Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Assassination Of A Congolese Patriot: Yet The Resistance Grows

The Lay Coordinating Committee issued a call for a third march on Sunday, February 25th. The march was organized in the same fashion as the previous two marches on December 31, 2017 and January 21, 2018, whereby attendees went to mass and demonstrated after church. The committee's demands remained consistent - For Kabila to declare that he would not run for a third term and that he would adhere to key elements of the December 31, 2016 Saint Sylvestre Agreement, which called for actions such as the expansion of political space, release of political prisoners, cessation of arbitrarily arrests and the return of exiled leaders.

Prior to Sunday's march, there was a great deal of international attention and moral pressure exerted on the Kabila regime. Members of the US Congress and foreign affairs offices of the U.S., U.K. and E.U. issued statements calling on the Kabila regime to avoid using lethal force on demonstrates and allowing them to march freely and peacefully.

Keenly aware of the increased attention generated by its repression of peaceful marchers, the regime adjusted its tactics in form but not in substance. On Saturday, February 24th, the night prior to the march, the youth wing of Joseph Kabila's political party, the Peoples Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD) attempted to occupy one of the main churches in the Lingwala neighborhood of Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo. The PPRD youth claimed they were coming into the churches to arrest the priests and pass them over to the police. Youth from the Lingwala neighborhood led by Quatrieme Voie members mobilized to protect the members of the church from the Kabila regime's goons in red berets.

Unfortunately, the day of the March was another bloody affair. Police officers literally staked out churches commando-style as if they were in pursuit of well armed enemy combatants (see below photo).

“A policeman takes cover in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Kinshasa,
Democratic Republic of Congo, February 25, 2018. Reuters/ Goran Tomasevic”
According to the Lay Coordinating Committee, dozens were injured and arrested and at least three people were killed by Kabila's security forces. Most notably, youth activist Rossy Mukendi of activist group "Collectif 2016" succumbed to the bullet of a Congolese police officer. his death has touched the activist community deeply (see below photo).

In spite of the brutal repression from the Kabila regime, the resolve of the Committee is as strong as ever. In a communique issued the day of the march, the committee warned the Kabila regime that there will be no let up on the regime as long as the people is denied their dignity and liberty.

Let us not let up either. Click here to sign the petition demanding justice for the victims of the Kabila regime.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What’s next after the movie, Black Panther?

What’s next after the movie, Black Panther?
By Maurice Robinson

“There is a new world coming and that new world is going to come from Africa” – Kwame Nkrumah.

The African world is highly excited for the anticipated Marvel-Disney movie titled the “Black Panther” which leads to the movie outselling every previous superhero film in advance ticket sales. Black Panther is a fictional super hero character created by Stanley Liber better known as Stan Lee. Many sources confirmed that Lee’s inspiration of the Black Panther logo stems from the Lowndes County Freedom Organization’s logo, which emerged from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in late 1965 and was associated with founding members Willie "Mukasa Dada" Ricks and Kwame Toure also known as Stokely Carmichael (https://adeptpress.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/the-black--panthersthe-coal-tiger-and-us/). The Alabama group used the Black Panther as its logo but the image and term was swiftly picked up by western media in 1966 and was then used by a number of organizations, including two in California (Oakland and Watts), one in Chicago and New York City.

Mr. Lee, editor-writer of Marvel comic book superheroes, the Hulk, Iron Man, Spiderman, Thor and the X-Men developed the character, Black Panther in July of 1966. Stan Lee was also inspired by the Civil Rights movement to create the X-men comic. Lee and his partner Jack Kirby used the iconic civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and El-Hajj Malik Shabazz also known as Malcolm X as the inspirations for characters Charles Xavier also known as Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr also known as Magneto, the creators of the X-Men ”(X-Men-Malcolm-Martin). Stan Lee created the characters to fight against oppression that mutants faced in society instead of fighting aliens and criminals. In a 2000 interview Lee stated that the X-Men were “a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time”(X- Men-Malcolm-Martin). The X-Men mutant heroes used tactics similar to those that were used by King and Malcolm in the 1960s. Professor X strategized a non-violent tactic similar to King and Magneto took more of a defensive stance against violent oppression and prejudice similar to Malcolm.

