By Shana Mongwanga | Notes on « Radio Congo », a book by Ben Rawlence, senior researcher on Africa for Human Rights Watch.
Anyone who takes on a journey to travel to another country in an effort to learn about other people and cultures makes a very commendable effort. In this instance the Author, Ben Lawrence , travelled to what is described as a conflict zone, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His sacrifices and commitment to finish his journey and share it in a book is an accomplishment in itself.
However when the book claims to take a more dignify approach to recount stories from Africa and Congolese in particular, it is unfortunately untrue. I was bitterly disappointed when I realised the book confirms the traditions of some travel reporters to stereotype, misinform with whatever hidden agendas in mind. And this is achieved in a more troubling way because as it comes under the disguise of a book with good intentions, but the reality is clearly a shocking dehumanising of the Congolese people, page after page.
The majority of the narrative, the content and some facts are misleading. Some quotes, historical references and analysis are poorly researched, false and overhaul represent the Congolese people and by extension Africans and Africa in a very poor light.
1. Dehumanisation of Congolese people
a. Alleged treatment of Pygmies
Before detailing why a book titled” Radio Congo” is neither a book about Congo (the Author visited only a part of country, the equivalent of anyone visiting Kent and writing a book indicating it is about the United Kingdom and the British people in general) nor about the formidable networks of Radios build by local Congolese men and women eagerly keeping themselves connected and informed in that conflict zone; I must highlight the most shocking and unacceptable elements in the book.
The gradual dehumanisation of Congolese people in the content or the subtext of the book, starting literally with a description of people compare to animal most of the times.
When has it become acceptable to describe or refer to Human beings as animals? How can One World Publications endorse such writing and market it under the tag of a “rare positive and dignify view of Africa?”
Some may think the monkey Lesula – recently identified by the western scientists in Congo but well known to local Congolese – some may very well think that his features are very close to those of Mr Lawrence. But I for one still believe humans have a disastrous tradition of trying to demean others by negating their humanity and comparing them to animals, therefore those comparisons should not be accepted.
Animalistic comparisons aside, the first brutal dehumanisation of the Congolese People is the false statement in the book regarding the “Batwa” tribe otherwise known as Pygmies in Western Culture. Mr Rawlence and its publisher respectively writes and endorses a gross generalisation that Congolese people hate the Pygmies and do not consider them as human beings.
Rawlence writes: “The Congolese believes there are three kinds of people, the Muntus – normal people – Tutsis and pygmies.” . I am a Congolese women I have never heard of such believes in Congo where I lived, nor in the Congolese communities in Belgium or the UK where I reside. I have researched, documented and worked with various Congolese people, groups and organisations and I have never come across or heard such statements.
Nor have I have ever read or heard such comments reported by Congolese or non Congolese peers in any academic circles or in general history of Congo written by Congolese or even foreigners.
Moreover “Muntu” or “Mutu” means Man in most Bantu languages. It does not mean normal people as Rawlence describes. As someone who speaks Lingala and Swahili I question the validity of the translation in this book. And the French translation is full of grammatical errors as well.
Mr Rawlence and by extension his Publishing Company OneWorld Publishing – owe the Congolese people an explanation about the source and context of those statements. Or it must be retracted. Such false, inflammatory, misleading and gross generalisation of Congolese people is a great disservice to people who are already battling on so many fronts to simply exist.
To educate Mr Rawlence, the Congolese people are Bantu people, who cohabits amongst at least 250 tribes and with 300 languages and dialects in the territories in central Africa. They had various forms of Kingdoms – such as the Monga, the Luba, the Kongo – and hundreds of tribes such as the Dengese, the Sengete, the Kandi, the Mboli, the Nkutu, the Sangomena, the Ngombe, the Moboa, the Lokele, the Boyale, the Bakusu, the Bolia, the Bakote, the Liyalinu, the Ntomba, the Telesa-Kusu and hundreds and hundres of others.
And yet Mr Rawlence states that the Congolese considers the “Batwa” tribes less than human?
