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Louis Michel Heckled by Congolese Protestors at the London School of Economics

Le renouveau congolais posted [Fr] a YouTube video which shows Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid and formerly Belgian's foreign minister, as he was confronted by Congolese protesters during a talk given earlier this month on the EU and Africa at the London School of Economics.

Congolese bloggers–the opposition in particular–have little love for Louis Michel,a frequent target of their bitter criticism, not to mention the occasional effigy paraded at protests organized by the Congolese community in Belgium.

In 2006, during the run up to the presidential elections in the DRC, Katombe wrote that Louis Michel, himself a descendant of Leopold II, is the real leader of Congo, not Joseph Kabila whose candidacy they say Michel supported:

Dans la rue, à Kinshasa, lorsqu’il est posé aux congolais la question de savoir qui dirige le pays, univoque, la réponse tombe : ‘‘Louis Michel’’. Comment s’en étonner lorsque l’arrière petit-fils de Léopold II de très triste mémoire se prononce à chaque étape du processus et réussit toujours à faire prévaloir ses thèses?

In the streets of Kinshasa, when one poses the question of who leads the country, inevitably the response is: “Louis Michel.” How can that surprise anyone when, at every point in the process, [Michel] the great grandson of Leopold II and his sad legacy succeeds in pushing forth his agendas?

Here are some reactions to the YouTube video from Le renouveau congolais‘s readers, most of whom condemned Michel and applauded the outbreak:

kid:

merci beaucoup mes freres on sais que vous n'êtes pas dûpes de tous ces voleurs de l'occidents qui pillent notre pays sans remord pour sa population.

thank you so much my brothers we know that you are not to be fooled by these Western thieves who pillage our country without regret.

muntu mukaji:

Vous êtes des anges si pas des petits-Dieu,votre action est à repété même infines fois.Que l'UÉ se sente aussi humiliée. Par cet acte des dignes fils et filles du Congo, ceux qui ne savent pas réellement notre problème le sauront. Un voleur semblable à tous voleur du marché et à tout pick-pocket.Un Cléptomane qu'il faut soigner Louis Michel, Menteur, muivi wuetu amu wa kwutayi kwatayi ewu. L'honneur du Congo n'en suoffrira pas bien au contraire. Ayoki.

You are angels if not small Gods; your action is repeated even an infinite number of times. That the EU also feels humiliated. By this noble act, sons and daughters of Congo, those who don't really know of our problem will know. A thief who looks like any thief in the market or pick-pocket. A kleptomaniac who we must look after, Louis Michel, liar, muivi wuetu amu wa kwutayi kwatayi ewu. The honor of Congo will not suffer. On the contrary. Ayoki.

Souve:

Vraiment je tres content de voir cet acte d’ humiliation de cet individu L Michel.
Si nous tous, nous avons cette idee de defendre une cause Congolaise voir meme Dieu va nous aider.
Merci pur le courage et le risque……

I am truly happy to see this act of humiliation brought upon this individual L Michel. If all of us, we have this idea of defending a Congolese cause just you wait and see, even God will help us. Thank for your courage and taking the risk…

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the protesters’ behavior.

Katy:

Etant présent lors de la conférence, j'aimerais mettre en avant le manque de tenue et les propos totalement incohérents tenus par les représentants de la communauté congolaise.

La conférence ne s'est en rien transformée en une humiliation de Mr. Michel mais bien en une humilation du peuple congolais. En manquant de respect par rapport au speaker, ceux-ci sont passés pour des personnes sans aucune éducation.

La réputation du Congo risque d'en souffrir…!

Having been present at the conference, I would like to point out the lack of restraint and the totally incoherent ramblings on the part of the representatives of the Congolese community.

The conference in no way transformed into a humiliation for Mr. Michel, but rather a humiliation of the Congolese people. In lacking respect for the speaker, they came off as people without any education.

The reputation of Congo risks suffering for it…!

Crispin:

Le Seigneur Jésus-Christ nous demande de bénir et d'aimer ceux que nous estimons être nos ennemis.

Et,ce n'est que par la mise en pratique de ce commandement que la bénédiction divine descendra sur notre TRES chère RDC.

L'Amour est une arme plus forte que les marches,les accusations et les revendications…car nous sommes tous des pécheurs.Je souhaite le partage de la nationalité,spécialement avec nos frères BELGES,…L'histoire étant inséparable…

The Almighty Jesus Christ asks us to bless and to love those who we consider our enemies.

And it is only by putting into practice this commandment that divine blessing with be bestowed our our VERY dear DRC

Love is a weapon stronger than marches, accusations and demands…because we are all fishermen. I wish the sharing of nationality, especially with our BELGIAN brothers,…History being inseparable…

Joseph, who blogs at Le renouveau congolais, disagrees:

La bible declare: Combat le bon combat. Donc, les congolais, comme a’ l'epoque de Josue’, ont droit de se battre pour la conquete de sa terre, nation qui est la Rdc, prise en otage pwr la comunaute’ europeenne, les Usa et certains vosins malveillants.

