Rwanda and DR Congo are not like-poles

The globe has a North and South Pole. So does a magnet. And one of the most interesting experiments is trying to unite the North Pole of a magnet to a North Pole of another or the South Pole of one to another. They will just repel.

The globe has a North and South Pole. So does a magnet. And one of the most interesting experiments is trying to unite the North Pole of a magnet to a North Pole of another or the South Pole of one to another. They will just repel.

That is nature. And because of their unique characteristic, magnets used in various ways most notably in finding direction as campuses in ships, aeroplanes and on maps.

Those are magnets for you. And they will stick to their simple rule. Then nature also says that birds of a feather flock together. And in nature, everything is organised in such a way that everything depends on the other. When something is taken out of the order, there is bound to be a great disturbance.

In short, everything and everybody in one way or the other depends on another. When one is affected negatively, the other somehow suffers.

Look at global warming…it comes from cutting down that tree that might not be able to express its pain and anguish. Then deserts set in and there is nothing to absorb the excess carbon-dioxide and other toxins, we get strange cancers and a lot more bad stuff.

You might not believe it but all the above was written in relation to something so closer to home. Something I might even classify as…political. Yes, it’s about our dear nation Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

In the past, at least in the nineties and up to about 2002, the two nations seemed to have bad blood between them. Fortunately, this is steadily changing, thanks to both nations’ leaders.

What one should know is that both nations have had their fair share of bad pasts and bad leaders. 

In ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’, Adam Hochschild gives a haunting account of the brutal plunder of the Congo by Leopold II of Belgium.

This plunder resulted in a holocaust which would never have been known about but for a young British shipping company agent, Edmund Dene Morel, in the late 1890s, noticing something strange about the cargoes of his company’s ships as they arrived from and departed for the Congo, Leopold II’s vast new African colony.

Incoming ships were crammed with valuable ivory and rubber. Outbound ships carried little more than soldiers and firearms. He correctly concluded that only slave labour on a vast scale could account for these cargoes.

With closer scrutiny, a holocaust was unveiled. Entire Congolese villages were being destroyed because they did not take part in the rubber collection or growth for the ‘mighty’ Belgian King.

The demands to fulfil the ‘kingly’ quota of rubber and other items from the natives saw many losing their left-hand wrists. Sometimes the ‘enforcers’ would try to seem so hard working, they cut off both wrists of natives who were even not resistant to the harsh labour demands.

For the superstitious, there is little consolation that King Leopold later bore a son whose left arm from the wrist downwards was infected with polio.

DR Congo’s politics was not smooth sailing. Mobutu Seseko did his best to lead a lifestyle like that of his country’s coloniser, King Leopold.

He was a billionaire while his people wallowed in poverty. In order to justify his strange lifestyle, he introduced the infamous clause 15 in the law…it loosely translated in do whatever it takes for you to survive.

In Rwanda, when the colonialists realised that Rwandans were too organised a nation to stay in colonial rule too long, they introduced divisive politics.

They introduced a Genocide ideology which they supported to the very end. The result was the massacre of over million innocent people in ways which are difficult to even imagine ever being possible. The politicians in power wanted to keep the power regardless of the loss of life.

Current trends between the DR Congo and Rwanda show very positive signs. DR Congo’s naming of Norbert Nkulu Kilombo Mitumba as its envoy to Rwanda and its approval of Amandin Rugira as the new Rwandan envoy at the Kinshasa Embassy should be celebrated regionally and even continentally.

Rwanda and DR Congo are neither magnets nor birds. They are nations that want prosperity for their people. A Rwanda with political and other problems means a DR Congo with same and vice versa.

When the genocidal interahamwe failed to finish off the Tutsi, they run off to the forests in eastern DR Congo. This created other social problems for DR Congo, because of the vast numbers of refugees and also another problem for Rwanda, because the interahamwe regrouped there as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) to try and finish of what they had started.

However, with both nations’ ties on a steady mend, hopefully the genocidaire interahamwe remnants will see the light and opt out. The successful joint Umoja Wetu operation should have been an indicator that Rwanda and DR Congo are not magnetic poles that will always repel each other.

They are nations with the capacity to come to win-win decisions.
With improved security and progress in DR Congo, there is bound to be more economic activity for all nations in the region and not just these two.

Hopefully, this is a trend that will lead both nations having healthy, educated, clothed, sheltered and prosperous people.


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