Author – Carmen Dibaya
The Congolese man and woman, who is he or she? I’m sure you have come across this pair once or twice; you might have not noticed that he or she was Congolese, at least not at first glance, but I’m most certain that you did notice his or her flashy clothing; the brand name slacks and the eye catching bling blings that had you do the double take. For those of you who have met this lovely pair at parties or functions, you probably noticed more than the flamboyant attires, you most likely became aware of their enticing dance moves and love for attention. You probably said to yourself, “what party animals those two are.” If you have been lucky enough to have carried a conversation with one of these two, you would say that the Congolese man or woman seem too concerned on gaining material possessions, argues pointlessly about music and sport, you might have also arrived to the conclusion that he or she displays an apathy towards the Congo and is far more interested in living and staying abroad. From this convo, the Congolese man or woman might appear, like an insecure individual, one who spends thousands of dollars that he/she does not have in order to fit in and show off, the Congolese man and woman might seem very materialist and disinterested in the betterment of his or her country.
However, how much truth is there to the conclusions that you have arrived to from your prior interactions with the Congolese man and/or woman? First impressions are usually our point of reference when picking and choosing friends and people we associate ourselves with. Often times, our first impressions go hand in hand with the stereotypes associated with a particular group of individuals. Nonetheless, first impressions do not give us a glimpse into the realities of those individual groups, especially when it comes to understanding the realities of the Congolese people.
So who is the Congolese man? – The Congolese man is a man born in the heart of Africa in a richly blessed land, a land of immense beauty and wealth. In this land you come across the treasures of the world, i.e. rare animals and precious rocks, the wealth of the Congo is both a blessing and a curse. It was a fortune for the Colonial master, in the name of religion and civilization; they raided the land and massacred anyone who dared to question their authority.
In spite of it all, June 30, 1960 surely arrived and delivered to the Congolese people their independence. However, the Western powers were not ready to let go of their newly found fortunate; thus, they cooked up a plan to continuously rob the Congo, in order to do so they had to keep the Congolese people at the bottom and killed off their leaders. For the growth of their businesses and corporations, the Congo will have to remain unstable, and so they installed within the government crooks who would allow them to take as much from the land as possible without resisting.
Financing armors to militia groups and fueling conflicts, the Congolese man dies every day for the manufacturing of your cell phones and other electronic gadgets. With an unsteady country, the Congolese population is divided into two factions, a majority who proudly contests against the corruption and minority who follows the examples of their tyrant leaders, they chose to live in marbled palaces while the rest of the population dies of hunger, they chose to wear a two-piece suit even if their fridges are empty.
To avoid exposing his weakness, the Congolese man masks his reality, he hides his fathoms in order to forget that he is hunted. Despite everything he succeeds in staying alive, he does so for the sake of his children. You see, foreign businesses are keen on seeing the Diaspora turning its back on this cursed nation, but the young generation is conscious of the beauty that lies from the East to West and North to the South of the country.
For some in the West, the Congo is a gold ditch that needs to be quickly dug while the militia groups are terrorizing the population. So the next time you come across the Congolese man, try to look past his flashy garments and alluring dance moves, keep in mind that he is the reflection of Africa, the Africa that you do not see; the paradox of a wealth that serves only to fatten the pockets of others.
If tomorrow hope transpires to reconciliation, today’s slogan would be determination. Once his country is reconstructed, the Congolese man will welcome you into his home with open arms and show you that he is a man of love, a man of peace, a man of perseverance and resilience. The Congolese man is a man in search of a peace denied to him by the tyrants of our time; the Congolese man is a reflection of the Africa we do not see.