AFRICANGLOBE – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been sporadically in the Western media during the last 5 years. The dominant issues reported in the Western media and often in the African media, which mimics the presstitutes of its former colonial masters, is the ongoing proxy war in the eastern part of the DRC. Recently, some Western journalists have exposed how the war has been aided and abetted by the governments of Uganda and Rwanda via military support for several of the many rebel groups in the eastern Congo such as the M23 rebels.
Another issue that has caught Western media attention has been the use of rape as a weapon of war and the exploitation of the phenomenal economic resources of the Congo. The capricious nature of the Western media fails to keep a continued focus on the development and resolution of the problems in the DR Congo. Perhaps this is because it is in the interests of Western governments and multinational companies to sustain the status quo as a united DR Congo would threaten their continued benefits from the illicit gold, diamonds and of course coltan that is use to make mobile phones, video games and air planes?
The brutal war has taken the lives of up to 6 million Congolese since 1996 to date. This certainly needs to be acknowledged but more importantly there is a need to address how to end the conflict that has created refugees in neighbouring countries; how do we work with the Congolese to bring about peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa; what are the demands of the various rebel groups; what are the demands of women and youth in the Congo? How can genuine peace be created in the DRC? What are the necessary steps and mechanisms that need to be put in place to cultivate peace by all parties?
Therefore, this special issue on the DRC seeks to expose not only the realities of war that continue to have a traumatic and tragic impact on the lives of those directly affected. The issue also seeks to address the complex realities and issues that the Congolese have faced in the past since the assassination of its valiant leader, Patrice Lumumba, and the neo-colonial government that was established with the installation of Mobutu and continued in Laurent Kabila and his incumbent son, Joseph Kabila.
Aside from the conflict that is affecting the eastern region of the country, it is important for outsiders and Africans not to conclude that conflict is the reality for all the 70 million citizens who make up the huge country. What are the realities for other Congolese unaffected directly by war, for example those who live in the capital, Kinshasa, or in Lumumbashi, Kananaga or Bandundu i.e. other regions of this vast country? What realities, concerns, issues do Congolese citizens face in their day to day life? What aspirations do they have for their country? Aside from the war that is affecting the eastern region what are Congolese community groups, farmers, writers, poets, nurses, teachers, lecturers doing in other parts of the country that are not consumed by war? What is the African Union’s role in establishing peace in the Congo through its Peace and Security Council?
Other issues to consider in this special issue are: what is the role of AFRICOM, Chinese investment and the impact of industrial mining on the socio-economic and ecological development of the country? What challenges are faced by Congo’s rainforest from the building of major dams or drilling of oil in environmentally sensitive areas? What is the significance and role of the Congolese Diaspora in the future of the country’s socio-economic and political development?