Congo in the Abyss

The aggression of Western governments has inflicted multiple holocausts on the Congolese people, Congolese historian Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko tells Ann Garrison.

By Ann Garrison
Black Agenda Report

This week I spoke to Swiss Congolese historian and activist Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko about recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who said, In Congo, globalized capitalism creates permanent chaos.”

Ann Garrison: On February 12, 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that there were 4.49 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 630,500 refugees in neighboring countries. The IDP population had nearly doubled in the previous year alone, mainly as a result of clashes and armed attacks. It sounds like conditions on the ground in Congo are getting worse, much worse.

Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko: Congo is indeed in a critical situation. We know how much its people have suffered since the genocides in Rwanda and all the displacement they caused, then by the wars that Rwanda and Uganda waged against Congo from 1996 to 1997 and then from 1998 to 2003, with the support of the US, UK, and their allies. Today some observers speak of Congo as a post-conflict country, but it’s still in a low-intensity conflict, off and on, hot and cold. A conflict that drags on like this can become even deadlier than declared war, as it has in the North and South Kivu Provinces bordering Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. More than a million of the 4.49 million internally displaced people are in North Kivu Province.

In the past two years the situation has also deteriorated in the Kasai region, where people are being exterminated or displaced to Angola. There has also been an increase in attacks against the populations of the former Katanga Province, which was split into the Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, Lualaba and Haut-Katanga Provinces in 2015. Congo and its people are not on the brink of the abyss, they have long since fallen into it.

People are being exterminated in the Kasai region or displaced to Angola.”

Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko

AG: It’s hard to know what to say about so much suffering. What would you most like to say about it here?

BKN: Suffering should inspire compassion, but compassion should inspire reflection. Is the person who looks at a suffering human being able to ask himself if he is not involved in one way or another in the suffering of the individual in front of him? Can he or she grasp the causes of the crimes perpetrated against that human being and the political implications that arise from these acts? If we stop at the suffering of the Congolese people, we won’t be able to address its particularities and causes. It will be no different than the depressing and fatalistic images that have shaped the image of Africa in people’s minds. We must examine Western governments’ imperial aggression against Congo and Africa as a whole.

AG: Dr. Denis Mukwege, the Congolese gynecologist who became known as “the man who heals women” for treating the victims of brutal rape in eastern Congo, finally won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Does that give you any hope?

BKN: I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Mukwege in person. I saw this man with women from all over the world who had all been raped during conflicts. They came from Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, and Iraq. I could see how this man spoke to these women, the concern he had for them and his way of telling them that their word counted. He has all my admiration.

That said, it seems to me that there is also something cynical about presenting him with the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s an organized, staged reality that obliterates the imperial aggression in Congo and encourages a global consensus to stop the rapes but continue the war. It makes the Western Nobel Peace Prize audience feel good about themselves and their compassionate response to the victims of African savagery. This was reinforced by Nadia Murad, the Iraqi rape survivor who shared this year’s Peace Prize with Dr. Mukwege. She said that she would continue as a global advocate for victims of rape and torture, and for persecuted minorities, like the Kurdish Yazidi minority she belongs to.

The Nobel Peace Prize encourages a global consensus to stop the rapes but continue the war.”

The deeply political discourse imposed by the Nobel Committee is intended to bolster, not disturb, the dominant order. It is part of the Western will to write official history, where the important thing is constructing a discourse on the woman, on the brutalities she has to suffer. It’s a discourse wholly accepted in Western societies because of the feminist struggles. In this discourse, Dr. Mukwege is the man of an inter-world, a Black man who is meant to become white. He is like the white man who knows how to defend the rights of women against the barbarism of uncivilized men—Black in this case—who are essentially defined by their savagery.

AG: Male rape is also a weapon of war in Congo and elsewhere. It’s rarely reported, though it was given some attention in “The Nobel committee shines a spotlight on rape in conflict ,” an October 11 “Economist” report that said it’s hard to estimate its frequency because so many men fear to report it because they’re so humiliated and may fear being accused of the crime of homosexuality. Uganda’s Refugee Law Project explained this profoundly in their film Gender Against Men , which I recommend to anyone reading this. The rape of both men and women as a weapon to destroy community makes it more clear that there is an ongoing genocide against the Congolese people, not just “femicide.” Could you talk about how the singular focus on violence against women hides that?

