D. R. of Congo: Independence Cha Cha

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence from Belgian rule. As the state proudly wheeled out some expensive new military hardware for the delectation of visiting dignitaries, bloggers Kakaluigi [fr] and Congo Miliki [fr]describe the parades in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, while other Congolese bloggers reminisce about the era of independence and the record since those optimistic times.

Mboka Mosika [fr] interviews Albert Kalonji, considered one of the ‘fathers of Congolese independence’ but also a one-time Luba secessionist and a political opponent of Patrice Lumumba. He says, “We can only rejoice over our independence, despite the missed opportunities… like the civil wars which followed and the lack of charisma and amateurism in management of public affairs, for which the political leaders are responsible.”

How should we keep Kinshasa clean? Keep inviting the Belgian King! (Cartoon from CongoBlog; permission granted.)

Banacongo republishes the speeches given by the Belgian king, Joseph Kasa Vubu and Lumumba at the original independence ceremony in 1960 [fr].

VieuxVan thinks the only real progress the ‘villagers’ of DRC have seen since then is the mobile phone [fr]. Texas in Africa sees progress in Goma, though, contrary to media depictions of a place where “every Congolese woman is a rape victim and every man is a criminal”:

I've chatted with several old friends and met many new ones here this week, and one common theme in the conversations is frustration that the story of Goma is not being accurately told. As one put it, if you took the media's word for it, you'd think that every Congolese woman is a rape victim and every man is a criminal. That's not the reality here.

What is? Tons of new businesses are opening, eyesores are gone and new buildings have gone up in their place, and factories are being built. And infrastructure has improved more than I believed possible. The main roads in the central city have been paved

The day after the parades, Congoblog‘s Cedric Kalonji [fr] hails a deserved day off for “the heroes of the 50th anniversary”: the painters, cleaners and other workers who'd worked so hard to spruce up the image of Kinshasa, while street children and street vendors can finally breathe again and return to the city centre. Unfortunately, so can the traffic police, who had been forbidden from harassing drivers: “I know some who are rubbing their hands together”, writes Cedric, “it's going to get hot for drivers.”

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