IOL: 'Sorcerers of Kinshasa hold fate of Congo':I recommend to read the whole article. Aside from a rather careless - and somewhat offensive - use of the term voodoo (which is a RELIGION), and a faint scent of a superiority attitude, the article describes quite accurately the... mystical realm within the collective psychie of the average Congolese people. I found the piece interesting because it is an aspect that is rarely shown outside of Congo, although it needs to be, in order to fully grasp how people think about their poor circumstances.
"Not so with Alphonse. By the second last day of campaigning towards the end of July, eight candidates had already made use of his services.
It was the standard rooster-shake option: They would have to bring an unfortunate fowl, which the old man would throttle and whip around by the neck.
If the rooster died, the candidate would lose. But he would have chicken for supper.
If the rooster lived, it would be set free. Nobody would want to eat it.
No, he could not give the names of the candidates, because the commune had forbidden him to do so. Should he ever transgress this rule, he would not only lose his clientele, he would also lose the protection of the police.
Which is a huge resource in this lawless city.
His clients paid a standard 1 000 francs for advice, and then in kind for any interference with nature's laws. "
Another interesting article comes from The Connecticut Post. Here an article tells the story of a former Congolese colonel, who fled the country and sought asylum in the United States, after having been asked - as he says - to kill his wife, a lady of both Tutsi and Hutu Rwandan descent. I am not questionning the sincerity of the colonel, and his story is indeed one that I have heard before. That said, I am questioning - obviously - his objectivity, considering he is pretty closely involved, on a personal level, in the matters that led to the Second Congo War. It is however true that many Rwandans were killed in Kinshasa, at the beginning of the Second Congo War. In fact, my own sister (well for you Westerners, half-sister, same father), whose mother is Tutsi, got caught in roundups 3 times, and owes her life to the fact that my father is an officer in the military. So I feel the colonel's pain, but I also can see how he would take party against Kabila I, and not point out that the Second Congo War was the result of an aggression of the Congolese territory by Rwanda and Uganda. Oh well...
Finally, there is this article from the EUObserver, that states that soldiers of the EUFOR, the EU's mission in Congo, have resorted to printing a weekly newspaper, in order to inform a very skeptical Congolese population, about their mission, and the sense of their presence in the country. I mean who can blame the Congolese people? The last three times that EU/Belgian soldiers were in the region, on a so-called "peace mission", there was a tragedy each time:
- The post-independence turmoil in 1960, resulting in the secession of Katanga (and other provinces), and the assassination of Lumumba
- The French intervention in the beginning nineties, which coincided with the massive riots of 1991 and 1993, resulting in a total interruption of any form of direct foreign assistance and aid, for a period of ~8 years.
- The French intervention in Rwanda, during the genocide, which is still a controversial topic, today!
Additionally, when one places EUFOR within a highly volatile context, where recent shady allocations of mining contracts to obscure Western companies have led the population to believe that "The West" already had a favourite candidate in the elections... it is not a stretch to think that, just maybe, this force is there to ensure that the results - presumed, in this logic, to have been predetermined by Western powers - are respected. Is that the case? Maybe not. But the fact that EU commissioner Louis Michel seems to have gone out of his way to promote, if not Kabila himself, at the very least his achievements, definitely does no help to dissipate the theory... You decide.
In the mean time, I was watching a report on EUFOR, on TV5, and I got to see my father's hometown of Kananga!!! Check it out! You can get Election preliminary results here (updated daily). And last, but not the least, this article on the efforts of Congolese-American NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, to build a new, state of the art hospital in Kinshasa. All hail the Dikembe!!