BKN: I have always been disturbed by the speech of Margaret Wallström, the former UN Special Envoy for violence against women and children in conflict. In 2010, after a stay in Congo, she claimed that this country was the rape capital of the world, and urged the Security Council to act to stop it. This statement associated the crime of rape with a specific nation, Congo, and with all the male individuals within. The word “capital” typically refers to the most central location, the brain and heart of a nation, the carrier of the cultural values. So one of Congo’s cultural values would be rape?

This perception of a pathological Congolese society filled with male rapists is also shared by a lot of Western women who campaign for Congolese women, like Eve Ensler. They even go so far as to call what is happening in Congo a femicide, a war against women. This portrays the Congolese male as an atavistic rapist.

The perception of a pathological Congolese society filled with male rapists is also shared by a lot of Western women who campaign for Congolese women.”

The extreme focus on Congolese women’s bodies is not intended to defend them but is part of a broader discourse on the savagery of Congolese men and Black African male populations in general. Congo is the world capital of rape. Congo is the capital of a savage nation in the heart of Black Africa where Congolese men rape women to destroy them. Who could regret seeing such a deviant society cleared off the face of the earth?

Wallström: Stopped short of condemning Western intervention.

UN envoy Margaret Wallström didn’t call for an end to the imperialist war waged against Congo and Africa in general. She said nothing about the imperial powers who commissioned the war crimes, including rape, against the Congolese people. She did not call on the Security Council to establish a tribunal to prosecute the crimes that were evidenced in the 2010 UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993-2003 , which revealed most significantly the crimes of longstanding US ally Rwanda. Instead, she called Congo the rape capital of the world and called on the Security Council to intervene against savage Congolese men.

AG: Some people have proposed that Dr. Mukwege, the most internationally recognized moral authority in Congo, should head a transitional government there. They include our mutual friends Patrick Mbecko and Jean-Claude Maswana, both of whom are highly respected Congolese scholars and activists. What do you think of that idea, and how do you imagine “transitional government” in Congo?

BKN: The fact is that I often wonder what people mean when they say that they want a transitional government. I’m sure that our friends Patrick Mbeko and Jean-Claude Maswana have very specific ideas on what it means, but when I read many other Congolese on “transition,” it seems that this is a kind of magic bag that would help us get rid of President Joseph Kabila, his troops, and the Rwandan occupiers. It does not in any way address, for example, the problem of neocolonialism or the case of the so-called Congolese opposition. The latter are, in my opinion, people who must be removed from the political sphere in Congo. They have flagrantly participated in sustaining Kabila’s tyrannical reign, even when the so-called constitution didn’t allow him to stay in power anymore. In addition, they never had the courage to explain to the population what role Rwanda and Uganda were playing in Congo’s tragedy. Are we going to include them in that transitional government? The transition presented this way has no appeal to me, even if it is led by Dr. Mukwege.

Only a deep and radical rupture would give us the possibility of rebuilding the Congo state.”

I instead subscribe to the thought of another of my friends, Father Jean-Pierre Mbelu. For him, we cannot speak of transitional government in Congo, because it presupposes that there has been a form of democracy that should be restored after a period of crisis. The problem of Congo, however, cannot be summed up by a political crisis. The country is rather subjected to a permanent coup d’etat, and only a deep and radical rupture would give us the possibility of rebuilding the Congo state.Calling for transitions has been the solution that the international community has wanted to systematize in several African countries, including Congo, but its results leave much to be desired. The transition away from Kabila puts, in my opinion, too much weight on Kabila. It does not insist enough on revealing who created Kabila and does not inform us on the type of government and society we want to build after Kabila.

AG: Liberal Democrats and even leftists in the US are now so horrified by Donald Trump that our politics have been largely reduced to pro- and anti-Trump politics. You have the same problem regarding Kabila in Congo, don’t you?

