DRC: “Hear Our Voices”

“I am too old and close to death to see the fruits of these elections. Still, I voted today just like everyone else. I don’t know how to read or write.

“I can remember voting in other elections. Under Belgium (ruler), I voted in 1957 for a bourgmestre (mayor) and then again in 1959 for a member of the National Assembly.

“I voted again in legislative elections in 1964 just before Mobutu (Sese Seko) came to power. In 1967, we had a referendum that gave Mobutu full autocratic power and again in 1970 we voted for him as president. He was the only candidate and we had no choice but to vote for ‘the leopard’ for more than 32 years.

“The elections today are very different from the masquerade we had back then. Then soldiers forced us to go to the polling stations. Those elections didn’t improve my life or the nation as a whole.

“Now I have the pleasure of voting of my own free will. We can’t say that everything is now okay in this country. Blood continues to be shed in Kinshasa (the capital) and other areas. The violence just two days before these elections made us afraid again, but we trust that God will bring peace with these elections.

“I, like many Congolese, am more confident for the future. Our hope is that there will no longer be war in our country. I just hope that we elect a head of state who can bring the Congolese people together to rebuild the country. I hope that women will no longer be raped, and that children will be able to get a good education.

“We also need food. The person who is elected president must find a way to ensure that we all have something to eat.

“I ask our new leader not to sell out our country but to allow the people of Congo to benefit from the minerals and natural resources that God provided our ancestors and that they now bequeath us.

“As for the other 32 presidential candidates who will lose, we ask them to be calm, tolerant and maintain a good heart. They must find other ways of working for Congo. They will get another chance to be elected.

“After having suffered so long I will not benefit from this new era. I had to take care of seven children by myself after my husband died in 1964, but with God’s support I succeeded in providing food for them and putting them through school. Now my oldest daughter is 64 and she has nine children. My two sons work and support me. It is a miracle that God could provide for Congo: allowing everybody to work and have a good heart.” ‘ IRIN.

August 2006
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