The era of the 1960s was not only an era of the Civil Rights Movement but also filled with African Independence on the African continent with President Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah achieving independence in Ghana from 1957 to 1966, Amilcar Cabral gaining independence in Guinea-Bissau in 1963, Patrice Emory Lumumba achieving independence in the Congo in 1960 and many more. The backstory of the Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, concerned him and his nation protecting the high-technical advanced society known as the fictional country of Wakanda from European invaders like the supervillain and arch nemesis of the Black Panther, Klaue (Ulysses Klaue), who is the son of Nazi war criminal Colonel Fritz Klaue. In the comics, Klaue was sent to Wakanda to learn their secrets by European Nations and was granted asylum by the Belgium government (Fantastic Four Unlimited #1 (1993), (Marvel Comics). The East-African nation contained and produced a fictional mineral known as the sound-absorbing element of “Vibranium.” As we all know by now from seeing the trailers or the movie of the Black Panther his suit is made with Vibranium that absorbs vibratory or kinetic energy. This mineral is very similar to the Uranium mineral produced in the Congo that was exploited by Western European nations to use for the development of atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan in August 1945 during World War II (New African Magazine: January 2017 pg. 21).

The Black Panther was considered a socialist. As shown in the movie, Captain America: Civil War, there is a scene where the Black Panther states that he does not approve of American politics. Also in the BET and Marvel Knights animation adaptation of the Black Panther, he boldly identifies as a Pan-African socialist (Black Panther animated series: Episode 4, "Death of a Father"). The original concept of the Black Panther was the Coal Tiger, a media term for post- colonial African nations. The term was used in the media metaphorically to represent the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Lumumba, an African revolutionary leader who led resistance against the Belgian colonial government, was also an advocate for nationalizing the resources of the Congo. He was imprisoned, executed and ousted in a military coup backed by the United States of America and Belgium. Let us not forget without neo-colonialism or opportunist puppets, Lumumba would have a hell of a chance of bringing about a Wakanda-like nation in the Congo. The neo-colonialist I am referring to in this instance is Mobutu Sese Seko who served as chief of staff of the army under Lumumba but was taking orders instructed by Belgium and the United States. Mobutu eventually was put in position to deposed Lumumba in 1960. After the assassination of Lumumba, Mobutu transformed the Congo into a ruthless dictatorship nation called Zaire funded by western nations from 1971 to 1997.

Likewise in the animated BET series by writer Reginald Hudlin, The Black Panther which aired in 2010 during sleep hours when the show would likely have lesser viewers, portrayed a character named M’Butu who literally was portrayed to represent the likes of Mobutu (Black Panther animated series: Episode 4, "Death of a Father"). M’Butu was a villain of Black Panther who was backed by Western governments to overthrow the Wakandan leader but failed. M'Butu was also the Prime Minister of Niganda, a fictional country neighboring Wakanda. He was an authoritarian leader, violent with his people and proceeded to barbaric actions, such as purges against doctors (http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Panther_Vol_4_8).

It appears that Lumumba and the Black Panther have 3 main things in common:
1. Protecting their African nations from European governments, more specifically the Belgian government.
2. Having the same goal of maintaining their land and minerals independently for Africans and “Wakadans”.
3. Both being Pan-African socialists with the main goal of keeping their nations free from the exploitive system of capitalism and imperialism.

Minerals like cobalt and coltan that we use today exploited from the Congo is utilized to create the high-tech images that we see in the Black Panther movie. The same minerals make it possible for us to view, share and enjoy pictures and social media posts on our Androids and iPhones. Coltan is a black tar-like mineral found in major quantities in the Congo. The Congo possesses 64 percent of the world's coltan and it can become a heat resistant powder that can hold a high electric charge. The properties of refined coltan is a vital element in creating devices that store energy or capacitors, which are used in a vast array of small electronic devices especially in mobile phones, iPad, tablets, handheld video game devices, laptop computers, pagers, and other electronics (http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/coltan.html). Cobalt is a shiny metal that is a result of the mining of nickel and copper and is found primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC is the largest producer of cobalt in the world, producing an estimated 60% of the world's supply. It also has the largest reserves of cobalt with about 50% of the world's reserve of cobalt. Cobalt is used in two key sectors, military and industry. In the military sector it is vital for the functioning of jet engines and in the commercial industry sector it is critical for rechargeable batteries (http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/coltan.html).