BKN: Yes, and it is an eminently dangerous position because it means in fact no choice. It is an enclosure in a dichotomous circle that does not allow any escape or possibility to imagine other systems than the ones that exist. In this case, we are in the middle of a democratic illusion. Democracy according to this meaning is the right to be for or against. It is the right to change between two sides of the same coin while the ideology that creates the coin remains unchanged. This refers to the fundamental problem posed by capitalism. It is indeed a system that organizes a non-choice, that creates the illusion of choice for the benefit of the oligarchies that rule us. The tragedy of countries like ours is that they run after what they believe to be democracy, a binary system where it is only possible to be pro- or anti-X. It is even sadder because we’ve forgotten that this binary system never existed on the African continent prior to colonization but forms of real democracy did, especially in the Kongo Kingdom.

AG: Kabila should go, as Trump should, but what other forms of organizing are needed to alleviate the suffering and put Congolese on a path to claim their country’s enormous wealth and potential?

BKN: If we think about change, we need to understand that we all live within the context of globalized capitalism. We need also to understand that capitalism appears in different shapes and forms according to the space it is targeting. In Congo, it creates permanent chaos so as to maintain people in that chaos, with no boundaries to the violence because the state exists only as the most minimal simulacra of Western institutions. These are the prerequisites for plundering the country, draining it of its minerals and other natural resources, some of which have been declared strategic for US security. It not only kills and displaces Congolese but also dismantles their communities and so disorients them that they are unable to understand the global capitalist world and the role that Congo is relegated to within it. It all but eliminates their capacity to defend themselves. One must understand and broaden the understanding of this to fight back effectively and bring about change.

The individual alone, even if he or she understands what is at stake, cannot change anything, but Congo is hammered again and again with the idea that only an individual can change the course of events, so people are waiting for that particular individual. It is therefore not surprising to see the extreme focus on who will be the next president. That focus is fundamentally disorientating. It is a key element of the collaboration between the national comprador class and the imperialists, which summarizes the political history of the Congo since its independence.

Political sovereignty can be regained only at a democratic community level, where pro-poor and rights based policies can be elaborated and ultimately shape the future of Congo.”

So we need to reverse things in a way that distributes power from the base to the top. It is therefore important not for the individual but for the communities to gain a level of control over different aspects of their daily lives. This means that we need strong base-building organizations that will be able to generate power and undertake collective actions to challenge the existing order. Such commitment requires that Congolese come to understand that power as it exists is a social construct put in place by the colonizers 500 years ago. Political sovereignty can be regained only at a democratic community level, where pro-poor and rights based policies can be elaborated and ultimately shape the future of Congo. And again, Congo has in its past known those forms of community-based organizations, so they have to be recovered and adapted to defeat the realities of neoliberalism as differentiated from formal colonialism and neocolonialism.

It will also be necessary to organize self-defense forces because we must not be fooled. Those who exploit us have weapons, and they are not ready to let go of Congo. This must be a war of liberation.

AG: Lastly, could you break down the latest developments in Rwanda’s ongoing occupation of Congo? Rwandan political prisoners Victoire Ingabire and Kizito Mihigo were released earlier this month. Then, last week, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo won her bid to head the International Organization of La Francophonie . Also last week, a French prosecutor asked a French judge to dismiss charges against Rwandan Patriotic Army officers for assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira in 1994.

Kabila: Proconsul of Kigali in the Congo

BKN: These last two years, Kabila, who is the proconsul of Kigali in the Congo, has worked to strengthen the Rwandan occupation of the country by appointing senior Tutsi officers in the national army and appointing men like Azarias Ruberwa at the head of the Ministry for Decentralization, which Congolese call the ministry for balkanization. This shows that Rwandan President Paul Kagame and those surrounding him have no intention of withdrawing from the Congo, a country whose wealth allows them to build big shiny buildings in Rwanda’s capital, then point to them and as proof of Rwanda’s economic growth even though most Rwandans are still very poor and the country still relies on foreign aid for 40% of its annual budget.

