THURSDAY OCT 13. Thank you all for the birthday wishes. What a real treat!! I so appreciate the connection when I’m on my own in this rather out of the way place.
OF INTEREST (from meetings)
In praise of President Kabila. Finally heard the case in favour of voting for Kabila. It goes like this… Kabila has one fault – he accepts corruption, but that is his only fault. Kabila is a President for all Congolese people – which is a great feature in a country divided by ethnicity, tribe, and language. He is moderate. He is a strong Congolese nationalist but at the same time works well with international governments. In contrast, I am told that while Etienne Tshisekedi is a good man, he has xenophobic tendencies, is a radical, sees things in black and white, and insists things are done his way -> dictatorial tendencies. Six weeks to the Nov. 28 presidential elections…
Another great war in the Congo is possible. It horrifies me. It is chilling to sit and be told that another massive war in the Congo is possible… all depending on the election outcome. One person said “of course!” when I asked if another great war could happen.
Yes, yes, Pragmora has been warning of this possibility for more than a year now and has advocated vigourously for international election observers and for a Peace Dividend with the specific argument that a “potential explosion of conflict” is possible. But honestly, I’ve never gone cold like I have here when I’m told point blank all-our war is possible. That another massive war could be around the corner horrifies me.
Do I think this will happen? No, I don’t. I think Kabila will win the presidential elections (by hook or by crook), the international election observers will say he won despite “irregularities”, some violence will follow, and then things will settle back on their ruinous, but not all-out-war, path.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY
Drinking the “juice of passion” with lunch – the young waiter’s description
QUOTES (from meetings)
“You put your life, your family in danger if you want to change things. Your children will be killed. The danger is very real.”
“Money is the key answer to anything and anyone. You can buy any judge. You can buy health attention. The corruption affects the social situation. The corruption enters the consciousness: ‘he knows that I know that he knows he can buy me, that he is expecting money…”
[In the absence of corruption] “If the people can work on their projects, they will ask for peace and safety. The more they can develop their economic potential, the more they will want normalcy.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “WE MUST”
For two hours this morning, I met with Pastor Emmanuel. He is the protestant church representative for the repatriation and demobilization of foreign combatants in the Congo. (Rwandan Hutus in the FDLR rebel group control large amounts of territory in eastern Congo and terrorize the local Congolese populations.)
The conversation was pretty much in French, although Emmanuel threw in a few English words here and there. He talked at length about the violence perpetrated by the FDLR rebels and the challenges of getting them out of the Congo and back over the border into Rwanda.
When our meeting was over, as we were collecting our papers and things, he paused and said firmly to me in English, “We must.” I looked up and agreed, “Yes, we must.”
I knew exactly what Emmanuel meant. We must try to prevent more violence. We must try to solve the armed conflict even though we cannot see any solutions. We must try to protection the people of the Congo today as they cannot protect themselves against the armed groups and FDLR rebels.
We must try. We must persist.