For over five centuries, European governments and other Western collaborators have continued to consistently pillage the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo using the same sordid pattern. They have stolen, looted, and destroyed the country leaving only traces of massive corruption, perpetual conflict, and state capture which has ensured that a country that was one of the most peaceful to one that knows no peace.
DR Congo is an example of how badly colonialism, slavery, and corruption can destroy a nation. Despite potentially being one of the richest countries on earth in terms of natural resources, its people are one of the poorest on the African continent.
The DRC is a case study of how transnational economic exploitation fuelled by greed can continue for centuries in a country that committed no crimes but to have resources under its soil. As a direct result of the brutalisation of the Congolese people, companies and consumers in the United States and Europe – and more recently in China, Uganda, and Rwanda – have reaped and have continued to reap enormous gains while the owners of the resources still groan under abject lack.
Without mincing words, a deadly conflict is in full blast today. A conflict that has taken the lives of millions and subjected others to sickness and starvation, and for the women, abuses, both sexual and otherwise.
The war of Africa is taking place right within the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with soldiers, civilians, and non-state actors alike from nine countries gunning for battle, while the republic perishes.
For a nation blessed with so many mineral resources, DR Congo has consistently remained at the bottom as far as any form of development is concerned. Even the UN places it at the lowest rung because of the widespread rate of poverty.
When you look at the current situation in Congo, one must realize that it didn’t come out of thin air. Rather, actions and decisions that were taken in the past centuries led to the present apocalypse.
Going back into time to the 15th century, the Kingdom of Kongo was a sophisticated kingdom that dominated Western Congo and other states like Angola. The Kingdom of Kongo operated an aristocracy and boasted an impressive civil service.
However, the Portuguese traders who arrived in the 1480s saw the wealth and resources; both human and material, and their greed drove them to decide to rape the Kingdom of all its resources, even if it meant throwing it into perpetual anarchy. The Westerners desired to take the people as slaves, whom they would then use to tap the resources until they had their fill. So, they decided to destroy the political force and autonomy of the Kingdom. They hired mercenaries and sent weapons to rebels who continually attacked until they killed the king’s, defeated the Kongolese armies, and killed the elites in the then society.
Fast-forward to the 1600s and the Kingdom had become a shadow of itself with no leader. Anarchy was the order of the day, and an endemic war was raging amongst mini-states. Of course, the victims of the internal war were the slaves who got shipped to the Americas in their millions. Before the end of the century, four million people had been forcefully shipped out at the Congo River to become slaves in unknown destinations while the Britains continued to grow richer for it.
From that first interaction, Congo’s history had been set in stone. Successive governments have continued to be weak, the rule of law is practically non-existent, and democracy is nothing to write home about. No matter how hard the Congolese try to turn things around for the better, their enemies are too powerful. They would waste no second to destroy any foundation of legitimate and democratic government. They would not only interfere but threaten and suppress the people and their government, because only then can they extract the national resources they crave without any opposition.
With the natural resources Congo is blessed with, beginning with its massive land, large water bodies, and great climate, to its rich fertile soil housing an abundance of diamond, gold, oil copper, uranium, and coltan, amongst others, it is easy to see DR Congo as most blessed, with the potential to be amongst the richest countries of the world. However, the presence of these resources has made it the poorest, most unsafe, and most miserable of all Countries.
During the cold war, Congo found itself in a devastating position as the United States and Belgium allowed their devilish desire for copper, uranium, and the rest of the raw materials to lead them into assassinating Lumumba and installing Mobutu Sese Seko who spent three decades brutalizing and dictating over Congo with brute force and tyranny while amassing wealth for himself and allowing the Westerners to have a field day with his country’s resources. It came as no surprise when Mobutu died in 1997 as one of the richest men in history; a reward for betraying and selling off his people, and giving the Europeans and Americans keys to the treasure and resources of Congo.
When the most recent wars broke out in 1996, nobody would have expected that they would continue till this day, but the Western powers that be have declared it to be so. The foreign armies who have darkened the doors of the country haven’t come to ensure peace, but to have a share of the nation’s wealth and further diminish any hopes for a bright political future.
The Civilians who have died in their numbers, estimated at 5.5 million people, have encountered the biggest losses. In their own homes, they suffered displacement, hunger, malnutrition, and disease, even unto death. Congolese women and girls, in their hundreds, have been victims of rape and brutality, while children in their tens of thousands were abducted and forced into slavery, where they obey the bid of their masters, whether it is to place their lives on the line as fighters, work as miners, or even become sex slaves.
When peace accords are signed, they are only but a smokescreen for the installation of policies and governments that give way for more abuse and looting, without ever working honestly to solve any of the problems drowning the nation.
Uneven distribution of land and resources remains a massive problem that goes unaddressed, but the impunity of rebels and armed groups remains problematic. To date, there is no atom of the rule of law or a responsible Democratic government to promote the people from their persecutors, both Western and local alike.
Whenever new governments are instituted or notable policies are signed, pro-democracy activists, political opposition members, and civil societies are conspicuously left out of the deliberations and agreements.
Whenever elections are conducted in an ability to mime and fake democracy, the end of it all is violence, corruption, and rigging, and, of course, the man of the West will always make his way to the seat, so that the looting and raping can continue.
It has become clear, without any iota of doubt that the continued instability in Congo is a fruit of past evils of the West and the continued greed of strong forces, local or external, to keep the nation perpetually grounded. With social, political, and economic inequalities going unaddressed because of how determined the elites are to continue controlling the power and wealth, there seems to be more than enough motivation for continued internal conflict.
The greed of the outsiders, specifically the Westerners, who would go to any length to loot the nation dry so that they can build their own homes, is also a nightmare staring Congo in the face.
The African Union, the UN, and other sub-regional bodies across Africa have tried to ensure stability and create a framework and policies for a new political order, but with internal conflicts, vested interests of some members, and the undying cravings of the West, the end to this destruction doesn’t seem any closer.