El Memeyi Murangwa
It can be hard for anyone to understand what is really going on in “Democratic” Republic of Congo, known also as Zaire (Belgian Congo). Let me take you back in history before Congo was colonized by Belgians. Located in center of Africa this huge land was formed by different Kingdoms: Congo at the west, Lunda in the south west, Luba in the south east; Azande in the northern part and Rwanda at the east part of the unknown land. Others tribes were living under small sultanates. After the Portuguese Diego Cao discovered the embouchure of Congo River, in 1482 sent by King João II (= John II) of Portugal who revived interest in the quest for a sea route around Africa to India (see: stone pillar (padroe) dedicated to St. George at São Antonio de Zaire). After came Belgians to colonize the new territory and King Leopold II called it Congo, because of the long river crossing the country from south east to the west, before falling in the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1885, Europeans divided Africa, separating members of the same family by making unnatural borders between them, creating new countries for their own benefits. In the Congo, The old Kingdom of Kongo was divided, the west part became Congo Brazzaville (French), the east goes to the actual Province of Bas-Congo in DRC, and the South formed the northern of Angola. The Lunda Empire was divided between Zambia (British), Congo (Belgium) and Angola (Portuguese). The Azande Kingdom went to Centrafrique (French), Sudan (British) and Congo (Belgian). For the Kingdom of Rwanda, parts of it went to Congo (Belge): Goma, Masisi, Rutshuru, Kalehe, Buzi, Nyalukemba, Nyawera, katana, Idjwi and Bukavu, another to Uganda, the Kigezi Province and the south part to Tanzania (the Buha).
The first step of Belgians was to reduce the dimension of Rwanda. Belgians played an important role in 1885 during the Berlin conference and after the World War II, taking over the Kingdom from Germany in 1916. The second step was to overdraw many Traditional Chiefs (Nturo ya Nyilimigabo, Muligo, Mpeta, Barinda, Byandagara, Nshizirungu, Ntamuhanga and Kabangu) replaced by Ndiyo Bwana (Yes Sir!) chiefs from others tribes (Ndeze, Kalinda, Gahembe, Bukavu etc…) more flexible and cooperative with colonialists. The last step was the eviction of the King Musinga of Rwanda; he was deported to Moba (Katanga in DRC) in 1930, where he died in detention. This marked the beginning of a xenophobia and huge plan of persecution against the Banyarwanda, unwelcoming the colony and loyal to the King. The same situation occurred in the South Kivu, where the Congolese Tutsi known as banyamulenge lost their leadership given to others tribes by the colonialist.
Since that time the relation between colonialist and Banyarwanda was going deep and when Congo got his independence in June 1960, Belgians trained new leaders to hate Banyarwanda. They were surprised seeing many Banyarwanda from the politic party CEREA (Centre de Regroupement Africain) winning the first election in 1959, forming a cartel with the MNCL (Patrice Lumumba). Many seat in the first Senate and government (Marcel Bisukiro, Damien Budogo, Cyprien Rwakabuba, Francois Mvuyekure, Jean de Nepomcene Rwiyereka, and Joseph Midiburo). Banyarwanda will remain well represented in political institutions at the national level until November 1965 when Mobutu took over and installed a dictatorship, dividing to reign. The two last wars and other tension in the east part of the Congo are the result of many frustrations that occurred in the past from the Belgian Colonialist and successive dictatorial regimes (Mobutu and Kabila) to Joseph Kabila, that encourage xenophobia and intolerance against Congolese Banyarwanda, sharing the same language and culture with Rwanda.
The beginning of Mobutu reign was calm, but when he tried to organize elections at different level, the struggle began among tribes challenging Banyarwanda leadership in the Kivu Province. Ignoring the Fundamental Law: constitution of independence, the decree-law No 72-002 of Feb 5, 1972, the Parliament voted the law No 81-002 of Jun 2, 1981, confiscating the citizenship of many Congolese Kinyarwanda speakers. Tied at this particular time to the Rwandan Dictator Juvenal Habyarimana who wants to exterminate all Tutsi and moderated Hutu from the Great Lakes Region, Sekimonyo wa Magango, Anzuluni Bembe and Vangu Mambweni were the one pushing members of the Parliament to do such horrible things and used the Congolese Army to persecute Banyarwanda in the Kivu.
After the Genocide in Rwanda, The Hutu Rwandan Power, and the Interahamwe helped by the French (Operation Turquoise), authors of the genocide took refuge in the Kivu Province and started killing Congolese Banyarwanda with the complicity of Congolese Army (http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR620261996?open&of=ENG-316). This will push the Banyarwanda (North Kivu) and Banyamulenge (South-Kivu) to organize a self defense which will overdraw President Mobutu in 1997. The AFDL will mistaken gave the Presidency to a sanguinary rebel known as Laurent Desire Kabila, later killed by his own body guard after he killed many Tutsi- Congolese (3000 persons one night, August 12-13,1998 in Kokolo Camp). He was the one to invite Interahamwe to be a part of Congolese Army up to now (http://hrw.org/reports/1999/congo/Congoweb-02.htm).
Joseph Kabila is following his father's plan to exterminate Banyarwanda and has demonstrated such xenophobia during his recent campaign. He is trying hard to send more than three battalions to clean the Kivu from insects (Banyarwanda) as he said in Goma in July 2006. He did in Bukavu in 2004 and many were rescued by general Nkunda when he intervened in the town. Joseph Kabila plan to complete the task after or before the second round of the election. The international community needs to be aware. Many Congolese still refugees in neighborhood countries and didn’t participate to the recent vote. There is no plan from the Congolese Government to let them back; recently some of them were killed in Burundi on 13 August 2004, when armed combatants attacked Gatumba transit camp close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Today only the part of Congo controlled by Nkunda is peaceful, I mean without Congolese Army, robbing and raping citizens, Mayi-Mayi, and interahamwe militia killing so easily. MONUC recognize the fact and admire CNDP soldier’s discipline. Everywhere else in east Congo, Interahamwe, and Mayi- Mayi militia are killing citizens everyday. Congolese are not pleased to see 17,000 UN “peacekeepers” without specific mission to protect the population, spending most of their time, drinking beer and raping young girls (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7116468/).
Here is why, the CNDP and General Laurent Nkunda stand to protect Banyarwanda (Tutsi and Hutu), preaching reconciliation among communities. A wise man said: Strongest minds are often those of whom the noisy world hears last.
El Memeyi Murangwa
Survivor of Kokolo Camp in Kinshasa, Congo (Aug. 1998)
Fort Worth, TX
Copyright © 2006 El Memeyi Murangwa