14 Africantrumpet-The voice of Africans continued from page 4
I also met with a youth group. They were fortunate because they were receiving an education through the couple I was staying with. They were also learning English; the primary languages are Swahili and French. Before I left for the Congo I read in a newspaper that 80% of the Congolese people were illiterate, because public school is not free, but I was quickly told by these youths that it was actually 90%. They came together to talk to me about their feelings of their coun- try.
They were very intelligent. The first young man told me about the multinational corpora- tions in the U.S. that are con- tributing to the conflict in the Congo. It was a very powerful dia- log. Since I left these youth keep me posted on recent murders and rapes which includes photos. The latest report included information about one of the youths I met. His father filed a complaint against a Congolese military soldier and shortly after masked men with guns, gained entry into his home, killed his father and assaulted the family. I have been told that these incidents are increasing due to the elections.
Multinational companies pur- chase illegal minerals such as copper, diamonds, gold, cobalt and coltan from the rebels and they know these rebels are caus- ing the death and rape of many people. For instance coltan,
a heat resistance ore that is wide- ly used in every cellular phone, laptop computers, video games, jet engines, rockets, cutting tools, camera lenses, x-ray film, ink jet printers, hearing aids and many other electronic devises.
Congo holds 80% of the world’s reserve of coltan. The coltan is mined by rebels in neighboring countries, (Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi) and sold to foreign cor- porations (which include compa- nies in the U.S.). The second part of my trip to
North Goma to Bukavu In Bukavu I stayed in a Catholic Monastery. I was met by a Congolese Catholic priest. Who would join Pasqual and me on the second part of my journey? He took me to an orphanage to meet children from the conflict. The most memorable part of the second half of the trip was a group of rape survivors I inter- viewed. This group was different. They were all old women. One hundred and forty women walked for miles to tell their tear- ful stories; all of them had been raped, a couple advised they wished they were dead. Everywhere I went I was asked the same question. What took me so long to come? Where were the African Americans and why haven’t they tried to help us? I told them that many of us do not know that this is going on because of the media is not reporting the entire story about the Congo. I told them that I will go on a campaign with others to tell their stories. I told them how African Americans have a long history of helping the African Diaspora in their time of need. I talked about our role in helping during apartied in South Africa and how African America men traveled to Ethiopia to fight on the side of the Ethiopians during the Second Italo Abyssinian War of 1935. I told them about the adorable little Batwa (Pigmy) man “Ota Benga” who was taken from his Congo in 1904 caged in the New York City Bronx Zoo in 1906 with other prime mates. He was teased and mocked by spectators and he would yell back “I am not an animal”! When
Americans discovered his story they were outraged and demand- ed his release. I further advised them that we are a people who has fought and stood for justice for people everywhere because of our history of injustice. As I would end my speech and walk away it was always followed by emotional hugs and kisses, the
SHOULD AFRICAN AMERICANS GET MORE INVOLVED IN THE CONGO?
cutions, ethnic cleansing, looting, and the recruitment of child sol- diers. U.N. and Human Rights Watch reports detail some of these crimes and recent state- ment by the U.N. and human Rights Watch reports in detail some of these crimes. Congratulate State law makers for passing the new California Bill on Conflict Minerals and make sure that the law is enforced. Keep pressure on the other States until they do the same, request law makers to start an investigative probe into the U.N. forces and the NGO’s in the Congo and in Haiti.
biding of a safe journey and prays that their message would be delivered.
I asked the same question to each group how could we help. Below are the top responses: A.Help bring peace to the area B.Ge
t rid of the rebels C.St
op the multinationals corpo- rations dealings with the rebels D.Ge
t rid of the U.N Soldiers E.Ge
t rid of the NGO’s
Africans have been complaining about the U.N. raping for decades. I remember Kofi Anan attempting to address this prob- lem. When I returned to the States a friend showed me a video of a 18 year old Haitian man who was protesting the U.N. presence in Haiti, U.N. Officers from Paraguay, kidnapped and rapped him. One of the officers filmed it on his cell phone. It was very hard to watch.
I travel to Haiti for our non profit to assist Haitians. I have the exact same complaints about the NGO’s and the U.N. They com- plain about never receiving the money after the earthquake and not getting the help they need. It is my opinion that because of the many complaints in both coun- tries there should be an investiga- tive probe into the U.N. and the NGO’s.
Californian recently passed the
first State Bill on Congo Conflict Minerals. California became the very first U.S. State in the Nation to take action on the purchase of conflict minerals from Congo. President Barack Obama has authorized 100 U.S. soldiers to go to Central Africa to provide sup- port against the rebels. During President Obama term as Senator he wrote into law the most comprehensive public law to support the Congo Titled I- Bilateral Action on Addressing Urgent Needs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; however the key elements of this law have not been implemented. How Can You Help? Write your congress representa- tive and the President and tell them you want more assistance from the U.S. in the Congo. The U.N. group of experts, in their report S/2008/773 of December 12, 2008 conformed that the Rwandan Government is actively supporting the National Congress for the Defense of the people (CNDP), both CNDP and the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). A rebel group comprised mainly of former geno- cidaires from Rwanda has com- mitted human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity including rape on a massive scale, extrajudicial exe-
Push our government to put pres- sure on the Congolese govern- ment. The Congolese President Joseph Kabila rose to Presidency on January 26, 2001 after the assassination of his father and Congolese President Laurent- Desire Kabila. He was 29 when he became president, making him the youngest in the world to become president of a country. The Congo has their election on November 28, 2011; please write your congress and the President to urge a fair election. Educate yourself about the Congo and make it a point to read everything you can about the region, which includes Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The UN has reported on the for- eign multinational companies who purchase conflict minerals from the rebels, write letters to these companies and demand they stop purchasing conflict minerals. Please see U.N. list below of multi-national corporations: A.AVX Corporation B.Ca
bot Corporation C.OM
shay Intertechnology E.Tr
initech International F.Eagle Wings Resource International G.Ke
Also, you can volunteer with Mothers for Africa the Nana Sekyiaabea Foundation and help with our efforts in the Congo. You
can sponsor a child to go to school for as little as $24.00 a month and you can also donate money to contribute to micro loans for rape survivors. Next summer Mothers for Africa is planning an international march for the Congo. You can contact us at www.MothersforAfrica.org
or call us at 626-710-4304. I will never forget the faces of pain I saw on beautiful faces. It was like going home and being with family. I fell in love with the peo- ple. Even though they are consid- ered the poorest people in the world, you would never have known by their spirit. They are very proud and through every- thing maintained their faith in God and the fact that an end of their sorrow was coming soon. I went there expecting the worse. I was never more wrong about any- thing; instead I found the charac- ters in people I value the most, trust, integrity and honesty. I gained an incredible amount of respect for the people, they gave me a lesson in life that I shall never forget. I realized just like anywhere that a handful of thugs are wreaking havoc on millions of people but without any criminal consequences. I have traveled to many places in the African Diaspora and have been treated very well. I dispelled the myth that African people do not like African Americans and I will tell you it is just that a myth! I have made long lasting friendships in my travels. We are the same people who share a common history of strug- gle and injustice. I was told by someone that my efforts were futile and that the conflict has been happening too long to see real change. My response was that African Americans were enslaved a lot longer than Congolese people have been suf- fering from King Leopold to the current crises. If we are other people would have thought like that and gave up it is very possi- ble I would not be writing this arti- cle.
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