This leads us to the technology question of why is it now that we have a Black Panther movie. The answer is due to the advancement of technology. Actor, Wesley Snipes stated that he had high hopes of bringing the Black Panther to the big screen in the 1990s but failed to do so due to the lack of technology representing the fictional country of Wakanda on the big screen. Snipes reached out to black directors to help develop the film, one in particular, John Singleton. Snipes stated “I laid on him my vision of the film being closer to what you see now: the whole world of Africa being a hidden, highly technically advanced society, cloaked by a force field, Vibranium. Also at the time, we were so far ahead of the game in thinking, the technology was not there to do what they had already created in the comic book” (http://atlantablackstar.com/2018/02/01/wesley-snipes-opens-couldnt-get-black-panther-made-1990s/ ). Due to the setback of technology, Snipes continued to press on with the motion picture, “Blade” about a black vampire hunter superhero (http://atlantablackstar.com/wesley-snipes-opens-couldnt-get-black-panther-made-1990s/). The 1998 film brought in a profit of $131 million worldwide and helped Marvel to get out of debt and put an end to their 1996 bankruptcy. Blade led the way for the Marvel Comic Universe and gave birth to movies like Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and ultimately the Black Panther. Hence, the cobalt and coltan exploited from the Congo which the fictional country of Wakanda is based on produced the seeds for the movie, Black Panther to be developed. Actress `Lupita Nyong’o who plays Nakia, Black Panther’s love interest in the Black Panther movie stated “ Wakanda is such an exciting world to be in. Like none other we have ever seen. What would Africa look like if it was not colonized? I hope the audience leaves thinking about if they can be citizens of Wakanda” (Lupita Nyong'o “Loves Physical Challenge” of “Black Panther” | E! Live from the Red Carpet, YouTube). This transitions us to what is next after we all see the movie Black Panther and how can we see Wakanda in reality and how can we see the new world that is going to come from Africa as Kwame Nkrumah stated. Some are attempting to strive for the reality by creating petitions pressuring Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Company to donate 25 percent of the profits from the movie to STEM programs in the black community. Moreover, a lot of us were already in the struggle prior to the movie working to get our people to live and experience a real Wakanda by reclaiming our home of Africa for the Africans which can only be done through the means of creating political educational organizations and study groups. Yes, we do see the Black Panther as a king who inherited the mantle of Black Panther from his father, King T’Chaka but please do not let this refocus our view that one person can alleviate the masses out of the oppression of capitalism and imperialism. Kwame Nkrumah stated “The total liberation and the unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government must be the primary objective of all Black revolutionaries throughout the
world” (Nkrumah 88 Class Struggle in Africa).

When we turn our attention to the recent 2018 film adaptation of The Black Panther we have to clearly understand that this movie is not representing the previous comic book version nor the Reginald Hudlin’s BET (Black Entertainment Television) animated series of The Black Panther. The first inconsistency of the movie begins in the year of 1992 with the father of The Black Panther, King T'Chaka traveling to Oakland, California to visit his brother, N'Jobu. Ulysses Klaue portrayed as a Black market arms dealer in the movie infiltrated Wakanda and stole vibranium, and T'Chaka accuses N'Jobu of assisting him. N'Jobu's friend reveals himself to be Zuri, an undercover Wakandan who is a spy. T’Chaka exposed his brother working with Klaue, who in the original comics was the Black Panther’s main nemesis, we do not see this in the movie. In the movie we see T’Chaka’s brother, N’Jobu working with Klaue to use vibranium to create weapons to provide to Africans in America to start a revolution against their oppressors. Yes, I know this sounds confusing and misleading due to N’Jobu working with Klaue, who is a colonizer in the comics, to bring an African revolution in America. Once T’Chaka exposes his brother, N’Jobu, N’Jobu becomes defensive by attempting to kill the Wakandan spy, Zuri (who is portrayed by actor Forest Whitaker) but failed to do so after being murder by his brother T’Chaka (the main Black Panther, T’Challa’s father). We have in the first scene of the movie, black on black violence, furthermore black family violence which sets the tone for the remainder of the movie. However, we do have quick scenes of T’Challa along with his beautiful African female bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, fighting Klaue and European enemies but these scenes last for approximately 30 to 45 minutes out of a 2 hour and 15 minute length motion picture.

