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Why Ferguson is the Congo

August 25, 2014

by BK Kumbi

As Africans, our eyes are often turned towards America because for some of us there is an illusion that attracts us – but for others the eye focuses on how the Black man is staged in the American reality. For many Black Americans, as for the majority of Americans, Africa is a land of savages; and this idea has a particular resonance among the Afro-American population because it shows how they were taught to hate themselves through the figure of the so-called original man, one that is sub-human.

This elder came to Mike Brown’s funeral on Aug. 25 to demonstrate to the corporate media that the Black community in St. Louis supports the youth, who demand justice and demand to be seen as human beings. She and many others had to stay outside the church, which was filled to capacity with 4,500 mourners. Inside, speaker after speaker emphasized the humanity, the dignity of Michael Brown and all Black people seen by police as targets. – Photo: JR Valrey, Block Report

This elder came to Mike Brown’s funeral on Aug. 25 to demonstrate to the corporate media that the Black community in St. Louis supports the youth, who demand justice and demand to be seen as human beings. She and many others had to stay outside the church, which was filled to capacity with 4,500 mourners. Inside, speaker after speaker emphasized the humanity, the dignity of Michael Brown and all Black people seen by police as targets. – Photo: JR Valrey, Block Report

However, when we look at things more closely, one has to ask whether there is a real difference in the way we are treated. Imperialist policies affecting African populations are the same as those applied to the Black population in the United States – precisely because the underlying principle is that the Black body shall be exploited alive or dead. It must generate profit.

Though Congolese women have suffered profoundly as the Congo is raped for its riches in natural resources, they do not see themselves as mere victims. They are well aware that the reason 6 million Blacks have been killed and many women raped is the lust for profit by white-owned multinational corporations.

Though Congolese women have suffered profoundly as the Congo is raped for its riches in natural resources, they do not see themselves as mere victims. They are well aware that the reason 6 million Blacks have been killed and many women raped is the lust for profit by white-owned multinational corporations.

The Black body shall be exploited alive or dead. It must generate profit.

I come from a country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more than 6 million people were murdered and where the killings continue so that the world benefits from the wealth of this country, especially from the coltan, a mineral used to make cell phones. It is also used to manufacture weapons that kill other Blacks thousands of miles away from my land.

Media coverage of this tragedy in the Congo is absent from the majority of the American channels. When it is presented, it is to demonstrate that there are Blacks who kill Blacks. There is no question raised about the people or the countries who arm those Blacks – and for what purpose. Instead, the corporate media prefer to broadcast stories on gang leaders of our region that the United States has hired to do the job and fuel the Black on Black killing theory at an international level.

When the media covers the tragedy in the Congo, it is to demonstrate that there are Blacks who kill Blacks. There is no question raised about the people or the countries who arm those Blacks – and for what purpose.

What is striking here is how the story is structured – or the fact that often there is no narrative at all about this issue, just silence. What I want to point out here specifically is the question of how our bodies became objects of spectacle. While silence generally surrounds the Congolese tragedy, there is nevertheless one aspect of this conflict that is portrayed more than the others.

The issue of rape used as a weapon of war is the beloved subject of a certain American “intelligentsia” and it has helped raise the image of some American “celebrities.” The mutilated bodies of Congolese women have become an image that is made pornographic and that it is diffused freely under the banner of a feminist fight and the narrative of this tragedy is assumed by white feminists who actually fight for their own rights in a capitalist environment.

Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba

This is not done to help Congolese women. It is also done to spread the idea that this is a femicide and not a genocide. The story of Congolese women is a way to raise funds for these organizations to write and produce documentaries that will also generate money and – and this is perhaps the most important – it’s a way to reaffirm the idea that the Black man is a savage, a predator whose violence is atavistic, mad. He is therefore the sole instrument of the eradication of his own Black being.

Stories of rape as a weapon of war reaffirm the idea that the Black man is a savage. He is therefore the sole instrument of the eradication of his own Black being.

Is this not also the narrative that is used to explain to Afro-Americans that they are the very instruments of their own annihilation and their own poverty? Is that not what is said when the corporate media uses false images to claim that Mike Brown had stolen something in a store and that was the reason for his death?

We all need to have our eyes open about the way we are treated and portrayed, and I say “we” because the image that is conveyed of the African man in Africa necessarily affects the way the Afro-American man is perceived.

