After landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis 86-years- old condemned the West for exploiting not just the country, but the continent in a speech in Kinshasa.
In his speech, he compared the political strangleholds giving way to “economic colonialism” as equal to enslavement.
He went on to argue that the world should acknowledge the catastrophic things that happened in this country and demand to fully respect the people of this country.
The Pope even mentions the menace of conflicts and deaths that struck the country over its rich natural resources.
He mentions the role of colonial powers like Belgium in exploiting the country, 80 times bigger than the latter and gained its independence in 1960. He pointed out the other neighbouring countries following the same steps.
Stop choking Africa he further applauded in favour of the nation by taking on the foreign as “Hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo! Hands off Africa! Renouncing the colonial powers that it’s not a mine to be stripped off”
Meanwhile, the Pope did not point out the atrocities committed by the catholic colonisers and the role played by historic edicts in the Vatican.
According to Malcolm Webb, About 60 per cent of the education and health facilities are run by the Catholic church, Making a significant influence on the society of the Congo.
Nearly half of the 90 million Congo population is Roman Catholic.
Pope’s deteriorating health a cause of mobility
He talked about the 30 years of war-stricken atrocities that the people suffered in the country which even cost the lives of 7 million killed in the conflict. Referring to them as “diamonds being smeared with blood.” in his own words.
Before this visit, Pope Francis had to travel to the east of this country where millions have suffered even severe forms of barbarism which led to their displacement.
For now, the visit has been postponed in regard to his health problems and security concerns.
On his flight from Rome, Pope Francis expressed his displeasure to the journalists for not being able to walk and greet through the aisle as usual customs, instead asking them to meet him.
In recent months in spite of promising a reduced international travel schedule, the respect and appraisal he received from the people of Congo made his visit to DR Congo a priority for Pope Francis.
He gave a message to the people of Congo by praising them as “more precious than any treasure found on the earth” and made it clear for political leaders to act in their interests.
Later this week, for the first time in history the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of Scotland will join the Pope on a trip to South Sudan.
In his interest in bringing peace to another nation, he will call upon other political leaders for a meeting in Sudan.
Crisis in DRC
Francis was supposed to make a visit to Goma, in eastern Congo, but the northern region is torn apart in a dispute between the militant rebel group M23 linked with fighters of the ISIS armed group.
According to the reports of the World Food Programme, the war has displaced some 5.7 million people, nearly a fifth of them last year alone.
The Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi spoke to the masses on the same stage before Pope Francis. “He said the foreign colonial powers hungry for the rich resources in our soil, with the backing of our cowardly neighbour Rwanda, as well as armed militias committed some or most heinous crimes, cruelties to our people.”
“The Congolese people were fighting for their territory, against the abhorrent attempts of the insurgents seeking to divide the country,” added Francis.
The joint ceremony will be held in Sudan and will commit to pardoning their assailants.
The Congo – Rwanda tensions 2022-23
On March 27, 2022, a clash broke out between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the state of Rwanda, which led to several attacks on both the security forces in their territory. The Rwanda forces were consistently detected crossing into the DRC territory, usually counter-attacking the Congolese infiltrators.
The crisis erupted during an ongoing offensive March 23 Movement (M23), which the Congo government had accused Rwanda of supporting and fighting in the United Nations.
On the other side, Rwanda accused DRC of working together with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a racist Hutu paramilitary group involved in the Rwandan genocide.
On June 13, the M23 forcibly captured the city of Bunagana from the DRC and forced 30,000 civilians to flee to Uganda. The DRC claimed that Rwandan security forces were helping the rebels to take over the city. The rebels claimed that capturing Bunagana wasn’t their objective but to wait for the Congolese army to attack repeatedly and capture the city later.
The DRC calls the “fall of Bunagana no less than an invasion by Rwanda.”
Two senior Congolese officers claimed that Uganda had played some role in the invasion by helping the M23 militant group.
The conflict between DRC and Rwanda is regarded as the deadliest and, the longest ongoing dispute in the world, filled with extreme violence, racism and hate between the two tribes of Hutu and Tutsi.