango dancing with Kagame in all this.

But, I believe that many (out of oversight or bad faith) underestimate this boy. I hate to say it, JK is strategically more astute than any Congolese politician. He never reveals his emotions and intentions, so his moves r always a surprise to many. When he took over in 2001, the country was split in 3,5 (From Kin u had to go to Kigali to get to Goma).

I think (speculation here) he has done 2 things:
1.Intl’ly, unlike his anachronically inflexible father LDK, he has appeased the USA (West) about the security of uranium and got them to share cobalt & copper with China.
2.To Rwanda, he has played Kagame at his own game by buying time (to get training and equipment 4 FARDC), and by importantly deeming Tutsis as Congolese and thus negating the fallacy that Tutsis r persecutated in Congo . Knowing very well that the big Congo is like an ocean it takes in anything , but in time anything improper is thrown back to the shore: that is “any tribe that does not integrate excludes itself from the Congolese family”.

They might kill him as usual. But Congo is whethering this storm finally. The future will tell!


muanacongo

Rich said...

More and more revelations about rwanda's support to m23 are emerging. How many more conflict related deaths, misery or displaced does the world needs to see before one can tell kagame enough is enough?

The link below shows m23 cmbattants who were made prisoners during recent fightings. The men were presented secretly to MONUSCO in Goma at the DDRRR.

According to their own claims, they were recruited in Rwanda and taken to the front line to help out the m23. They were interrogated and taped this confirms that the m23 is a mixture of many fighters…

I am sure there will be more proofs of rwandan involvement like these but again as I keep on saying, it looks like the west wants, at the same time, one thing and its opposite. They want bosco, they know who is bosco's handler and protector yet they are shy when it is demonstrated that kagame is the person to ask for bosco's arrest...

Now I heard 2 battalions of commandos trained by the US army have been called upon to reinforce the rutshuru front line and probably spear head the attack against m23. Will the US let their trainees be defeated?

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IOR7Xw14rMt2ok1oQYSFGSd0OPu-E3plU8fWHLP3ol4/edit

Rich

Anonymous said...

@ Rich

Will the US let their trainees be defeated? Obviously, I can't give a definitive answer to your question. I suspect we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening behind the scenes. It is probably a mistake to refer to "the West" in this instance; I'm getting the sense that Belgium, the UK, and the US are pursuing different conceptions of their respective national interests.

The only American official talking is Roger Meece, and he is speaking as UN Special Representative - but I assume he is aware of the thinking in Washington. From what I've read of the press conference he gave yesterday, his assumptions are: (1) the split within the mutiny is genuine and that the bulk of the fighting around Bunagana is with Makenga/M23.(2)The FARDC is trying to contain both rival factions within a confined geographical space. (3) various mai-mai are exacerbating the situation in an effort to weaken the FARDC counterinsurgency efforts. He indicated that MONUSCO has established a presence in Bunagana, and he left open the possibility that the UN is prepared to give more support to the FARDC if that becomes necessary.

My impression is that he feels the FARDC is up to the task - and to be blunt about it, if MONUSCO is ever going to withdraw from the DRC, the FARDC has to be able to deal with these situations on its own. He did mention the mutineers are taking hilltop positions and forcing the FARDC to dislodge them hill by hill.

I'm sure from your own FAZ training you realize this kind of counterinsurgency is a difficult painstaking process. Bringing in more reinforcements seems the prudent course.

You mentioned the apparently contradictory demands made by the international community...arrest Bosco without having the entente between Kinshasa and Kigali breakdown completely. The international system is what it is, not what it should be...it is fraught with just these sorts of contradictions (consider the parallels with the situation in Afghanistan, where we Americans see our soldiers attacked by insurgents who melt across the border into Pakistan).

In any event, my observation is that J Kabila has a good grasp of the complexities of the international system; he also has a different temperament from LD Kabila. He continues to confound his critics and his opponents.

Bruce

Anonymous said...

