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.

DRC and Zambia Sign Over Cobalt and Copper Resources Rights to the United States?

Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

I was stunned by the recent signing of the DRC and Zambia cobalt and copper mines to the USA!!! You heard me right! Last month during the US-Africa summit, the puppets that are the African leaders, leaders of Zambia and DRC, Hakainde Hichilema and Felix Tshisekedi, signed the total surrender of the supply chain and production of cobalt and copper. Hello? Is this 2023 or what? Did Tshisekedi or Hilema ask the people of their countries before signing these treaties? Was this discussed at the parliament? Not that the parliament is any better, but still, is it not my country? We know that these countries are deep in debt (Zambia Sovereign Debt Crisis), but shouldn’t the citizens know that their lives and resources are being signed away to foreigners? Shouldn’t they have a say? As you know, the DRC supplies 70% of the world’s cobalt, while Zambia supplies 70% of the world’s copper. In the west we are being told that the future is the electric car, which everyone should embrace with the Teslas and all those car brands, but none of this is possible without the DRC resources. The claim is that the agreement is to manufacture electric batteries near the mines or rather facilitate the development of value chain in electric battery and clean energy… but in a place where there are no roads, how much of it will be done on the ground? How much of it is real? It’s like the signing of the trade agreements between the EU and Africa in recent years, where the idea on ‘paper’ was the opening of African markets to Europe and vice versa, but instead the reality is that Africa is submerged with uncontrolled European products, and the local farmers/industries suffer, while there is no real export of African products to Europe.

Zambian flag
Zambian flag

The worst part is that these big multinationals will make billions, but will not even build roads in these countries, not even a single road or hospital! In some countries, when the locals asked for roads or hospitals (Niger, Guinea, etc) they were beaten up, imprisoned, killed, and more. When one learns about the 999-year lease in Kenya (Did You Know about the 999-year Lease granted to Europeans in Kenya ?), one thinks, it happened over a century ago, the locals were illiterate, or not versed in European languages, or in the particular case of the 999-year lease the locals were not even present at the signing table; but today… what is the excuse? Except that maybe we have a lot of traitors, spineless leaders, corrupt leaders, and puppets in our ranks? It is unacceptable!

For the press release of the document, go to the state department website; more articles can be found here, and check out the article by Conor Gallagher via NakedCapitalism on Markets Insider about the race for resources in Congo.

@lesothotribune

MoU was signed that will have the governments of DRC & Zambia surrender the supply chain and production of copper and cobalt to American control for EV market #lesothotribune #zambiantiktok🇿🇲 #drctiktok

♬ original sound – LesothoTribune

The Geological Scandal that is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mineral map (Source: Atlas du continent africain, Jeune Afrique et editions Jaguar, 2000)

Last week, a reader asked us why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often referred to as a “geological scandal” of nature. For starters, the DRC is one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources, with the richest concentrations of precious metals and minerals on earth, with large deposits of gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, cobalt, tungsten, coltan, bauxite, cassiterite, and much more. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it has about 75% of the world’s coltan, the material at the heart of the mobile phone revolution; about 70% of the world’s cobalt reserves, over 30% of diamond, 10% of copper. The uranium used for the bombs that detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from the DRC. The electrical car battery revolution is all based on Congo’s wealth; there is no way the West can sustain an electrical car industry without Congo and its reserves. Apart from mineral wealth, the DRC is also one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

Unfortunately, this abundance of internationally valued minerals and natural resources has however failed to bring any kind of prosperity to the country. It began with colonial exploitation of the land and its people by King Leopold II (King Leopold II and The Congolese Genocide), and continued in bloody civil war; the Congolese have harvested nothing from their country’s natural riches but misery and poverty. The world’s bloodiest conflict since World War II is still going on today on Congo soil, and has made over five million deaths…

For more, check out the article by Colette Braeckman, The Looting of the Congo, BBC – DR Congo: Cursed by its natural wealth and the extensive articles written by a fellow blogger at WiPoKuli Schluter. We had found a good documentary a while back about Congo’s resources, but somehow it is no longer available. So I live you instead with The Race for Africa by Gravitas Plus, which actually helps to understand the importance of Africa (and Congo) today, and the race for its resources. Enjoy!

