Let them eat cake…

The DRC celebrated 50 years of independence this week, with foreign dignitaries and the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon gracing the shores of the Congo River with their presence.

Yet despite all these celebrations, the country is still torn apart by violence, and insecurity has forced many to flee from their homes. International peacekeeping forces MONUC struggle to maintain control, lacking essential resources.

It is not just rebel groups that are feared, but the government forces are regarded with apprehension, with soldiers accused of perpetrating crimes against civilians; violent attack, looting and rape.

For those who have fled, there is little hope of returning home to their villages, now associated with violent attack and terrifying memories.

President Kabila is determined to oust the international peacekeeping forces, but this threatens to exacerbate the insecurity in the already unstable country. Promises of peace seem to be merely daydreams.

Few Congolese will be celebrating independence in lavish security as the president has this week. There will be no cake for the displaced and poverty-stricken. Their celebrations may not be of winning independence from their colonial oppressors, but instead a thankfulness that they have survived (unlike millions of others – 5.4m have died in the violence since 1998).

The Congolese have demonstrated an admirable resilience over the years, clinging to each other in times of desperate need. This is what should be celebrated, their perseverance and endurance despite brutal challenges. This vision of the remarkable strength and courage of humanity is displayed beautifully in a set of photographs ‘From Congo with Love’ by Rankin.

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