In my first post of the year, am writing about DR Congo. Towards the end of 2020, there was social media activism going about mostly on Twitter around the globe. One of the countries that had a hashtag was Congo (DRC). There have been woe in that country since time immemorial. The political class along with the academia and the economists (Capitalists) have broken down the wars into periods and given them names. Today my focus is going to be on the second Congo war. You need a pen and paper to take some notes to keep track of my mumbling.
I Am about 99% convinced that if you are reading this you know someone from the DRC and if they didn’t tell you that it is so because they are refugees? Then take it from me that they are. And it’s because of the war I am talking about in this particular blog post. If you are reading from your phone, computer and taking a chill in one of those modern cars you a benefactor of the troubles from the heart of Africa because of a mineral called Colton, short for columbite–tantalites and known industrially as tantalite. Apple will tell you their phones are made in China but we all know there are Chinese inside holes in the Congo forests.
If you have a diamond engagement ring on your fingers, there is a likelihood girls were raped as it moved through the supply chain, and young boys were part of the labor force in mining that beautiful rock. That diamond earring you gifted to your siblings or that golden necklace that you sent to your mother for the holidays is from Congo certainly. There is a 70% chance that the money you used to buy it is presently being sent to secure weapons.
If you are dealing in the fashion industry even at the lowest level what is the probability that your supplier of fabric is a Congolese lady. The tin in solar batteries and most renewable energies is from war-torn DRC. The furniture in your office and home even if you are off the African continent there is a chance it’s from warlords in the Congo forests because it’s cheap and the best. There is in the world.
Angelina Jolley has been flying in and out of the Congo in her crusades to end the use of rape as a war weapon. She is not that vocal in the Me Too and Times Up campaigns. She can not be judged because DRC is the worst place to be a woman. 6 in 10 women and girls have been raped in Congo. You can’t talk about rape and not mention the DRC because it’s not just blind to real reality but hypocrisy to very large extents.
It’s the only morality that an African content creator has a piece about the DRC. Even if your content is about tech, fashion, lifestyle, education, gender-based violence, politics, and geopolitics. Everything that you know of in the DRC it’s upside down and the world today and in the future needs to know.
How did the Democratic Republic of Congo get to where it is? There are many reasons but today I will go with the Tutsi question. Tutsi are a transnational state meaning the people of that ethnicity are all over the great lakes region. It’s also said they go as far as the horn of Africa. If you know of another justification for the chaos in the Congo write a blog about it, record a podcast about your convictions for the second congo war. Get working on that vlog I will be the first to watch it.
Every country in the world wants a share of the Congo, when it was still called Zaire the Americans through their intelligence agencies entered the place and secured the Uranium used to boom Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The USSR, Britain, and Germany were there too. The place has shaped human history. Fast forward to the end of the millennium. When the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda ended the rest of the world was guilty of standing by. By the rest of the world, I mean the international community, and by them, I mean France and the United States of America. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States then, he was very guilty and in a rush to put things write he formed a close relationship with Africa and particularly between General Paul Kagame of Rwanda and General Yoweri T Museveni. In the horn of Africa, he also took a special interest in Ethiopia and all these countries had young vibrant leaders then. An estimated two million refugees, mostly Hutu from Rwanda crossed over to Congo. In one of his state visits to Washington DC President Kagame outline the danger they posed to the region and he contended that if the world didn’t do something about them. It was the responsibility of Rwanda to find them and deal with them. After that speech, the United States did not give any official public response and that meant that it was a green light.
The new refugee camps in Congo were confirmed as rebel bases for the exiled Interhamwe and Army for the Liberation of Rwanda, or ALiR, the groups behind the genocide. These groups operated with impunity in Congo a foreign country with the backing of General Mubutu the head of state than in Zaire now the DRC until October 1996. The Congolese Tutsi is also known as Banyamulenge started an uprising to force the Rwandans out of the Congo, setting off the First Congo War which brought about the second Congo war the subject for this blog post.
Rwanda, Uganda, and Angola supported Laurent-Kabila in his bid to take power in the Congo who’s forces were a majority of Tutsi from Congo. The Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire or AFDL is what they turned as the force that overthrew Mobutu of course with the backing of the United States. The country was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kabila took over as president in September 1997. So far have covered from 7th April 1994 to September 1997 when Laurent Kabila took office.