Electricity producing Stones found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)?

Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo

In recent days, there have been videos of rare electricity producing stones recently discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) trending on the internet. Online users claim that the ore is the fictitious Vibranium found in the Black Panther movies.  At first, I took the story to be internet hyped stuff, so paid no real attention. After all, isn’t Congo a geological scandal? Isn’t Congo the place with the biggest deposits of coltan, metal at the base of the cell phone revolution we have been experiencing in recent decades? Isn’t Congo the place where new minerals are found often? I paid no real attention until I saw an article on the BBC website published yesterday to address the ‘rumors’. That is when I thought to myself, tosilisi, We are finished! In the article, some scientists in several parts of the world were shown the videos and asked to give their opinions. As you probably guessed, most said that it was an impossibility. The real question is, if the thing is not real, why is the BBC bothering to address a ‘fake’ story? Why not just let it slide like we all did at first? Is it some sort of damage control until the ‘real’ experts are deployed on the ground to assess, and retain all rights to the mines containing this rare ore (like it is usually done in Africa)? Is it a way to make us lose interest so nobody looks until the major multinationals sign deals (remember Mozambique)? Although this will mark an amazing revolution in terms of energy if found to be true, it still makes us fear for the DRC which has been in the midst of civil wars for more than 25 years because of all its large mineral deposits, civil wars funded by foreign money. At this point, the words of anthropologist Coovi Gomez ring true, as he said, truly for Africa to be free, Congo needs to be free; by Congo, he meant the original Congo which encompasses most of Central Africa today.

J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More

President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (Source: thecable.ng)

A couple of years ago, we published the words of President J.J. Rawlings of Ghana on Betrayal. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to revisit that article published here on Afrolegends in 2020, where Rawlings talks about African identity, betrayal and much more. As Amilcar Cabral said, “Let no one tell us that Nkrumah died of a cancer to the throat or some other disease; no, Nkrumah has been killed by the cancer of betrayal …“; the cancer of betrayal is a true gangrene to progress in Africa, how many leaders has it claimed?

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In the video below, you will hear J.J. Rawlings talk about the issues always discussed on this blog: the loss of the African soul to westernization, the danger of traitors within the ranks, and more importantly the dangers of globalization. People should really pay attention to all he has to say about betrayal, African identity, and also about the manipulations of the people by the triumvirate that is the multinationals, the media, and the intelligence.

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana

On betrayal, Jerry Rawlings said, “Something that is worse than an enemy is a traitor.” This is very reminiscent of the speech Amilcar Cabral gave at the funeral of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah on May 13, 1972, which I translated to English here on Afrolegends, “The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral. J.J. adds, “As bad as an enemy can be, … something worse than an enemy is a traitor.”

On African identity, Rawlings affirmed, “In the process of trying to modernize, we [Africans] have ended up being westernized. … When I wanted to even name my children African names, heroic names, … the catholic church said no… they will have to be catholic names … [which] are European names.“… “I have a right to my identity, don’t take away my identity!

Christianize me if you may, but don’t westernize me!” He talks about the issues of African identity, which is powerfully shown in the poem ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe.

On globalization, “The world is manipulated by the multinational corporations, the media, and the intelligence apparatus, … they work as a triumvirate and they are neatly sandwiched… in between the governed people and the governors… the sooner we begin to return, restore, some sense of morality in business ethics, in politics, in the media, intelligence apparatus, …” apply the same morality to all, especially when talking about globalization, applying the same moral standards to all.

“The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

This week marks the anniversary of the assassination of Amilcar Cabral, the father of the independence of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. To celebrate his life, I have decided to re-post Cabral’s speech given during President Kwame Nkrumah‘s state funerals in Conakry on 13 – 14 May 1972 “The Cancer of Betrayal” which I transcribed to French (“Le Cancer de la Trahison“) and translated to English (“The Cancer of Betrayal”) and published on Afrolegends in 2012. As Cabral states, betrayal has been at the heart of so many issues faced by Africa today: ” from class struggle, … from contributions to social structures, from the role of party or other instructions, including armed forces….  My idea on this question will allow us to better understand the greatness of Nkrumah’s work, to understand the complexity of problems he had to face so many times alone,… …. we, Africans, firmly believe that the dead continue living by our sides… .  Nkrumah will resuscitate each dawn in the hearts and in the determinations of freedom fighters, in the action of all true African patriots.”

