This June 30th, Congolese President Joseph Kabila and friends will be rollin’ big in Goma on 22 inch rims drinking Cristal to celebrate the DRC’s 49th independence anniversary. According to Congolese Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Breeding, Emmanuel Libendele Lubuna:
“The decision to take the celebrations to the provincial capital was aimed at the liberation of this part of the DRC from the throes of war which had lasted over a decade.”
Kabila chose Goma as the party venue, not because of imminent volcanic explosions that threaten the city’s security or because of vicious displacement and severe violence in the vicinity, but because of the awesome lakeside views. That, and because Kabila is making a serious effort to diplomatically reach out to neighboring Rwanda and Burundi and simultaneously tell them, hey, North Kivu, this is ours and you can’t have it.
Asserting Goma as an important site in the Congolese nationstate signals that North Kivu is a part of the DRC and that Kabila will try to keep it that way. It’s also a way for Kabila to affirm his role in Eastern Congolese politics and display his patronage. If you want into the Kivus, you still have to go through him. And of course, there is nothing like an independence party in a war torn region to attempt to refute the claim There is No Congo.
While there probably won’t be any evites, if you are in the region, come celebrate a bit of Congolese independence and a lot of regional posturing this June.