Break the Silence Congo Week: October 18-24
Break the Silence Congo Week, which will take place from October
18-24, 2009, is a global initiative led by students and community
organizers around the world, in association with Congo Global Action and Friends of the Congo, to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Congo. Students from the US, Canada, England, Belgium, Germany, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Korea, Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Columbia, etc. will organize events about the Congo (films, lectures, demonstrations, and more) on their respective campuses.
The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness
about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on
behalf of the people of the Congo. It will take place from Sunday
October 19th to Saturday October 25th.
The University of Toronto chapter of Friends of the Congo is proud to
present a number of excellent speakers and films. See below for the full schedule.
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 word 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.
Visit the Congo Week website for more information:
CONGO WEEK EVENTS SCHEDULE
Addresses of locations
OISE: 252 Bloor St. West, University of Toronto, above St. George subway station
Hart House (HH): 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto, just south of Harbord Ave.
Bahen Centre (BA): 40 St. George, University of Toronto, just north of College St.
Full description of films and speakers below.
Wed. Oct. 14th
Film: La Vie Est Belle
Thurs. Oct. 15th
Film: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
Thurs. Oct. 15th
Talk: Sexual violence, HIV and health impacts of the war
Speaker: Bradley MacIntosh
Fri. Oct. 16th
Fri. Oct. 16th
Film: Blood Coltan
Talk: Congo and the new scramble for Africa
Speakers: Jean-Bavon and Belinda Mbala
CONGO WEEK EVENTS
Mon. Oct. 19th
Talk: Building the capacity of Congolese civil society to resist imperialism & neo-colonialism
Speaker: Ajamu Nangwaya
Mon. Oct. 19th
Film: The Greatest Silence
Talk: Summary of social justice issues in the Congo
Speakers: Alex Henry Moore
and Belinda Mbala
Tues. Oct. 20th
Talk: Understanding the Congo conflict
Speakers: Justin Podur
HH Arbor Rm
Wed. Oct. 21rst
Film: Biodversity in the Congo
Talk: Saving the Congo’s biodiversity and saving the world’s second lung
Speakers: Dr. Martin Kijazi and
HH Arbor Rm
Thurs. Oct. 22nd
Talk: Racism and media complicity: International indifference towards the Congo
Speaker: Yves Engler and Ajamu Nangwaya
HH Arbor Room
Fri. Oct. 23rd
Talk: Human rights for women in the Congo – enough is enough
Speakers: Jeannine Ngondo
and Maddy Tiembe
Sat. Oct. 24th
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Vintage Clothing Sale Fundraiser
for the Men, Women and Children affected by violence in the Congo
Location: Trinity – St.Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor Street West – just west of Spadina Station.
Description: Please join Friends of the Congo and Women Won’t Forget on Saturday October 24th for a Vintage Clothing Sale to raise money and awareness for issues of violence taking place in the Congo as part of Break the Silence Congo Week. We have many designer labels and clothes and accessories dating from the 1960, 70s, 80s, 90s and present.
All proceeds will go directly to the Widow Association in Bukavu.
Sat. Oct. 24th
8:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Congolese food and music
$10 at the door.
All proceeds go to the Widow Association in Bukavu
Location: to be announced
The Greatest Silence (2007)
In the DRC in recent years many tens of thousands of women and girls who have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers from both foreign militias and the Congolese army. The world knows nothing of these women. Their stories have never been told. They suffer and die in silence. Emmy Award winning producer/director Lisa F. Jackson spent 2006 in the war zones of eastern DRC documenting the tragic plight of women and girls in that country’s intractable conflict. Her interviews with raped and tortured women in the DRC provide examples of resiliency, resistance, courage and grace. These women recount their stories with an honesty and immediacy pulverizing in its intimacy and detail. The film is a journey into a literal heart of darkness, a search for survivors who pay witness to their own experiences, and break the silence.
Blood Coltan (2007)
The West’s demand for Coltan, used in mobile phones and computers, is
funding the killings in Congo. Under the close watch of rebel
militias, children as young as ten work the mines hunting for this
black gold. ‘Blood Coltan’ exposes the web of powerful interests
protecting this blood trade. Meet the powerful warlords who enslave
local population and the European businessmen who continue importing
Coltan, in defiance of the United Nations’ unenforced prohibition.
The plot is based on the final months of Patrice Lumumba (played by
Eriq Ebouaney) the first Prime Minister of the Congo, whose tenure in
office lasted two months until he was driven from office and murdered.
Joseph Kasa Vubu (Maka Kotto) is sworn in alongside Lumumba as the
first president of the country, and together they attempt to prevent
the Congo succumbing to secession and anarchy. The film concludes with
Joseph Mobutu (Alex Descas) seizing power with, as the film implies,
the support of the United States. One of Lumumba’s final and most
quotes statements: “We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and
liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found
at the side of the Congolese.”
Congo’s Tin Soldiers (2005)
An exposee of the Congo’s brutal mining industry. The West’s demand
for minerals is fuelling the killings in Congo. Militias rely on slave
labour to extract the ore, forcing locals to work in sub-human
conditions. “Once you get down there, there’s no air”, describes one
worker. “The rocks often bury us and you have to crawl through the
tiny hole, using your fingers to dig.” Labourers like him often go
unpaid. They’re forced to work at gunpoint by militias operating
outside the control of the government. “Different armed groups do what
they want with the population”, laments minister Buta Muiso. But
British businessman Ketankumar Kotecha sees nothing wrong in buying
casiterite from the militias. “If I didn’t do it, someone else would.
