While we spend a billion dollars on an endless presidential campaign, and while Wall Street falls on its own sword, and while I kvetch about nothing important on my fancy new laptop, she is crying out of real despair: things are a mess in Congo. It's not new that things are a mess in Congo, but with the army abandoning its duty to protect the people while the rebels threaten to take over Goma (a city that has been a U.N. center of operations), the Congolese are in dire, horrible straits. Thousands are making their way wherever they can, across the border into Rwanda, to God knows what kind of reception or help. 

Obama, do you have any idea what awaits you, and how much the world expects of you?

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

And let's not forget that the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which about 800,000 Rwandans were massacred, led to the flight of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans into the *DRC. Which led to attacks on the refugee camps by the Rwandans and played a part in the two wars which were to follow in the DRC between 1998 and 2003, in which about 4 million Congolese were killed.

Yes, 4 million people died. Was I the only American to have missed that news flash?

*Since the Congolese are indeed in dire, horrible straits, could we please, at the very least, pay them the respect of learning and using the correct name for their country? (Please let me emphasize that this is NOT a rail against Scott--the American media, including reputable papers like the Washington Post, are perpetuating this error.)

The correct name of the country is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC for short. This is important because there's another country called "Congo", the Republic of the Congo, right across the Congo River from the DRC, and technically, the shortened name "Congo" refers to the Republic of the Congo, and not the DRC, which is where the rebels are starting up again.

History/Geography Lesson: the DRC is a former Belgian colony ("Belgian Congo"), also formerly known as Zaire. It's the 3rd largest country in Africa, is the size of 25% of the U.S., and was home to the horrible dictator Mobutu. Its capital is Kinshasa (so the country is sometimes referred to as "Congo Kinshasa").

The Republic of the Congo is a former French colony ("French Congo"), is slightly smaller than Montana, and its capital is Brazzaville (so the country is most commonly called "Congo Brazzaville").

Fun facts: Brazzaville and Kinshasa are also "twin cities"--the two capitals are straight across the Congo River from each other, and at 1 km apart, are the world's closest capital cities. And just to keep things confusing, the correct name of the nationals of both the DRC and Congo Brazzaville is "Congolese".

(In case you can't tell, I'm hoping that in the post-Bush United States ignorance will no longer be considered a virtue. I'm sharing all my knowledge with you and am counting on you all to return the favor!)