Congo: The Quiet Before The Storm

 

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO–As the people of Congo embrace themselves for another election showdown due in 2016, Likay and I from the Uhuru movement (in London) ventured to the Congo in the capital Kinshasa, to meet progressive organizations; we could work with.


It is easy to forget that there are Africans in the continent changing Africa for the better; when we are bombarded with images of Africans on fishing boats on their way to Europe escaping Africa.

 

It is also the case that Imperialist media organizations, such as the BBC, CNN and Sky News often focus on the ‘rebels’  and their crimes in the Eastern Congo.

 

Sometimes it’s only when you’re in the continent that you are reminded of how resourceful and resilient we are as African people.  We met one such group known as ‘The Messengers’; a cultural nationalists, anti-imperialists whose group rejects Catholicism and its negative impact on the Congo.

 

The group leaders explained to us the necessity for Africans to access the land to resolve our problems. They took us on a tour of the land they were given by the land owners, showing us the farms they have set up growing vegetables for medicine, food and fish farms too.

 

They are a proud-self determined people attempting to challenge the status quo by making and selling their own clothes and communicate using ‘Natty Kongo’ alphabet.


They are inspired by Mfumu Kimbangu, who organised Congolese to resist Belgian colonial rule in the 1920’s until his death in 1951.

 

Before independence the Belgian authorities thought they could rule Congo until 1980’s, the winds of independence had entered Congo after 1918 and reached its peak in 1959, with the Belgian government caught out.

 

As you walk around the Kinshasa you are hit with the smell of fumes from exhaust pipes, the youthfulness of the population and chaos.

 

You often see five people selling the same goods next to each other, near filthy water juxtaposed with a clean well decorated Lebanese bakery and Pakistani owned chicken and chips shops and Indian owned supermarkets.

 

It seems clear that the only things Africans do well is running bars and churches which are in constant logger head. We stayed in Bandai, where music from the bars plays from 6pm to 6am whilst from 6am there were morning prayers and worship in a church nearby.


I bought my ticket cheap despite flying during the peak holiday season, due to the increased competition of Air Turkey rivalling Air France and Air Brussels.

 

This is a reflection of Turkey’s foreign policy to empower itself from African resources.

 

This inter-imperialist, rivalry plays itself out in different sectors of the Congolese economy; the Chinese have won major construction contracts building roads, motorways and bridges.

 

When driving around the capital you see Chinese managers bossing African construction workers. People often say Chinese built-roads take long to construct but are quick to crumble as with most of their imported goods.

 

Alongside this is the dominance of France who controls the Congo Franc currency, whilst the US government has a strong military presence as a result it prevents any other currency being traded other than the US dollar and the Euro.

 

I learnt this the hard way when I tried to exchange my Pound Sterling to Congo Francs, as no money trader knew the exchange rate between the two currencies!     


Between the desires of African workers and that of the imperialist countries is Kabila’s neo-colonial government.

 

On the state owned television channel RTNC, the president has made it clear whilst he has no solution for the everyday problems we face, he intends to stay on for a third term with or without election. 

 

His final project was the launch of Air Congo with the air-plane named Lumumba after our first prime minister. He has improved the Ndjili Airport but power-cuts are still a daily joke. These contradictions are painful because Congo exports electricity to Zimbabwe amongst other countries.


To the frequent traveller to Kinshasa things would appear as normal if you ignore groups such as The Messengers’.  Look deeper and you would see Congo along with Africa- is set to embrace a second ‘winds of change’. 

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