Mountain Gorillas and Humanity Face Breaking Point in Eastern Congo ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/georgianne-nienaber/virunga-congo-conflict_b_1530878.html ) very interesting from Georgianne Nienaber an Investigative journalist, author, human rights advocate

blaise said...

@ Bruce,
that's a really interesting assessment. I wonder if Bosco is trying to slip in Rwanda and disappear. He probably saw that coming and having some kind of contingency plans. But who knows.
You are so right about JK. A lot of people underestimate him and actual buy into all the folklore about him. I think he is more intelligent than people give him credit. I believe he just lack that spark which turn a good commander to a genial general. Idk, we are left with these "what if he did ...", like his promises in 01 during his first state of the Country.

Rich said...

Bruce -

Fair points and points taken -

Just wanted to add that, from my own perspective both as a Congolese and someone following this situation for I'm not sure how many years now, it appears that there is a whale of a gap from the IC community, between the proportion of calls for the arrest of bosco and the follow up actions to support or guide the ongoing attempts to neutralise bosco.

This maybe to do with the contradictory nature of the IC machinery as you said! I also must admit that what Meece is doing is quite encouraging but still more can be done.

The problem is not to arrest bosco but to make sure the network and system that proce the likes of bosco, nkunda, mutebusi, makenga, kazarama etc... is dealt with in a more efficient way. Doing that will be justice not only to Congolese but this will also be justice to you American and westerners TAX PAYERS who are funding most of these missions as your money and mandate to your politicians will be used efficiently by dealing with the root causes rather than spending the same money again and again for a never ending problem in a time when most people are talking about spending cuts...

Rich

blaise said...

Those networks are our version of the mafia : several families, hit men and territories grabbing. You destroy M23 network, Gertler's boys fill the void. The drama is nobody seems to be interested about nation building. Jk seems to be into survival mode.

Anonymous said...

nation building? absent .. and the fault is not only of local politicians.

Positive point: congolese are slowly increasing political consciousness and willing to express themselves.

If you mean state building, well, we are probably even behind.

andrea

Anonymous said...

@ blaise and Rich

We citizens of the G8 countries can't seem to regulate our own networks of crony capitalists - I'm not sure we are in a position to lecture Congolese on the subject.

It is frustrating that we seem to be going around in circles. I'm hoping that Matata Ponyo can bring some transparency and accountability to the situation. But for now the security situation is taking center stage....

Bruce

Anonymous said...

@ Rich and Blaise and Co Mu ache pale ile bushenzi yenu ya kuchukiya Bosco, mbona hamuko nasema juu ya batu benye Mai Mai na FDLR Nderahamwe biko na uwa Masisi na Walikale. Chuki ya nini ku ndugu zetu watusi. Nyiye muko tu kule Bulaya na America ku andika andika tu chuki ku Internet. Mu ache domo na chuki, probleme za Congo hazi kuanzaka na Batusi wala Bosco ata kama ni muuwaji.Ni kweli anapashwa fungiwa lakini haiko yeye njoo probleme ya Congo. Saa uyu Jason ana andika juu ya CNDP on dirait anakuwa anabapa kazi ya commentaire.

Anonymous said...

This last comment is painful and coming from someone full of hatred. The attacks against Rich and Blaise -whom comments so far have been full of restraint and based on fact- and and the critics against Jason should be tolerated. Dear Brother writing in swahili, this blog is not a blog of hatred. As far as I know, Blaise, Rich and Jason did not indict Bosco. He is indicted because he enrolled kids and killed many people. Do not try to make confusion by linking all congolese tutsi to Bosco. There are other hatred minded blogs where you can find what you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

@ Jason

Hi Sir. Ignore any insults or threats from “rebels with no cause”. Keep writing what is factual and fair. Anyone is free to bring their argument or facts to bear.

