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Igniting The Power of One: The Strength Of A Woman’s Voice.

In the last few days, I have been consumed by my reading and research into the plight of Congolese women while writing my articles. At some point, I have pondered and wondered, what do I write about which has not been written? What have I got to say that has not been said. In fact, who will listen to me and who wants to hear  and read about the Congo one more time? Haven’t they had an overload already? Watching the video clip below, I realised…we cannot stop talking about this until it stops.

Congo Survivors: Renee’s Story from Jewish World Watch on Vimeo.

In the course of my research, I have read all I can find in order to gain a good understating of the situation. While reading comments on the Guardian website, left on two opinion pieces written by Eve Ensler, playwright (creator of Vagina Monologues) activist and the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls and Margot Wallstrom, UN special envoy tasked with intensifying efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in the conflict regions of Africa,  it dawned on me that people are still very ignorant and will always have a one dimensional view of Africa. No disrespect intended, their comments instantly tells you, they are the kind who think Africa is a country and not a continent. Their views have been shaped by the ‘one dimensional’ images beamed around the globe about the continent. To them, the Congo is just another war among many others on the exotic Island of AFRICA!

However, a few comments left me thinking and my thoughts were not of anger at the individuals who commented. In fact, I was not upset by their ignorance or in some cases, attitude. I was pleased. In fact, I was beyond pleased. I was ecstatic because we as Africans need to get our act together and stop looking to the outside world to come and fix us. It’s like someone who is obese telling you, a slim individual to exercise or eat healthy on their behalf while they binge on fatty foods.

Guardian website articles..please read both to understand the comments below…

My cancer is arbitrary. Congo’s atrocities are very deliberate

Conflict minerals’ finance gang rape in Africa

Zainab Salbi is not an African woman but she is a woman…what are we, as African women doing for our sisters? Yes, I know, we cannot save the world. I fully understand we all have priorities…if you cannot run, sponsor a sister.

The first comment was…

“The UK is already over burdened with the problems of the whole world, we are broke, indebted, skint – we, including our children have a National debt which will take us decades to repay, meanwhile our land will be sold off to foreigners because we can’t afford it anymore, Brown gave away our money overseas to boost his ego – Cameron will do the same.  There are people sleeping on the Streets in this country, there are mentally ill people who don’t get any help, there are cancer drugs which are too expensive for English people to have, there are elderly poor dying in an abysmal state without dignity, MRSA, Clostidium Difficile, TB are present in our hospitals and communities.  As I age – I become more aware of death, the treatment of my parents in their last days before they died proved to me that the NHS wasn’t fit for purpose and that all the money they had paid into it was wasted and that they had not benefitted from their contributions, this country needs to concentrate on the people living in this country.  The Congo is what it is – we can’t change it, we can only interfere and cause more division.”

Let me go one better and say, this individual has a point, a very valid one…I know, shock horror right?? Let’s call a spade a spade,  every nation has its own burden and I do not deny that the meddling by the west sometimes makes things worse…what I’m getting at is is the fact that we need to get over the ‘save us’ mentality and rise up and be counted. There is no denying the war in the Congo has people in the west, who gain from the misery we see and hear off especially where minerals are concerned but to take the stance that the west is responsible for solving this mess would be a big lie and a far fetched dream. I have a mobile phone, you have an ipod, a friend of ours has a playstation…a ha! We all have a role to play. So, let’s stop putting the burden on one nation, one continent and let us do something about it…together!!!

If there was a comment I really liked, it would be this…

“I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am not interested in picking up the bill for every perceived injustice that occurs in Africa. These people need to shape their own destiny. Yesterday, during a world cup report on the radio, a reporter described Africa as a “proud continent – some evidence of which would be most welcome.”

So on point, we need to shape our own destiny…if it is going to be, it is down to us…In the words of Eveline Herfkens, Executive coordinator of the UN Millennium Campaign and a former Dutch minister, “Africans should defend their own interest.”

