Tags / Democratic Republic of Congo
You are confusing the circulatory system with this maze of meandering, twisted like cells of the brain – wire meshes and tangles, resemble memory – each with a story to hide or to be dissolved, there just behind a gauze suspended between the face and the hanging ceiling, hanging between the faces and walls.
You do not know if they are roots or hair those that sink in water, and in the sky – in the sky from where the water is more than any imagined Africa.
The sky of thick foliage, of dry logs as your crosses and you do not know if they are branches or knots of hair braiding those who see blacks under the smoky clouds. There are more signs on the ground and more signs on the water that on the blackboard, which does not pass the history of your steps, but one of the steps of foreigners on your land.
A whirlpool in the lazy river as you sleep. A run in the tall grass, cutting edges. A jump and a heavy bag on your head, the water reflects other water and the tree grows from your shoulders, soon broken up by life that your father has left the crooked stick.
This is a Story
As every story, it’s made by Moments, Instants, People, Places.
Different but indissolubly tied together by invisible and indivisible light threads.
It’s not a tale of Africa but it’s a story of Men, or of a single Man.
It’s the tale of a centuries-old Tree with its roots - the wrinkled and strong arms of an old lady- searching for life in the depths of the river.
It’s the story of a Woman who stretches the same roots to the sky as if to contrast a law of nature.
In Africa there’s nothing that doesn’t come into being from the earth and nothing that’s not raised towards the sky that dominates everything.
It’s the tale of a River that flows for thousands of years in a land that’s fighting for his identity for a thousands of years.
It’s the same River that carries along life and death, the end and the beginning.
A River able to nurture, a River able to kill.
It’s the tale of many Men leaving in search of something that doesn’t have a name yet.
It’s the tale of a Color in which all the colors are alike, the story of an escape towards places so far away, drawn in a map by Red Soil and where all the paths come together.
It’s the tale of a Red Soil that stains your feet and goes inside you
It goes deep into your blood and fires it up.
And it’s useless to wash your body in the river at the end of the day: the Red Soil has left a mark on everything you have and everything you are.
It’s the tale of a Disease without a cure.
It’s the tale of a Rain that comes from the silence of a blue sky and with a din fills the buckets of the village.
It’s the tale of many other Tales.
It's the story of those who live and consume that Land.
It’s the story of who has being worn out by that Land.
And it’s also the tale of a Mondele, a White Man.
A tale of the moment in which he asked to himself: “What if I was born here?”
And then he understood the only possible answer: “I am Africa”.
A pygmy woman rests near Oicha, Beni territory, not far from the recent attack on July 5th. Pygmy’s, who have been forced out of their homes in the bush by the ADF, now seek refuge in mud huts closer to the village. June 23rd, 2016
A pygmy man poses inside his mud hut near Oicha, Beni territory. The only aid remaining outside of Goma is RRMP (Rapid Response to Movement of People), an aid group helping those in immediate crisis from the conflicts. Refugees around the nation are all facing the same crisis – no more aid. June 23rd, 2016.
A child resident of Mugunga refugee camp. June 18, 2016
A woman in Mugunga refugee camp makes charcoal, a common resource used by the refugees and sold at market. June 18, 2016
Children gather rain water in Mugunga refugee camp for drinking. Without aid supplying free water, many refugees cannot afford the commodity of clean drinking water. June 18, 2016
A woman inside her home in Mugunga refugee camp washes dishes after preparing a meal of beans. June 18, 2016
A child resident of Mugunga refugee camp stands outside her home. Many children have no memory of what their parents call home, as their entire life has been spent in the camps. June 18, 2016
A man in Mugunga refugee camp expresses his frustration, saying, “It is better to go home and risk the rebels than die of starvation here. It is better to die and be buried at home.” He also explains that the plastic bottles he holds are what they are forced to used as firewood, when they cannot afford to purchase it. June 18, 2016.
A view of Bulengo refugee camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC. June 17, 2016
Children watch as Mercy Corps distributes its last supply of water containers in Bulengo refugee camp. Mercy Corps was the last aid group to leave the camps surrounding Goma. June 17, 2016
A man in Mugunga refugee camp sews material to be sold at market. June 17, 2016.