I am not here as some kind of moral saviour.”
La Vie Est Belle (1987)
La Vie est Belle takes us inside the vibrant music scene of Kinshasa, the Congo’s exhilarating and exasperating capital whose back alleys and clubs pulsate to the beat of some of the most influential music in the world. The film, starring Soukous music legend Papa Wemba, tells the “rags to riches” story of a poor country musician who seeks fame in the city’s vibrant music industry. This lively farce illustrates the Congolese faith in Systeme-D or debrouillardise, fending for yourself to survive in the face of overwhelming obstacles. If there is a commercial cinema in Africa’s future, then La Vie est Belle may be one of its precursors.
The Peacekeepers (2006)
With unprecedented access to the UN Department of Peacekeeping, The Peacekeepers provides an intimate and dramatic portrait of the struggle to save “a failed state” The film follows the determined and often desperate maneuvers to avert another Rwandan disaster, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC). Focusing on the UN mission, the film cuts back and forth between the UN headquarters in New York and events on the ground in the DRC. We are with the peacekeepers in the “Crisis Room” as they balance the risk of loss of life on the ground with the enormous sums of money required from uncertain donor countries. We are with UN troops as the northeast Congo erupts and the future of the DRC, if not all of central Africa, hangs in the balance. In the background, but often impinging on peacekeeping decisions, are the painful memory of Rwanda, the worsening crisis in Iraq, global terrorism, and American hegemony in world affairs. As Secretary General Kofi Annan tells the General Assembly at the conclusion of The Peacekeepers: “History is a harsh judge. The world will not forgive us if we do nothing.” Whether the worldís peacekeeper did enough remains to be seen.
White King, Red Rubber, Black Death (2003)
“What the Belgians did in the Congo was forgotten for over 50 years. It’s a shocking, astonishing story. In a way, it’s a horrifying prelude in European history to the Holocaust. Between 1870 and 1900 the Congo was pillaged – it was valuable as a source of rubber. King Leopold created his own colony in the Congo over which he ruled unchecked. Peter Bate’s film is a well made reconstruction of those days – it features footage of Congolese villages and explains with actors exactly what happened. It’s really a memorable film – the painfulness of what is described is counterbalanced by the great skill in the storytelling.”
Biodversity in the Congo
A selection of short videos and slides on the DRC’s biodiversity, the endangered species “hotspots”, the plight of the mountain gorilla, the threat to the rainforest from climate change and deforestation and mining, the contribution of this rainforest as a carbon sink and oxygen producer, and a report on the continuing efforts to save it.
DESCRIPTION of SPEAKERS
The topics to be addressed include women and rape, biodiversity loss
and environmental destruction, human rights, the role of the
international mining industry, the war against the DRC by Rawandan and
Ugandan military forces and the use of those countries as staging
grounds for colonial exploitation of the DRC, and the role of Canadian
mining companies, and possible solutions and how Toronto residents can
play a part in helping to implement them.
Council in the eighties; M. M’Bembo had been reluctant to voice or
publicly share his opinions. But the murderous corporate roots of the
war wreaking havoc in his country since September 1996 has smitten him
to publish his takes on what’s happening from time to time. It is in
this vein that he’s with us today.
.Dr. Justin Podur is a professor at York University. He just returned from a trip
in the conflict zone of the Eastern Congo and will give his
perspective as a witness and a researcher on the Congo crisis
Dr Brad MacIntosh. “Sexual violence, HIV and health impacts of the war
in the DRC”.
war-ravaged eastern Dem Rep of Congo to document the horrific sexual
violence plaguing that failed state. His images are being used by
charities, and were seen in The Washington Times and on CTV. In April
2009, Toronto’s galleryDK presented a solo exhibition of Moore’s
conflict photography. The month-long show, “Intersections,” garnered
national media attention and was the most successful show in the
. Dr. Martin Kizaji is a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of
Forestry, University of Toronto, and a founding member of FOTC at
UofT. The great rainforest of the Congo is one of the world’s
biodiversity hotspot. Dr. Kizaji will speak about the loss of
biodiversity and environmental destruction caused by industrial
development, such as mining and deforestation.
. Ajamu Nangwaya is a graduate student at the University of Toronto and is an activist who is committed to the struggle to end all systems of exploitation. Ajamu is a class struggle trade unionist and is the Chair Internal of CUPE 3907 and the 3rd Vice-President on the Executive Board of CUPE Ontario. He is a founding member of FOTC at UofT, and a non-statist Pan-Africanist. Ajamu is the Internal Commissioner on the Executive Committee of the Graduate Students’ Union.
. Bodia Macharia is a Congolese born activist for womens’ rights and human rights, a founding member of FOTC at UofT, and a pan-Africanist. She is a doctoral student at University of Toronto. Her master’s thesis was on Patrice Lumumba. She will address both the plight of women in the Congo and the role of the mining industry. Bodia is President of FOTC -UofT.
My bulwark of strenght in the conflict for freedom in Africa will be
the the three hundred years of persecution and hardship left behind in
this Western Hemisphere. Go on! Climb ye the heights of liberty and
cease not in well doing until you have planted the banner of the Red,
the Black and the Green on the hilltops of Africa.”
corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese.”
-Patrice Emery Lumumba
Congo, si cette gâchette poudrière éclate, c’est toute l’Afrique qui
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