Last but not the least, this comment…I love this one because the individual talks about collective responsibility and talks about the Congolese men who do the looting and raping…it is not westerners going into the Congo to physically rape Congolese women, it is the militias, who comprise of different factions and it is well established this group of spineless assholes includes the FDLR, Mai Mai, CNDP, which was led by Laurence Nkunda, until he was captured,  among many others. Important to note that the FDLR ( A Rwanda Hutu militia linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, popularly known as Interhamwe, “those who kill together,”) crossed over into the DRC when the war in Rwanda was coming to an end. The UN gave them refuge but forgot to sift out the Genocidaires from the ordinary citizens who were the victims of war…go figure…so when people talk about meddling, this makes sense…

“Why do you only refer to European and American consumers? Do Chinese, Indian, Japanese and African consumers use mobile phones that don’t have coltan in them? If so let me know where I can buy such a device.  You refer to only American and European consumers then in your last paragraph refer to collective responsibility. Does that collectively responsibility, apply to all mobile phone and MP3 users or only to westerners? If it applies to all consumers why don’t you say so and if it applies to westerners only please explain why?  On the subject of responsibility don’t the men of the Congo have a collectively responsibility not to rape women and girls? And do you think they will stop raping women and girls if the rest of the world stops buying their minerals?  This is yet another Guardian article refusing to address a serious issue honestly by implying a problem is caused by “the west” and refusing to lay any responsibility on the people causing the problem.”

The lady whose voice you hear in the clip below is Ngozi Eze, country director of Women for Women International, Nigeria. She is translating in this clip but I heard her speak last week and she means business. The Congo comes to our attention because it is a war that one’s mind cannot fully comprehend. Hence, you would think in a country like Nigeria, where there is strife in areas like Jos, that all else is well. Wrong! The rapes and looting of women, stripping them of their dignity is just as rampant.

The time has come for us to stop making excuses, this cannot go on…the war in DRC has been raging for over a decade…

We need to educate the men as explained by the clip below…they need to learn that the tool in between their legs is not for destroying the lives of their wives, sisters and mothers…

Come what may, we must not give up hope. The Congolese women are fighting back and we must fight with them…

It is time to say no more and we must help these women rebuild their lives…

Children of God from Jewish World Watch on Vimeo.

How interesting that majority of the women and individuals speaking up are not Africans…I know there are Africans speaking out, don’t get me wrong but the people, whose voices we hear the most are not Africans. We all need to chew on that…

If you want to find out more, visit the folowing websites, these are people I know for a fact are doing amazing work…

Heal Africa – Watch out for an interview with them in the next edition of the New African woman

Panzi Hospital Bakuvu – I have the highest level of respect for Dr. Denis Mukwege


2 Responses to “Igniting The Power of One: The Strength Of A Woman’s Voice.”

  1. Hans Schippers says:

    I fully agree that “we cannot stop talking about this until it stops”. Even in the case where things are being repeated that have been said before, that’s not an issue: They should be repeated until they are heard…

    I also find it a commendable rhetoric when the Congolese people are called upon to take matters into their own hands and take responsibility for their own future. I fully agree that waiting for the West to “come and fix” things would not be an option. After all, Africa’s well being is not necessarily in the interest of a neoliberal economic agenda.

    Still, as a Westerner, I do think one crucial form of action by the West is in fact necessary, or rather a form of non-action: It is absolutely crucial for the West to stop interfering in the processes of who gets power and more importantly who does not. Taking the obvious example of the Congo a couple of years back, it was very clear that a crook such as Mobutu was never going to bring about any change, whereas Lumumba might very well have. If not for the combined obstructions of Belgium, the US and the UN…

  2. Belinda Otas says:

    Interesting point, the meddling and support for corrupt assholes as leaders needs to stop…where the Congo is concerned, the UN helped in the creation of this mess, they must help to stop it but first, they need to stop pumping so much money into the hands of corrupt jokers and take action…right now…

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