Women residents of Mugunga refugee camp carry large bags of charcoal to be sold at the camps market. June 17, 2016
Children in Mugunga refugee camp rest after hauling large bags of lava rock to be sold for building material. Since the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in 2002, refugees have used the lava rock as foundation support around the tents as well as a means of survival. June 17, 2016
A woman in Mugunga refugee camp sells potatoes at the market located in the center of the camp. Other popular vegetables being sold include cassava, maize, and beans. June 17, 2016
Prayer houses have become a public health concern for the Congolese Government. The misconception many Congolese have about physical and mental illness makes them avoid hospitals and go to their nearest prayer house.
The “Galilaya” Church has many of these prayer houses across the Congo. It belongs to the 8th Community of the Pentecostal Churches of Central Africa (8th CEPAC) and is one of the many movements that shape the religious landscape in North Kivu´s capital, Goma, a city with 1 million inhabitants in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a nation that has witnessed so much horror and violence many turn to religion in the search for answers and solutions.
The DRC has a strong Christian tradition born out of colonialism. It is estimated that around 90% of the 70 million inhabitants are of Christian faith. However religious schisms have created an increasing number of religious movements within Christianity. Pentecostalism is one of these movements. This renewal movement within Christianity is based on four fundamental beliefs: Salvation, Baptism with the Holy Spirit, divine healing and the Second Coming of Christ. It is the notion of divine healing that has given the movement such strength in a region punished by war and misery for the last 20 years. Pastors like Moise Munyuabumba, head of the Galilaya Church, promise divine healing to every Congolese who embraces the faith. The pastor has apparently cured patients of sterility, mental traumas, sexual impotence, and even cancer, along with other ailments. The church comes together a few times a week in the prayer house to seek salvation. The prayer houses are people’s homes that have been turned into churches. The healing sessions are intense. The faithful usually go into a trance-like state and sometimes end up having prophecies or speak in tongues.
The misconception many Congolese have about modern medicine makes them avoid hospitals and go to their nearest prayer house. This misconception stems from the idea of witchcraft and old beliefs in which the source of evil emanates from sorcery or spells. Easy treatable diseases can become lethal because of late diagnosis. People with a burn would rather go to a prayer house than a hospital. Those who go to hospitals might not find the answers they were looking for and will try their luck with people like Pastor Moise Munyuabumba. Desperation and fear make many Congolese seek spiritual shelter in “Galilaya” where their physical and mental traumas can be healed through praying. In the third largest country in Africa where life expectancy is 48, modern medicine has to combat Churches like “Galilaya” who promise divine healing. The DRC also has the lowest rank in the Human Development Report along with Niger.
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
After experiencing the deadliest war since World War 2, healthcare in the Democratic Republic of Congo is in disarray and millions of people are relying on shamans and spiritual healers to treat their physical and psychological disorders. The absence of infrastructure and health care facilities, combined with a lack of faith in western-style medical treatment, means that most patients go to local shamans or radical Christian ‘houses of prayer’ instead of hospitals. Many of these ‘traditional’ health practitioners believe that mental and physical disorders are the result of witchcraft or demonic possession, and thus condone the use of highly unorthodox methods to ‘extract’ the illness or 'demon'. In the DRC, western-style health institutions are regarded only as a last-ditch solution. This attitude has only exacerbated the endemic and led to many deaths from treatable diseases.
The Rwandan Hutu rebel group that has been battling the government in Kigali for the past twenty years has taken what it says is the first step in disarming its fighters and starting a political fight instead.
At a ceremony on Friday May 30 at Buleusa in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo more than 100 fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, surrendered and handed in their weapons.
But the FDLR warned that continuing the process of peace depends upon the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreeing to talks.
The leader of the rebel group General Victor Byiringiro said “We call up on the International community to help us get an open dialogue with the Rwandan Government”.
The Hutu led FDLR is made up of former Rwandan Army soldiers and Hutu militia who fled the country after the 1994 genocide and found refuge in Congo.
Lieutenant Colonel, Omari Ujani, representative of the SADC, Southern African Development Community promised surrendering combatants and their dependents security. He announced the creation of a joint commission to make sure their demobilization process is effective. Omari also assured them of SADC diplomatic support for their political reintegration in Rwanda. “As you freely decided to lay down your guns, we don’t want you to go back in jungle disturbing locals’ peace”, he said.
