The Road to Freedom, Hope and a Peaceful World

The Obama inauguration was very important to me and to the rest of the Congolese people back in my country.  I had been waiting and wondering if it would really happen.  I worked hard during the campaign as a first time voter, making phone calls, so I felt it was a real achievement when Obama was elected.  The time between Election Day and the Inauguration seemed so long that I was counting the days to see it come.  During the waiting period, I felt as if I were hanging in air.  On January 20th I went to my kitchen early in the morning to cook for the celebration.  I didn’t know how many students would be at school that day, so I made a large quantity of beignets.  I was excited to take food and drink to celebrate with my classmates.

Before we ate the beignets, we watched the inauguration coverage in class.  I was waiting, tense, in front of the TV for the important moment.  Then President Obama took the oath of office.  After that I felt relieved that it really happened.  While he was giving his inaugural address, I stood up to applaud several times, especially when he talked about his commitment to seeking peace in the world, to start a new day – hope and freedom for all humanity.  That was the message I had been waiting to hear for so long.  I felt as if he were talking directly to me and the Congolese people who need to be recognized as human beings by the rest of the world.

Why was the Obama inauguration important to me?  The reason is that I was forced to leave my country eleven years ago.  My country has been in a war which was imposed on her and her people.  The country has been a victim, for being rich in minerals and several other resources since many countries wanted to have access to them.  They arm the rebels with guns in exchange for the minerals.

The Rwandan genocide was an embarrassment for the world because it felt guilty for its silence.  Even though it was too late, the world community decided to help Rwanda in order to ease the guilt.  This was not a bad idea in itself.  What was bad was that the Congo has become the victim of her good hospitality to Rwandan refugees.  From 1997 to this date the Congo has become a fertile pool of wealth  and the rest of the world.  During all this time, more than 5 million lives have been lost, more than in any other war since World War II.

This war has been called a forgotten war.  The world has decided to close its eyes and its ears because it doesn’t want to see the burned, dismembered bodies.  The world doesn’t want to see the women and children being raped in the presence of their loved ones.  It doesn’t want to hear the sound of machine guns and the work of machetes.  The world doesn’t want to know that many kids have been taken from their parents and taught to kill at an early age as child-soldiers.  Besides the killing from weapons, some deaths are the result of HIV and hunger.  Yet, the world is turning a blind eye to all of this suffering, and little media attention has been given to it.  Fortunately, some good people have gone to the Congo to help the victims of rape, HIV, and hunger.  They work in a difficult situation, though, because people are always on the run to refugee camps.

When the Congolese people heard the inaugural speech with the powerful message of peace, they didn’t sleep, but danced in the streets as if everything were back to normal again and as if that hope for peace extended also to the Congo and to its people.  Let us hope that the Congolese people are not wrong and they are not expecting too much from the Obama administration.  Like any other people in the world, they deserve better.  The hope brought by the Obama inauguration must be sustained by concrete action.  It must be different from old speeches full of empty promises.