The Congolese Are Losing It

Etienne Tshisekedi is convinced he won his country’s presidential vote. Like his many supporters, he even thinks he is president. He is wrong of course but who can blame him?

Observers may have reported that they found evidence of possible vote tampering, vote inflation in regions of the country favourable to the incumbent President Joseph Kabila, and instances of vote suppression in areas known to be bastions of support for the opposition – but that is as far as it gets.

No one can say they were surprised by the Congo Electoral Commission announcement last week that incumbent President Joseph Kabila had won the election. Not even Tshisekedi supporters. For a while they knew this was coming. They cried foul, demanded that there be a transparent election, impartial electoral commission and monitors to ensure that the incumbent does not “steal the election”. All to no avail.

So as expected, when the results finally came out, Daniel Ngoy-Mulunda of the Electoral Commission made it known to the world that president Kabila (with a small p) with 48.9 percent of the vote had emerged winner with “President Tshisekedi” (with a capital P) at 32 percent coming second. It was official and it probably will remain so.

In most democratic countries, such a close poll would have been reason to celebrate. Who gets such close election results unless the country’s electoral process is democratic and the major institutions functional. But DRC is only democratic simply in name. The people who should have been celebrating their countries incredible democratic moment (no poll has been more close in Africa) were instead organising to take to the streets protesting what they saw as a “massive stitch up”.

That someone who barely got 50 percent of the total vote should go on to rule the country is another issue  and perhaps one I should leave for another day. Most constitutions in Africa are written in such a way that when it comes to national elections and choosing who to become president, the winner must get over 50 percent of the vote or there will be a re-run. Not in DRC. DRC is a special case and like I said I will leave this very issue for another day.

But why am I going into all this? You see on Thursday last week (Dec 8th) I stumbled upon an online story on Igihe (an online publication based in Kigali) that some suspected arsonists (read protesters) had attacked and tried to burn down the Rwandan embassy in Paris. After the incident, a statement signed by Ambassador Jacques Kabale, was reportedly issued asking Rwandans living around the town where the embassy is located to stay calm, and give a deaf ear to rumors about Presidential elections of DR Congo which is suspected to be the cause of the attack.

It seemed to me that this was an odd thing for the Congolese to do (if indeed they were the ones who had attacked the Rwandan embassy in Paris).

Then on Sunday (Dec 11th) I woke up to news that Scotland Yard had made 139 arrests following a demonstration in central London over the election result in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What? In the Paris story, the suspicion was that the attackers or the arsonists if you may, were unhappy with the way Rwanda continues to interfere in the politics of their country. Now I do not represent the government of Rwanda and even if I did I am no Louise Mushikiwabo (she is good at what she does) but if I had an issue with my neighbour or if my neighbour was constantly poking his finger into my face, torching his embassy in a foreign country is the last thing I would want to do. And this is irrespective of the provisions of the Vienna Convention.

But let us be clear here. It would be unfair to blame the Congolese opposition for the incident in Paris (if it even ever happened given that it only was picked up by igihe.come). While it is possible that some disgruntled elements within the Congolese diaspora were responsible for the Paris incident and intended it as a way of showing their disgruntlement against what they see as a frivolous foreign policy by Rwanda, it helps their cause not.

That alongside the events in London yesterday where Congolese protesters having turned up in numbers to exercise their fundamental right began to damage property, including cars and shops, as well as threatening members of the public has if anything, done more harm than good to their cause.

I sat down for a coffee with a good friend of mine (who is English and considers himself well connected to the Lib Dems) and throughout our conversation, he just could not understand why the Congolese would dare do such in London. “I don’t know what you think but I have always had this feeling that the Congolese  are a disorganised lot. I mean just loo at the amount of resources these guys have got but still their country has lacked any sense of direction”, he said to me.

I think they have lost it is what I said to him. The Congolese have lost it. You do not seek sympathy through destruction. Yes DRC has had its fair share of problems, foreign interventions and the race for minerals notwithstanding but there seems to be a general lack of initiative among the Congolese to find home grown solutions to their problems. The idea of blaming others for all their ills has got to stop. This is not easy of course given the amount of exploitation that goes on in the Congo and also the fact that everyone appears to want a bit of Congo. But surely, there has to be a way of expressing their concern (and especially outside DRC) in ways that are civil and ways which will not further alienate those involved casting them as hopeless crazy people.

But who knows? In a country that has been plagued by war crimes committed by foreign forces, excessive mineral looting and more than 6 million deaths, and all these at the silent watch of the powers that be,  perhaps acting crazy is not such a gruesome idea – after all? Can it really honestly be said that the Congolese are losing it or have they been pushed to breaking point?

Over to you my little monsters…




Author: ellyakanga

I am Eleneus Akanga. Welcome to my blog about my experience as a Rwandan journalist and all that comes with the trade in East Africa. It's been a great journey so far but very challenging at times. Join me, let's get cracking!

