It is still lethally dangerous to be seen fighting for what was not achieved
50 years ago. The assassinations of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire (FCB), President of the the Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), and his
driver, Fidele Bazana, on june 1st in Kinshasa show that, for 50 years, the
political leadership has continued to act in the same manner which led to
the overthrow, torture and killing of Patrice Emery Lumumba and his two
companions, Okito and Mpolo (January 17, 1961). In a world built through
more and more unacceptable acts of destruction, fighting for freedom is only acceptable if it is for the freedom of capital to do what it does best: torture humanity to death.
Why Chebeya? Why Fidèle, his driver? The same questions followed the
assassinations of other Congolese who were investigating cases involving
murders, corruption by members of the government. To this day, no one has been brought to justice for the assassination of Bapuwa Mwamba, Serge Maheshe, Didace Namujimbo, Franck Ngyke. The DRC is not the only country where murders go unpunished: Carlos Cardoso in Mozambique and Norbert Zongo in Burkina Fasso also come to mind.
In the case of FCB, his investigations were focused on the violence perpetrated by the security forces on orders from the highest political levels. The violence had been ordered as a punishment against those who had voted in the 2006 elections against Joseph Kabila’s party. The current
president was quoted as saying that those who had voted against him (i.e. in particular people from the Lower Kongo region) were going to be punished. How many people were killed? No one, till now, knows exactly how many. However, persistently and courageously, FCB has continued to accumulate the evidence and sharing it with other organizations both inside and outside of the DRC.
Following the logic which led to the murder of Lumumba, Okito and Mpolo, the current leading clique decided to punish FCB in the manner it hopes shall intimidate anyone trying to embark on the same road. With Lumumba, his body was dissolved in an acid bath. With FCB, the idea was to portray his murder as if it was self-inflicted because he was looking for morally indefensible sexual gratification. In other words do everything to tarnish his memory. From the reaction in the whole country, clearly that ploy has not worked.
Moreover, FCB, like many other Congolese, felt that after 50 years of
celebrating each anniversary, it was time to switch from the celebratory mode to one of reflection and commemoration of those who gave it all, but continue to be ignored for what they did. FCB, as the executive director of VSV (La Voix des Sans Voix—The voice of the voiceless), understood that it was time to switch from the humanitarianism- human rights mode whereby “human rights” are waited, rather than fought, for.
FCB’s voice was feared by those who had monopolized the political space
because his relationship to human rights was changing from the practice
of waiting for human rights to be respected to that of calling for the duty
to defend humanity wherever and whenever it was being assaulted.
Humanitarianism was brought to Africa, in general, and to the DRC, in
particular, as a charity gesture. Fidelity to humanity calls for solidarity, not
The DRC ruling clique has been planning to turn the 50 years anniversary
of Independence into a festive affair, one that would, as 50 years ago,
seek to erase the memory of those who had fought for complete and total
emancipation. 50 years ago, Lumumba was criticized for having dared to
remind the King of Belgium and his allies that colonial rule had not been an altruistic venture. Back then, Lumumba felt that the emphasis had to be on commemoration rather than celebration; and for that reason he pointed out that people had died for simply resisting colonial brutality, forced labor, and other forms of humiliation.
Many African countries are in the process of “celebrating” 50 years of
independence while NATO under US command has put in place the military infrastructure deemed necessary for ensuring that Africa is firmly cemented into the political, economic and financial rules called for by Globalization. This militarized way of bringing the entire continent under a new political dispensation is no different from what happened under the previous phases, whether slavery, colonial rule or apartheid. In all cases, military and/or police interventions were necessary. They were known then as “pacification campaigns”. The end of apartheid has been followed by global apartheid and, in South Africa, with murderous and violent campaigns against the poorest of the poor who refused to be treated as if they did count as citizens.
Will this murder, like others before go unpunished? In every human process there does come a time when human beings say, in the best way they can, “enough is enough”. The assassinations of FCB and his driver may well be the beginning of a process which will lead to that point.
Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and Fidèle Bazana have been part of the people
in the DRC who, while destruction of the nation, society and human beings was being pursued by the various ruling cliques, stuck to their conviction that healing did not have to wait until some individual savior appeared on the horizon. For this their memory shall be celebrated and commemorated forever. To them, their families, their friends and colleagues our deepest felt condolences. May they rest in peace, and may their fidelity to humanity reverberate across the DRC and the world, so that their selflessness shall not be in vain.