Syria has long dominated international headlines while the big powers discuss the possibility of dividing it into smaller, more homogeneous states along ethnic or religious lines. The Democratic Republic of Congo is rarely if ever at the top of the Western headlines, but heads of state and so-called experts have long made similar proposals to carve out new, smaller, more homogeneous nations in Congo’s resource-rich eastern provinces. I spoke with Congolese scholar and activist Boniface Musavuli about the plans.
In the 1960s, many African countries acquired independence from colonial powers. The name that gave meaning to the struggle for independence, the right to claim a national identity and to be a human being in Congo was Patrice Emery Lumumba, the founding father of a political order in Congo. He was the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from the Kingdom of Belgium in June 1960. Before his assassination Jan. 17, 1961, he wrote: “For the people, I have no past, no parents, no family. I am an idea.”
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in political crisis. The Independent National Electoral Commission announced that incumbent President Joseph Kabila is the winner, with 49 percent of the vote. But his leading challenger, Étienne Tshisekedi, rejected the results and declared that he now considers himself the nation’s president.
It wasn’t just Patrice Lumumba his assassins wanted to kill, it was the genuine self-determination, dreams and aspirations of African people, writes Horace Campbell, reflecting on the murder of the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Jan. 17, 1961. Two poems by Lumumba follow the story.
“This is a Congolese sister, not the U.N., who is building a school with her own money and donors, to give back to her country,” says Kambale Musavuli, spokesman and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo, paying tribute to Noella Coursaris Musunka.