Caught in the middle of a tribal clash, Mweso found himself without a place to call home. #WithRefugees

Caught in the middle of a tribal clash, Mweso found himself without a place to call home. #WithRefugees

Twenty-two-year-old Jacque Mweso fled his hometown Bukavu in 2016, he sought refuge at his uncle’s home in Bigo, Bunia only for him to be caught in a tribal clash that displaced and scattered his remaining family.

“Earlier this year, tribes were fighting; the Bajegere, Bahema and Balendu started killing each other. On the morning of the attack, at around nine, we heard screams across the village, the men were killing everyone that was not of their tribe. We fled in different directions, I joined a large group of people that was fleeing from other villages. For three days and three nights, we walked until we reached the shores of Lake Albert.

We took a boat.

Each one was charged 20,000 Congolese francs. Luckily for me, I had some money in my pocket. We were twenty people on the engine boat. After several hours on the lake, we were on the other side, at Sebagoro in Uganda. At the shores, there was a refugee bureau that received us. The following morning, a bus came for us and we were taken to Kyangwali refugee camp.

At Kyangwali, I was given a piece of land about ten by ten meters, they gave us meals. I was hoping that my uncle would join us soon. My uncle never came. I have never heard from anyone again.

I made a Ugandan friend that came to the camp frequently, he told me about Kampala. I wanted a job. He promised me one. In April, I came to Kampala with my friend. Then I arrived, things were not as clear as I had imagined. Days later, I never saw him again, he had disappeared in Kampala’s large crowds.

Here I was, I don’t know Luganda, neither do I speak English. I tried to speak Kiswahili but almost all the Ugandans I spoke to did not know any Kiswahili. One night I slept on a woman’s veranda here in Katwe, she asked me why I was sleeping outside. I narrated my ordeal. She told me that she knew a church that had many Congolese refugees. She took me to the church. They received me. In my bag, I was carrying a mosquito net that I had been given at the camp. It is one of my few possessions so I thought it was a good idea to add it in my small backpack. The pastor of the church told me that they would offer me a place to sleep. Two months now, I sleep on the floor of the church. I lay my mosquito net on the floor, and I sleep on it. I got a job to work as a porter on a building, the project is complete so the job is over. I am looking for another one. I was studying welding when that clash in my village broke out. I can weld, I can porter at buildings, I can do all sorts of menial work. I am desperately searching. I hope that something will come up soon.

 

#WithRefugees #WorldRefugeeDay

Where is the light in Congo’s Dark Tunnel?

Where is the light in Congo’s Dark Tunnel?

By Prudence Nyamishana
This country has coltan, copper, diamonds, gold, timber, oil, and zinc, tin, tantalum and tungsten, talented people, great weather and fertile soils.

It is a living paradox of so rich yet so poor.

The timeline of conflict unveils the shaky foundation: King Leopold II of Belgium plundered Congo stole until he could steal no more – fetching a cup from an ocean, independence attained, Congolese celebrated, Lumumba disappeared, Kasavubi a man described by many as weak, became Congo’s first president.

It wasn’t long before the Belgians supported a man after their own heart to power- Mobutu Sese Seko. Like his God-fathers, plundered his own country. He lived a life marked by extravagance, a true son of grab and take that Ngugi Wa Thiongo talks about. Amazingly, he holds a special place in the hearts of many Congolese that describe him with tangible nostalgia.
The neighbors had to do something Laurent Kabila fought his way in with the help of his scheming African brothers, not long before he fell to an assassination by an inside man. The heir to the throne, Joseph a Kabila a Ugandan reared boy, took charge of the wealthiest nation.

I have always wondered how this young man has survived the many rebel groups in East DR Congo, I realized, no roads, no form of infrastructure at all to connect the four major cities Kisangani, Goma, Katanga and Kinshasa where he lives. So somehow he has survived. Will he survive the determined, well equipped M23 who are supported by his foster-fathers that he runs to when things are tight? Goma is fallen, the M23 headed for Bukavu. How long will it take for Kinshasa to fall to this prepared Army? And then what? Congolese are tired of history repeating itself.
A UN report  accused the M23 of executing opponents in DR Congo.
Where is the light at the end of this tunnel? To divide the nation to a manageable size yet the Congolese prefer unity? Will annexed Goma, and Rutshuru to neighbors help? Will federalism help? The tunnel gets darker every day.
Consider the sad truth is that, the women are brutally raped, children abused and fathers of the nation killed – displaced in their own country.  Heard on BBC on Friday morning a plea from civil society that the international community should intervene. Who is the international community, what is their structure? Who have they helped before that Congo can count on them? If they are, UN is their representative. But we know that MONUSCO (UN Mission in Congo) has been in Congo since 1999. They keep peace. They watched the M23 take over Goma as they “kept peace”.
I join Ally my Congolese friend to petition God to help the country he richly blessed.

Congolese fleeing the conflict. Photo from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures
The FARDC–the Congolese Armed Forces in an operation conducted against M23 rebels – AlJazeera photo