Dying in the Great Lakes: Remembering the millions that have been killed in the last 30 years


It is overdue to wake up to the reality of the Congolese genocide, whatever else the beneficiaries call it.

It is overdue to wake up to the reality of the Congolese genocide, whatever else the beneficiaries call it.

Iain Stewart wrote the note with the above title following a blog post I had published on these pages to promote an event about the Great Lakes to be staged next month in London.

The event is aimed at highlighting the abject indifference of the West to the ongoing death of millions in that region of Africa [Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda]. The concerned spectacle is to be organised on Saturday September 14th, 2013.

Iain Steward raises interesting points and also advances some criticisms. For example, he wonders the reason the note about the event points particularly at the Ugandan President Joweri Museveni  and not Idi Amin.

Three understandable reasons:

  • both political leaders are dictators each with their own personal signatures in their atrocities and ways of leading Uganda; but Museveni stamp is very unique and terribly violent and inhumane;
  • there is a period span the narrative of the event to be presented to the London public would not want to go beyond; there is also the scope and scale of atrocities committed by the Ugandan President which are comparatively enormous;
  • current crimes are covering many countries but they are also being committed by the same actors including the Ugandan President

Iain Steward also argues that the event/protest would get better response if it was no so political from an African perspective. I am not sure if this does imply the usual fact that people don’t generally like politics, or that it is not in the Africans’ interests to become political because there are other instances that look after them politically? I hope there was no such intention as patronizing underlining his thoughts at this particular aspect.

Probably I did not get at the bottom of his line of thinking. What is certain is that if Africans cannot stand on their feet and defend their interests in the best of their abilities, believe me, nobody will do that on their behalf, and this as history and everyday events do not cease to demonstrate.

In the same note/comment the author continues by saying that the Ugandan President is blamed for everything. We are of the view that he is a very central element in the tragedy of the Great Lakes region since 1981, the year he entered the bush aiming to rule Uganda. Other actors, and with time, particularly external allies who are interested in the Congolese mineral resources have only leveraged his ruthlessness and violent tactics to get what they wanted.

Iain Stewart is obviously supportive of the overall idea of waking up the West to its responsibilities in what is going on elsewhere, sometime in the names of its citizens. There would probably be a win/win situation where victims would be less victimized, and people from countries allied to the Museveni. Kagame and Kabila regimes would be less seen as accomplices of atrocities committed thousands of miles away unknowingly or of which the story if twisted by the mainstream media to fool the general public.

How to get involved

We ask you [if you are in London or can travel there] 40 minutes of your time to support the millions of Congolese, Rwandans, Ugandans and Burundians whose leaders are responsible of their death with different levels of responsibilities. Given the significance of the initiative, we ask people who intend to get involved only to register on the facebook event page – [please type DYING IN THE GREAT LAKES on your facebook page] if they are effectively committed. Honoring our dead requires some seriousness in our commitment.

Thank you in advance if you plan to get involved.



One response to “Dying in the Great Lakes: Remembering the millions that have been killed in the last 30 years

  1. ” I hope there was no such intention as patronizing underlining his thoughts at this particular aspect.”
    I wrote
    ” I get the feeling that this protest would get a better response if it wasn’t so political from an African perspective.”

    My intention was not to patronise but to point out that the politics of the Great Lake Region are very complex I often struggle to keep things straight and I have the benefit of a Congolese partner. You can expect people to to understand the nature of the protest / demonstration in so far as seeing a visual representation of the victims. Your post delved into the politics of the region something that I think would beyond the comprehension of the average Brit. I suspect many in the west would struggle to find the Great Lakes Region on a world map I know several who have not been able to point to the DR Congo on a world map.

    That is the scale of the problem you are dealing with. If you want to motivate support you need to keep things simple. People will see your protest but I think your message to them should not be about the politics of the region, You need to be reaching out to them and asking why have you abandoned us ?

    ” It is a way of honouring and remembering the millions of people who died in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo …”

    why complicate it with

    ” …since that the Ugandan president Joweri Museveni started his bush war in that country in 1981.”

    From another post I wrote.

    “… an average of four Congolese women raped every five minutes..”

    ” Think about that. That is 1152 rapes per day. Annually 420,489 rapes. And the world has tolerated this. We have allowed rape to become a weapon used against civilians. ”

    My point again the people in the west don’t know about M23, the FDLR, the ADF, the APCLS, the LRA, the National Force of Liberation (FNL), the various Mayi Mayi groups and all other armed groups not to mention the Crocodile infested governments of the region.

    But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about sexual violence. Your job in my opinion is to recruit supporters that will put pressure on their respective governments. You need to direct our voices as though it was yours and to do that you need to keep it simple.

    You also need to engage with your diaspora not just in London but across the globe. Imagine if this protest kicked off in New Zealand ( the first country in the world to see the new day ) followed by Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and then America.

    I will stay with New Zealand. The African community is huge and well integrated into New Zealand society. Imagine several hundred Africans supported by their New Zealand counterparts doing your demonstration in the Via Duct Harbour Auckland followed a few hours later by an Identical event in Sydney Australia….across the globe and ending in the US. The African diaspora is your greatest weapon and it is a non violent one.


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