The surrendering combatants will wait in a transit camp in Kanyabayonga, a village near Congo's Virunga National Park, before being relocated in Equateur province.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Minister Moise Munyuabumba runs the 8th CEPAC Galilaya Church, a 'house of prayer', which belongs to the Pentecostal movement. Pentecolism is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and the direct experience of the presence of God by the believer. Minister Munyuabumba has been using religion to try and heal the mental and physical disorders of the people who come to his church.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Here Minister Moise Munyuabumba is giving a sermon at the house of prayer. Every saturday people come to him in the hope of being healed. They believe in divine healing through prayer and consider all illness a consequence of the sin of man.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Minister Munyuabumba tries to treat Beat Mekarubamba, who has breast cancer. The Minister says she has cancer because she is the second wife of a polygamist and that she will only be healed if she accepts her sin.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. This is Lwanda Binwa, a regular at the 8th Cepac Galilaya Church. She began to have prophetic visions about Beat Mekarubamba, the woman with breast cancer (previous picture). She went into a trance and was making prophecies for around 15 minutes.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Men pray at Minister Munyuabumba's church.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Nyota Kanyere says that thanks to Minister Moise Munyuabumba, she was cured of madness.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Isaac Rwanamiza is a traditional healer from the Bakumu tribe. These shamanic healers are recognized by the Congolese Government and supported by the Ministry of Health.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Mark Ndibakunri is 11 years old and has elephantiasis. According to local healer Isaac Rwanamiza, this is because Mark stepped on a branch that had a spell on it. On the bed are various objects used in the healing process.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Isaac Rwanamiza treats 11-year-old Elephantiasis patient Mark Ndibakunri by “removing” the bad spirits through his totem. According to Isaac, evil spirits are the cause of the Elephantiasis from which the boy is suffering. Isaac sees many patients daily and can charge up to $70 per session. Healers are well respected within their communities and have the blessing of local authorities.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Here Isaac is performing another spell on Mark to remove the elephantiasis. He did not say what the bottle was for, but the twine tied around the legs is meant to “trap” the illness and avoid it spreading around the body.
Divine healing is one of the key features of the Pentecostal Movement. Beat Mekarubamba was diagnosed breast cancer at a local hospital. According to Pastor Moise, her cancer is the consequence of her being with a polygamist. She will be healed when she admits her sin and embraces God.
Justin Kabumba is a member of Galilaya. His sister Beat Mekarubamba has breast cancer. When hospitals couldnt help her, they went to Pastor Moises Church to seek healing.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Dr. Moise Mbusa is the head doctor at 'Tulizo Letu', or 'Our Comfort', a mental health hospital run by the Brothers of Charity. He is the only properly trained doctor working at the institution. All patients must be seen by him and, if medication is needed, he is the one who prescribes it. Some are required to take medication in order to live. Difficulties arise in remote areas because many are forced to travel long distances by foot just to get their medication, and this can compromise their treatment.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Electroencephalography (EGG) enables the detection of epilepsy and other brain-related injuries. Patients come and sit with sensory pads attached to their heads for around ten minutes, while a specialist monitors their brain activity. In this case this girl was fine. She had come in with her parents for an epilepsy check but was not a patient of the hospital.
Justin Kabumba with his sister Beat Mekarubamba. Beat has been diagnosed with breast cancer and seeks healing in the “Galilaya” prayer house.
Justin Kabumba with his sister Beat Mekarubamba. Beat has been diagnosed with breast cancer and seeks healing in the Galilaya prayer house.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. Kome Katenga is a patient of the 'Tulizo Letu' mental institution. He joined the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) in the first Congo War when he was just 16. Led by Laurent Kabila, the ADFL was known for its brutality and the recruitment of child soldiers. In 2002, Kome started drinking. He has been admitted into mental institutions seven times since.
Goma, North Kivu, DRC. A feeling of insecurity often increases the effects of mental health disorders. Despite the effort made by international and local NGOs, Western-style psychotherapy and psychiatric treatments are virtually nonexistent in the DRC.
Aziya Heshima could only give birth by caesarean until Pastor Moise healed her. Praying sessions end with music and dancing.
Aziya Heshima could only give birth by caesarean until Pastor Moise healed her. Praying sessions end with music and dancing.
Furahu Kahalako joined this Church to seek help with her mental illness.
John Akilimali comes regularly to the “Galilaya´s” prayer house after Pastor Moise cured him of poisoning.