Congo has been in the news with the recent elections there to replace dictator Joseph Kabila after almost two decades of resistance by youth in that country. There was a timely documentary, Kinshasa Makambo, shown at the 26th annual African Diaspora International Film Festival at Columbia University’s Teachers College on January 20, 2019. The documentary offers background to the recent elections –the struggle to even get the vote conducted and the dispute that followed when Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner over Martin Fayulu.
The film showed three young activists and their paths of resistance to Kabila’s 18-year reign and his refusal to step down even after his term had expired in December 2016. The three activists are Christian, Ben and Jean-Marie.
Shortly before the 2018 December 30th elections, Ben, who had endured brutal torture, was released from prison and immediately resumed his activism. Christian had just returned from exile in France about the same time that Ben was released from prison. Both were members of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS); one of the founders of the party was Etienne Tshisekedi, father of Felix, who has now been declared President-elect of Congo. Jean-Marie was the leader of the defense forces.
In this documentary, Ben reaches out to Jean-Marie to form a coalition between the UDPS and the defense forces. The film shows how unorganized and without strategic focus, the Congolese youth were before the election. When the film screened at Teacher’s College, Congo’s Constitutional Court had not yet decided the presidential winner after Fayulu filed a challenge; the court ruled against him on January 20th, affirming Tshisekedi’s victory.
Brother Maurice Carney of the Friends of the Congo, who spoke after the screening, suggested the possibility that the president would be one of the opposition leaders, with the lower and upper parliament as well as the provincial positions going to Kabila’s supporters as the result of rigged elections. He was right on point; even though Kabila’s preferred candidate for president Emmanuel Shadary came last, Kabila’s coalition was declared overwhelming winner of seats in Parliament with more than 300 out of 500.
Carney said that the Congolese youth are following in the footsteps of Patrice Lumumba, the hero of Congolese independence, assassinated on January 17, 1961 by Belgian agents working together with the CIA and Moise Tshombe, the Congolese traitor, leader of secessionist copper-rich Katanga region, and Belgian puppet.
What the documentary did not address is the connection between Congo’s vast mineral resources –estimated at $27 trillion– and the destabilizing factors promoted by multinational mining interests. One audience member said that without investment, political stability will never occur.
For more information, contact FriendsoftheCongo.org
Posr Posr contributed to this article.