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We Blame White Institutions and People For Our Misery, But Here Is How Our African Elders Failed Us: The Congolese and Rwandan War

‘Bundu devils’ or Ndoli jowei masquerades of the women’s society, photographed in February 1915 by Northcote Thomas in Tormah (Tormabum), present-day Bonthe District, Sierra Leone. (NWT 6183-4; RAI 400.38125.)

It has been 23 years since 2000, and almost fifty years since the waves of massive black African migrations took place in Western Europe. Generations have formed, and the final division between the authentic Africans and the hybrid Western European Blacks has now become clear. This dissociation was way too often attributed to the black Americans, while not knowing that this change would also affect the African immigrants who came earlier. The latter always saw themselves as being superior and more balanced than the US Blacks as they were not kidnapped and deported for five centuries.

The Internet has become a powerful space where a process of decolonization has taken place over the past decade. This reality may be confusing for a certain reason. The Internet was always revolutionary as it replaced our world in the sphere of technology, it is true, but it can not be separated from globalism and thus, capitalism.

As technology evolved, so did the numerous platforms which never ceased to extend their functions. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and now Tiktok are all spaces where people market their products, hope to influence others into buying these same products, but they are also places where thousands of voices are being heard worldwide regarding the many issues and contradictions which were never evoked in many black communities of the West. These comments can be made through the use of humor thanks to Tiktoks or memes, but videos allow many to express their pain, confusion or anger. These ways of expression help furthering a feeling of togetherness among lost and scattered populations which do not always know about their roots.

When it comes to the issues related to race, problematics linked to colorism, segregation, mental health or abuse are placed at the center. Recently, biracial Tiktokers expressed their disbelief while sharing about the racism of their white parents. Others realized that their racial admixture was the product of sexual fetichism from their parents’ part, and that the two never conceived them in love at all. Despite these various and painful testimonies, the people who comment and express themselves focus on the same dynamic, hence placing the blame upon the white institutions and white people alone.

In Western Europe, almost fifty years after the massive waves of immigration from North, West and Central Africa, one realizes one thing. The black communities there, especially in Latin nations, whether in Portugal, France, Italy or Spain are far behind. The French Africans must be the worst of all. They never created anything on their own, never developed any important structure in fifty years, and are still unable to display some sort of solidarity between one another. Their case is more problematic than the black Portuguese, black Spaniards and black Italians who remain hidden by choice of their racist institutions. Actually, the Black Portuguese and Spaniards are the ones who endure the most horrific and degrading form of racism in the Latin world.

The French Africans evolved in a racist space where they had many possibilities to achieve greater goals. The Black French have an influence upon the black Portuguese and even white Italians who can be fascinated by them, at times. The Black Portuguese respect them thought they ignore about the failure of the French Africans.

France is indeed a complex and ambiguous country whose institutions are elitist and racist, yet, in this same nation, even the undocumented black African immigrants can protest in the streets to express their anger regarding their condition. At the beginning of the 20th century, black American writers and artists found refuge in France to escape from segregation and racism, but at the same time, the French government was involved in colonialism in both Africa and the Caribbean.

This problem is proper to the black African French only. Some Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were French colonies. There, the local population was also submitted to horror, torture, abuse and attack from the French colonizers, but upon fleeing from the war in the 1970s, many of these Asians not only lost their homecountry, family by settling in France, but despite the trauma endured, they also managed to succeed through integration, but above all, through the constant development of stable financial structures. Though the black Africans came around the same time in France, they failed to build anything. And the only communities to have developed some networks were always the same: the Senegalese, the Malians, and some Cameroonians. The Senegalese and Malians always had a culture of trading in their own countries and transmitted such traditions to their descendants. The Cameroonians were always eager to discover and create new platforms, thus going above the set limits. The French-Senegalese often return to their home country where they develop new infrastructures for the economic reinforcement of the nation of their forefathers. Yet, the condition of the Central Africans remain a catastrophe.

The black African communities which evolve in northern Europe, whether in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands are far ahead of their time, it is true, but a problem remains there as well since the majority of them still struggle with the desire of being fully accepted by their white institutions in order to feel validated. This constant whitewashing made them hybrids who perceive Africa through a neo-colonial perspective or worst, a capitalistic Wakandification-Beyoncesque kind of vision. Their idea of success is linked to capitalism, higher education, and a pseudo-pro-blackness which hides their inner desire of being approved by the white elite. Yet, they know how to create financial structures.

