Whilst independence may have come to the continent of Africa, the stain of colonialism still looms large. The psychological damage is the hardest to quantify, yet maybe the factor which has impacted most upon the ability of radically different nations to prosper. Old enmities, fuelled by the divide and rule tactics of European nations, have never truly gone away. Tribalism, religious intolerance, brutality, bigotry, poverty, despotism and corruption have been scattered far and wide. Natural resources are still being raped by Western nations whilst any profits go into the pockets of the few whilst the majority starve.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is arguably the ultimate example of a country which has been ripped apart by colonialism. The second largest county in Africa has the third most mineral deposits yet its one of the poorest. Consistently riven with wars and ethnic conflicts, there’s a basic lack of infrastructure and healthcare. Power and money is concentrated within its capital, Kinshasa. President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 and the only way he’s likely to leave is in a coffin. Daniel McCabe’s documentary This is Congo focusses the spotlight on a country where rebel groups hover around the fringess, funded by external nations and bound by tribalism.
Whilst the situation in DRC is hardly unique, its size, natural resources, demography and geographical position make it the repeated target for the surrounding countries who fund proxy wars. McCabe focuses on several different Congolese citizens trying to cope with the situation, but it’s the young Colonel Mamadou who steals the show. He’s charged with defending Goma, the country’s mineral capital, from the M23 rebel group who are funded by Rwanda (and others). His rise and fall sums up the nation in a microcosm. This is Congo paints a rich, and often brutal, picture of a country doomed to failure and repetition.
This is Congo is out in cinemas from 25 May.