The Forgotten War in the Congo

“Cultural Thursdays” at Sophia


Last May 23, found three students enrolled in the 1st year, Olivier Barhasima, Martine Thsibamba and Pierre Kabeza from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, guiding the usual gathering for an in-depth cultural evening held every Thursday in the Great hall at the IUS.


Their presentation, accompanied on screen by a series of strong images which integrated their narration with efficacy, brought those present into the heart of a great country that – and this  isn’t difficult to understand – remains unknown for the major part.


The immense natural resources of this equatorial area, its rich traditions, the rhythms and colors of the life of 72 million inhabitants, a mosaic comprised of some hundred diverse ethic groups.  But also by the difficult relations with Europe and the West, the war that is sparked periodically for the exploitation of the territory; the drama of a forgotten population.


 “We entered on tiptoes in a beautiful, enchanting, yet tragic scene, because of the conflicts that still criss-crosses it,” comented a Brazilian student present at the evening’s ending.


During the evening we had the opportunity to get to know Pierre Kabeza, a union leader with two daughters, who has had to leave the city of Bukavu in the the Great Lakes region, three years before and immigrate because of the threats received for having fought for the teachers’ salaries and most of all, for the childrens’right to go to school (Also see a recent article in the publication ‘Corriere Della Sera’).


Bakavu, Democratic Republic of Congo


We are struck by the fact that Pierre, notwithstanding the gravity of his personal circumstances, is able to push to the background what he has lived and is living, to concentrate instead on the dramatic results of a war that has no end and that continues, however, to be denied by the various governments involved.


Pierre speaks of the 4 million dead and 2 million women and children forced to flee their cities and villages.  He speaks of the coltan, or ‘white gold’, used also for making cell phones, which has caused farmers to abandon their fields while children are obbliged to work in the mines, daily risking their lives.


His is a call to recognize our personal responsibility in this: it is time to accept its weight each time we increase the demand for consumer goods which production brings about an unsustainable situation.  It is also time to act, in every possible way, so that the international community intervene in this situation.


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