Whether in Northern or Southern Europe, the black communities still struggle and fail to go ahead as they should. The stagnation and failure are often placed upon the white institutions. It is true that the misery of the black French Africans is due to the political strategy put in place by these institutions. The Africans present in the 1950s and 1960s were intellectuals and thinkers, while those who came in the 1970s were exploited as workers. Contrary to what many believe, the whitewashing and destruction of these immigrants began during the era of colonialism where social statuses were broken down according to the colonial vision. There, a faux-African bourgeoisie was created.

These men were known as the “assimilados” and “évolués” and thought that a good, valid African had to be educated through white standards. The identity of the “évolué” was opposed to that of the uncivilized black African perceived as a savage by both the educated Africans and the white colonizers. The black intellectuals who lived in Paris, whether Caribbean or African, were formed within this false idea of intellectual elevation and were already seeking white validation. This mentality affected the descendants of these individuals who, following the legacy of colonialism, never saw life outside of their box. They often told their children that success meant studying hard in school, as they had the image of the “évolué” in mind.

The presence of the black intellectuals in Paris during the 1960s was problematic to the white institutions for many reasons. First, the African nations were gaining their independence. Then, these French institutions were scared these educated blacks would raise their children in the same way. It was, finally, impossible for them to have black intellectuals who could think and thus rival with their own white children born into the elite. These black intellectuals were thus replaced by a wave of working immigrants whose mentality was limited. These black Africans, perceived as uncivilized since the early days of colonialism, came from nowhere and accepted to receive the little pieces of recognition handed to them by the French institutions, as they wrongly thought that this faux reconnaissance was valid and a sign of appreciation from the feared white man. As a consequence, these black parents never did anything to surpass themselves, and failed to understand the depth of the evil system they were trapped into.

Therefore, immigration at the time favored, in many homes, a separation between the parents and their children, who were born and raised in France. The latter understood the depth of the system, resented it, hoped to change it, yet, their parents, too weak, never provided them the mental and spiritual weapons to overthrow it and change their deplorable social condition. An entire generation was lost and never managed to let their mark as they should have done it for having been raised in a state of dependency and fear of their system.

Black African families rely on obsolescence, believe in archaic systems imposed by their former colonizers, are burdens to their children, do not integrate quick enough, are not politically strategic, are too content with the little they have, and have lied to their children about false promises which could only be found in the West. All these elements combined contributed to the spiritual, mental loss of the members born in the very early 1970s, and was perpetuated until our time. These family structures are also built upon trauma due to history, where the parents fear the contact with the exterior. Plagued by low self-esteem and feeling inferior for being blamed regarding their status of immigrants by the white institutions, they give back little to their children and transmit the same fear, while the white and other non-black minorities do take risks. Due to this fear of the outside, the weak parents place their burdens upon the shoulders of their children who are lost for sitting between two conflicting worlds which are that of the poor immigrants and the new nation they are trying to assimilate into. Therefore, black African families in the West do not privilege individualism, personal evolution, but rather fear, reduction, belittlement, abuse and tolerance to disrespect. Consequently, the stagnation of these communities comes from the parents first, and is completed by the white institutions. Yet, the success of the Asians prove that the pressure of these white institutions can be fought against, repressed and blocked by those who want it.

Since the black African families failed to provide a clear vision for their descendants, they also failed to transmit anything and were the first to further and support colonial, racist and anti-black policies among their descendants. If white people and their institutions need to be exposed for their racism, it is more than important to recognise that these black African European families are nests of anti-blackness and dehumanization, whether the members are mixed-race or not. In Portugal, where the great majority of Cape-Verdeans and Angolans live, anti-African discourses, and attacks against blackness, the black bodies are frequent and are perpetuated by the parents themselves who educate their children in the constant dissociation of their selves from Africa. In Angola and Cape-Verde, mixed-race individuals known as mestiços are seen as superior and have the most important roles in society. The independent leaders from the MPLA in Angola were often mixed-race, while the members of Jonas Savimbi’s camp were often black Angolans. In non-mixed black African families where a supposed pride in Africa is highlighted, whitewashing still exists, especially through the idea of social success by the means of higher education. There, the black African essence is suppressed, blamed, demonized, attacked and has to be reduced in order to fit in a white society whose institutions will never fully recognise their black immigrants they despise, no matter how long they have been living there. In the most pro-black families, the children will be raised in a constant dissociation and confusion. Though born, raised, educated in the West, the parents will place their burden upon them by claiming that the European country they grew up in is not theirs and that their land is in Africa. Yet, these same parents never transmitted anything about Africa to their children as they see the continent as a failure. These same pro-black parents, despite their speech, are looking for white validation as well and feel inferior.

