Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Congo Situation is Baffling

Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda is telling the BBC reporter that he plans to march on Kinshasa claiming that he's not an agent of Rawanda and is in fact a proud Congolese. I'd been listening to Nkunda speak for weeks on the BBC. The radio gave me the impression that he could only be reached by smuggled audio recorder in some damp jungle camp. I was surprised then when I moved into my new house, turned on Al Jazeera and there he was, all fifteen feet of him, wearing his trademark late 90s R&B glasses and confidently posing for the world's cameras and chatting with reporters.

It's strange how world media digests this new fighting. Since the Rawandan genocide, Tutsis are considered the victims and Nkunda, with his media savvy but perhaps correctly, brands himself as a Tutsi defense force. Why then are they going to march on Kinshasa? Why is the entire region so afraid of him? Can someone fill me in?

In one of Stephanie Nolan's blog posts she mentions being stuck in a remote eastern Congo village with no power, water or food, yet she could read the New York Times on her Blackberry. With that in mind, take a look at Ushahidi.com. Originally designed to monitor post election violence in Kenya, the site takes cellphone and web reports of violence and displacement and plots them on a map of the Lake Kivu region to give you a better idea of the geography of the conflict.

ps I stole that pic from the BBC website. It says Getty images on it if you look closely.

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