The Pandemic Unites Diaspora Africans in Concern for “Mama Africa”

Vital to the prevention and public education of Congolese especially in isolated rural areas will be nurses and doctors of churches.  Here a public health team of t he Disciples of Christ of Congo head to the Tshuapa Region of Equator Province.
Leading the fight against the Ebola epidemic in many hard to access regions of Africa has been public health staff of churches. In the photo a team of evangelists, health educators and nurses of the Disciples of Christ of Congo are on their way to remote villages in Equator Province of the Congo (DRC).

We are thankful that as of now the continent of Africa has not been stricken with the global pandemic of COVID-19 to the degree of other continents.  Instead East Africa has been battling the worst swarming of locusts in years as well as widespread flooding, one of the recurrent effects of the climate crisis across the beleaguered continent.  Rampant, relatively unregulated extraction of Africa’s resources essential for a multitude of high-tech products driving expansion of capitalism’s profits and growth continue to plague Africa like no other region of the world.

Members of the African diaspora in the U.S. unite in concern as Mama Africa faces the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread on the continent. In response to this concern, the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) based in Washington, D.C. helped organize an international prayer gathering the morning of Memorial Day in the U.S.  AFJN has become the leading faith-based organization in the U.S. lobbying for well-informed, compassionate U.S.-Africa relations.  The organization’s staff and board are Catholic lay members and clergy who have studied Africa and worked there.  The Executive Director hails from Nigeria and the chief AFJN policy analyst is Congolese.

The prayer printed here below represents one feature of the world wide commemoration of African Liberation Day on May 25, the date of the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.  While the prayer invokes God’s help in the continent’s response to th e pandemic, Africans abroad hope this crisis will call attention to the need for African unity in the ongoing struggle for liberation of Africa. To this aim, the Coalition for Africa’s Liberation and Restoration (CALAR) was created with the support of the AFJN in the U.S.  Among the Coalition’s leaders is Kambale Musavuli, a U.S.- based activist with Friends of the Congo.

There are three ways readers can now show their solidarity and support for the expansion of global actions on behalf of African unity and liberation. First, you can read and contemplate the petitions made and suggested in the prayer.  Second, you can sign the Declaration of the CALAR coalition of African diasporas at this site:

And third, you can made a monetary contribution to the Africa Faith and Justice Network for its lobbying of the U.S. Congress on Africa policy.  Go here to make a donation:

Africa Renewal: A Prayer of Gratitude, Repentance and Commitment


We give thanks to God our Creator for abundant blessings bestowed on Mama Africa and her children, rich fertile lands, mineral resources, diverse plants and animals, and lush tropical climate. We give thanks for the resourcefulness of Africans, for vibrant cultures and peoples. We thank God for the wisdom of our ancestors who recognized that we are custodians of the earth and the importance of family and unity. Your blessings upon us are too numerous to count.


We ask for forgiveness for our failure to appreciate God’s abundant blessings upon us, to cherish our uniqueness and the distinctive place of Mama Africa in human history; the land of abundance that has sustained most of the world for many millennia and continues to provide vital resources for humanity. Forgive us for rejecting ourselves and the liberators you send to us, our lack of unity, and our contributions to undermining our development. Forgive our leaders for their failures to work for the common good, for mortgaging the heritage of Africans to dishonest exploiters; for embracing policies that cripple Mama Africa and drive her children to perilous ventures in search for greener pastures, drowning in the Mediterranean, trapped in slavery, deprived of their dignity, treated as disposable goods and slaughtered for their organs.


We declare the dawn of a new day as we commit ourselves to work as a united family for a better Mama Africa; to celebrate who we are as a people on the continent and in the Diaspora, to cherish our gifts and talents, and to appreciate the many blessings creation has bestowed on us. We commit to looking within to harness our talents and our abundant resources for the integral development of Mama Africa and her children. We commit to mental decolonization and the eradication of the dependency mindset. Standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, we commit to building a true Pan-African Family where every African man, woman and child feels at home regardless of ethnicity, language, or religion. We commit to deepening our faith in our creator, in our abilities and in each other. We call upon our ancestors to accompany us in this undertaking and may the Spirit of our Creator inspire and guide us. Amen!

