For the second year, Black History Studies took part in the Break the Silence Congo Week for Black History Month 2011.
The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise consciousness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo. Break the Silence Congo Week took place from Monday 17 October to Saturday 22 October 2011.
The Congo is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996, half of them children under 5 yrs old and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped all as a result of the scramble for Congo's wealth. The United Nations said it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two.
However, hardly anything is said about it in the media. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continue to happen in the Congo. There is a media blackout about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage there.
In additon to our permanent display at the PCS Learning Centre in Victoria, Black History Studies held two events.
We held two events for Breaking the Silence about the Congo Week:
Arms Dealing and National Interests
This is a documentary by D. Andre & P. Moreira which highlights the hard work Amnesty International headquarters in London is doing to investigate the globalized arms sell, which is worth $1.2 billion dollars a year, and transfer of arms in third world countries particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As it pertains to the Congolese conflict, an interviewee in the documentary states that the conflict in the Congo "is the most costly conflict since World War II... [which been] gone unnoticed" by the international community.
This documentary is a must see for those interested in how the guns end up in Africa and how they can be traced to various European countries and the United States. The film screening was well received and the discussion at the end was enlightening and stimulating.
History of the Congo and
Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth
In this presentation, Charmaine Simpson addressed the early history of the Congo and Zaire region.
The Congo is home to one of the oldest mathematical artefacts in the world, the Ishango Bone, a binary counting system and lunar calendar which dates to 25,000BC.
This territory produced the Kingdom and Empire of Kongo the brilliant Queen Nzinga. Items presented were the civilisations of this region, how the culture was affected by the transatlantic slave trade and covered the pivotal moments in Congo's History since 1885.
After the presentation, we watched the film 'Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth'
The ongoing conflict, instability, weak institutions, dependency and impoverishment in the Congo are a product of a 125 year tragic experience of enslavement, forced labor, colonial rule, assassinations, dictatorship, wars, external intervention and corrupt rule. Analysts in the film examine whether U.S. corporate and government policies that support strongmen and prioritize profit over the people have contributed to and exacerbated the tragic instability in the heart of Africa.
Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering The Truth explores the role that the United States and its allies, Rwanda and Uganda, have played in triggering the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st century. The film is a short version of a feature length production to be released in the near future. It locates the Congo crisis in a historical, social and political context. It unveils analysis and prescriptions by leading experts, practitioners, activists and intellectuals that are not normally available to the general public. The film is a call to conscience and action. Interviewees: Mbepongo "Dedy" Bilamba, Adam Hochschild, Maurice Carney, Claver Pashi, Gregory H. Stanton, Yaa-Lengi Ngemi, Anneke Van Woundenberg, Howard W. French, Dan Fahey, Kambale Musavuli, Nita Evele.
There was a powerful discussion after the presentation and screening as this was an introduction to many in attendance on the history of the Congo from the past to present day. I have listed some of the feedback received from this session:
"Riveting information! I will now seek to do something about it if only telling friends and people I meet to raise awareness of this historical tragedy."
"Knowledge is key! These documentaries were very hard hitting but needed to be seen. I have been motivated to do my bit any way possible to raise and highlight what the Congo is going through. I thank Black History Studies for continuing to inform people about the plight in the Congo. There is so much that can be done by each and every one of us. I do hope change is on the horizon because this can't go on."
"No holds barred screening and presentation on Congo. Keep up the good work as always."
"Very interesting presentation and film clips. I did not know the Congo was such as important country. We owe a lot to Congo and its resources. This presentation has highlighted the ups and downs of the Congo. This information needs to be spread amongst the community to keep people aware."
"This was a very powerful, moving and distressing presentation on the Crisis in the Congo. Knowledge in Africa has been taken and psychologically removed. Africans don't even know their own history. We all need to spread the word about this massacre. This silence is totally unacceptable. An emotional presentation but it has to be told. Keep up the work and spread the knowledge about the Congo during Congo Week. It is so easy not to take notice and become complacent. Well done Charmaine Simpson and Mark Simpson too!"
"Excellent, moving, concise and well presented. Thank you for your work and bringing this to the people. It's up to us now!"
"Thank you. There is so much to say. The jigsaw and the picture continues to take shape. With presentations and events like this it grows. Even the discussion at the end was interesting and informative. So little time and so much to share and say. Once again, thank you."
"Good informative session. Thank you very much!"
"Thank you. I have learnt a lot for this evening and will definitely spread the word."