@Blaise

Ur point about “JK in survival mode” is so poignant. I would further add that JK (and his cronies) may well be using instability to play on Congolese patriotic fears, so they can forget about the rest. So I would invite anyone opposed to JK to fight 4 peace especially in the Kivus. Because with peace JK has nowhere to hide. Politics is Congo becomes issue-based, and “le social” takes centre stage. And from the low base that Congo is coming from, le “social” of Congolese won’t be the best in 5 years. At the best, JK can only lay the foundation from where to build the future Congo. I just wish we had a visionary opposition alternative!

muanacongo

Anonymous said...

@ Andrea

U r spots on. Though a lifelong endeavour,Nation building in a country like Congo is fundamental. But my sense is that the concept is more understood in English-speaking world (no equivalent term in French it seems). In Congo, we seem to confuse it with politically charged terms like “patriotism” or “unite nationale”.To me,it should be a more practical effort where every Congolese feels that they belong to the same nation and acts accordingly to promote it.

Though, Mobutu is the no. 1 culprit 4 our current situation but paradoxically he is one of our national heros and the nation builder. Because as he was trying to deepen his dictatorship, he inadvertently created a Congolese national sentiment through sports, culture (“retour a l’authenticite”) and “political brassage” of Congolese cadres. But I doubt that most of current Congolese politicians have even heard the term nation building!


muanacongo

blaise said...

@ anonym MAY 24, 2012 6:37 AM,
I agree that Bosco is not the only problem of Congo but he is part of it, as are the fdlr and some mai mai and even some Fardc.
The perception some of us, out of your community, have is that a lot was given to some of you but it seems that you need even more.
The M23's memento has a lot of reasonable demands but the we all want the same thing. The difference is that we don't raise a rebellion to have what we want. Most congolese are suffering. It's not a Cndp monopoly. As long as some individuals actions will have the support of your whole community, people will perceive you as the problem. I can't talk for the people of Kivu but from my experience I know that congolese are not racist per nature but react with their feelings.

Anonymous said...

@ muanacongo

Thanks for your comment. I've said that because it's a few years i'm now evolving more in the anglo-saxon emisphere rather than frennch-inspired one. Probably the only and pure action of nation-building proposition by a politician was the distibution of t-shirts with the congolese flag and the writing "je suis fier" and "cìest fini la recreation" back to 2007 if i'm right. All the rest is rhetoric. There no is common/shared narrative like it was at the times of zaire, even if there, as you said, mobutu went too far but at least there was a sense of nationhood when people talked about zaire.

I've just done a short research in uvira on the identity of congolese youth for my dissertation, it might take a few weeks to go through the questionnaires but I expect interesting results. The strong evident point coming out is that nobody shaped and worked on the sense of congolese nationhood better than patrice lumumba.

Unfortunately the level of actual politicians is by far lower ...

andrea

Anonymous said...

wow ... such a gud blog on DRC!!!

Anonymous said...

a bit ago, someone posted how they long for the day when the Congolese decide to create great companies that provide goods and services people need, art and ideas that inspire and probe the human condition, and leaders as forceful and bold as Lumumba- instead of militias, rebellions, and corrupt leaders, and compromised armed forces.

i couldn’t agree more.

in so many ways, what is happening right now- the mutiny, the whipping up of nationalist sentiment by a similar compromised JK to fight it, the ongoing violence and displacement of civilians, the vilification of Kagame, et- is a symptom of a Congolese society that is not clear about why it exists in the world.

over the last few weeks, i’ve refrained from weighing in on threads hoping to hear a debate- or atleast a Stearns post- about this central question: what is the Congo for? why does it exist in the world? what is the purpose and destiny of the Congo and its people? what is the legacy- or the gifts- the Congolese want to leave to humanity?

i really think its important, when we get into the weeds of the current conflagration, to do our best to come up for air and give these questions some thought.

and I really believe it is particularly important that some of this blog’s most insightful and inspiring bloaks like Rich, Bruce, Blaise, Bismarck, and Muanacongo, ruminate on some of these questions.

everyone knows i am an american married to a congolese woman. and while my country has severe problems, every american- white, black, latino, democrat, or republican- is fairly clear about what our role in the world is: freedom. yes, our desire for ensuring freedom has led to horrible things but, by and large, our most central cultural trait is ensuring, protecting, and expanding human freedom at all costs and everything this trait produces- goods, services, wealth, ideas, art, legal and political theories- results from it.

so I ask again: what is the Congo for?