Kabila’s new government was criticized locally in the country as a puppet for Uganda and Rwanda. For Kabila to disprove his critics he distanced himself from the Tutsi and ordered all military advisors to leave the country. Meanwhile, Uganda and Rwanda were now regretting having supported him in the first place. His main miscalculation was allowing Hutu rebel groups to regroup in eastern Congo. Soon after the Congolese 10th Brigade defected based in Goma in the East and it was headed by James Kabare who had been Kabila’s chief of armed forces. They formed the Rally for Congolese Democracy RCD a group that becomes very vital in the early stages of the war. They wanted to protect the Tutsi in Eastern Congo and when they began their undertakings Uganda and Rwanda saw this as an opportunity for a war they had been waiting for.
There is an enigma of how Ugandan and Rwandan military entered Congo a country as big as Eastern Europe and almost took it in a few hours. These two armies are believed to be very disciplined and organized. On 4th August 1998 200 troops belonging to both countries stole 4 Boeing planes inside DRC and took a trip to Kitana in the far East under the command of James Kabare. They took over a military airfield and the Next day were controlling DRC’s only seaport Matadi. They were now 250 kilometers away from the Capital City Kinshasa and they were certain to take power. With more troops up to about 500 that had come in. They managed to capture Inga dam where electricity to Kinshasa was coming from and they had all odds in their favor. That same August on 19th uncle Bob of Zimbabwe called a meeting that changed the tide of the war.
Kabila’s Congolese government forces, supported by Angola who suspected Uganda and Rwanda of Supporting UNITA rebels that threatened the regime in Angola since the 60. Namibia under Sam Nujoma committed resources simply because Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was his friend. Okay, he also supported anything Marxists. For Zimbabwe it was about the money, they had invested heavily in the mines and wanted to protect their investments. Hope you are counting the number of countries that got sucked in.
Those on the ground say if it was not for the combativeness of the soldiers from Zimbabwe maybe Congo would be part of Uganda and Rwanda by now. They were thirsty for war and they did not joke when it comes to the battleground. Angola attacked from the South and by December 1998 the Ugandan and Rwandan troops escaped to Angola this time stole 2 planes and made their way back home. Things didn’t end because by 1999 Sudan had joined the war through Joseph Kony’s LRA and had a strong relationship with Angola with common hate for Uganda. France did its part through Chad and the Chadian force was assisted by the Libyan air force to come to the rescue of a French-speaking African country. This set the war as the great African war and the biggest after the second world war. Of course, all the weapons were from the West.
In July 1999, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or MONUC was formed after seven countries involved signed the Lusaka Peace Accord but the 5,000 peacekeepers were useless because the war didn’t stop. The plot thickened in 2000 when the war turned into a looting program. The RDC that was backed by Uganda and Rwanda was hijacked by the latter and the former decided to form the MLC that operated North words near Sudan and the Central African Republic both countries were at this point also entangled in the crisis. This division led the Ugandan army and the Rwandan army to fight each other in Kisangani a place known for diamonds the probable reason why the two allies turned on each other. Both sides claimed to have won. The battle. Maybe Rwanda is not as small as it appears on the maps because they had their day on the battlefield.
Now for the twist, in January 2001, President Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguard, and his son, Joseph Kabila, took over. Up to this day, nobody knows who was behind the whole plot but it seems to have been for the better part of the future depending on how you view conflict.
In 2002 South Africa became the big boy and was not scared to call Africa together first at Sun City and then Pretoria where Joseph Kabila substantiated to be a gifted negotiator completing successful peace deals that finally saw both Rwanda and Uganda withdrawal from the Congo. In December that same year, Joseph Kabila settled a peace deal with internal rebel groups, promising them a power-sharing interim government. This deal became official when Kabila signed a transitional constitution in April 2003.
Most people believe the war ended then, but elections didn’t happen till 2006. DRC by the way the “D” stands for Democratic, sometimes called the Congo Kinshasa is still in problems because in the far East there are rebel groups that are still operating. The last strong outfit was the M23 or the March 23rd Movement which was suspected to be supported by again Uganda and Rwanda, but when one of its leaders surrendered to Kigali they sent him to ICC. Those that entered Uganda were given amnesty. That was after the UN force made of Tanzanian forces flashed them out of the DRC.
For the last 22 years, some parts of DRC have been at a standstill. There is no farming going on or any economic activity. Famine is high on Congo’s list of problems. They have had to deal with the Ebola virus which was claimed to be a biological weapon to flashes foreign armies away from the minerals. The death toll of the war is believed to be above 6 million a number that can match populations of small states. Despite all this theater of war and ethically charged politics, the world doesn’t know much about the crisis.
The problems of Congo are related to big corporations that shape the capitalist system in the world. Unlike Iraq, in Congo, the USA didn’t need to come in but decided to use Uganda and Rwanda because they have strongly disciplined armies that can do their tasks of plunder. That is why the two leaders are here for a lifetime. They serve a bigger purpose for the richer countries in the region and they are untouched.