The Pope Visits the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan

Pope Francis (R) waves as he arrives on the popemobile for the mass at the N’Dolo Airport in Kinshasa. [Source: Arsene Mpiana/AFP – Al Jazeera]
There are no coincidences. Is it a surprise that the Pope is visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) just after the big signing of cobalt and copper mines to the US? Or South Sudan oil fields (3rd largest in Africa behind Nigeria and Angola)? This is the first visit of the Holy See in the DRC in 37 years, and the first ever to South Sudan! To all the religious people out there, this is not an attack on religion or the Pope, it is just asking questions: let’s face it, your prayers are not the reason the Pope is visiting the DRC or South Sudan; your resources are! Some people tell me that it is because Africa is the future of Catholicism with the largest growing population of Catholics, but why is there no true African presence at the Vatican then? Others say that the Pope is trying to preach peace… President Charles De Gaulle of France once said that, “states do not have friends, they only have interests.” It is best for Africans not to think of love or friendship, but rather in terms interests.

Flag of Mozambique

Remember how the Pope visited Mozambique just before the major signing of the biggest gas fields in the world to the French firm Total and a condominium of commercial banks from around the world descended upon it? Ever since that 15 billion dollars contract with the French firm Total for the oil in Cabo Delgado, and the discovery of one of the largest oil, gas, diamonds, rubies fields in the world, peace in northern Mozambique has become evasive (Who/What did we say goodbye to in Africa in 2020?). Now they want us to believe that there is an Islamist insurgency in Mozambique of all places! The Islamists passed over Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, to land in… Mozambique! After his Mozambican visit, Pope Francis sent money to help the people and children of Mozambique who have been displaced by conflict! … Why did the Vatican not help the government of Samora Machel in their fight for independence back in the days? Lastly, to help with peace in Mozambique, Rwandan troops have been sent there. Rwanda today is a world producer of minerals it does not have on its soil, and we know that neighboring Congo is the real provenance of those. Is it then a coincidence that the same Rwanda that is in conflict in DRC, is the same deployed in Mozambique to protect TotalEnergies’ interests in the region?

Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

To come back to the Pope’s visit to the DRC and South Sudan, I wish that while visiting the country, instead of asking the faithful to pray (1-million mass to celebrate the Pope visit in DRC), the Pope could ask for roads or hospitals… the country probably took out of its coffers the money needed for hospitals or roads, to accommodate his visit. Couldn’t he ask that for his next visit, he would like to go from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi by road or rail (not possible at the moment)? The Pope made a grand speech saying all the things Africans love to hear Pope says Hands off Africa: “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa, it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.” However, for the new African generation, the era of words is over, actions speak louder! There is no secret that since the Ukraine war, many foreign leaders have been visiting Africa in search of the next energy source, even the King of Belgium visited Congo in 2022 for the first time since independence and offered words as usual (King Philippe of Belgium’s Visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)); after all, Africa is relatively easy to tame: no united governments, poor governance, corrupt leadership, no cohesion, 54 countries, etc. So it is easy to sign a deal for Nigeria’s oil and gas for X amount, and not give a dime to Niger (France’s backyard) for its uranium for instance. This is where the African Union (AU), had it been an organization at the service of its constituents and not external financial backers, would have played an important role.