Jose

Rich said...

Jose -

The answer to your question is simple. It must be a non sense to even suggest that Congolese don't have a vision or shared values (which I hope you are not) since most of what happened to the Congo is not all the fault of Congolese...

Congo is for, I quote you, "freedom. yes, our desire for ensuring freedom has led to horrible things but, by and large, our most central cultural trait is ensuring, protecting, and expanding human freedom at all costs and everything this trait produces- goods, services, wealth, ideas, art, legal and political theories- WILL result from it."

If anything, Congolese have such a big heart and is surely one of the most hospitable countries in the world despite the fact that the population is poor. Remember, many people from Arfican countries have sought asylum in DRC and they've always been treated with great hospitality; to say the least...

This is not just a rethoric because you can find the same idea reflected in our national anthem DEBOUT CONGOLAIS a legacy left by the founders of that great nation. The lyrics of that anthem have always been so real in the history of Congo.

We earned our independence to live as a free population in a free nation to such a high price that we will never stop to strive regardless until we make that land, which is a wonderful gift from God to all Congolese dead alive and to come, a great place for humanity.

People may think what they want about Congo but for me the vision is as clear as fountain water and if that vision was not there, that nation would have been history LONG AGO but if it is still together and will for many more years to come it is because we CONGOLESE love that piece of land, its geographical shape, its contents, and everything it represents SO MUCH that no humiliation or provisional defeat will make us give it up...

I can go on forever, but I guess my fellow Congolese share most of the things I said here although we may not always agree on the way forward...

DEBOUT CONGOLAIS

Arise, Congolese,
United by fate,
United in the struggle for independence,
Let us hold up our heads, so long bowed,
And now, for good, let us keep moving boldly ahead, in peace.
Oh, ardent people, by hard work we shall build,
In peace, a country more beautiful than before.
VERSE
Countrymen, sing the sacred hymn of your solidarity,
Proudly salute the golden emblem of your sovereignty, Congo.
REFRAIN
Blessed gift (Congo) of our forefathers (Congo),
Oh beloved (Congo) country,
We shall people your soil and ensure your greatness.
(30 June) Oh gentle sun (30 June) of 30 June,
(Holy day) Be witness (holy day) of the immortal oath of freedom
That we pass on to our children forever.

Rich

Anonymous said...

@Jose and Rich

I'm not sure how appropriate it is for me to comment as an American - but I am what academics refer to as a "third culture kid" and I grew up in Congo as a boy and adolescent. When I arrived with my family in rural Bandundu province Joseph Kasavubu was still president - so my memories stretch back to the years of the First Republic.

I recall as a boy at public gatherings when Congolese would sing Debout Congolais, they would stand from the youngest child to the oldest grandparent. Since that time I've never questioned the reality of Congolese national identity.

I recently read an article by Georges Nzonogola-Ntalaja in which he mentioned that Congolese national identity is what Patrice Lumumba gave his life for. I would add Simon Kimbangu's name alongside Lumumba's. Identity is an idea that takes root when people collectively take ownership of it.

Bruce

Anonymous said...

Interesting questions, Jose.

Don't forget another American trait: the ability to re-invent oneself.

As a nation of immigrants, it is also a particularly American trait.

No more clearly seen in the very life of one of America's most inventive artists:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVamOVZNG6U

Anonymous said...