For those who are looking at us, as if we were in a cage like Patrice Lumumba said, there is no difference between a Black African and an African-American. (Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Congo, wrote in 1960, in his last letter to his wife before his assassination at age 35: “Dead, living, free or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside.” – ed.)

John Lewis

John Lewis

In the Congo, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba noted shortly before his assassination, “independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside.”

We are the ones making this difference because we think that for the white man there are good Blacks and there are bad Blacks. We don’t look at ourselves through our own eyes but through the eyes of another person who has defined us as not human.

When Rep. John Lewis said that Ferguson is not the Congo,* he shows how he is very much inhabited by this idea. He shows that for him there are good and bad Negroes. When one really reflects on what is happening in Ferguson, one sees precisely that Ferguson is the Congo.

The lesson of this tragedy is how we must all rebuild our own histories, how we must teach our children to see their lives and the lives of those who look like them as valuable, how we must teach them that they are human beings and that they are part of this world even though some want to deny them this right.

BK Kumbi

BK Kumbi

BK Kumbi is a Congolese historian and activist who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She can be reached at nbenedicte@hotmail.com.

*On Aug. 14, Congressman John Lewis, hero of the Civil Rights Movement, said “People have a right to protest. They have a right to dissent. They have a right to march in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion. Ferguson, Missouri, is not the Congo, not China, not Russia. We can do better.”

 

21 thoughts on “Why Ferguson is the Congo

  1. Adrian Serra

    o then they also have aright to be slackers .. Not follow the law .. Not stop when asked to by law enforcement .. Lie about their names .. “I don’t know” is the name of the game .. This stupid game of distrust must end in order to end bigotry in that community .. Bullying by all means should be reported BY all parties .. Telling the truth about people is a MUST .. Not holding up a thug as a hero of sorts .. When are you ever going to STOP crying FOUL .. We see you cry foul play before and it is like the story of “Chicken Little” , how long do you thing you can do this before the main stream starts ignoring these pleas .. Try admonishing your “Youth” and having them show respect and perhaps respect will be given .. Turn in the perps and gain trust from outsiders , grow integrity within your community by DOING THE RIGHT THING and end living as SEPARTISTS within America .. As that ijus what you have created .. Your own language , beliefs , laws , rules and lawlessness .. What can you expect , when you cry for equality and yet show no interest in being included .. You want people to just accept you as separate but equal when most of are of different heritage and we have learned to assimilate .. If you all would assimilate in your separatist towns and cities first by speaking English properly and following the LAW and reprimanding NOT encouraging lawlessness , end the charade of perpetrating prejudice and start accepting that we are ALL in this together and perhaps as a nation we have a chance .. Oh and get rid of this notion that if you wear a cross and give thanks to our Lord that you are special , our Lord doesn’t lie, kill, rob, cheat. get over, fool, mock, withhold the truth .. I think you get the picture .. True Christians do not preach HATE , God is not about showing a difference , He is about LOVE , so stop with the act of Glory to God as God or Christ wouldn’t behave in this manner .. Much peace and much love and I have been praying for an end for over 40 years to this game that has been perpetrated on us all ….

    Reply
    1. joe stalin

      i could not agree more andria. the truth hurts but it will set you free,blacks dont want to play by the rules ,yet complain constantly because they are treated differently,try being AMERICANS, instead of african americans

      Reply
      1. Ann Garrison

        I swear there is a line of haters waiting to jump on the Bay View, every time another young Black person is executed by police or neighborhood vigilantes. You are only confirming everything BK Kumbi writes.

        Reply
  2. Angela Morton

    Ignorance is bliss Adrianna….you would have to be to imply that all blacks play a game of being ignorant. Racism is the very height of IGNORANT thought and if love was practiced as it is preached then senseless killing would not happen. Did you even read the article?

    Reply
  3. Jeremiah Frost

    Like the boy who cried wolf, repeat the same lie often enough and people will ignore you even when you tell the truth. Constantly claiming the role of victim in order to dodge responsibility for bad behaviour is a scam and everyone (except a few reporters) knows it. A violent thug who attacks a cop is not a victim, he’s an idiot and a criminal. In the U.S. a white person is 85 times more likely to be assaulted by a black person than the reverse. All the phony claims about racism no longer fool anyone.

