Rwanda and DRC Conflicts
In my previous posts, I attempt to create an insight into an effective worldview. I choose Rwanda Perspective as a window frame because the integration of African traditions with western cultures. Recent news of the civil unrest in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an opportunity to expand on this exploration of a worldview. This was not a part of my strategy, but it is a situation that requires discussion and critical to an understanding of East Central African struggles. Bear with me, while I attempt to provide my insights into the situation. The specific recent situation is the incursion of the M23 rebel group and its takeover of Goma the capital of North Kivu providence. The situation in both North and South Kivu Providences that border Rwanda require an understanding of why these civil war and violence is a perpetual DRC crisis. In order to appreciate the conditions that support the DRC rebels you must understand Congo.
Please keep in mind that my friends in Rwanda and DRC are not the issue. This is not about ethnic rivalry or personal dislike – it is a political situation. The citizens of DRC just want peace and justice. People want to live out their daily struggles in a secure environment. Looking for the same opportunities that we all wish for – the luxury to improve their personal lives. Therefore, if this is what the people of DRC want, why is this simple way of life impossible? The following attempts to put this into perspective.
The M23 is a group of rebels who deserted from the Congolese army. I mention the M23 because it is the latest world news conflict. This is only the most recent civil war in a long history of DRC. I focus on the Kivu Providences because of their impact and relationship with Rwanda. It allows me as a starting point to delve into the history of world conflicts. This is not an African issue, but a long history of human violence regardless of people or regions. The Palestine and Israeli conflict, the holocaust of WWII, the Syrian civil war, it just continues. Is this human characteristic, part of our DNA or the abnormalities of people who have no understanding of the common good? Greed, power, and wealth are the foundation of these issues and always it is a political rather than a people problem. While politicians want us to believe it is other than this, it is a way of distracting us from their agendas and their real purpose in life.
I will reference some of my sources so that you can look for additional information that may give you clarification or insights. Most of what I write is from personal experience of the past 13 years of working in this area. Besides the M23; there are another ten groups of rebels that complicate the Kivu situation. The DRC Army (FARDC) makes about $25 a month and go for long periods without getting paid. This applies to police officers, which opens an environment of corruption. This is the basis for munity and promotes an environment of illegal behavior. The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) is a composition of the Interhamwe (the active participants in the Rwandan genocide) and former Rwandan military from the genocide period. Their express purpose is to retake Rwanda and make frequent incursions into Rwanda. This group continues to be a security threat to Rwanda.
The DRC remains a troubled area and especially in the eastern part of DRC. Mobutu made an art of Kleptocracy. I used to believe that the destruction of DRC’s infrastructure was the inattention of the government. I recently understand that this was deliberate and systematic intention by Mobutu to destroy the capability of people to travel, communicate, and interact to avoid Mobutu having opposition. The country remains a shambles and difficult to interact to keep people isolated. Mobutu is largely responsible for creating an environment that DRC has difficulty in changing. A culture of Kleptocracy that is difficult for the citizens of DRC to overcome, as long as their government refuses to change.
DRC has approximately 73.6m people with about 200 different ethnic groups, and 50.2% are female and 43.9% are less than 15 years if age. Faith traditions are Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%. (CIA World Fact book is the source of this information.) I mention the religious demographics because of the influence of religion on an individual’s worldview. People’s image of God defines their behavior.
It is about one quarter the size of the USA. It is the eleventh largest country in the world. Its GDP per capita is $300 ranking 228 in the world. The population below the poverty line is 71%. According to African Business magazine, the total mineral wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) estimate is $24 trillion – equivalent to the GDP of Europe and the United States combined. The DRC has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. This makes the DRC potentially the richest country in the world. However, DRC ranks among the poorest and most underdeveloped county.
The chaos and riches of DRC make this situation beneficial to rebels, illegal mining, and smuggling. It is convenient to maintain this disarray, whereby certain groups reap the riches while the population is starving. It is in the best interest to create an atmosphere of insecurity and fear to cover the mis-government and mis-management of DRC.
While each group has to take responsibility for their part in continuing this pandemonium, it is also necessary for neighboring communities to avoid spillage of this insecurity into their areas. There are many accusations about who is responsible for supporting these rebel movements. I find it difficult to accuse anyone, unless the full scope of these issues is put into perspective. For now I caution making judgements of things that we do not understand. Rwanda continues to be the safest country in Africa. I am comfortable walking the streets at night without any fear of trouble. I also know that you can work in Rwanda without the corruption that plagues DRC.
This is all I will write about this subject. It is something that needs to be addressed. I will return in my next posting on the subject of a worldview. However, this situation needs attention and I will have more to say later.