@ Jose, Rich, Bruce


Jose, at first I found ur question (“What is Congo for?”) positively complex & perplexing, but the elucidation from Rich & Bruce are as simplifying & refreshing. “Debout Congolais-Rise Congolese!”, our national hymn does indeed answer the question.

That said, there is such a striking parallel between America and Congo. So just as the American founding fathers valued “freedom” above all, as they were immigrants fleeing tyrannies and monarchies from their home lands, Congolese “Peres Fondateurs” equally captured the values and ideals that should define the Congolese nation, given our own circumstantial trait of a mosaic of peoples, bound by a common history (of pain & joy), trapped on a land that is the envy of the world.

Perhaps the difference between America and Congo is that after 4 centuries of trial-and-error America has maturely come to espouse clearly the idea of freedom as almost a fetish that spurs Americans both as a people and as a country. The challenge therefore for the maturing 51 year old Congo, is now to unambiguously endorse our “Peres Fondateurs” ’s legacy of values and ideals of resilience in seeking freedom (debout), solidarity (common fate), Congo greatness . Like Americans we should simplify and amplify them so they become the catharsis and basis for unleashing at long last the over told and soon to be realized potential of Congo.


muanacongo

blaise said...

I think our national anthem as well "la zairoise" both captured the essence of being Congolese : united by fate(Leo), humiliated, we believe in a better future. we were taught that a bright future is awaiting us, that those sacrifices are necessary to move forward. wherever you go, you will see that we have that love/hate relation with our country. We may disagree about a lot of subjects but we have one ideal that we will stay together as a family.
Maybe that what the M23 and other should understand, as long there will be a Congolese, there will be an united Congo. If one want to defend Rwanda, he should go build his beloved country. We will remember Makobola, we will remember Kataliko. We are not cold bloody killers. One should ask why, those who feel they are Congolese don't cross to Rwanda(8,000 vs 40,000) or rather put their money in a small company than in Gisenyi (cfr award from the Baudoin's foundation).
We congolese have our flows like everybody else, our richness corrupted even the best of us. But at the end of day, we believe that we will show the way to the world.

Anonymous said...

Jose thanks very much for your post and for raising this problem.
I'm just back from a two months trip in the East as a part of my course to run a short research on the topic "identity oc congolese youth". I still have to start go through all the questionnaires but at first hand, unfortunately, I don't see much evidence of " a vision or shared values " as Rich puts it.
The main factor for congolese young boys and girls for their identity is the fact of being born in DRC (territorial identity), secondly having congolese citizenship. Only a few mention "to have origins, traditions in the congo".

It appears also that there are several clivages not only around the East (dichotomy congolese-rwandese) but also East / West.

The only common shared narrative, as somebody mentioned, is the one related to the work of Lumumba that is cited as the most important character of congolese history. Unfortunately the rise in power of Mobutu destroyed that embryon and at the fall of mobutu all the unsolved problems of the country came up (like what happened in europe at the fall of the berlin's wall).

Finally, concept of nation is substituted with concept of state, with the role of leaders more influencial in shaping identities. Now, with a state not functioning, corrupted leaders, lack of vision i find normal that youth still refer to local and tribal allegiances for shaping their identity.

I do believe by the way that congolese are able to distinguish themselves in a way or another. I'm amazed at how distinctive is the neighbourhood of Matonge in Bruxelles about "congolesity". I really think congolese are an incredibly hard-worker population, warm, generous and welcoming. There are few positive signs that, if exploited well, could help build a stronger congolese nation: the will of youth to express themselves, a little civic spirit, a growing political consciousness.

It really looked like a bread paste that need to be cooked, I hope congolese leader one day will decide to take things from the right side and think at the wellbeing fo their people.

andrea

Anonymous said...

Thanks, as per usual, for raising the debate here on Siassa, Jose and others.

Have folks seen this?

http://www.ispeakofcongo.org/

Its (I guess) a new, English-language tumblr (?) that chronicles everyday Congolese who live in the Congo.

Really cool.

Mel

Anonymous said...