Tenons bon: Avec Dieu nous ferons des exploits et il ecrasera nos ennemis (UE, Usa, Rwanda, etc…dans le corps quon apelle Joseph Kabila leur instrument d'operation.

Vive l'Eternel, vive le congo et vive les vaillants filles et fils de la Rdc. Votre recompense sera tres grande.

The Bible declares: Fight the good fight. So, Congolese, as in the age of Joshua, have the right to fight against the conquest of the DRC, their land, their nation, held hostage by the European community, the US and some of our ill-meaning neighbors.

Let's stay well on course: With God we will have our exploits and he will erase our enemies (EU, USA, Rwanda, etc…in the body we call Joseph Kabila, the instrument of their operation)

Long live the Eternal, long live Congo and long live the valiant daughters and sons of the DRC. Your reward will be great.

YouTube users also offered their commentary, all of which was hostile, and sometimes violent:

chretien2007:

je salue le courage de fils digne du congo por l´acte que vous vennez de realisé a londre c´est qui nous reste se d´assasiner c´est troubadoure qui est louis michel et c´est colabo.courage mes frere du sang car nous vaincront

I salute the courage of the noble sons of congo for this act that you carried out in London. all that remains is for us to kill this troubadour Louis Michel and his collaborators. Courage my blood brothers because we will overcome.

synergieagissante:

Bravo mille fois a tous les Congolais de Londres. Louis Michel et sa troupe devront savoir que tot ou tard ils paieront. Ca ce n'est que le debut du commencement.

Bravo a thousand times over to all the Congolese of London. Louis Michel and his gang should know they will pay soon or later. This is only the beginning.

chopperred1:

Bravo a Londres. Toute la diaspora congolaise doit suivre cet example!

Bravo Londo. All the Congolese Diaspora should follow your example!

H2JKAY:

Louis Michel est il Africain ??? pourquoi parle t'il au nom de l'Afrique. Ces Europeens leurs grands parents ont pille, viole et torture l'Afrique, leurs parents ont fait de meme maintenant c'est leurs enfants… Si longue soit la nuit le jour viendra

Is Louis Michel African??? Why does he speak in the name of Africa? These Europeans and their grandparents pillaged, raped and tortured Africa, their parents did the same and now it's their children…long is the night before the day.

DixonKanyinda:

Je ne comprend pas pourquoi ce sont les Louis-Michel et autres blancs europeens qui doivent tjrs etre porte-paroles de l'Afrique et plus precisement du Congo/Kinshasa.

I don't understand why it is the Louis Michels and other European whites who must be the spokespeople for Africa, and more precisely, Congo/Kinshasa.

pktn2000:

Bravo chers compatriotes! C'est déjà ce qu'il faut faire: faire entendre la voix et la cause du peuple congolais dans le monde. Le congolais commence bien à se débarrasser de la peur! L'Idiot de Kinshasa a de mauvais jours devant lui! Vive le Congo et son peuple!

Bravo dear compatriots! This is exactly what must be done: make the voice and the cause of the Congolese people heard around the world. The Congolese begins to free himself from fear! The Idiot of Kinshasa has bad days ahead of him! Long live Congo and her people!

Finally, user demsmwalimu offers this music video, “Justice Populaire” (Popular Justice), by Ndombolo as a video response. Before you hit play, you might try standing up. Get ready to dance :-)

5 comments

  • 100 kara

    “most of whom condemned Michel and applauded the outbreak:”

    Well… it looks more like many are just ashamed of this behaviour and of always putting the blame on Europeans… Keep learning French, young gal! You would better understand the nuances

  • Hi 100 Kara. Thank you for reading. You are right that some were “ashamed” of this behavior–commenter “Katy” thought the protesters’ behavior was embarrassing and “Crispin” argued enemies should be fought with love– but as of the date of this posting, only 2 out of 12 of those who wrote comments on Renouveau Congolais and YouTube thought the protesters behaved badly. I’ve translated all of these comments. This particular group of francophone Congolese bloggers have long been vocal critics of Michel and of Belgium. What do you think was lost in translation?

  • 100 kara

    Ooops… I guess my French is not that good after all.

    There is nothing wrong with your translation.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for your interesting blog!

    Peace

  • Dominic Burbidge

    I’ve studied the DR Congo in great depth and, though I’m a European, I’m all for the protest.

    At the same time, It’s worth African protesters taking a step back and thinking hard about the relationship Africa has with the “West”.

    Very few say this, but its true so I’m going to say it anyway: Africa has much more than the West has and is in a privilegded position. The understanding of community and society is far richer in Africa and far more noble than that of “the West”, which is throttled by consumerism and individualism. In the UK, we can all learn how to be utility-maximising individuals. But our society does not teach us how to be charitable, courageous or confident.

    Protesting about what you don’t want or don’t like is a dying phenomena in the UK. I ask those from Africa with a real sense of community to help keep it alive.

  • karis muller

    What exactly is Louis Michel accused of? That the EU funded the recent elections (if they were fair and open) is not reprehensible? Is there any credible evidence that M Michel has close links with diamond, arms or other business interests? The European Parliament questioned him over his preference for J Kabila but apparently no one there questioned his probity.

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