Society

In Congo, A Tribal Chief Forced To Flee Cannibalistic Militia

The Mai-Mai militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo is known to kill and eat captured tribal leaders, which they think gives special powers to shield them from bullets.

A quiet moment in Katanga, DRC
Staff

LUBUMBASHI - In the northern part of the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mai-Mai militia group, lead by Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, have become notorious for murder, rape and robbery of civilian populations. When they overtake a local tribe, they take possession of their homes, forcing into the street thousands of families at a time. But what also sets their ruthlessness apart are reports of the practice of eating the traditional leaders of their various enemies.

Justin Kalenga Tamba is a local chief from Mitwaba, and he decided to speak out from Lubumbashi where he fled for his life.

SYFIA: When did you arrive in Lubumbashi, and why did you come?
JUSTIN KALENGA TAMBA: I moved here a month ago. I fled the raids of the Mai-Mai, which are spreading all over the northern areas of the Katanga region, targeting the entire population, and particularly the traditional leaders. I asked the authorities of the country to do everything possible in order to bring peace to our territories. I do not know why this still continues.

Do the Mai-Mai attack only the traditional leaders?
No. They attack the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), the police, the security services and any other authorities. As they do not have any food, they plunder the houses and take away everything they find. They accuse the traditional leaders of working with the military forces. Since 2003, 40 chiefs have been killed by the Mai-Mai, who ate their flesh, which they believe can strengthen their power and make them invulnerable to bullets. This has happened to the leaders Musumari, Mwele, Lwalaba, Dilenge, Kawama Mubidi, Kiyombo, Ntambo, Kileba ...

The regular army doesn’t give you enough security?
They are deployed in the administrative towns of the territory, as in the city of Mitwaba. But the territory is not only the capital. Elsewhere, in the chiefdoms and the villages, it is the Mai-Mai groups who impose their law. They are armed, but we do not know where their weapons and ammunition come from. I can’t even explain to you how they resist the Congolese army. In the chiefdom of Kiona Ngoy, where I am a leader, the Mai-Mai arrested 11 of my local chiefs, and I don’t know where they brought them. This is why I escaped. Here I am not alone. Several other chiefs fled like me..

How many displaced people do you estimate there are now?
There is a thousand of families living in the bush without any assistance. Just in my chiefdom there are more than 130,000 people living in the bush. I do not know if it is possible to determine the number of people fleeing to other chiefdoms, villages, because they are fleeing in all directions.

Among these Mai-Mai, there are children of your country, therefore your own children...
They are mainly young people without any education, nor occupation convinced by Gideon to join his group. When they are under the influence of drugs, they can do anything.

Gideon is a son of North Katanga. Why does he make his own brothers suffer?
He is from the Nyembwakunda group. His hometown is Kabala. We do not understand what he wants, nor what he is looking for.


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Boris Johnson tells France — not so eloquently — to prenez un grip

Bertrand Hauger


-Essay-

PARIS — I'll admit it straight away: As a bilingual journalist, the growing use of Franglais by French politicians makes my skin crawl.

Not because I think this blend of French and English is a bad thing in and of itself (it is!), or because the purity of the French language should be preserved at all costs (it should!) — but because in a serious context, it is — at best — a distraction from the substance at hand. And at worst, well …

But in France, where more and more people speak decent English, Anglo-Saxon terms are creeping in everywhere, and increasingly in the mouths of politicians who think they're being cool or smart.

Not that long ago, Emmanuel Macron was dubbed "the Franglais president" after tweeting "La démocratie est le système le plus bottom up de la terre" ...

Oh mon dieu

They call it Frenglish

It is much rarer when the linguistic invasion goes in the other direction, with far fewer English-speaking elected officials, or their electors, knowing more than a couple of words of French. (The few Brits who use it call it Frenglish)

Imagine then my horror last night watching British Prime Minister Boris Johnson berating France over the recent diplomatic clash surrounding the AUKUS submarine deal, cheekily telling UK media from Washington: "I just think it's time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break."

Cringe. Eye roll. Facepalm.
Here's the clip, in case you haven't had your morning cup of awkward.
Grincement de dents. Yeux au ciel. Tête entre les mains.

First, let me offer a quick French lesson: Sorry, BoJo, you needed the "infinitif" form here: "It's time for [us] to prendre un grip about this and me donner un break."

But that, of course (bien sûr), is not the point in this particular moment. Instead, this would-be bon mot is not just sloppy and silly, it is incredibly patronizing, particularly when discussing a multi-billion deal that sparked a deep diplomatic crisis in the Western alliance.

The colorful British politician is, alas, no stranger to verbal miscalculations and linguistic gaffes. He's also (Brexit, anyone?) not necessarily one who cares about preserving relationships with longstanding partners. This time, combining the two, even for such a shameless figure as Mr. Johnson, only one word came to my bilingual brain: Vraiment?

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