Obviously an unfair and gross generalising which further demonstrates he has not grasp any elements of the Congolese psyche or culture. Congo is as big as Western Europe. Allow me to write that again.: Congo= size Western European countries combined. There is no shortage of land for tribes and people who belong historically to that land.
Furthermore the Batwa were not referred to in Congolese cultures as pigmies but that label came from European explorers, emphasizing their features and morphology rather than traditions and culture. The Congolese people may identify themselves as people from certain tribes and traditions, but always belonging to one Country. The differences and rivalries between tribes occurred historically for various reasons but the heart of Congolese traditions within the majority of the tribes is respect of the inhabitants of the land.
The “Batwa” people – or Pygmies by European description – do not live exclusively in eastern Congo but also in Rwanda, Burundi and as well as other parts of Congo. They do not necessarily live in the forest as portrayed idealistically in the book – and can also live in deserted areas.
Traditionally chiefs in Congolese tribes were meant to have support of the local tribes and coexist peacefully, whether they were Batwa or not. It is widely documented and Congolese oral traditions testify that many Chiefs had Batwa in their Courts. The loss of culture of Batwa can also be imputed to intermarriage with other Congolese or non Congolese tribes.
But the decline of the Batwa population started at the early 20th century within Colonial Congo under the ruthless Belgian ruling. It was dramatically accelerated during the genocide in Rwanda where thousands of Batwa where massacred in Rwanda.
It is incomprehensible that Mr Rawlence proceeds to recount in 350 pages how the Congolese allegedly hates Batwa without mentioning those historical facts.
The precarious situation of indigenous people is a global problem. It needs to be address with great care and respect for their culture and traditions. Similarly the Human right abuses, the systematic dehumanisation and criminalisation of Aborigines in Australia is an issue which needs to be documented more extensively and perhaps a British author will do well to highlight that plight. The same could be said of the treatment of Native Americans.
To further illustrate the complexity of an issue unwisely simplified by Mr Rawlence, the UN Mapping Report about atrocities committed in Congo states that Congolese people, including Batwa pygmies people were victims of atrocities by forces backed by Rwanda and other invading powers. But some Batwa were also amongst the perpetrators of horrendous crimes, some fighting on the Congolese side some on the Rwandan side.
Sadly a western tradition to divide, to label and to separate is at the heart of this book and gradually imputing faults to the Congolese people with no distinction, is ethically questionable.
Furthermore the misleading description that only one Congolese man was advocating for the Batwa – incidentally he is also a man of very short stature – is false and misleading. We have in the Congo, just like in other parts of the world, people who are extremely committed in advocating for the respect of Batwa culture. Regardless of their own stature. Some are part of the Congolese Diaspora in the UK and I am sure they will be pleased to share the extent of their work with Mr Rawlence.
I do not dispute that possibly during the Author’s journey, a Congolese have expressed his hatred towards a particular Batwa tribe or a person, but to grossly conclude that every Congolese do not consider Batwa people as humans is appallingly deceptive, shocking and inaccurate.
It’s as if a someone travelled to Kent , met a British National Party member who makes statements demeaning other ethnicities or race and that person proceeds to write a book pretending to offer a glimpse of British couture to the world through the prism and delusions of a BNP member. How fair or accurate would that be?
In a stark contrast the experience by Evening Standard journalist about his journey with the Bayaka people, – who can also be described as pygmies- provides a formidable insight about their rites, culture and the pressures they face from the modern world. An encounter enriched with humanity and you could sense how the Bayaka truly let the Journalist get in the midst of their world.
b. Banyamulenge and Tusti fallacies
The Author’s moment of epic joys comes when he meet what he defines as the Tutsi tribe settled in Congo in the Mulenge Hills or the Banyamulenge people. The ignorance and misinformation in those chapters of the book are at their peaks and run throughout the book. Mr Rawlence compares Tutsis he met in Congo to the Jews of Europe, and their treatment at the hands of Congolese people is equivalent to the treatment of Nazi Germany toward the Jews.
Perhaps Mr Rawlence should read more about the systematic identification, tracking and killings of 6 Millions Jews in purposed build gas chambers and purposely engineer by Nazi Germany in a silenced and often accomplice Europe. Where has there been example of such in Congo or in Africa at large?