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In his last public speech in Conakry, at the funeral of the former Ghanaian president Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral had denounced the cancer of betrayal that eats up African movements.  His comments today take a strange resonance in Guinea as in Angola, and Mozambique, where many movements are demanding power which the Portuguese have not yet abandoned.

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

… What to say? but we must speak otherwise at this point, if we don’t talk, our hearts may burst.  Our tears should not infiltrate the truth.  We, freedom fighters, we do not mourn the death of a man, even a man who was a comrade and an exemplary revolutionary, because as President Ahmed Sekou Toure often says ‘what is man in front of the infinite being and transgressing of the people and of humanity?’  We do not mourn the people of Ghana scoffed in its most beautiful realisations, in its most legitimate aspirations.   We are not crying for Africa, betrayed.  We are mourning, yes, of hatred towards those who were able to betray NKRUMAH to serve the ignoble imperialism …  Mr President, Africa by requiring through the voice of the people of the Republic of Guinea, as always fairly represented by President Ahmed Sekou Toure, whom NKRUMAH had put in his right place on the Kilimandjaro’s highest summits of the African revolution, Africa rehabilitates itself and through history.  President NKRUMAH, which we honor is primarily the great strategist of the struggle against classic colonialism, he is the one who created what we call African positivism, what he called “positive action”, affirmative action.  We pay tribute to the declared enemy of neocolonialism in Africa and elsewhere, the strategist of economic development in his country.  Mr President, we praise the freedom fighter of the African people who always gave his full support to national liberation movements, and we want to tell you here that we, in Guinea and Cape Verde islands, even though it is true that the most important factor for the development of our struggle outside our country was the independence of the Republic of Guinea, the heroic ‘no’ of the people of Guinea on 28 September 1958.   It is also true that if we went through the struggle regenerated, it was essentially due to the concrete support of Ghana and particularly of President Nkrumah …

Mr. President, we should however in this moment remember that all coins in life have two faces, all realities have positive and negative sides… to all positive action, is opposed a negative action. To what extent is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to problems of class struggle, from contributions to social structures, from the role of party or other instructions, including armed forces as part of a new independent state.  To what level, we shall ask ourselves, is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to a correct definition of this historical entity and craftsman of history that is the people and their daily work, in defending its own independence conquests?  Or to what extent is betrayal’s success not linked to the major problem of the choice of men in the revolution?  My idea on this question will allow us to better understand the greatness of Nkrumah’s work, to understand the complexity of problems he had to face so many times alone… problems that will allow us to conclude that, as imperialism exists, an independent state in Africa should be a liberation movement to power or it would not exist.  Let no one tell us that Nkrumah died of a cancer to the throat or some other disease; no, Nkrumah has been killed by the cancer of betrayal that we should uproot… by the cancer of betrayal, that we should root out of Africa if we really want to definitely crush the imperialist domination on this continent.  But, we, Africans, firmly believe that the dead continue living by our sides, we are a society of dead and living.  Nkrumah will resuscitate each dawn in the hearts and in the determinations of freedom fighters, in the action of all true African patriots.  Our liberation movement will not forgive those who betrayed Nkrumah, the people of Ghana will not forgive, Africa will not forgive, progressive mankind will not forgive!”

Translated from French by Dr. Y., afrolegends.com (12 October 2012)

French version here Amilcar Cabral – Le Cancer de la Trahison

‘L’Oiseau en Liberté’ / ‘The Free Bird’ de Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg

Souimanga bronze / Bronzy sunbird

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a bird? To take off and fly away, carefree? What comes to mind when observing a bird: a great sense of freedom; freedom to come and go, freedom to sing, no worries for tomorrow, and freedom to just be. Beauty also comes to mind, but liberty always prevail as one of the main descriptors. I recently stumbled upon this poem by Cameroonian author Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg, ‘The Free Bird’ which describes so well that sense of freedom which most of us aspire to. The author focuses on a bird, and describes the freedom the bird enjoys, the lightness, which is greater than all fortunes. I present here ‘L’Oiseau en Liberté‘ by Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg, published in Anthologie Africaine: Poésie Vol2, Jacques Chevrier, Collection Monde Noir Poche, 1988, and translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com . Enjoy!

