The history of the Congo, the second largest country of Africa, is characterized by the discovery voyages of Sir Stanley ‘privately’ financed by the Belgian king Leopold II, followed by ominous external interventions, brutal exploitation and all facets of chronically bad governance ever since.
The deep wounds of the long-term civilian war (1996-2003) with direct intervention of regional military forces are far from being healed despite the current presence of UN troops and international aid organizations. Rape and its consequences of lethal sexually transmitted diseases are a constituent part of the smoldering war and terror against the civilian population. However, the horrendous daily violence can also be traced back to a misogynous pre-war culture.
The origins of conflicts such as scarcity of land, the blocking out of atrocities of the past, mafia-like political structures, and the international dependency on and hunger for natural resources (i.e. coltan) of this country, are rather aggravating than declining. The fact that the unique regional mountain gorilla population (gorilla beringel), a close relative of homo sapiens, could become extinguished is more than just a symbolic tragedy – even in the face of the extent of human suffering.
The course of history cannot be turned back, however, the international community must acknowledge that since the end of the bipolar ‚world order’ forced interethnic ‚marriages’ between groups hardly remain for long. The threatening disintegration of states that have not grown organically, triggers reflexes of states with similar constellations, fearing the wakening of secessionist desires, and imitation by their own minorities – resulting in the rejection or halting recognition of new states. Past interventionism by external powers is followed by subtle and passive attitudes of refusal in the present. But a peaceful partial or an all out secession of parts of the RCD (or other African regions) must neither be ruled out, nor considered a nostrum for nation building (if the latter is desirable at all).
On the drawing board
- In the study TRIBUTE TO LUMUMBA, ANTHILLS poses questions that should be first and foremost answered by the people of the Congo themselves. Based on these answers, ANTHILLS will deduct a societal model for the region of Central Africa. Such model will, of course, include the transparent, socially and ecologically sound exploitation and processing of natural resources. The international community will have to be convinced of a self-contained and at the same time interdependent Congolese development approach in order to prevent obstructive attitudes, and to maintain foreign humanitarian and economic support. The Congolese will not be able to lift themselves out by their own bootstraps and will, for the time being, depend on the aid of the world community.