Tribute to a Friend

Newly married Thomas with wife Eyenga and sisters after lunching in their home June 1969
Newly married Thomas with wife Eyenga and sisters after lunching in their home June 1969

Before closing this marathon of blogging begun with my return to Congo in June, 2010, I want to pay tribute to a good man I sorely missed seeing on my return.  Rev. Thomas Bosai was the Director of the Youth Department to which I was assigned as a “Fraternal Worker” – now Global Mission Intern – in 1969. Without his trust and friendship so readily offered on my arrival, this blog writing would not have happened.

Back in the mid-1990’s Thomas wrote the last letter I was to receive from him.  He asked if I could help arrange for support of his son to continue his studies in medicine in the States.  Eric had nearly completed his course in medicine at the University in Lubumbashi by then.  In a time of job transition and divorce, co-parenting two primary school daughters, my response was feeble and discouraging.

Now standing out among my memories of the 2010 summer in Congo visit is lunch in the Mbandaka home of son Dr. Eric Bosai and

Dr. Eric, wife Nicole and children with Grandmother Eyenga Bekana
Dr. Eric, wife Nicole and children with Grandmother Eyenga Bekana

family where I was again able to greet Thomas’ widow, Eyenga Bekana.  Eric, now Director of the Disciples hospital/clinic at the old mission post of Monieka, cast no blame in his account of his father’s death.  In his mid 60’s, Thomas was making the long trip by pirogue from the Mbandaka 2003 Disciples’ biannual Asembly when he was hospitalized in Ikela following a severe stroke.  Just before his Eyenga, “Sunday” in English, would arrive from Opala, Thomas died.

Thomas had served the Disciples as a pastor in several settings after his term as Youth Department Director.  Opala, a remote extended village in Orientale Province, was one of the Disciples new posts when Thomas was sent as the “missionary” there. It was the first Disciples post in the province to the east of Equateur. Today there is a growing Disiples presence in Opala, with primary schools and congregations in outlying villages among the fruit of my friend Thomas’ labors.

Those are some of the facts of Thomas’ life but had I been able to give testimony on the occasion of his passing I would have thanked him for taking me under his wing like an older brother in 1969.  In a vastly different culture, with multiple reasons to suspect and distrust this young white man from the States, there was little Thomas did not share with me – about his past, his education in Kinshasa and his joy and hopes in marrying the beautiful, young Ekana. While it was I who had the title of “Counselor” to the Youth Department, Thomas’ earnest advice on maintaining a respected image as a young, single “mondele” male still rings in my ears though it was not entirely heeded.

Rev. Thomas Bosai next to M. Jean Lompala, r., first Ikengo Farm Director
Rev. Thomas Bosai next to M. Jean Lompala, r., first Ikengo Farm Director

Thomas’ propulsive energy and faith quickly persuaded me that the vision of a Disciples farm project at Ikengo would become reality.  I hope that if that Projet Agro-Pastoral d’Ikengo continues to expand, the roles of Disciples President Dr. Paul Elonda in shaping the vision and Rev. Thomas in carrying it out will some day be honored and celebrated by the Disciples Communaute in Congo.  In the meantime, Thomas, this blog’s for you!

How Ikengo Hospitality Saved Henry Morton Stanley

1970 Ikengo villagers with a skinny 23 year old Doug Smith in front of the chicken coop at Disciples' Agricultural Center
1970 Ikengo villagers with a skinny 23 year old Doug Smith in front of the chicken coop at Disciples' Agricultural Center

“The village of Ikengo welcomed me as a son of the village on my return” was the beginning of this blog’s “Return to Ikengo” on July 13, 2010.  In that article I described how I had been joyously welcomed  back by the people of Ikengo 39 years after my last visit.  Only this past week did I learn that the great grandparents of Ikengo villagers had saved from starvation Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame) on the first descent of the Congo River by a non African.