After these scenes, the movie takes a dive when C.I.A agent, Everett Ross teams up with The Black Panther to take down Klaue. The Black Panther and Ross fail to take down Klaue due to T’Challa’s cousin, Erik Stevens Killmonger, son of N’Jobu who also was not related to T’Challa in the original comics, breaks Klaue free from the constraints of The Black Panther and C.I.A agent Ross. Once Klaue is free, 10 to 15 minutes later in the movie, Erik Killmonger who is played by Michael B. Jordan turns against Klaue and murder’s him and delivers his corpse to Wakanda. From this scene on throughout the entire movie, black on black violence occurs until literally the end of the movie. As the movie carries on, the viewers begin to realize that Killmonger is trying to carry out his father’s goal of a African armed revolution against oppressors but is eventually prevented by The Black Panther and C.I.A agent Ross shooting down aircrafts with weapons being delivered to Africans in the diaspora. Furthermore, viewers come to another realization that the villain Killmonger is the revolutionary not the Black Panther who was a revolutionary in the original comics and Hudlin’s animated BET series. In one scene, Killmonger attempts to persuade The Black Panther to use Wakanda resources to free Africans in the diaspora but The Black Panther denies Killmonger’s request and later murders him. During this scene when The Black Panther murders his cousin, Killmonger, Killmonger states “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage”.

In relation to the scene of Killmonger attempting to persuade The Black Panther to use the resources of Wakanda to liberate the masses of Africans on the continent and the diaspora, I want us to focus our attention to a another quote from, Kwame Nkrumah, “We have to be able to develop our great resources of Africa fully for the well-being of African people as a whole (Nkrumah, Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah). In the final scene of the movie, The Black Panther travels to Oakland, California to the apartment building where his father, T’Chaka killed his uncle, N’Jobu, to purchase the building and transform it to a STEM foundation for black inner-city youth. Are you kidding me? The richest superhero in comic book history who is worth well over a trillion dollars kills his cousin who wanted to create a African revolution with Africans in the diaspora decides to build a STEM facility in Oakland, California, the birthplace and home of the real Black Panthers, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. In the bonus scene after the credits, The Black Panther gives a speech at the United Nations declaring that Wakanda will share its resources with the world while agent Ross was smiling. Also, please do not forget that this movie was release on February 16th, a day before Huey P. Newton’s birthday on February 17th. To add insult to injury, during the scene when T’Chaka murder’s his brother in his apartment in Oakland, the viewer will see a poster of Huey P. Newton in the background on the wall of N’Jobu’s apartment.

In conclusion, overall this Marvel Black Panther movie produced by the racist cartoonist, Walt Disney’s company named after him, Disney, was a counter-revolutionary film. I suggest Black Panther fans to stick with the comics and animated series. Furthermore, if readers and Black Panther fans of African ancestry want to bring about a real Wakanda in Africa, we must organize, unify and free Africa from colonialist like Klaue, Imperialist Western European nations and Neo-Colonialist puppets. In order for a real Wakanda to exist in Africa as a whole, us as Africans must create a union of African states on the continent, eliminate artificial boundaries in Africa that were created by imperial powers and finally as Kwame Nkrumah stated “If we do not formulate plans for unity and take active steps to form political union, we will soon be fighting and warring among ourselves with imperialist and colonialist standing behind the scenes and pulling vicious wires, to make us cut each other’s throats for the sake of their diabolical purposes in Africa (Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah). This is what the Marvel Universe and Disney Company did with our beloved African superhero movie and also what the COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) did with the real revolutionary organization group known as the Black Panther Party. We must unite and organize to bring about a real Wakanda in Africa.

Class Struggle in Africa, Nkrumah, Kwame
New African Magazine: January 2017

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Third Call for March on Sunday, February 25th

The Lay Coordinating Committee called for its third non-violent march on Sunday, February 25th. According to the Committee, the two previous marches on December 31, 2017 and January 21, 2018 mobilized over 3 million people but they were violently repressed by the Kabila regime.

The central demand of the Committee is the implementation of the December 2017 agreement (Saint Sylvestre Accord in French). The Committee says that the Kabila regime's response to their demand has been bloody violence.

The Committee no longer believes in the good will of the Kabila regime. The government has rejected every window of opportunity offered  to it. The Kabila regime has demonstrated clearly that it wants to hold on to power undemocratically.

