Awareness, work and faith are the answer to Congo's pain
There's nothing like the voice of experience to remind us when we watch or read about famine, war and cruelty that we're talking about people, not percentage points. In this week's Scholars Speak Doug Kulungu, a student majoring in business at Fresno Pacific University, lays out what is happening in his homeland of Congo. Despite the pain, he does this in a spirit of hope that, as bad as life there is and has been, that awareness, work and faith can make it better.
I am Doug Kulungu, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am a junior majoring in business at Fresno Pacific University and preparing myself to serve my country. Congo has been at war for about 10 years now and has lost around 5 million of its population. Children are regarded as good targets for rebels to use in the fight. Many parents lost their kids and many children were forced to serve in the army. Rape has also been used as a weapon against women.
In a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Christian, peace is not welcomed by those who rule. Congolese people are willing to pay any price so they can enjoy and live a peaceful and lovely life.
Colonized by Belgium, Congo is among those nations that have lost much of their populations in civil wars. Our history causes guilt in the international community. People will regret what they are doing to those who do not deserve this taste of hell.
Congo is naturally rich and has around 80 percent of the world’s coltan, a mineral used to make electronic devices. But whenever there is a new discovery of natural resources, this opens the door to war. People do not talk about this. War has become a business and the news media does not have good coverage when business funds war.
Many Western companies have been listed among the groups supporting rebellion so they can get its benefits. We already suffered this injustice when King Leopold of Belgium killed more than 10 million people in 1800, just to get our resources. Brussels was built with Congolese resources.
My reason to be here in the United States is to study. I strongly believe that the slogan of “change” that was used here during the election is more needed in Congo than it is in the U.S.A. I am willing to work with my government and use my knowledge and education for Congo because I believe with John Kennedy that we should “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I came to America because I believe this is a place where anyone willing can make it.
I am enjoying the freedom of speech that U.S. offers. Back in Congo, I was involved in protesting as a student, with the risk of being arrested or even killed. But here and now I can speak and even cry loud for my country because I believe that there is nowhere better than home.
In a country where the unemployment rate is over 50 percent, starvation is a daily enemy that Congolese people need to confront: the average Congolese man is expected to live no more than 45 years. Broken by the 32 years of dictatorship by Mobutu, Congo has not found a better ground yet to build on. People are leaving the country to find food, clothes, jobs, etc. Many friends lost their families during this war. My dad, Pascal Kulungu, works as a peace maker and he always goes to the eastern part of the country, where the war is being fought, so he can help.
We need prayer in Congo, and more awareness that the situation is even worse than Darfur. In Darfur 400,000 to 500,000 human lives have been lost, but in Congo 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 have died. So let all stand and say “No!” to Rwanda, the country that is backing our enemies. Some people believe in the excuse the rebels use that they protect the Tutsi minority—this is a lie: how can you kill millions to protect thousands?
Congo has 450 tribes, and let the world know that in Congo there is no discrimination. I come from different tribes than my friends, but we get along.
I am hoping that the administration of President Obama will support Congo and free it from its exploiters. Obama already supported a bill for Congo that passed the U.S. Senate last year.
God is my passion, school is my road to public office and politics are my philosophy. I am looking forward to serving my country in a passionate and patriotic way.