3 thoughts on “The Congolese Are Losing It”

  1. Mr Akanga, I am a Congolese leaving in South africa. I came across your blog and your article in which you ask relevant questions but i must say i felt insulted in some of your say.
    Let me firstly confirm that as congolese we strongly believe that Rwanda has a hand in the trouble in my country and it trying to control the Drc.From 11 candidates ,4 had chance to win but hear this Mr Akanga 3 has Rwandan origin ( Kabila, Kamhere and Kengo) .
    Kabila’s police chief is a Rwandan (Bisengimana is his name, doesn’t it sound familiar to you), Congolese’s passeport have a strong tie with minaffet, you surely know what is minaffet.
    Examples of Rwandan occupying senior official posts in Kinshasa are many.
    Everyone wants to have a piece of Congo just like you said it and Rwanda is part of those wolves, so don’t pretend that you don’t understand why Congolese will target Rwanda’ s ambassy.
    So you and your British friend sat down for a coffee while your respective governments are looting in Drc , while my sisters are being raped, my brothers killed by an oppresive government, while there is no education system, dysfunctional state, poor health system, civil servant going months after months without being paid… and there is a so called government who is busy selling our Congo to greedy foreign investors…
    You want Congolese also to seat down for a coffee and resolve this chaos in a ” civil way” .
    By the way what does a Rwandean know about civil way , aren’t you those who killed million between Tutsi and Hutu . Did you kill president Habyarima in a civil way ?
    Ask your friend British what was Margeret Tatcher’ son doing in Guinee? He was probably teaching them democracy with south african mercenaries, isn’t it?

    All these injustices toward my country are know by the so called ” civil way doers” but are they condemning? of course not because they are pulling the strings. Are you saying that we should stop blaming others, than tell those others to stop their” neo colonialism”. Ivory coast, Lybia.. does it ring a bell?

    The only language these imperialists can hear is violence, oh yes; i never thought i will say this one day . But yes, you want them to listen make noise in their cosy street in London, Paris…
    You are saying that people were theatened, oh yeah members of the public in western part of the whole should not be disturbed but what a bout my people as innocent than your members of the public are assaulted day and night? Your members of the public you are talking about , the all probably had cellphones in their bags and laptops , but do they care where minerals used to make their fancy tools come from? Do they how people in my Drc are used as slave to get coltan for them to enjoy their i phone?

    Have we lost it? no brother we did not; to the contrary we are waking up and this is just the begining



    1. Dr. Dany, first of all I want to salute you for the detailed comment. Like many Congolese and for that matter a lot of peace loving people out there, you are obviously fed up with the level of extortion and looting which has been going on in DRC at the behest of foreign powers including Britain and the US. And you are right. These powers through their proxies have for years supported or covertly propped dictatorships in your country to allow for the siphoning of every mineral and this at the expense of your sisters, brothers and innocent young Congolese children. I must say I completely agree with you on that and for as long as I have known this to be the case, I have vehemently opposed it. But obviously in the face of grand corporate theft and massive super power support, our voices remain a distant cry. But that is not to take away your point.

      While I agree with some of the issues you pointed out in your comment above, I find most of them clearly difficult to fathom. I probably should begin by telling you that this blog entry has since been read by 213 people (and counting). It means that at least 200 of those courtesy of your long comment have since been introduced to the other side of the story (assuming they didn’t know). I can tell you that I have also sent a copy of your comment to the Englishman I referred to in the blog entry and he will be reading it with friends.

      The point I am trying to make here is that to some people your response as a Congolese to what was a provocative piece may end up doing more good to the Congolese cause than those riots or the attempted torching of a foreign country’s embassy did. Reason being that while there will be people who might read your comment and say “hang on a second, may be there is much more about the Congo that we need to know”, majority of those might be the same people who after being told or hearing that the Congolese were violently protesting in central London simply looked the other way and retorted “what a bunch of savages”.

      You do raise what I think is an important issue that we should try and help people understand. And I hope you will get the time Dr. Dany to reply to this. When you pointed out that the head of the police in DRC is Rwandese because his name is Bisengimana (usually a Rwandan name) are you suggesting that to be Congolese you have to have Congolese names? Are you suggesting in any way that no Congolese can be called or known by such a name? I do not have enough information about citizenship in Congo but I guess you do have ways through which people can acquire Congolese nationality even if they were not born in Congo or Congolese (and I am not suggesting that Bisengimana is or is not Rwandan/Congolese)? You do say that you are in South Africa and given your expertise and intelligence, I can only assume that you are there as a refugee or an expatriate for otherwise why would you not be back home trying to make a difference? I am bringing in SA to make the point that if you were to later have children in South Africa and given that some parts of South Africa have been reported as harbouring xenophobic people opposed to African immigrants, you may end up choosing to give your children some Zulu names so they can fit in and are not discriminated against.

      What if this Bisengimana is actually Congolese but the sort who found himself with a Rwandese name because that was the only way for him to survive wherever he grew up? Would you not have become a xenophobe yourself? I guess my point is that you must transcend the politics of race and bigotry. As long as someone claims to be a citizen, is performing on his job and there has been nothing legal to prove that his claim to Congolese nationality is doubtful, I see no reason why you should accuse him of being what he might not be.

      The same applies to the passport claim you make about minafet (Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry). What is the connection you are trying to make. I don’t think I get it. Are you saying that Congolese passports are being issued by Minafet in Rwanda? Again that cheapened your rather great point. I know you are angry and you have every right to be angry Dr. Dany but please remain civil. And I know you said that as a Rwandan I have no moral authority to talk about civility (given that we Rwandese killed each other in the infamous genocide), but I would like to tell you that again that is the equivalent of throwing a tantrum. Honestly because some of my countrymen butchered their neighbours in a merciless bid to exterminate them does not disqualify me (Akanga) from suggesting what is civil and what is not. Or does it?

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