To Muanacongo

Re: Monusco

this is a great point- where are they when all these innocent people are dying. what a joke

Anonymous said...

At long long last, the UN publicly recognise the eye-gouging reality: M23 is a Rwandan militia. Check this link: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18231128)

What now? Is justice possible 4 Kagame's martyrs in the Kivus?

muanacongo

Congoman said...

The UN has just confirmed what we have been saying all-along ,the so called M23 are Rwandan nationals who are being recruited in Rwanda by the Rwandan government to go and fight inside the DRC.
After all this evidences of the endless Rwandan aggressions against the DRC it's time for the DRC authorities to stop negotiating with the Rwandan government and to start dealing with them as enemies. You can't negotiate with blood thirst terrorists. Regime change in Rwanda is the only way to bring lasting peace and stability to Central Africa.

Rich said...

muanacongo -

Many thanks for the link. I said this on MAY 23, 2012 12:31 PM and my post is on this thread.

My question is, isn't this, at least, a flagrant attempt to prevent the capture of bosco?

The report says recruting started as far back as February 2012, meaning this was premeditated.

Now, what is HRW, ICC etc... saying about rwandan interference with the arrest of bosco? Surely this is protecting an indicted criminal.

How many more Congolese must die for the world to realise that they are not helping rwandan people by allowing rwandan regime to behave in this way?

Rich

Congoman said...

@Rich
I don't think Kagame is trying to prevent the arrest of BOSCO because BOSCO is living comfortably in his KIGALI home under the protection of his boss PAUL KAGAME. The peoples who are fighting are new KAGAME's recruites under the command of Rwandan officers. 'This latest aggression was prepared well before the so called mutiny and BOSCO left for Rwanda long before the arrival of special forces. The ICC needs to ask KAGAME to deliver BOSCO ,NKUNDA and ether war criminals that he is protecting in KIGALI .

Congoman said...

IF the ICC wanted BOSCO to be arrested,they would'v asked MONUSCO or KAGAME to arrest and deliver him to the Hague because he was committing all his crimes under the watchful eyes of the so called UN Peacekeepers.
Where else have you seen a wanted war criminal having beer with united nations peacekepers ,doing interviews with the press and driving through Un check points....I am convinced that this time the FARDC are going to crash this Rwandan aggression,but BOSCO is going to continue enjoying his freedom in KIGALI and the ICC will never put pressure on Rwanda to arrest him.

Anonymous said...

@Congoman,
I think it will also dependend on how much pressure will the international community put on Rwanda for the handing over of Bosco. Don't forgetv Rwanda depend heavilly on international community

blaise said...

@ Rich,
I think that link answered your question about how so little resist so many. They have underground supports. That's parallel the narrative about the six days war of Israel : a small army surrounded by Arabs nations but manage to crash the enemy against all odds. The reality was of course completely different.
Idk, maybe Monusco( and Monuc before) is just part of that fifth column I was taking about while ago. Maybe somebody remembered that there was a Monuc's commander who was very fond of Nkunda and even went as far as congratulating him before his departure.

@ Mel,
thank you for the link, it's cool indeed.
Just a thought, we are fuming about those rebels but I wonder if there is a nation wide movement to help those IDP. Where is the opposition? Those are moment, in my view, that gives a momentum to a party : helping people in need and talking about unity. I wish Kamehre will raise to the occasion. Maybe he just cares for sud Kivu. Just a thought.

blaise said...

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15002&a=54002
I almost throw up,rofl.

Michel Thill said...

Hi Jason and everyone else,

I have two questions about the short-term causes of these massacres:

1. Would anyone know from where the fighting FARDC troops in North Kivu have been drawn?

2. Could it be possible that these massacres are a partly caused by the fact that the FARDC has been redeployed to the fighting zones further north-east and hence left other areas vulnerable to armed group attacks, an opportunity which the FDLR and the Raia Mutomboki did not wait to exploit?

