African Lives Don’t Matter
Report from Kenya #390 – June 3, 2016
African Great Lakes Initiative of Friends Peace Teams
Remains of a house burned on May 4 in Eringeti village near Beni, DRC.
When tens, hundreds, or even thousands of Africans die through deadly violence, the international media hardly takes notice. As a result the international community also downplays and ignores these conflicts. The result is that these conflicts continue to fester and the deaths pile up. This report concerns a conflict in Beni, North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; I doubt many of my readers have ever heard about it. Since I read all the African media reports about eastern Africa that I can find I knew a little about this conflict. Still I didn’t imagine its magnitude.
While people continue to argue whether the Armenian genocide during World War I actually occurred or not, there is no way to dispute such atrocities these days because the internet, cell phones, and social media provide the raw data as proof. Do African lives matter?
This report was forwarded to me by David Albert, Clerk of Friendly Waters for the World, based at Olympia (WA) Friends Meeting. It was written by Kambale Musubao, David’s contact in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, who builds bio-sand water filters in that area. Kambale is the local director of a program called MUSO (Mutuelle de Solidarité), which is an international organization that encourages and supports local communities to develop “mutual solidarity” cooperative economic development.
Here is part of his report. I have edited it somewhat so that it is more understandable for an audience unfamiliar with the northern part of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Map of North Kivu province with Beni in the north.
Beni territory is in North Kivu province which includes 20,000 MUSO (Mutuelle de Solidarité) members. On May 4, seventeen civilians, including some of our members of MUSO, were killed by machetes and beatings in Eringeti village north of Beni. The following observations are salient.
1116 people brutally killed (by machete, beatings, torture) between October 2014 and May 2016, an average of 60 people killed per month or two people each day
- 1470 abducted missing persons
- More than 1750 houses burned sometimes with people inside
- At least 13 medicals centers burned sometimes with patients and caregivers in those centers
- Over 27 schools with over 5000 pupils destroyed
- 3200 orphans under 5 years old who lost their parents in the massacres
According to this painful situation, the numbers of survivors of these massacres, and the movement of those survivors from their villages to more secure places, members of MUSO want to help more than 25,000 survivors of these massacres at Beni. These survivors have multiple problems including lack of drugs and medicine, drinking water, clothes, and food; their houses were burned, medical centers and schools destroyed. As the Bible says, if you have 2 clothes please provide one to a survivor who is suffering.
Members of MUSO have launched a campaign to the world community under the title TOGETHER AS ONE PEOPLE of giving small materials and financials contributions to support the survivors of the Beni massacres. We ask for everyone to give his small contribution.
Your contributions will also help these survivors with biosand water filters as the risk of cholera is high because these survivors are living in bad conditions in unhealthy places. Also we would like to help those 3200 orphans with clean water, clothes, shoes and food.
Please we beg you to contribute as you can. If you want to give your contribution on line you can do it on the Friendly Waters for the World website which will help to supply clean water and stop waterborne diseases in communities, orphanages, refugee camps, and schools. For more information go to www.friendlywater.net. Thank you so much. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the victims next to his destroyed house.
It is taboo in the United States to show the body of a dead person – except of course in the movies. For eighteen years until 2009 it was against the law for a US media outlet to even show the casket containing the body of a soldier killed in US’s foreign wars. Even now it can only be done with the agreement of the deceased’s family. I think that if Americans were able to visually see the remains of those killed in US drone strikes (say of wedding parties) there would be a tremendous outcry and drone killings would become illegal. I make no apology for including this picture in the report as we need to come face to face with reality. I have, in fact, much more gruesome pictures than this.
Although 1116 Africans have been massacred near Beni in the last year and a half, the world has hardly noticed. While, with the modern means of communication, the information is readily available, it does not seem to be of enough value to be broadcast to the world. This is why I claim “African lives don’t matter.”
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Since 1998, David Zarembka has been the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region (available at www.davidzarembka.com).
David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783 in US: 301/765-4098
Office in US: 1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287
Webpage: www.aglifpt.org Reports from Kenya: www.aglifpt.org/rfk/