    Reply
    1. joe stalin

      exactly correct,they also have traded one plantation for another,the plantation of goverment dependence,like the poor people of england , by chosing to remain on the plantation they have sentenced generations of their ancestors to the same,liberal whites have no intention of bettering the black community,they want them poor,ignorant and dependant on the goverment for everything

      Reply
  4. Infidel

    What a load of drivel. Always the victim, never taking responsibility for the failure of your own society. Switzerland, nice place to live. How come you aren’t in “your” country helping replace the incompetent, corrupt buffoons who have been destroying it for decades?

    Reply
  5. ashley

    At the end of the day two parents have lost a child and the officer hss lost his life as well he will never be respected…as long as he lives he will always watch over his shoulder…all the browns hav to do is sit still god will show up..he always does…

    Reply
  6. Capone

    The only way to improve our way of living is through logical thinking people. Elders need to be more involved about education instead of what someone has. Every progressive societu has evolved with education. Stop watching tv and read, explore and learn to grow together. Willie Lynch was right in his letter almost 500 years ago.. Stop complaining and be the solution.

    Reply
  7. Phil Esteen

    No wonder America is doomed!

    When the beliefs of ‘Americans’ ( who show no indication of understanding anything about America…especially the ‘created equal’ part) like ‘Infidel’ and ‘Joe Stalin’ are continually fed from a stream of racist ignorance and evil hate, then you get the inevitable… meaning that America will fall just like any other immoral nation of bigots.

    Hate is destroying America and these people are celebrating its demise. It is getting to the point where white conservatives have lost all their humanity.

    Reply
  8. I love all

    To all black folk, this person is telling it like 90% off all white, and about 70% of brown peopleview blacks. Stop supporting bad behavior because it was done by a black and earn some respect for doing the right human thing. Example; black eyewitness accounts the first couple days; Brown was shot in the back while fleeing, 100% FALSE! Also, if Sharpton gets involved, it’s over for any credibility whatsoever. All is seen as nothing more than a joke…

    Reply
  9. David Duke

    The “African-American” is the joke. They are as monolithic as a community can be in America. Hell, they re-elected Marion Barry! Forgiveness my ass, he ran against a white person. To all “African Americans”, who hates who?

    Reply
  10. Ann Garrison

    In fairness to John Lewis, I interpret him to be saying that government should be better here than in the Congo, where it’s not out of the order for demonstrators to be shot dead by President Kabila’s Republican Guard..

    Reply
  11. francktalk2

    They say, they have a licence to kill Black women, Black men and Black children everywhere in the world and we oppose them Resistance. But the trouble is, the Black man is in many situations the ennemy of the Black woman und the Black child.

    Kumbi writes: « When Rep. John Lewis said that Ferguson is not the Congo,* he shows how he is very much inhabited by this idea. He shows that for him there are good and bad Negroes. When one really reflects on what is happening in Ferguson, one sees precisely that Ferguson is the Congo. ».

    I think, Rev. John Lewis means, in the Congo, the killers of the Black people there and their sponsors have impunity: this must not happen in Ferguson. Justice must be done in Ferguson: the killer and those covering him must be taken to the court.

    Look at Obama, the houseslave in the White House! He is the first American Commandant in Chief of the US Army, who made war against an Afrikan country: Libya. The first who participated and helped the ethnic cleasing and the massekilling of Black Libyans and Black Afrikans in that country. Wo will put that Houseslave into the court for these crimes? These facts are surely troubling Rev. John Lewis.

    The Resistance in the Congo and the Resistance in Ferguson are the fights for the dignity of all Black people in the world.

    Reply
  12. Sankara7x

    The article makes absolutly no sense! There is no Black on Black murder going on in Ferguson and after 400 years of White Supremacy we have enough sense not to genocide our own sisters and brothers no matter who pays or or who puts a gun in our hands! The gang violence in Chicago is similar to what goes on in Hong Kong, Thailand, Burma, Sao Paolo, and Kingston and Moscow! The international news will not cover an issue about any group of people who act like they dont care about each other! The point of the Congo is why in the wordl did 47 Black African nations just sit there like a bump on a log like they did during Rwandas genocide and do nothing to stop the murder of 6 million, Black killing Blacks???

    Reply
  13. Ann Garrison

    Sometimes I have a glimmer of hope that we’re more post-racial than we used to be. Then I read the comments section in the SF Bay View, whenever police have executed yet another young Black person.

    Reply
  14. Sankara7x

    What post racial?? You live on a planet dont you?? Is the EU a part of this planet?? Has racsim escalated in Greece, Turkey, Spain, Russia, Germany, and the Ukraine?? or declined??

    Reply

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