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July 02 2010

D. R. of Congo: Independence Cha Cha

By Fred

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence from Belgian rule. As the state proudly wheeled out some expensive new military hardware for the delectation of visiting dignitaries, bloggers Kakaluigi [fr] and Congo Miliki [fr]describe the parades in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, while other Congolese bloggers reminisced about the era of independence and the record since those optimistic times.

Mboka Mosika [fr] interviews Albert Kalonji, considered one of the ‘fathers of Congolese independence' but also a one-time Luba secessionist and a political opponent of Patrice Lumumba. He says, “We can only rejoice over our independence, despite the missed opportunities… like the civil wars which followed and the lack of charisma and amateurism in management of public affairs, for which the political leaders are responsible.”

How should we keep Kinshasa clean? Keep inviting the Belgian King! (Cartoon from CongoBlog; permission sought.)

Banacongo republishes the speeches given by the Belgian king, Joseph Kasa Vubu and Lumumba at the original independence ceremony in 1960 [fr].

VieuxVan thinks the only real progress the ‘villagers' of DRC have seen since then is the mobile phone [fr]. Texas in Africa sees progress in Goma, though, contrary to media depictions of a place where “every Congolese woman is a rape victim and every man is a criminal”:

I've chatted with several old friends and met many new ones here this week, and one common theme in the conversations is frustration that the story of Goma is not being accurately told. As one put it, if you took the media's word for it, you'd think that every Congolese woman is a rape victim and every man is a criminal. That's not the reality here.

What is? Tons of new businesses are opening, eyesores are gone and new buildings have gone up in their place, and factories are being built. And infrastructure has improved more than I believed possible. The main roads in the central city have been paved

The day after the parades, Congoblog hails a deserved day off for the ‘heroes of the 50th anniversary' [fr]:

the painters, cleaners and other workers who'd worked so hard to spruce up the image of Kinshasa, while street children and street vendors can finally breathe again and return to the city centre. Unfortunately, so can the traffic police, who had been forbidden from harassing drivers: “I know some who are rubbing their hands together. It's going to get hot for drivers.”

January 19 2010

D. R. of Congo: The hazards of neglect

Congoblog is a marvel. Every post deserves a mention, but here are some of the more arresting posts to have appeared so far in January:

From Kisangani, Boyomais laments the ‘disastrous' conditions in his country's health clinics, where “the order of the day well known to all is: no money, no care”.

by Luba for

by Luba for

The wife of one patient complains that:

Nous avons du mal à fermer l’œil la nuit tellement il y a des moustiques. Mon mari a des problèmes d’estomac mais, dans ces conditions, il n’est pas surprenant qu’il soit atteint de la malaria dans cet hôpital. Les moustiquaires que nous avons trouvé ne servent plus à rien car il a des trous partout.

There are so many mosquitoes that we can hardly close our eyes at night. My husband has stomach problems but in these conditions, it won't be surprising if he catches malaria in this hospital. The mosquito nets that we found are useless as they're full of holes.

From the capital, Mwana Kin reports on a lethal hazard arising from disrepair:

Au fil des années, les câbles de la SNEL sont sortis de terre et arpentent les rues des principaux quartiers. Les jours de pluie, le mélange explosif entre le non fonctionnement du système d’évacuation des eaux et la présence des câbles dans la rue fait plusieurs victimes.

Over the years, the cables of SNEL [the national electricity company] have come out of the ground and run along the roads of the main residential areas. When it rains, the explosive mix of the lack of drainage and the presence of these cables claims many victims.

As the prospect of elections in 2011 looms, Cédric Kalonji observes that:

La majorité des promesses électorales à la veille du scrutin de 2006 ne sont pas sortis de la boite à discours pour se matérialiser. La population se rend progressivement compte qu’elle a été roulée. Loin d’être dupes, honorables et excellences pensent déjà à la suite. Tous les moyens sont bons pour conserver une place au chaud, à l’abri de tous les tracas auxquels les congolais ordinaires font face au quotidien.

The majority of 2006 electoral promises haven't materialised. The population is realising it's been taken for a ride. Far from being foolish, the ‘honorables and excellencies' are already thinking ahead. No means are off-limits in order to keep a comfortable place, sheltered from all the daily hassles faced by ordinary Congolese.
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