The difference in generations placed the children in a difficult position. They are not their parents anymore, but represent a new identity which is in the middle of two conflicting worlds. Unable to reinvent themselves, the parents did not adapt to this change they never anticipated, and the desperate children turn to the only individuals who, they wrongly believe, would look like them, their parents, though their vision is no longer the same at all. These black African families were built upon survival, fear, backwardness and lies. Thus, in order to emancipate themselves and change their own infrastructures, the new generation will have to block the legacy of their parents in order to build their own, overcome fear and find their own path.

The Rwandan and Congolese War

The Rwandan attack against the Eastern part of the Congo began in 1996. Out of all the populations from the African Great Lakes, the Eastern Congolese were submitted to a horrific degree of historical trauma. Before the arrival of the Belgians, the space was destroyed by the Arab slave traders who mercilessly, under Tippu Tip and prior, kidnapped millions of Central Africans who were sent to the Middle East. The Belgians put an end to the Arab slave trade they deemed inhumane but put their own barbarity in place. Following the 1960 independence, rebellions and attacks took place, thus contributing to the horror of Congolese history. The 1996 Congo war would thus mark a new brutal wave in the legacy of this troubled nation.

The war clearly affected the relation between the Rwandan and Congolese diasporas in Belgium, France and Canada, where many of them live. In both sides, families fuel a constant anti-Congolese and anti-Rwandan sentiment but do not propose any solution to solve the issue. The brutal political decisions taken by Paul Kagame since the mid 1990s affected the Rwandan diaspora who are, at times, attacked by some Congolese protestors.

The Congolese families who perpetuate the hatred towards the Rwandans, in their great majority, do not know anything about the history of the Great Lakes, the movement of the population, the facts of migration and the various cultures there, for having roots in other provinces and having grown up in the capital Kinshasa. These families engage in pure anti-blackness and validate their racism to attack the Rwandan phenotype. If they accept the Hutus for sharing their “Bantu’ phenotype, they reject the Tutsi-looking ones they see as a diverse race which differs from theirs. Though unaware of Congo’s culture outside of their Kinois reduced reality, they judge a complex space where different Eastern African and Congolese cultures blended and mixed overtime. The Watusi presence in the Great Lakes is not the fact of colonialism, but a presence which dates back to the 14th century at least, way before the colonial frontiers were established. If these black Congolese families from the diaspora know about the brutality of the Belgians towards them, that Kagame is submitted to the US power, that the Belgians, the French, the Americans are responsible for this division, they want to perpetuate it without proposing any solution. On the Rwandan side, the same dynamic can exist. Yet, a population remains in the middle. On the Eastern Congolese side, millions of Congolese share Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan roots. On the Rwandan side, as well, many share Ugandan, Congolese or Burundian roots. These mixed groups who also live in the diaspora have been torn apart ever since without nobody asks them about their well-being.

The Congolese families support racism and anti-blackness but have no issue living in Belgium, encouraging their children to assimilate into nations which are directly responsible for the war in the East. Yet, the work of panafricanism, unity which should be maintained between the two people abroad is sabotaged on purpose. And so, even if the black Congolese families know about the work of division put in place by the Belgians a century ago.

These anti-Rwandan and anti-Congolese comments affect the members of the diaspora. The latter do not know anything in depth about their home country, but in the toxicity of black dynamic, they will trust their elders more than anything else, as they falsely believe that they are more aware of the situation than them, when not.

For fear of standing on their own, these black African descendants living in the diaspora evolve in the wrong political side as they trust their elders.

Whether through the Congo-Rwandan example, the issues of colorism, anti-blackness, education, one thing is for sure; in order to achieve a total liberation, these descendants will have no other choice but to spiritually kill their elders who led them in the wrong so as to build their own heritage and set their children free. Black African elders in the spectrum of immigration were always as dangerous as the white institutions which made them. For many, their words, thoughts were poison transmitted to block the emergence of a strong black group. Consequently, these black diasporic descendants still believe in the dichotomy which places black individuals as perpetual victims, and the white ones as eternal oppressors, while the black group is, as a collective, as dangerous as the racist European institutions which want to suppress them.

By Victoria “VKY” Kabeya. All Rights Reserved, 2023 ©

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