Rwanda’s shiny surface and the widespread fable about Rwandan economic growth also give Kagame credibility among Africans, and this is why the appointment of Mushikiwabo has been rather well received in Africa. Most Africans are, like the rest of the world, ill-informed about Rwandan realities. They have interpreted Mushikiwabo’s appointment as the victory of an African leader against Europe, France in particular. They forget that France plays the leading role in La Francophonie and France chose Mushikiwabo. [See “The ugly facts about the Francophonie.” When France says that they want a particular person to lead the organization, they more often than not get their way.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and those surrounding him have no intention of withdrawing from the Congo.”

Having Mushikiwabo as president is a way for France to regain the influence in Central Africa that it lost to the United States after Bill Clinton’s arrival in the White House. In this French/Rwandan bargain—because that is what it is—Kagame must have demanded that the long-running French investigation of his attack on Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane be permanently closed because it was an aggravating refutation of the panegyric that he is Rwanda’s savior. Some call this a victory for Rwandan diplomacy, but it’s more like a small hit man in the middle of an international mafia using blackmail to achieve his ends. On the French side of the bargain, it helps them reestablish France’s access to the immensely rich Congolese subsoil.

It is also important for France not to appear to be associated with a brutal regime that imprisons female opponents. Thus Kagame was forced to release political prisoners Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Diane Rwigara to polish his image.In a country that boasts of having worked so hard on the advancement of women, these high-profile female political prisoners, both of whom attempted to challenge Kagame for the presidency, hugely stained his image. But the good news is that these two women refused to keep silent about what was happening in Rwanda after their release. They presage a much more difficult future for Kagame and the deadly system he put in place. It is therefore a great joy to see these women free again and more determined than ever. They are among the leaders and organizers that this long suffering region has hoped for.

This article was originally published on the Black Agenda Report.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.

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29 comments for “Congo in the Abyss

  1. William Rood
    October 31, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Wow, there sure is a lot in this interview for those who know just a little truth of what’s been going on in East and Central Africa for the past 30 years. The first and most important truth people need to understand is that the “Rwandan genocide” as reported by western media was a foul lie. The killings were not organized by the Hutu against the Tutsi, but vice verse, by Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Force to force his will on the Hutu and a small number of loyal Tutsi. The truth of these atrocities is laid out in 82 short but well-documented pages (there’s an additional 40+ pages of notes and documents) of Edward Herman’s and David Peterson’s expose, Enduring Lies: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24060399-enduring-lies.

    Since then, Kagame has gone on serial rampages in Eastern Congo. Perhaps even worse, the West has cynically used its narrative of lies about the Rwandan atrocities to justify the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” or R2P, which has justified Western aggression against the people and legitimate governments of a series of target countries: Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan, Libya, Syria and most of the rest of Africa. The truth is that the Rwandan killings were not the result of Western inaction, but were a result of Western intervention and support for a proxy army, Kagame’s RFP.

    In addition to touching on Kagame’s atrocities, Ms. Ndjoko accurately zeroes in on a contributing factor in the continuation of this Western aggression, the identitarian obsession with female rape in countries that have been the target of Western “constructive chaos.” Rape is fed into the hopper of R2P, seasoned with a few Viagra lies, and voila! the West is justified in bombing Libya into the stone age and creating a failed state. Meanwhile, Western women are understandably horrified by reports (usually exaggerated and often outright lies as in Libya) of rape, while the rape of an entire country is largely ignored by the media.

    What Western populations in general, and even some commenters on this article, need to get through their thick skulls is that Western, European, US intervention is almost always the cause of atrocities (as we are witnessing in Yemen), not the solution to them. You can’t save women and children by bombing them.

  2. October 25, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    The basic cause of the injustice and violence in Kivu and nearby is the discovery of rare earths close to the surface and the immense price computer and mobile telephone manufacturers will pay for them. That has caused part of the DRC army to volunteer its services in managing the young miners and taxing their trade. It has drawn the attention of all those despicable people who will do anything for a dollar. Isn’t that the basic problem to address?