L’Oiseau en liberté’ / ‘The Free Bird‘ de Claude-Joseph M’Bafou Zetebeg

L’oiseau qui passe là-bas,

L’oiseau léger

Qui bat des ailes

Et fend l’air là-bas à l’horizon,

N’a rien à lui au monde,

Mais comme il est joli

En liberté !

Et c’est en chantant

Qu’il vit sur la branche,

Le bel oiseau voyageur

Qui rythme les saisons.

Car rien ne vaut la liberté :

C’est la plus digne

De toutes les fortunes,

La liberté dont jouit l’oiseau

Qui vit sur la branche !

La liberté au feu sacré,

La liberté naturelle,

O la sainte liberté

Dont devrait jouir

Tout être

Dans sa facture naïve !

The bird that passes by,

The light bird,

Who flaps its wings

And splits the air over there in the horizon,

Has nothing of its own in the world,

But how pretty it is

In liberty!

And it is by singing

That it lives on the branch,

The beautiful traveling bird

Who punctuates seasons.

‘Cause nothing beats freedom:

It is the most worthy

Of all fortunes

The freedom enjoyed by the bird,

That lives on the branch !

Freedom in the sacred fire,

Natural freedom,

O the holy freedom

That every being should enjoy

In its naive craftsmanship !

Pelé in Africa

A Young Pele at Santos FC smiling at the camera (Source: Daniel Edwards, Goal.com)

Football has played an integral part to the lives of many around the globe. The 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup this past November is a testimony to that. The legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, often known as Pelé, believed by many to be the greatest player that ever lived, passed away at the end of last year. Three-time World Cup winner, Pelé managed to score 757 goals in 831 games throughout his 20 year career although his club Santos claims his tally was closer to one thousand. Pelé was deeply loved in Africa; he was a gifted Black Brazilian footballer, among the first of African heritage to receive such international acclaim, no wonder that in the African independence era, Africans identified with him. His story with Africa was a great love story. To Black Brazilians, he was key in carving out space and recognition for black people in Brazilian football, acclaimed by the masses, without being directly involved in the fight against racism. To Africans and multitudes in the world, he was simply Pelé, the king. Below are excerpts from the BBC article. Enjoy!

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Being one of the very first young black sporting superstars of the television era, Pelé drew the love and affinity of Africans across the continent.

As decolonisation movements swept across Africa in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pelé was invited by newly independent countries to play in prestigious friendlies with his club Santos FC and the Brazilian national team.

In his autobiography, Pelé said that the following decades and subsequent repeated trips to the African continent, “changed not only my view of the world, but also the way the world perceived me“.

The author of the Almanac of FC Santos, Guilherme Nascimento, correctly pointed out that the African trips were “so full of stories that there is no clear boundary between legend and fact“.

His time in Algeria, for instance, was like something out of a film. In 1965, the 24-year-old arrived while film director Gillo Pontecorvo was shooting The Battle of Algiers. As a result, it was perfectly normal to see battle tanks shuttle across Algiers from downtown to the Casbah. Algeria’s football-loving President Ahmed Ben Bella scheduled two friendly matches for the occasion – one in Oran on 15 June, and one in the capital, Algiers, four days later. However, on 17 June, Ben Bella’s own Minister of Defence Houari Boumediene carried out a coup d’etat, deposing the president and cancelling the second match. Some credible journalists and historians believe that Boumediene may have used the commotion around Pele’s arrival as a distraction in order to carry out his coup.

Pele’s trips to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also become shrouded in lore. During both trips, he was apocryphally credited with instilling peace in the country that was hosting him. The Nigerian Civil War raged from 1967-1970, yet when Pele visited in 1969 to play in an exhibition match versus the Nigerian national team, there were claims that a 48-hour ceasefire had been declared. I’m not sure it’s completely true,” Pelé said in his book. But the Nigerians certainly made sure the Biafrans wouldn’t invade Lagos while we were there,” he said, recalling a huge military presence. There was never much of a chance of that happening though, as the Biafran separatists were at least 500km (310 miles) away and being pushed back by the army.