In calling for the people to stand up against the Kabila regime, the committee issued a warning to those who would:
  • stand against democracy
  • twist the words of the committee to justify violence and barbarism 
  • oppose an independent investigation into the crimes and oppose a process to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and those who issued the orders to repress the people
  • seek to snuff out the aspirations of the Congolese people who are seeking a democratic alternative
The Lay Coordinating Committee called on the United Nations, European Union and the African Union to go beyond mere declarations in the face of the Kabila regime blocking the elections and carrying out violence against the Congolese people.

During the previous two marches, the government shut down the Internet in an effort to block images of security forces violence against the people from reaching the global media. Those of us outside the Congo, can help by amplifying the voices of those on the ground and spreading their message to the larger global community.

Click here to sign the petition to demand justice for the marchers in the Congo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

University of Kinshasa Students Under Seige By Kabila's Security Forces

The University of Kinshasa has been experiencing a very intense tensions today. This morning, the students arrived at the university with the objective of protesting against the payment rate set by the University. In fact the officials are paid at a rate of $58 and yet the University sets a rate of $100 but based on what?* They forget that these officials are our parents and it is thanks to them that we pay our academic fees. This is why the students wanted to protest against this.

Unfortunately, as we are in a state where freedom of expression is violated, the university has become a war zone with uniformed men everywhere, launching tear gas and firing bullets into the students' homes.

What are the consequences? several wounded, property losses and even arrests. We deplore such behavior on the part of the university and the state in an academic environment. Leaders must know that we are in our rights to protest.
*The crux of the problem is that the rate hikes only apply to students who pay in Congolese francs, which is mostly everyone. Those students who pay in American dollars do not have to pay the higher $100 fee, they only pay $58 for their school fees.  This is a concrete example of how poor economic performance and the volatility of the Congolese franc have had a direct impact on students. Other sectors such as teachers, nurses, doctors, etc have all experienced similar challenges due to the weakness of the franc against the US dollar.

Version Française

Bullets & Teargas canister collected by UNIKIN students
l’Université de Kinshasa vit depuis cet avant midi une tension tres intense. Ce matin, les étudiants sont arrivés à l’université avec objectif de protester contre le taux de payement fixé par l’Université. En effect les fonctionnaires sont payé avec un taux de 92000 franc congolais et pourtant l’Université fixe un taux de 160.000 franc congolais, sur base de quoi? Ils oublient que ces fonctionnaires sont nos parents et c’est grace à eux que nous payons nos frais académiques. C’est pourquoi les étudiants ont voulus protester contre cela. Malheureusement comme nous sommes dans un État où la liberté d’expression est bafouée, l’Université s’est transformée en une guerre avec les hommes en uniforme partout jetant des gaz lacrymogènes, des coups de balles jusqu’à la résidence des étudiants.

Conséquences: plusieurs blessés, plusieurs pertes des biens et même les arrestations. Nous déplorons un tel comportement dans les sites universitaires, les dirigeants doivent savoir que nous sommes dans nos droits.

Etudiant à l'UNIKIN

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Faith Leaders and Civilians Face Severe Onslaught From Kabila's Security Forces

Testimony: Jean-Marie Kalonji in below photo
Location: Notre Dame
Commune: Lingwala. Kinshasa
Riot police officers fired tear gas during a protest in Kinshasa,
the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Sunday.
Credit Kenny Katombe/Reuters

Church started at 6:30 am and the sermon was over around 8:20 am. The priests and the people started to march for about 100 meters (30 min), then the population was attacked by surprise from behind and in the front with jeeps and guns.

Given the people were close to the priest the police tried to find a way to separate the people from the priests. The people were kneeling and praying, than getting up and continuing while singing.

The people sat and laid down on the floor on three occasions when attacked by the security forces:
1. First, when the marchers were surrounded the priests instructed the people to sit on the floor. The priests started arguing with the police to let the people march.
2. Second time when the marchers saw that the police managed to separate one of the priests from the group, everyone sat on the floor again while other priests negotiated with the police.
3. On the third occasion, same thing people were kneeling, sitting and standing in one place.

Kabila's security forces started pulling the priests away from the people in an attempt to separate them and drive them back to the church. The marchers quickly recognized the strategy to take the priests back to the church so that the people would be isolated from religious leaders. The people insisted on following the priests back to the church. The police began preventing the people from walking back to church, and came in the middle of the crowd to pull away the priests. The police started pushing people with their guns to try to disperse crowds. Once they managed to separate the people from the priests, they started firing tear gas in the group of people and within a matter of seconds at least 20 tear gas canisters were released. People started running in different directions and others laid on the ground and took cover.