As a Congolese woman I fail to understand the Author’s reasoning in misleading its readers that the Congolese -who are the victims of what has been described as Africa’s First World War, or perhaps it should be refer more accurately as a “Third” World War – but Mr Rawlence tells his readers that in fact, a nation which deplores 5 millions Congolese deaths since 1997 are in fact the perpetrators and killers of the Tutsis who according to him, are the equivalent of the Jews of Africa. Thus the Congolese will be the Nazi persecuting the Jewish Tutsi?
It baffles me and it is an insult to the human collective consciousness and the memory of 5 Millions Congolese men, children and women rape and killed. An insult to the 6 millions Jews killed in Europe and the 2 millions Hutus killed and the 800,000 Tutsis killed in Rwanda. All genocides victims deserve the respect and historical acknowledgement of what lead to their horrendous deaths, not misplaced and misinformed comparisons.
Once again Rawlence proceeds to fuelling the Congolese dehumanisation by wrongly stating that there are people who are Tutsi and Congolese. Clearly Mr Rawlence has some kind of agenda in feeding the British consciousness with those inaccurate information. Many Congolese would agree that such statements about alleged Tutsi rights on Congolese soil have been at the heart of many attempts to destabilise the East of Congo. It is widely documented the genocide in Rwanda between Tutsi and Hutus is still having deadly consequences on Congo soil, not least because the Tutsi minority now in power have used excuses of invading Congo in order to pursue Hutus, but in fact the Tutsi minority who govern Rwanda with an iron fist has been acting as an occupying force in east Congo.
Tutsis minority have been ruling over Rwanda and Burundi, invading Congo in 1996 and 1998, occupying the East of Congo directly and indirectly since 2002. And recently the “March 23 Movement” a rebel movement backed and finance by Rwanda and Uganda attempted once again to destabilise Congo. Rwanda’s involvement has been widely reported and condemned in report by UN Security Council’s expert group. It publicly acknowledge for the first time how Rwandan top officials are directly involved in training and providing arms to destabilize eastern Congo.
Consequently the UK, The Netherlands, the US had to publicly announced the withdrawal of funds to Rwanda. Although the measures might have little impact in Rwanda aggressiveness towards Congo it is a first steps towards recognition of what Congolese people have been saying from the beginning of this tragedy : The forces at work to destabilise Congo and perpetuate the conflict are mainly from Rwanda and Uganda led by their Presidents: Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda – who are both of Tutsi ethnicity.
Perhaps this explains the eagerness of Mr Rawlence to describe Congolese as ignorant and hateful in contrast to the “big tall dreamy eyes victimised Jews Tutsi”. The Authors’ words exactly.
As explained earlier the Congolese lives amongst 250 tribes and 300 or more language, one more tribes in a land the size of all Western Europe combined would hardly endanger anyone. So why are some people, like Mr Rawlence – exacerbating the alleged hatred towards Tutsi and fabricating false historical ties from Tutis in the Congo land?
What Rawlence claims to be historical facts are aberrations and falsities conveniently fitting into the power struggle described above and for the benefit of Tutsis, to claim rights on Congolese soil in the long term.
Rawlence claims Tutsis people flee Rwanda and travelled to Congo in 1885 to escape the ruthless King Rwabugiri in the 19th century. Now, what would be the reasoning behind that? Rwabugiri was a Tusti king , who favoured his own ethnicity. The Banyamulendge are described by Rawlence as Tustis. Why would Tustis flee Rwanda to live for a centuries in an equally hostile environment and not mix with local population – who incidentally have no trace of Tutsi settlement? Not only it doesn’t make sense but it has no proof or echo in Congolese history or traditions.
Furthermore the Banyamulenge or “those living in the Mulenge Hills” are not exclusively Tutsis. They are other tribes also living in the Mulenge Hills who are not claiming any connection with Tutsis at all. In fact some are repulsed by the hijacking of the name of the place they live for the benefit of Tutsi empowerment. But I suppose they do not fit into the narrative of Rawlence’s book and therefore should not be mentioned? It further demonstrates the lack of research and knowledge of the area Rawlence visited.
