Interview Conducted by Carmen Dibaya
My name is Kambale Musavuli.
Q: Where do you currently reside?
I reside in New York City.
Q: Where did you live while in Congo? If you’ve never been to the Congo, which part of the country is your family from?
I was born and raised in Kinshasa. My family is from North Kivu.
Q: What is your current occupation?
I consider myself as a social entrepreneur and innovator taking social media tools to shine light on the issues in the Congo and get communities engaged in social justice as it relates to Congo advocacy. I work as the Student Coordinator and Spokesperson of Friends of the Congo, an advocacy group based out of Washington, DC. To learn more about Friends of the Congo, you can visit our website athttp://www.friendsofthecongo.org/ or the social justice work athttp://www.congoweek.org/
Q: Are you involved with any Congolese based organization or groups? If so, what does the organization do?
I am primarily involved with Friends of the Congo in the work of mobilizing youth around the world to take positive action to bring an end to the conflict in the Congo. What we do at Friends of the Congo is that we raise awareness globally and we provide support to social justice groups on the ground in the hope that they in turn will serve as agents of change in the Congo.
I also serve on the board of Congo Leadership Initiative (http://www.congoleaders.org/), an organization doing youth leadership training in Kinshasa primarily. Also, I try to help any other organizations who share the same vision as I do, of a free and liberated Congo whereby the youth of the Congo are seen as the future and actors for change in the Congo.
Q: What made you become more involved in wanting to advocate for the cause of the Congo?
There are numerous experiences in my life that made me become more involved in advocating for Congo. It will take me quite a while to describe them all. I can say that the one single experience that made me decide to become more involved was my college years at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. This university is known as the hub for social justice and activism. Remember that this is the school where the sit-ins movement for Civil Rights started. While in college, being active with my other African brothers and sisters, and my American allies, I started appreciating more the Congo. I realized that my home was so beautiful… that we had everything we needed… that we had a beautiful river… and that we had mangoes. Why mangoes? Well… if you are Congolese, there is a great chance that your house and a mango tree. I missed the Congolese mango.
In short, I became more involved to get my Congolese mango back.
Q: Where do you see the Congo in 10 years?
It is a tricky question. I have a 20 year vision of the Congo. I actually believe that on July 13, 2031 (which is actually my 50th birthday), I will be on the Congo river celebrating the biggest birthday bash in total peace and harmony in the Congo. I have also envisioned what it will take for us to get there.
So, to cut that vision in half, I believe that in 2021 the Congo will have all its citizens focused on the reconstruction. I can see that in 2021, the curriculum in the Congo at least until 6th grade should be translated in the 4 national languages.
I can see 2021 as the year Congo will be recruiting young local Congolese to be part of the soccer team that will make it to the World Cup final in 2022. I see the Diaspora returning home to the Congo and bringing their talents and expertise back to rebuild the Congo.
I can see a change in the mentality of the youth of that time where they truly believe that they can be anything they want to be.
There are so much more that I see, but I have for now put it in the book I have been writing. As I share this with firm conviction that it can happen, I hope that many more Congolese will join me in making the vision a reality.
Q: Do you think that the Congolese youth is motivated and have what it takes to change the situation of the Congo?
As a collective, the Congolese youth is still trying to form a unified voice. I’ve met many Congolese youth leaders around this country, Canada, and in South Africa. I’ve been in communication with fantastic youth leaders who are doing actions inside Congo and some who are also in Europe and Asia. We are still working hard to bring all of us together to change the situation as one group.
The challenge of the Congolese youth is that we do not know our own history. What helped me be motivated in being active to change the situation back home was the little bit of history that some elders helped me acquire. When I understood how rich the Congo is and who were the heroes of the Congo who fought since 1482 to protect our nation, that gave me courage and inspiration to also fight with whatever means I have in my disposal.
I believe that if the Congolese youth of today know the true history of Kimpa Vita, Simon Kimbangu, The Edminstons, Maria Fearing, Maman Onema, Mulele, Lumumba, Floribert Chebeya, and the network of Congolese women who have been fighting for change since the 1990s, they will also be inspired to do more.
Congo’s history has shown that our youth have what it takes to rise above any challenges. Remember our young Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960 who was only 34 years old on June 30 and inspired many young Congolese to fight Belgian Colonialism and gain independence?
I believe in our youth… I know we have what it takes. We must make it possible for us to unify the youth and things will move in a much faster pace. But, it is possible.
Q: Are you planning on visiting/investing/ going back to live in the Congo in the future, if yes to any of this why?
Yes… there will never be a place anywhere in the world that would even come close to be my home as Congo has been. While I appreciate the opportunity of being away from Congo… Congo is my home and I will return there to live.
Why? We are indigenous people of that land. Collectively, the Congo is our land. Our ancestors fought for this land until they moved on to the next world.
We… or should I say I… can’t let go of the land of my ancestors.
As Congolese artist Lokua Kanza stated in his new song “Nakeyi kasi lobi nakozonga. Mobembo ezali nde liwa te!”
Q: One word that describes you