Congo Week: Day Six
Guest Post from:
Student Coordinator, Spokesperson
Friends of the Congo
This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.
Today – Friends of the Congo’s Kambale Musavuli examines what you can do to support the Congolese-led call for justice in the DRC. The views are his own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.
October 1st, 2010 marks a historic date where finally the Congolese people have been given a chance to demand justice for the atrocities that have been taking place in the Congo since 1996. On that day, the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report documenting 617 alleged violent incidents occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003. In light of this report, people throughout the globe have issued a worldwide call for justice in response to the greatest crimes committed against humanity at the dawn of the 21st Century in the heart of Africa.
The DRC is located in the heart of Africa straddling the equator and is home to 65 million people. It is bordered by nine other countries; is the size of Western Europe and the fulcrum on which the African continent swings. Its agricultural capacity can feed nine billion people, but the DRC only uses less than 5% of its arable land. DRC is home to the second largest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon forest, making it a vital country for the fight against climate change. Its river, the mighty Congo River, can provide electricity to the whole continent of Africa. Congo is a young country with the majority of its population 18 years old or younger.
With these basic facts on the DRC, the world is still unaware of the country’s current challenges. From 1996 to present an estimated six million Congolese have lost their lives in a resource war due to the lust of powerful nations, corporations and individuals in the modern-day scramble for Africa.
With the exponential growth in modern technology, the DRC became ground zero for the resource exploitation of minerals used in our cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. One of the resources coveted in the Congo is a mineral known as coltan (columbite tantalite). Congo holds 64% of the world’s reserves of coltan. The Congolese people have been caught in the midst of a struggle for control over resources and have witnessed some of the most gruesome crimes that human beings have come to know to date. The United Nations has dubbed the Congo conflict as the deadliest since World War II.
In spite of the remarkable obstacles faced by the Congolese people, those challenges can be overcome, especially in light of the potential that exists in the Congo. Ordinary people around the world have been taking action in partnership with the Congolese people since 2008 when a global movement spearheaded by youth was launched. This movement is called “Breaking The Silence” Congo Week.
Congo Week is a week-long event hosted by people around the world to raise global consciousness about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and advocate for peace, justice and human dignity for the people of the Congo. It takes place every third week of October. Congo Week continues to grow rapidly inside and outside of the Congo as people throughout the globe utilize the occasion to articulate the challenges and potential that exists in the heart of Africa and stand in solidarity with Congolese seeking an end to the enormous suffering and allow the DRC to act on the existing potential. Congo Week is in fact a call for justice for the peoples of the Congo.
Since Friends of the Congo launched Congo Week in October 2008, over 50 countries and 200 university campuses and communities have participated in the global call for justice. Some highlights of Congo Week III in October 2010 have included: a marathon Run by the International Criminal Court Staff in Amsterdam, a caravan of activists from Kenya to South Kivu for the International Women’s March, a commemoration ceremony of the lives Lost in the Congo War in Kisangani, and the “Congo In Harlem” film series in New York.
More people are becoming aware and engaged. Their actions, no matter how small, strengthen the resolve of Congolese inside the DRC who fight day and night for peaceful and lasting change.
While joining the Congolese people in this global call for justice, we know we are following in the traditions of great American who raised their voices 100 years ago to end the killing of 10 million Congolese under the rule of King Leopold II. Americans such as William Sheppard, George Washington Williams, Mark Twain, Maria Fearing, Booker T Washington, to name a few, all help create the first global movement in support of the Congo.
Today, we are urging ordinary citizens around the world to be the voice of the voiceless in the DRC by joining the Break The Silence movement in support of the Congolese. From organizing forums, to planning a concert in support of the Congo, while encouraging your city council to pass a resolution in support of the Congo, every action taken counts. The best and optimum way people can help the Congo is to bring their talents, skills, know-how and expertise to bear on the global movement in support of the people of the Congo. Just as ordinary citizens came together to end Apartheid in South Africa, we must develop a global consensus to bring an end to the conflict and assure that the affairs of the DRC are determined by the people of the Congo. The DRC movement of today is as important as the Free South Africa movement was yesterday.
Congolese people knowing that they are not alone and have support throughout the globe makes a tremendous difference. This is a historic opportunity for you to be a part of a growing global movement to bring an end to what is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world and the deadliest conflict since World War II.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kambale Musavuli is the student coordinator and spokesperson for Friends of the Congo. He runs the blog Kambale.com where he shares personal perspective about Congo, the Congolese diaspora, and the Congo Week Movement. Follow him on twitter @kambale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org