Shockingly Rawlence proceeds to take the same approach as John Hanning Speke in his description of the Rwandan Tutsi – refined tall, dreamy eyes (European-like features) as opposed to the Congolese – Bantu, broad nose and features, unrefined (Negroid feature). We could almost feel the instruments used by the colonial Belgian Officers to measure the size of the nose; lips and forehead would be fitting in Rawlence hands. Back in the day the Belgians use it to deepen the division between Tusti and Hutu. Nilotic versus Bantu.
Rawlence may very well have a preference for Tutsis people, that is his choice. He describes adoringly how a Tutsi woman gave birth to twins – without making any sound, in complete silence – and she named one after him.
That is a beautiful story and I am sure many Congolese would agree the future Tutsi child named after Rawlence could certainly roam freely in the high lands of the European Alps or Scottish mountains. I am sure the Congolese people will be the first to support the concession of European lands to alleviate the plight of Tutsi tribes, as it appears he is so eager to assist in their resettlement.
Then we could historically talk about the British-Tutsi or the French-Tusti or Spanish-Tutsi who shall be entitled to a lands in Europe. As a Congolese woman told me recently : “Show me the land of the English-Tutsi and I will show you the land of the Congolese-Tutsi. Such reality does not exist. Except to mastermind ways to decimate Congolese and Bantu tribes.”
Congolese do not refute there may be people of Tutsi ethnicity travelling from Rwanda or Burundi and settling on Congo. They may have acquired Congolese nationality according to the laws of the Country just like some Congolese have acquired British or European nationalities. But it does not validate any reasons to fomenting a genocide in Britain under the pretence that they historically own European lands, like the Tutsi are doing in Congo.
At that point in the book I was clear about its agenda. The progressive demonisation of Congolese people who allegedly considers pygmies as sub-human and allegedly exterminated Tutsi? Truly appalling.
3 A Questionable Quest
a. How did you land there? A book with no timeline
Further questions arise from the author’s journey. How can someone write a book about travelling in a Congo’s conflict zone with no dates or timeline when the journey took place? The time scale are elliptic, random at best. After trying to back-track and re-read as mush as possible trying to identify where in the Congolese timeline that journey takes place, I had no answer to those questions. It’s as if the Authors travels seamlessly in a land where time does not exist.
Even in the worst Routard guide contains basic indication such as dates. It appears when one speaks or writes about Africa it may as well be in 2000, 1990, 2006, 2008 or 1888 it does not matter from a European perceptive. Africa and Congo remains for some people in the heart of darkness and time does not matter.
“When I light a candle at night I tell the darkness I beg to differ” and I trust the Congolese people will beg to differ with Mr Rawlence writings. Believe it or not, just like in Britain, moods and perception of population are different depending on the socio-political events locally, nationally even at a worldwide level. A journey in that conflict zone in Congo will be different in 2004, 2006, or 2011, particularly since the awakening Congolese diasporas and those in the land determined to make their voices heard.
If this book was meant as Routard guide , then perhaps one would not bother to spend time reading too much into it or expecting a high standards of research. But Mr Rawlence is a senior Human Rights Watch officer whose writings have appeared in the Guardian, the London review of books, the Huffington Post. His book is marketed with his Human Rights Watch credentials. Shouldn’t we expect more and better researched work, balanced views and accuracy?
Possibly for security reason some details about his journey have been omitted but the mystery remains:
How a white European English speaking man, who learnt Tanzanian Swahili travels to east of Congo DRC –a French speaking country – in a conflict zone area where his the Swahili will be drastically different from the locals ; and yet managed to travel to all those remote places on the back of bicycles and by hitchhiking, without raising any suspicion from the locals?
One would assume Mr Rawlence trip involved some sort of mapping of the area for whatever undisclosed reasons. Clearly sharing the message of the Congolese people was not the priority in writing this book. The most basic details about Congolese are inaccurate. For instance we do not refer to our music as “Bolingo “ which means “Love” in Lingala language – Mainly spoken in the capital incidentally. But the form of music which has been prevalent in popular culture is called “Ndombolo” not Bolingo. It does not even make sense. I suspect Mr Rawlence has been taken for a ride in many ways by the Congolese locals, possibly because they distrust his intentions?
