Congo Crisis Group says 25 million facing starvation

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Seven million Congolese are being displaced by outsiders Rwanda and Uganda and by militias that have risen inside the DRC. (Photos: Courtesy of Jonathan Weaver and the Congo Crisis Group)



With so much continuing tragedy, death, and turmoil, some Congolese professionals look back on the Mobutu years of dictatorship with nostalgia.

While they insist that life under Mobutu was no bed of roses for the people of the Congo, they say that at least the average farmer or villager was able to grow enough crops to feed themselves and to sell some of their surplus farm items in the village market to buy other household needs. The agricultural expert identified above as “Guardian Angel” says that after  Laurent Kabila seized power from Mobutu, with the help of the Tutsis, she lost innumerable members of her extended family to murder, rape, and brutal beatings.

“Because of this,” she says, “no matter how corrupt Mobutu was, people who have suffered these atrocities wish he were still alive and leading. Why? Because poverty is better than lack of peace. Under Mobutu we were poor but we had at least one meal a day eating what we produced. We sold the extra to get cash to buy what we did not produce.

“It is depressing to see people being killed like flies and their bodies left to rot or be eaten by animals,” she said. “What kind of heart do leaders of international agencies have?”

Another mind yearning for the relative peace and self-sufficiency of the Mobutu era is Leontine Mafuta-Boyd, women’s business developer and spouse of Congo Crisis Group organizer DeWayne Boyd. She is the founder-president of COOPAGEL, the DRC’s biggest women-run agricultural cooperative. Mafuta-Boyd’s mother was the secretary of Zaire’s First Lady, the wife of Mobutu. 

“It was not because of that, that my mother was secretary to the First Lady of Zaire,” she said. “We were like the middle class people. But now there is no middle class. There are just a few people who are rich. Now, maybe one million people who are rich. But I don’t even call them rich because it’s the people who are in power that have the real money. Other than that, if you’re not in politics, you don’t have anything. But in the time of Mobutu, we had one political party called the MPR (the Popular Revolutionary Movement). He was a dictator, yes, but the Congo was very well appreciated, and Mobutu brought pride to the Congo. Whenever we traveled abroad, people could recognize the Zairois, as we were from Zaire. They recognized us because Mobutu had put his mark on the nation. And Mobutu made sure the country was never divided like we are now. Now, it’s trouble. It’s really like just one province has all the benefits, but in the other provinces, if you’re not from that special province or you are not close to power, you don’t have anything. There’s no middle class. There’s just a number of Lebanese and Chinese who are rich, but Congolese, nope.”

Mafuta-Boyd recalled the great burst of pride and the common national identity that the Ali-George Forman “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight fight brought to Zaire/Congo in 1974. She was a child of six when the spectacle happened.

“Today, in my opinion, so far as politics go,” she said, “this is the worst of times for the people of the Congo.”

She says that the current president’s father, the minister of justice in 1961, had said, “yes, let’s kill this guy.’ He signed the death certificate of Patrice Lumumba, she says. 

“Mobutu was not a passive type of guy,” she says. “He was very clever. I don’t know what actually happened. But he wanted the power. And he got the power with the help of the western nations. He helped to betray Lumumba. But still, even though he did that, the country was united. The country was united and it never saw the chaos that is going on right now.”

A very  young Mafuta-Boyd was aware of the momentous occasion of Ali’s presence.

“Everybody was happy, because when they learned that it was Muhammad Ali and Foreman, he made Zaire look so good. And everybody was excited. I remember every time we look back on the documentary of the fight, that was a huge, huge success for Mobutu and his people.”

DeWayne Boyd says that a “Rumble in the Jungle III” is in the planning stages now. Thomas Hearns’ former trainer is leading the way in getting the newest version of the fight to happen, Boyd said. 

Leontine Boyd just recently has been awash in several world-class events. She was, for instance, an honored speaker at the UN in commemoration of International Women’s Day. 

“In the Congo,” she says, “I’m working with women in agriculture. I’ve an organization called COOPAGEL that I started it when I was much younger. I plan to follow and support the women in their production and marketing of their goods. That’s what my objectives are.”

She operates out of both the Congo and the U.S. She lives in Detroit at present. 

“What I saw when I went back to DRC for the first time in two-and-a-half years,” she said, “the place was in chaos. It was not only in the east of Congo, although the east was the worst part. Now, it’s already in the north and everywhere else. All the people who are fleeing from those crises are coming into Kinshasa. It was chaos, chaos right now.”

Food and medicine are in very limited supply, she added. “People were asking me if I had brought macaroni to sell. They were desperate for food. Macaroni. The things we didn’t used to eat when were small, but now people are rushing for it because it sells at less cost. It is not as expensive as the foods we are used to growing and selling.” 


An often unheralded class of warrior women has been developing since the days of the murder of Patrice Lumumba. Women in tribes scattered across the Congo are following in their fathers’ and brothers’ footsteps and are joining militias to protect themselves and the nation’s interests in their regions.