MONUSCO sent one Jeep that was filming and and the press was documenting the repression. The police are currently shooting in the air and going on avenues trying to disperse people from gathering and marching.

Click here to demand justice for the Congolese people!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Kabila’s New Years Eve Message to the Congolese People: We Will Crush You!

In the tradition of liberation theology, faith leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo called on the Congolese people to stand up (#Telema) and reclaim their country. They appealed to the population to participate in a peaceful march throughout the country on Sunday, December 31st, 2017. They instructed the people to march in their local neighborhoods while reciting bible verses and incantations. Civil society, citizens movements formations and the opposition all responded to the call from the faith leaders.

The primary demand of the faith leaders is for Joseph Kabila - who has overstayed his constitutional mandate which expired on December 19, 2016 - to declare that he will not run in the next elections. In addition, they called for the unconditional release of political prisoners, the return of exiled political figures, opening of media that have been shuttered, along with a number of other demands to ultimately ease the tense political climate.

A more radical call came from the Congolese youth, civil society and the opposition. They want Kabila to step down. They have no faith that he will organize elections and even if he does, they believe that the elections will certainly be rigged.

Sunday’s march is a result of a year of frustration for the faith leaders, particularly Catholic Church leaders belonging to the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO in French). They facilitated talks between Joseph Kabila and opposition that resulted in a New Year’s Eve deal on December 31, 2016. The deal gave Kabila an additional year to organize elections by December 2017. The CENCO was widely seen as the entity that prevented a clash between the Kabila regime and the Congolese people in December of 2016.

The United States under the leadership of President Barack Obama and other Western leaders had put enormous pressure on the opposition to abort a planned demonstration at the end of Kabila’s term (December 19, 2016) if he did not step down. To the chagrin of many Congolese, The Obama Administration had pushed for Kabila to organize elections in 2017, even though Kabila’s term expired in December of 2016. It appears that the Obama Administration took the path of least resistance – let Kabila stay and have the next Administration deal with the issue - with less than a couple months left in Obama’s presidency.

CENCO stepped in to be the arbitrator between the opposition and the Kabila regime. However, another year has passed and Kabila refused to organize elections per the December 31, 2016 deal. Kabila spent the past year strengthening his hand by arresting certain opposition figures and buying off others. One of the major weaknesses of the Congolese political class is that it lacks any clear political ideology and can wind up on either side at any moment – opposition or majority – depending on the offer from the regime.

The Trump Administration has pursued a similar policy path to the Obama Administration.  After US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley visited the Congo in October, the U.S. called for elections to be held in 2018 with Kabila remaining as President. Although the electoral commission finally published an electoral calendar that set the election date for December 2018, the people have very little faith that elections will be held and even if they are held, they will likely be rigged in favor of Kabila’s presidential majority coalition.

The major regional and international bodies (United Nations, European Union, African Union and Southern African Development Community - SADC) have aligned with the December 2018 calendar putting them at odds with the masses of Congolese who want to see Kabila gone and a new electoral commission set up to organize free and fair elections, which are impossible to organize under Kabila and the current electoral commission. SADC has been a key player led by Jacob Zuma who has been a staunch supporter of Joseph Kabila, many believe in large part because of economic interest his family has in Congo. Kabila granted Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma a R100 billion oil fortune in the northeast of the Congo.

The signal these regional and continental bodies, along with the West, have sent is that as long as elections are held, they will be satisfied even if Kabila’s majority coalition rigs the results and maintain the same set of actors in power. The Congo holds the distinction of having every one of its elected officials at the federal level staying in office beyond their legal mandates. Renowned Congolese medical doctor and moral voice for the Congo, Dr Denis Mukwege says, all elected institutions in the country are illegal. Lacking legitimacy among the people, the Kabila regime has ruled by fear and force. For all intents and purposes, millions of people are being held hostage by an illegal regime that has militarized public space throughout the country.

Early reports from the New Year’s eve march reinforce the nature of the repressive rule by the Kabila regime. In an attempt to prevent the march, security forces and tanks were dispatched in major cities; roadblocks were set-up; tanks blocked entrance to churches in some areas; in other areas police were stationed to prevent access to houses of worship; and some church doors were sealed and/or locked by the security forces.