A quote from a young boy ,who was dully requested to speak to Mr Rawlence, sumps it up nicely: “You write our stories , take our pictures, raise money for the “poor child soldiers” then eat it yourself. We know what happens” that is in nutshell the legacy of many NGO’s and charities, researchers and writers in Congo.
b. In search of the Lost City of “Manono”or Colonial nostalgia?
I question the choice of the beginning a journey to find the lost colonial city of Manono, a building created in the 60’s. according to the Author “Manono is a Corbusier dream lit by Edward Cooper, a modernist experiment in the jungle.” Isn’t this some sort of colonial nostalgia? To wrongly describe 1960’s Manono as the height of culture and development for Congo is ignorance at best. The Congolese fought hard to gain their Independence from the ruthless Belgian regime and are still struggling to excavate neo-colonialism.
What the past generations endure at the hands of the Belgium is widely documented and yet Mr Rawlence find it fitting to go on a search of a lost colonial city build by the Belgians, in a time when Congolese endure dehumanised treatments and lifetime of servitude. Once again these are very poor choices and lack of knowledge a by senior Human Right researcher or perhaps it is reflective a certain international “courant de pensée”?
The Author could have started his quest with a place and time when Congo was governed by Congolese and for Congolese people. They are countless examples. Such as pre- colonial Congo, when the Kingdoms of Kongo , Monga or Luba reigned. Or perhaps tracing the origins of Picasso’s inspirations when he came across the Mbuya mask from the Pende tribe in Congo? Those encounter inspired and informed Picassso’s work, culminating in the creation of modern art and Cubism movement.
Or a quest to find the city and villas build by Congolese in the early years of Mobutu regime before it was strangled by financial “gabegie” and nepotism. The Mobutu regime with all its faults had some moments of enlightenment for Congolese. The unity from the East to the West of the country, beyond any tribal allegiances was strengthen by and during the Mobutu regime.
In the 70’s, despite coming out of ruthless European enslavement, Congo was nevertheless one of the richest and most promising country in Africa. That was a time of hope for Congolese, whether it suits western academics to acknowledge it or not.
But shockingly from Mr Rawlence perspective the Mobutu era does not even exist. Rawlence proceeds to travel as far back as the Swahili slave traders and meeting their Arabs descendents in Goma – of course they recounts the blessings of enslavement because it brought Islam for the 7% of Muslims in Congo.
Rawlence meets the Tutsis who recount theirs alleged migration in 1885 into colonial Congo, he meets descendants of Arab slave traders and yet he fails to recount or meet any Congolese to talk about the recent Mobutu regime which lasted from 1964 to 1997? That is simply unbelievable. The majority of the Congolese adult population lived through that era.
But it seems the objective of the book was not to focus on the Congolese lives. Everyone has a say about Congo in this book. From the Arab slave traders , the Belgium art deco buildings , the Tutsi migrants, anyone but the Congolese people – who are misquoted or silenced.
A Congolese land without the Congolese?
4 Missed opportunity
a. Are there no Congolese Women left in Congo?
Apart from gross generalisation such as: Congolese women lighten their skin – which once again equate to saying that all British women darken their skin by tanning- there is no voice from Congolese women in this book.
Mr Rawlence may have heard that the East of Congo is considered one of the worst place to live for women.
The use of rape as a weapon of war has descended unto unprecedented levels of atrocity in Human memory and history. Dr Denis Denis Mukwege, founder and director of Panzi Hospital which specialises in the treatment of women gang –raped by Rwandan militia said it clearly in various reports. “There is a new pathology in East Congo: Rape with Extreme Violence (REV). Dr Mukwege notes in his report “there is more than one way to commit genocide. One way is mass murder, killing individual members of a national, political or cultural group. Another is to destroy a group’s identity by decimating cultural and social bonds. Martial rape does both.”