The national government has begun sending professional training officers to the various locations and is pushing these women to the point of becoming top notch soldiers and officers. The regular army will allow mothers with several children to join the ranks. The pride of such acceptance shows through brilliantly in the YouTube videos “Women of Congo Defy Convention”(“Women of Congo Defy Convention” – Search Videos ( and “Congo’s Women Warriors: Troops Fighting for Freedom.”(“Congo’s women warriors: troops fighting for freedom.” – Search (

Leontine Boyd and the daughter of organizer Jacques Miango were also featured speakers before the United Nations in March in commemoration of International Women’s Day.” 

Guardian Angel predicts that a profound change will soon come to displace the disorder, growing famine-like conditions, and deadly warfare that is current in the DRC. 

“End the war in the Congo and the tables will be turned,” she said. “But how to end it? Westerners don’t want it ended.”

“The same westerners did not want to end South African apartheid, slavery, and colonization,” Boyd said. “But we, the people, wanted it and we got it. Yesterday, we had no representation in the diaspora, but today our diaspora can play an important role within the host countries. We can win this battle if we decide to fight in synergy.”

Guardian Angel calls for a year of sacrifice and service that directly contributes to quelling the war and hostility that keeps sweeping across certain African states. 

“I think those of us in the diaspora can make a difference. If we give one year of volunteer service to get agriculture back on track in the DRC, we will end starvation.”


Press releases from 8-term Black Congressman Andre Carson of Indianapolis introduced House Resolution 991 on Feb. 1, condemning violence in DRC, and suggesting possible acts of genocide against Congolese Hutus and some M23 collaborators as the victims of hate crimes, Boyd’s group contends. 

“Congressman Carson knows that Trump may be elected President,” says Guardian Angel. He also knows that Trump is not a fan of (Rwanda’s) Kagame or (Uganda’s) Museveni.” Getting inside Trump’s head with propaganda against the patriotic Congolese and in favor of the two invading states, Rwanda and Uganda, will make it easier to get Trump’s support against the Congolese and so much the better, she reasons. 

“For me this resolution is garbage,” she said. “Rwanda knows it is losing the war in Congo. The only way to get sympathy from the West is to bring up the word ‘genocide’. It has worked for them for 30 years now. Congressman Carson must have been approached by the Tutsi leaders here in the U.S. That’s my take on this resolution.

“The alibi of Rwanda Tutsis protecting the Banyamulenge did not start today,” she said. “With over 250 tribes in Congo, why is it always the Banyamulenge crying wolf? And if they are Congolese, why do they side with Rwanda to kill their Congolese country mates? The only reason is that they are a Rwandan occupation force. There is no ‘Banyamulenge’ tribe on the list of Congolese tribes. 

“Rwanda may be preparing to slaughter more of its citizens to call for a second genocide,” she continued. “They are having men dig deep holes. They did this when they were preparing for the first genocide.

“The word ‘genocide’ works to get people to do what the villains want. After President Bill Clinton watched the genocide happen in Rwanda and did nothing because of the alliance with Kagame, he put the burden on all the U.S. citizens. And now when Americans hear genocide, they don’t take the time to find out the truth. They just take it as they are told. That’s what is happening with DRC and the international community.

“The resolution (HR 991) says that protection should be for all the people in North and South. Do members of Congress follow the news? M23 is Rwandan. How can he (Carson) ignore the atrocities committed by Rwanda?” 


Based on the inaccurate presumptions included in Carson’s resolution, the U.S. has been giving asylum papers to people from Rwanda, who falsely claim to be Congolese. Some of these allegedly “fake” Rwandans have been asked to name the village in Congo they came from but can’t, the Guardian Angel says.

“The U.S. strategic interest is the key,” she says. “It is the minerals. and they are using these Rwandans as their alibi. Some members of Congress benefit from the DRC minerals. Carson may be one of them.”

“Rwanda, it seems, is far more sophisticated in terms of lobbying for their interests in Washington than DRC,” said Boyd. “What I myself find most disturbing about Carson’s one-sided resolution outside of the fact that DRC had no input in its drafting, is that one of the co-sponsors is Congressman Shri Thanedar of Detroit, who replaced my former boss, the late Congressman John Conyers, Jr. 

“I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that after a fine-toothed comb scrutiny of this bill, Congressman Conyers would never have co-sponsored Carson’s resolution.”


“I am so disappointed in the leadership of the Catholic Church in DRC,” Guardian Angel said. “I am a cradle Catholic and will always be a Catholic. Can’t these leaders see the misery of the people around them? How many Congolese have to die before the church stops this nonsense killing machine? All those leaders, regardless of their position, should be sent to the Vatican so Pope Francis can give them a job there.

Jacques Miango, activist and organizer has interacted with key political figures inside and outside the DRC. He works with the Global Congolese Diaspora Network and retains close relationships with members of the civil society in DRC. 

“We have good contacts in East Congo going back to 2010,” he said. “We sent a lady there to treat people. She is both an evangelist and activist based in USA.

“The bottom line of the problem is that we have to know exactly where the problem lies. The idea of the tragedy in the Eastern Congo. It’s not something that just started today. If we plan by starting from here and for us to solve it, we have to go to the root, instead of trying to treat the consequence of the problem. We have to solve it from the root.”

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Congo Crisis Group says 25 million facing starvation

By Earnest McBride
April 1, 2024