  3. Northern Observer
    October 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

    The anti capitalism narrative wears thin and has little explanatory power for what is going on now. I would have liked the interviewee talk a bit more about rule of law and what forces exist in Congolese society to make that a greater force in their society. An explanation of the relationship between the war with Rwanda and Congolese civil military relations would also have been interesting. One reads the article but still can not form a proper picture of what is going on other than the continuing annexation of Congo’s easternmost provinces. It’s funny but talking about anti colonialism allows one to talk a whole lot about absolutely nothing at all; time to look past our current tropes and critiques.

  4. October 21, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Thank you Ann for this interview depicting the true reality in this African land. Like the Congolese historian and activist, I dont think the most urgent problem in Congo is the rape but pillage and spoliation of this country by Western colonialism in Africa inaugurated and legitimized by the Berlin Congress in 1884-1885 on the German Chancellor initiative Otto von Bismarck.

    This piece arrives in the nick of time while achieving my last book in french but lately in English “Guerres et géopolitique au Moyen Orient et en Afrique de 1945 à jours” “Wars and Geopolitics in the Middle East et in Africa from 1945 up to the present” where a whole chapter is dedicated to Congo Holocaust. Consequently, I’m going to include this piece in my references and bibliography with the author’s name and Consortium News website.

    I dont know if the author could communicate Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko’s mail adress in order to ask her further details which could complete, clarify and precise certains points in my book.

  5. Antiwar7
    October 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    A good article, and I agree with what she said, but I wish it was less abstract and more specific as to what’s going on in Congo now. Who are the militant forces, what are they doing, and why? Please spell it out for us next time.

    • October 24, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      I’m working on another piece. One reason this can require a lot of explanation is that groups are often not what they claim to be. Most particularly Rwandan and Ugandan aggressors pretend to be Congolese. In Beni Territory in North Kivu Province, the real aggressors are blaming an Islamic group that hasn’t been organized or active there for years. Groups claim to be “rebels” when they are actually foreign aggressors, and the press typically obliges them in this. The infamous M23 aggressors were clearly tied to Rwanda as evidenced in a 2012 UN report, and they were the first I know of to fail at renaming themselves.

  6. michael crockett
    October 20, 2018 at 1:47 am

    Good comment Gary. I agree with the linkage you make between exploited Congolese communities and exploited American communities. The shock doctrine is employed where the poor reside. In the chaos and carnage a disoriented and traumatized people struggle to come together to find solutions. The propaganda spewed out by the MSM creates even more confusion to compound the problem. It’s a shit storm of evil with the rich laughing all the way to the bank.

  7. Tom Kath
    October 19, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    This Congolese woman arguably represents true “WISDOM” which is shamefully dismissed in our society due to the obsession with “INTELLIGENCE”. As any computer can tell you, intelligence is the ability to reproduce or repeat everything you have been told.

    • Josep
      October 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Part of the alt-right seems to be fixated on race and IQ. Some even hold the notion of blacks having lower IQs than whites. But whether they’re right or not is not of my concern (for now); it seems as if, among said faction, moral values are thrown out of the window and race and IQ are emphasized more. It becomes telling when a subset of the same faction blatantly rejects Christianity.

  8. October 19, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I was really interested in the article right up until you decided to bring President Trump into the equation. “Kabila should go as should Trump” ?!?! Really? I’ll NEVER read an article by you again.

    • October 19, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      So what’s the problem?

    • October 24, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Are you saying that you think Trump should remain in office? If so I can understand why you would never want to read anything I’ve written again, although I have no more Sympathy for the Democrats than for the Republicans.

  9. mike k
    October 18, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    When governments act from selfishness and greed, and are willing to use great violence, then the results are what you would expect. Given the psychopathic character of the Rulers of the American Mafia Empire, there is nothing surprising in their behavior in Congo.

  10. Capable
    October 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Well articulated. The conflicts in Congo is created by the Western. So making Kabila disapear won’t make any difference. Just like the two sides of the same coin.