For those who succeeded in making it to church, the brutality was raw and naked. Parishioners were met with tear gas fired inside the church, stun grenades, live bullets, choir boys were arrested and pastors were beaten and jailed. The brutality and massive demonstration of force against unarmed civilians left little doubt that we are dealing with a people under occupation by an illegal, illegitimate military regime. Major media outlets have reported three dead and many arrested.

Meanwhile the organizers of the march have claimed about a dozen dead, fourteen seriously injured and about 20 people arrested including two pastors and many churches ransacked and damaged. Video and photo documentation of the repression is slowly surfacing due to the fact the government issued a decree the night before to all major telecommunications operators to shut down Internet and SMS services across the country.

Faith leaders and people of conscience throughout Africa should be outraged that 80 million people in the heart of the continent are facing such depraved brutality from a regime that has surpassed its constitutional mandate and lacks legitimacy among the people. In spite of the Kabila regime’s repression and the brutality, the people are as determined as ever to rid themselves of Kabila and his accomplices. They have responded to the faith leaders’ call to take their destiny into their own hands. The New Year Eve’s events have only strengthened the resolve of the people to resist until a new order is installed in the Congo by the masses of Congolese.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

The political commitment of Congolese Christians, in action, for the DRC

Dear fellow Congolese,

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - said Martin Luther King. This quote was the basis of this morning's preaching, December 28, 2017, at the Catholic parish of my neighborhood in Kinshasa, DRC.

This preaching has invited Congolese to be Christians with light in their actions that reflect the teachings of Jesus-Christ.  "Mo Kristo azali mwinda": A Christian is a light.

The salubrity that characterizes many cities in the DRC, particularly Kinshasa, is a sign of willful blindness or self delusion that the Congolese people are in ignorance while languishing in misery.

It was pointed out that the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the DRC is dramatic and is getting worse all over the DRC. Ignorance, poverty, malnutrition, infectious diseases such as cholera and others are raging in the DRC while bad governance, violence, corruption, salubrity, ignorance, moral depravity, mediocrity and injustice are ruling the country.

Any religion that is unable to respond to the socio-economic and political problems of a society, in which it lives, has no reason for existence.

It is therefore essential that Christians receive training on constructive social doctrine of Christianity, to be able to act and live in the world according to the evangelical values.

The Catholic Church has therefore constantly reminded Christians in texts or speeches that are not often unambiguous, but at least have the merit of being clear, the injunction made to Christians to feel concerned by policies /politics. If you do not take care of politics, politics will take care of you.

What is observed is that many Christians are sensitive to the shadows and burden of political action. But those who suspect the politics of infamy often have a short idea. In reality, regardless of its frivolities, its failures and its corruptions, political action has a formidable stake: to tend towards a society in which each human being would recognize in any other human his brother or sister and would treat him or her as equal and with love.

Thus, every Congolese Christian should feel concerned by politics in the DRC. Whenever he/she can, they are called to be active citizen always taking care to minimize the results of their action. In today's society, there are several places where the future of humans is determined. We can act individually or collectively at the level of a family, a company, a region, an association, a neighborhood, a political party, a government, a country etc. The wider is the field of political action, the more Christians are demanded to demonstrate thoughtful commitment.

Indeed, it is the entire daily life (work, nutrition, housing, health, education, leisure etc.) of each human that depends on economic, cultural and state political decisions. Political choices do not only have immediate effects but also long-term ones, they also engage future generations.

All Congolese Christians have therefore been invited to commit for change and freedom in the DRC, a country that is being held hostage by a minority of people who are enriching themselves and exploiting the majority who are languishing in the most abject misery as well as in a dehumanizing insecurity.

A vibrant tribute was paid to all victims and survivors of exploitation and violence in the DRC.

The Congolese laity urged the DRC populations to overcome fear and take their responsibility  by mobilizing for the 31st  December 2017 Christians march in solidarity to claim their rights as well as to act individually and collectively to emit a Christian light in the DRC.

Congolese must no longer be silent about things that matter.

Peace and solidarity
A human being who adheres to Christian values as taught by Jesus-Christ, which are fundamental and universal.