3. Could this mean that more such massacres can be expected the longer the fighting goes on and maybe even moves further north-east up Rutshuru and into the Virunga National Park?

I would very much appreciate any insides and comments.

Cheers,
Mich

Anonymous said...

@ Blaise
i think and believe me Nkunda is a good leader. Look how the UN Monuc commander went to Kitshanga (at that time CNDP HQ) to congratulate him and say goodbye. Only blind people (ayant la haine de tu...)see Nkunda as a criminal and a Rwandese.This is a good man with strong personality and charismatic. God protect my general.

blaise said...

@ anonym MAY 28, 2012 11:01 AM,
Dear friend,
let's agree to disagree.
I don't think that because a moron from Monuc did what he did will qualify general Nkunda as a good leader(my opinion). Personally, i think the time of tribal chiefs like Geronimo is long pass. Most of Congolese are victims of the brutal Kabila regimes. We all suffered under Mobutu. I don't think anybody has the monopoly of mistreatment and humiliation.
In a military point of view, your general had several successes and not much defeat. Congratulation, he should be like Attila, the scourge of the gods, where he passed, grass won't grow again(blood).
As an human being, he was part of the duo who causes so much suffering in the region. That's a fact. Honestly, I will not mind to have at once a well organized force whose aim is to defend the "whole" population.
If 3/4 of the people rather seek refuge away from you, that a more telling story than anything you can tell me. I trust they know better than anyone. they lived with them, they know them better than anybody in the world. Why are they running away from them and seek protection from the ruthless Fardc?
Let's stop those accusation of racism because the one who is making them is blind to the fact that he doesn't speak for all his countrymen but only for his "people". That racism.
By the way, it's not important for me but I have friends in your community as well as I got more in other communities. Some of us don't strike friendship based on tribal allegiance. If you pay attention to the comments in this article, you will realize that even some Rwandeses think your general is not the virgin Mary.

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15002&a=54002

Congoman said...

@blaise
LAUREN NKUNDA is a bloody criminal with no military education and he does not deserve to be called a general. I will ask this guy how much peace and prosperity his tutsi Community of North Kivu has been enjoying since KAGAME sent them BOSCO NTAGANDA,LAUREN NKUNDA,JULES MUTEBUSI,MAKENGA ...and ether Criminal gangs from Rwanda and Uganda to assume the leadership of their Community. This criminals have turned the once peaceful and potential bread basket of central Africa into a bloody killing fieild . I don't think a mother or father whose Children have been abducted and family made homeless by this Criminals from KIGALI and Kampala will continue to call them heroes just because they are tutsis like him.

blaise said...

@ Congoman
my brother,
you know that some people have a distorted sense of reality. I guess it's the same ideology that justified Hitler and his Nazis. You should give him at least his military instincts, he knows how to inspire his troops to fight for him.

Anonymous said...

@Baaise

Not fight for him, kill innocent congolese for him...como'on guys..this is the fault of our government who can not open up their month full of dollars against Kagame...my question is WHY, why why.
My frustration with this government it just huun...not only the government but also our opposition, what are they doing?

I wonder why people still thinks Kabila rolls for Rwanda, why is not telling us exactly is happening? I always want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt but his behaviour amazed me some time.

@Our Rwandaphone brothers

The Tuthsi is Congo should live in peace, be Congolese if they desire so depending on how long they've been living in Congo.
However the one that are creating trouble and taking arms to kill the same people they want to call brothers should leave and the nationality should also be removed from them.

As Blaise, we are all struggling from the central government incompetency, violation of human right, lack of jobs and so on but we are not going around killing other civilians to justify our grievances.

PS: I am still waiting to get an answer from FDLR, CNDP, M23 and all the other Tutshi, Hutu rebellions in the east...Why are you killing congolese who gave a shelter and land for your cattles? Please someone answer this question.

Deewa

Anonymous said...

http://www.soleildugraben.com/

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