We are accustomed to an Eastern Congo where armed militias reign, women are raped in the thousands and plundering of Congolese minerals or Rwandan and Ugandan interference come to the center of discussions in mainstream media. Almost nothing else seems to be going on there without some close connections with above situations.
Certainly this sort of story I am bringing to you will hadly feature in a western press because it portrays local people, particularly young citizens of the city of Goma, taking their future in their own hands in order to see it through until the change they want for their community is brought about.
La LUCHA! That is the name they have given to their movement. It started in March 2012 by Congolese students who came together at the University of Goma and decided to tackle their country’s issues instead of only complaining about them.
As one of the members defines the idea: “La LUCHA is a conscience of being Congolese, claiming it, and deserving it. It is a revolt, a refusal of misery, lamentation, waiting, living conditions in which the Congolese are found, when they have a country of plenty by nature. La LUCHA is especially a struggle: with determination and courage, of going forward without turning back against intimidation, blackmail, discouragement or failure of one action. La LUCHA is concerned by all aspects of Congolese life, mainly unity and greatness of Congo and its people, social justice, peace, freedom and dignity ABOVE all. We believe in Congo, we believe in ourselves.”
Some actions La LUCHA has already been involved in include:
1) A call for a general strike of three days starting from March 11th in the city of Goma to show to provincial authorities people’s dissatisfaction towards the way they are handling public projects [roads’ refurbishments, drinking water]; this came after several unsuccessful attempts to get them change their lack of consideration of improving population’s well-being.
2) Sit-in at the Municipal Office to put pressure on authorities about the people’s impatience against persistent postponements of deadlines for completions of public works.
3) Meetings with provincial authorities
4) Official complaint to the local Military authority against Major Malumba of GMI [Groupe Mobile d’Intervention] for unacceptable behavior towards the population.
Luc Malembe, one of La LUCHA members writes: “Beyond everything, we believe in our victory. We are convinced that nothing or no one can resist in front of a determined and engaged people. Those young men and women of Tahrir in Cairo who gave back hope to a nation, or Mohamed Bouazizi’s followers in Tunis, are as young as ourselves!”
At the time when the usually negatively portrayed Eastern Congo appears to shine from a different star, Kinshasa in the far West of DRC saw on Sunday 10/03 the return to Kinshasa from South Africa of Etienne Tchisekedi, UDPS leader. Police forces did not manage anything to keep him straightaway under house arrest as he has been since the rigged general elections of November 2011. Could La LUCHA become an alternative model of civil resistance for change in DRC? Time will tell.
In the meantime, I wonder if the leadership of the movement is planning to share their experience with the rest of the Congolese country and how. If they want to emulate Tunis and Cairo in their strategies of change, they need to reflect on how Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions of 2011 made the changes we all saw.