  11. Skip Scott
    October 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

    When we hear our talking heads speaking of “vital national security interests”, this is what that euphemism is referring to. The forces of globalization are directly responsible for this catastrophe. Our “Intelligence Community” and the MIC are the enforcers for the looters.

  12. James
    October 18, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Well researched and critically analyzed.

  13. Nate
    October 18, 2018 at 8:03 am

    It looks like the article took a long detour but the main goal was to shame Rwanda and president Kagame. Reason behind: all you white trash want is to see all african countries torn by conflict, poverty, … that is why you support so called politicians like ingabire and diane who wanted to bring harm to Rwanda achievments but were too imprudent to abide by the law. Shame on you

  14. October 18, 2018 at 3:49 am

    This—> “Yes, and it is an eminently dangerous position because it means in fact no choice. It is an enclosure in a dichotomous circle that does not allow any escape or possibility to imagine other systems than the ones that exist. In this case, we are in the middle of a democratic illusion. Democracy according to this meaning is the right to be for or against. It is the right to change between two sides of the same coin while the ideology that creates the coin remains unchanged. This refers to the fundamental problem posed by capitalism. It is indeed a system that organizes a non-choice…”

    The fact of the matter is that capitalism is not the problem. It’s those in charge of the industries that create the manufactured reality around us, creating a fake democracy and lack of choices for leadership and real statesmen.

    Capitalism is a tool that has been hijacked by both multinational corporations and government. By manipulating price, markets, economy and offshoring jobs… that is the abuse of the freedoms of capitalism. Capitalism, family, money within the two and of course property… those are to be eliminated over time and capitalism will be blamed for it when in fact it was those in power who did it… not free and reasonable market places on their own.

    As far as Africa goes… look to China. They are colonizing Africa in huge ways, including the trading of natural resources for infrastructure and yes there is conflict.

    As far as rape… horrible. Look across the world, including the EU where the clash of millions of southern migrants and EU natives is happening. Rapes of the locals are incredibly high now.

  15. onno
    October 18, 2018 at 3:48 am

    Congo will remain a target for imperial powers like USA & Europe because of its richness in NATURAL RESOURCES, the same as we see in Afghanistan all headed by the Washington Money criminals!

  16. October 18, 2018 at 1:40 am

    It began with the murder of Lumumba, by the Belgians with the help of the CIA.

    Then, 8 months later, the CIA, with the help of the British, killed UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, who was trying to settle the dispute himself. They blew up his plane with about 15 other people in it. Hammarskjold’s body was found with an ace of spades in his ruffled tie.

    President Kennedy, an admirer of Hammarskjold and Lumumba,spent two years trying to save the situation by not letting Congo go back under imperial influence. He was then murdered. LBJ and the CIA then sent in scores of Cuban exile pilots and mercenaries. They killed off the last of Lumumba’s followers. That was it. Mobutu then sacked the country for the British and the Belgians. Laurent Kabila led a rebellion, and now his descendents run a failed state.

    The interview does not spell out just how rich Congo was and is. Especially the Katanga region. That was the reason for the murders of Lumumba and Hammarskjold.

    • October 21, 2018 at 7:39 am

      I liked your comment because you throw a light on colonialist legacy and plots occurred after the so called “independence” which was in fact a neo colonialism. The imprudence committed by Patrice Lumumba was the appeal to the United Nations to quash the rebellion in the province of Katanga

      there is no coincidence that Katanga, the province containing the main mineral riches of Congo, especially the materials used in electronic tools (computer, mobile and so on) was and remains the principal theater of wars for the control of the country.

  17. Jeff Harrison
    October 17, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    “Yes, and it is an eminently dangerous position because it means in fact no choice. It is an enclosure in a dichotomous circle that does not allow any escape or possibility to imagine other systems than the ones that exist. In this case, we are in the middle of a democratic illusion. Democracy according to this meaning is the right to be for or against. It is the right to change between two sides of the same coin while the ideology that creates the coin remains unchanged. This refers to the fundamental problem posed by capitalism. It is indeed a system that organizes a non-choice, that creates the illusion of choice for the benefit of the oligarchies that rule us. The tragedy of countries like ours is that they run after what they believe to be democracy, a binary system where it is only possible to be pro- or anti-X. It is even sadder because we’ve forgotten that this binary system never existed on the African continent prior to colonization but forms of real democracy did, especially in the Kongo Kingdom.”

