Articles - The Voice of Garanganze:  The Writings of Patrick Kalenga Munongo

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DYING IN THE DARK: The Congolese war and the forgotten dead
  May 9, 2008

Imagine that 4 million Americans had died in a senseless war during the last 5 years. Imagine that this war had not been provoked. Imagine that some countries, along with their wealthy friends, had had their sights on America’s natural resources. In order to get to these resources, they had come up with a bogus threat to their country’s stability. As the war ensues, the world’s news outlets provide scant coverage of it, and the international community virtually turns the blind eye.  If this sounds like an unlikely scenario, it is not uncommon to Africans.  More implicitly, this is what happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the invasion of Rwanda and Uganda from 1998 to 2004.

I hope the readers will indulge me for using the U.S. as an illustration. Primarily, I used this example to draw the readers’ attention. Secondly, I chose the U.S., sadly because there seems to be a hierarchy in death and for the expected emotional impact. An American life that is lost in a senseless war has more value than an African life. To make matters worse, there is a vile and pervasive blasé attitude with African wars. They have been simplified to tribal strife, disgruntled warlords run amuck, and plainly said, to the inability of Africans to coexist. As a result, very few countries in the international community see the value in resolving African wars. This is starker, especially when the interests of some friendly powerful nation are at stake in an African country. In Sudan, oil is the prize. Thousands are being killed in Darfur and the world watches passively. The international community needs China for its cash and its attractive market, why should any country African or otherwise interfere?


Everyone needs China’s money and China needs resources. Profit over people…So, the killing goes on unabated in the Sudan.

Unlike the case of Sudan, the war in the Congo has left millions dead, yet many people quibble over which war is more worthy of attention. All wars are important; they all have to be brought to an end. Every person who dies needlessly, in a senseless war is important, whether they are in Rwanda, in the Balkans, in Sudan, or in the Congo. Failure to intervene, not with the purpose to enter the war militarily, but with a desire to use one’s political weight and stature to stop it, is complete disregard for human life. A courageous few spoke up on the war in the Congo, yet their voices were drowned in the sea of apathy. Ultimately, Congolese lives are not that important. Congolese resources, gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, and uranium have stronger value on the disturbing profit-driven, stock piling exchange we call life. Millions have died, yet there seems to be no notice of their deaths. As the Congolese people pick up the pieces, the dead are quickly forgotten, and the reasons that caused their deaths become nebulous and are relegated to the annals of a fickle collective memory. It can then be said that those who lost their lives in the Congo died in the dark, as light was not shined on them in death, perhaps even in life. As Congolese, we need to reflect on what caused their needless deaths, if we are to avoid repeating history.

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