And yet the first woman appears in the book in page 149. She undresses, squats and showers in front of the males in the boat. There is no reason or explanation why that episode is recounted.
The Congolese women in the book are simply described and none of their stories, activities of voices are heard.
In the village of Mitwaba a man tells the story of the rape of his daughter, in front of his wife and Mr Rawlence.
The Congolese man tells the European Author of the rape of a Congolese woman. And the Congolese woman is sitting there. Silenced.
Her story now belongs to the world and copyrighted in Rawlence work. Did she agree to this? Did she have a choice in this? Would torture survivor counsellors and doctors agree that this best way for a victim to share her story?
As someone who has worked with refugees, torture survivors and collaborated with Medical Foundation and Helen Bamber Foundation in London ( which support victims of torture) I can comment that the settings of that chapter in the book was very uncomfortable to read uncomfortable.
The only other meaningful meetings with Congolese women happens when Rawlence crosses paths with radio hosts arriving to do a how and we will not learn more about them. Apparently they do exist they have a voice and are not shy about sharing their stories to empower others via radio shows.
But it seems the objectives of the Authors once again is not to include them. Or perhaps they refused to collaborate in his book? Or their testimonies or what they will have to say would be in complete contradiction with this book. Or they were simply thee is no interest in detailing the voice of Congolese women?
Another woman is mentioned in the book. She appears when the authors sojourned in what he described as paradise in the Mulenge Hills with only people of Tutsi ethnicity. The Tutsi women gives birth to twins, without making a sound. And the host was able to sleep without even noticing a woman was delivering twins in the next door mud hut. Whatever epidural or herbs she had I am sure every woman will envy that.
The idyllic Congo without Congolese and voiceless women is exacerbated when Rawllence write:
Mr Rawlence beams at the idea of a baby named Ben who will be a “Tutsi with dreamy eyes” (the authors term).
The other women to briefly appear is a mixed race women in Manono and the reason her story is included is because she is a descendant of a white mercenary.
b. Scratching the surface on the root cause of Congo Tragedy
It is baffling that in 350 pages there is no detailing of the root causes of the conflict beyond generalisation which are available online. He even invents new anthropomorphism senseless term “Cheese blood” to illustrate how elements in Congo is fuelling the conflict. Thus it empties and deflates the impact of campaigns such as Blood minerals or Blood money.
There is only a superficial mention of the people benefiting greatly of the chaos in Congo: All of us in the Western World. And it is describe in the form of the allegory of a “Queen Bee” who needs to be fed.
That is I believe another missed opportunity to really inform the public. Just like the slave traders needed cheap labours and perpetuated slavery in the Americas for centuries, similarly, multinationals, neighbouring countries, greedy Congolese officials and businessmen need the resources of Congo and are perpetuating the conflict.
And those who benefited from the enslavement of their fellow humans were Western societies, similarly those who are benefiting from the enslavement of Congolese people today are mostly Western societies.
UK Companies invest millions and in Congo and expect billions in return. UK government via Department of Foreign and International Development (DFID) has invested 790 millions of the British tax payers money in Congo. And yet the country is more backward than ever. There is a 20 percent decrease in the participation of women in local politics.
During the fraudulent elections in 2011, not a single women was candidate at the presidential election whilst in 2006 at least 4 women were candidates. Where is all that money going? The Authors fails to even raise those questions or enter into that sphere of analysis.
The opacity of the actual work of the NGO’s and government in Congo is unchallenged by too many authors or people in public offices claiming to support Congo. Money is given by the European Union for local elections which never take place and yet the UK and western countries continue to deal a with a current government with no accountability.
The Diasporas of 2 million of expatriate Congolese , echoing the voice of those in Congo demonstrated very loudly in capitals in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Israel, Japan, South Africa, US, Cyprus, ect creating utter chaos in various capitals and yet the scale of it was shockingly and unreported by mainstream media.
The situation in Congo has worsened over the centuries and yet there are more Humanitarian and aid workers than ever. The City of Bukavu has perhaps the most NGO workers per square meters and yet that is where 40 women a day are raped.