L'engagement politique de Chrétiens Congolais, en action, pour la RDC

Chers Compatriotes Congolais,

"Nos vies commencent à se terminer le jour où nous devenons silencieux à propos des choses qui comptent." – dixit Martin Luther King.

Cette citation était à la base de la prédication de ce matin, 28 décembre 2017,  à la paroisse Catholique  de mon quartier à Kinshasa, en RDC.

Cette prédication a invité les Congolais à être des chrétiens ayant une lumière dans leurs actions qui reflètent les enseignements de Jésus-Christ. « Mo Kristo azali mwinda »: Un Chrétien est une lumière.

L’insalubrité qui caractérise de nombreuses villes en RDC, particulièrement Kinshasa, est un signe d’aveuglement dont souffrent les populations Congolaises qui sont dans l’ignorance et croupissent dans la misère. 

Il a été rappelé que la situation humanitaire et socio-économique, en RDC, est dramatique, et qu’elle ne fait que s’empirer, partout en RDC. L’ignorance, la pauvreté, la malnutrition, les maladies infectieuses telle que la cholera et d’autres sévissent pendant que la mauvaise gouvernance,  la violence, la corruption, l’insalubrité, l’ignorance, la dépravation des mœurs, la médiocrité et l’injustice font la loi.

Toute religion qui n'est pas capable de répondre aux problèmes socio-économique et politique dans laquelle elle vit, n’a pas de raison d’exister. 

Il est donc indispensable que les chrétiens reçoivent une bonne formation sur la doctrine sociale du Christianisme, pour pouvoir agir et vivre dans le monde selon les valeurs évangéliques.

L’Église catholique n’a donc cessé de rappeler aux chrétiens dans des textes ou discours qui ne sont pas souvent sans ambiguïté, mais qui du moins ont le mérite d’être clairs, l’injonction faite aux chrétiens de se sentir concernés par la politique. Si tu ne t'occupes pas de la politique, la politique, elle, s'occupera de toi.

Ce qu’on observe, c’est que beaucoup de chrétiens sont sensibles aux ombres et aux pesanteurs de l’action politique. Mais ceux qui soupçonnent la politique d’infamie s’en font souvent une idée courte. En réalité, même à travers ses frivolités, ses défaillances et ses corruptions, l’action politique a un formidable enjeu : tendre vers une société dans laquelle chaque être humain reconnaîtrait en n’importe quel autre humain son frère ou sœur et l’en traiterait comme tel, en égal et avec amour.

Ainsi, tout chrétien Congolais devrait se sentir concerné par la politique en RDC. Chaque fois qu’il le peut, il est appelé à être citoyen actif en se gardant toujours de minimiser les résultats de son action. Dans les sociétés actuelles, les "lieux", où se joue le devenir des hommes, se multiplient. On peut agir individuellement ou collectivement, au niveau de la famille, d’une entreprise, d’une région, d’une association, d’une commune, d’un quartier, d’un parti politique ; d’un gouvernement, d’un pays etc.

Plus s’élargit le champ de l’action politique, plus s’impose aux Chrétiens l’exigence d’un engagement réfléchi.  En effet, c’est toute la vie quotidienne (travail, nutrition, habitat, santé, éducation, loisirs etc.) de chacun qui dépend des décisions politiques des pouvoirs économiques, culturels, étatiques. Les choix politiques ont non seulement une portée immédiate mais aussi une portée à long terme, ils engagent les générations ultérieures.

Il a donc été demandé à tous Chrétiens Congolais de s’engager pour le changement et la libération en RDC, un pays qui est pris en otage par une minorité de gens qui s’enrichissent et exploitent la majorité qui croupit dans la misère la plus abjecte ainsi qu’une insécurité déshumanisante. Un vibrant hommage a été rendu à toutes les victimes et les survivants de l’exploitation et des violences en RDC.

Les laïcs Congolais ont exhorté les populations  à vaincre la peur et se prendre en charge en se mobilisant pour la marche des chrétiens du 31 décembre 2017,  en solidarité pour réclamer leurs droits ainsi que d’agir individuellement et collectivement pour émettre la lumière Chrétienne en RDC.

Les Congolais ne doivent plus rester silencieux à propos des choses qui comptent.

Paix et solidarité
Un être humain qui adhère aux valeurs chrétiennes telles qu’enseignées par Jésus-Christ, qui sont fondamentales et universelles.