    Can we borrow this lady and bring her to the US. She brings a clarity of thought sadly lacking in our corporatist political parties.

    • October 24, 2018 at 11:12 pm

      I will encourage her to read the comments here.

  18. Tekyo Pantzov
    October 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Which Western governments have inflicted multiple holocausts on the Congolese people, and when and where did they do it? How does globalized capitalism create permanent chaos in the Congo exactly, and what are the specific mechanisms and agents it employs for this ignoble purpose?

    • William Rood
      October 31, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      You could start by reading Jim DiEugenio’s comment above. Lumumba was the first democratically elected post-colonial leader of the Congo. He wanted western mining interests to pay a reasonable market oriented price for Congolese resources and to use the proceeds to develop the rest of the Congo and benefit all its people. Belgian and other western mining interests thought they could get the resources more cheaply by bribing a few of the local leaders in Katanga Province to secede from the rest of the Congo, then using western backed mercenaries to make the secession stick. When Lumumba appealed to the UN and created all sorts of other trouble for them (the “West”), they captured him and killed him.

      To get a feel for “ancient” history on European colonialism in Congo and its brutality, you might want to read King Leopold’s Ghost: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40961621-king-leopold-s-ghost. It was the unspeakable horrors of the Belgians in Congo that inspired Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novella, Heart of Darkness, which was itself the inspiration for “Apocalypse Now.”

      Finally, to give you a more complete understanding of the responsibility of the West for the more contemporary holocaust in the Central African Republic, which actually started with Western backing for US trained Paul Kagame’s invasion of and mass murder of resisters in Rwanda, a very quick read is Enduring Lies: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24060399-enduring-lies.

  19. October 17, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    A really excellent interview. Thank you Ann Garrison and Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko.

    “We need also to understand that capitalism appears in different shapes and forms according to the space it is targeting. In Congo, it creates permanent chaos so as to maintain people in that chaos, with no boundaries to the violence because the state exists only as the most minimal simulacra of Western institutions. . . . . It not only kills and displaces Congolese but also dismantles their communities and so disorients them that they are unable to understand the global capitalist world and the role that Congo is relegated to within it. It all but eliminates their capacity to defend themselves.” – Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko

    — A deeply insightful description of how Western led neoliberal capitalist plunder works in the world today – specifically in the Congo. However, it speaks truths which apply not only to the Congo, but also offer insight into how poor white communities and poor communities of color in the U.S. are systematically ecologically ravaged, disempowered by political corruption, drugged by CIA narcotics operations, unjustly imprisoned, subject to police violence and murder, and then “mystified” by our corporate propaganda system as to the nature of their oppression and the identity of their oppressors. The ensuing “chaos” thus – “eliminates their capacity to defend themselves.” Where Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko rightly sees intentional systematic Western led structural forces at work in such exploitation, our U.S. propaganda system tells the victims of our oppression here at home that the violence, poverty and chaos of their lives are the result of “personal failure” – which implies they should feel shame regarding their circumstance, but by all means never look for “causes” outside of themselves.

    Tragically the victims of the unimaginable levels of Western spawned and sanctioned violence in the Congo don’t even register on the radar of the domestic population here in the U.S. Lumumba’s promise falling victim to yet more amoral Western conniving and violence in service to economic plunder that continues to this day. Please CN continue to publish more articles and interviews on Africa as MSM is either completely silent or spews nothing but the usual lies that shelter Western corporate plunder. That 100 years after King Leopold’s brutal Congo genocide – this can be the state of current affairs in the Congo – says everything about the amoral Western colonial project and our vaunted “humanitarian” concerns.

  20. October 17, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    What a nightmare.

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