The United Nations via the Monusco has had troops in the east of Congo for over 10 years, at a cost of 1 billion a year, de facto being an occupying force, and yet in March 2012 the Bunyiakiri massacres and other assaults occurred just metres from the UN base.
When authors and NGO alike will pause for moment and care to actually listen and act upon what the Congolese people have to say, then their will be a path of better understanding and ending the tragedies in Congo. That will only happen if there is a real political will to change the situation in Congo.
The historical truth of the Congolese people and tribes are not only written in the books kept in SOAS library. The They are also held within Congolese people themselves, in their oral traditions and the writings by Congolese. Which are abundant when one cares to consult and refer to them.
Mr Rawlence bibliography cites 16 books by various authors. Not one Congolese authors.
One Congolese man is referenced as a voice over artist and that is all. I would strongly invite Mr Rawlence to consult and read Congolese sources for his next work on Congo. Similarly if I were to write a book about England it would be appropriate to read books written by English people, wouldn’t it?
As a Congolese-Belgian-Londoner woman living in Europe, working closely with Congolese in the East and all over Congo, with roots in various tribes from the Francophone Walloons to the Mungalas and with firm feet in the hills of Bukavu, I was eager to read this book and engage in this conversation.
I hope this endeavour will lead to a “Dialogue” between the author of this book and many Congolese from the Diasporas and in Congo.
Because it is important that Congolese voices are heard
Because it is crucial to challenge misleading information, and stereotyping whether in Africa or elsewhere.
When I was invited to share my views about this book for its launch and the panel discussion about “ Reporting Africa Differently” initiated by the Royal African Society (RAS) and the London African Media (LAM) , the Author commented that the general public wants depressing stories from Africa.
Once again I beg to differ.
The general pubic craves for the truth to be told and reported in a fair, balanced and duly researched way, not preconceived ideas of what Africa ought to be.
 RAWLENCE Ben, radio Congo (2012) , One World Publications,
–P105. Describing a Tutsi man; “The Tutsi stands out with their high forehead, define cheekbones an large dreamy eyes, a bit like those of their beloved cattle.
– p. 121: describing a Congolese man’s voice: “Gilet is large an powerful but his voice has the high-pitched squeak of a Chihuahua”
-p.143 : about young boys who accompanied him crossing the lakes; “the boys are like dogs finding dry land after a long voyage in confinement. Running around chasing each other and rolling on the ground.”
 Davies Ella, New Monkey identify in Africa, in BBC Nature website 13 September http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/19556915
 Op. Cit, P. 157
 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report of Mapping Exercice, documenting atrocities in the DRC during the 1993-2003 Released on 4 October 2010.
 Evgeny Lebedev Saving children in the nick of Time In Evening Standard , 21 December 2012 http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/saving-children-in-the-nick-of-time-8428712.html?origin=internalSearch
 Guradian online, 18 October 2012. Link http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/18/congo-rwanda-un-security-council
 Kwebe Kimpele, Depuis quand existe-il des Tutsis Congolais ? in Ingeta website http://www.ingeta.com/depuis-quand-existe-t-il-des-tutsis-congolais-2/
 John Hanning Speke was a British colonial explorer and architect of the hamitic myth: the idea that the Rwandan Tutsis minority are superior to the Hutus minority. Speke hypothesis was considered widely a fact by Belgian Colonial who then ruled Rwanda, giving privileges to the Tutsi minority. The development of such racist ideas deepened the division between Tutsi and Hutu and culminating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
 RAWLENCE Ben, Op. Cit., p.214
 “The impact on Congolese masks on Picasso”, Friends of the Congo website, Congolese culture, http://friendsofthecongo.org/congolese-culture.html?start=1
 Report by Dr Denis Mukwege Citation: Mukengere Mukwege D, Nangini C (2009) Rape with Extreme Violence: The New Pathology in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. PLoS Med 6(12): e1000204. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000204. Published: December 22, 2009. Copyright: © 2009 Nangini, Mukengere Mukwege
 Denis Mukwege, ibidem.
 A picture of the city of Manono seen at the School of African and Oriental studies (SOAS) by Rawlence is described as the starting point of his quest.