Having fought repeated battles with the aggressive, obstreperous Bangala who controlled the river trade, Stanley threw

Stanley with Kalulu
Stanley with Kalulu, the African boy he “adopted” as his gun bearer and servant. In 1877 Stanley christened the site of the boy’s death on the Congo River Kalulu Falls. It remains one of the few Stanley place-names that has not been changed

himself and his men on the mercy of the people of Ikengo, located twenty five kilometers below Mbandaka.   “Since the 10th of February we have been unable to purchase food or even approach a settlement  for any amicable purpose” Stanley wrote in his February 18, 1877 journal entry quoted in Through the Dark Continent .

In the next day’s entry, the bold adventurer overcomes his fear of the local populace by dwelling on a greater fear, “This morning we regarded each other as fated victims of protracted famine, or the rage of savages, like those of Mangala.  But as we feared famine most, we resolved to confront the natives again.”  Reflecting throughout his account the racism characteristic of 19th century Europe and America, Stanley finds his fears unfounded in meeting the inhabitants of Ikengo and nearby villages.

“We arrived at Ikengo, and as were almost despairing, we proceeded to a small island opposite this settlement and prepared to encamp.  Soon a canoe with seven men came dashing across, and we prepared our moneys for exhibition.  They unhesitatingly advanced and ran their canoe alongside us.”  After Stanley and crew presented gifts and were rendered “rapturously joyful” by this meeting, the explorers and villagers  “proceeded to seal this incipient friendship with our blood with all due ceremony”.

Stanley titles this section of the book, “Among Friends” and sums up his account of the day with the words, “During the whole of this day life was most enjoyable, intercourse unreservedly friendly and though most of the people were armed with guns there was no manifestation of the least desire to be uncivil, rude, or hostile.”  The explorer characterizes the encounter with the Ikengo villagers as an “act of grace”.

How their hospitality was ultimately received and repaid is a woeful fact of Congo’s history.  As the European/American explorer who contributed the most to knowledge of African geography, Stanley also bears responsibility for opening up Congo to the brutal exploitation of King Leopold’s Congo Free State.  So far as we know, Henry Morton Stanley never returned to Ikengo.

2010 Ikengo villagers in the Disciples parish manioc field. Pastor Luc is third from right.
2010 Ikengo villagers in the Disciples parish manioc field. Pastor Luc is third from right.

That the people of Ikengo have continued to welcome visitors from afar in our times with joyous hospitality is an “act of grace”.  That the Congolese as a whole have held to their traditions of welcome after centuries of foreigners’ abuse of their trust is also a matter of grace.  What a gift to us all.

The Real Results of the Congo Election

There are 80 million hectares of arable land in Congo
There are 80 million hectares of arable land in Congo

We are accustomed to reading about the violence on women and children in the eastern Congo but what about the deaths caused daily by the country’s “highest rates of malnutrition in the world”?   Consider these other facts from the IRIN (UN) News article published on February 17:

–      “90 percent: Proportion of arable land not cultivated, largely due to insecurity preventing access to fields and markets.

–      69 percent: Prevalence of under-nutrition in the DRC; up from 26 percent in 1990-92. Under-nutrition includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin (wasted) and deficient in vitamins and minerals (micronutrient malnutrition).

–      Congo’s per capita daily protein intake is almost half the world’s average daily protein consumption.”

You can eliminate over population, ignorance, or any other factor that would point a finger at the rural majority of people in Congo.  According to the IRIN article, there has been a 544 drop in daily calories consumed per capita comparing 1992 and 2007 (2,195 kcal and 1,651 kcal, respectively).  Acute malnutrition caused by a “sudden, drastic decline in nutrition intake” is now experienced by over 10 per cent of the population in 53 of the Congo’s 87 “territories”.  The decline in food production and food intake since 1992 points to the state administration as impeding Congolese trying to grow their own food.

The primary factor behind children’s deaths and low life expectancy in Congo is the succession of

Civil Society is Weakened and Repressed in Congo; here a priest is arrested last week in Kinshasa
Civil Society is repressed and weakened in Congo; here a priest is arrested last week in Kinshasa

predatory regimes beholden to foreigners intent on exploiting the riches of the country. As the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Kinshasa Frederic Etsou declared just after Joseph Kabila’s first election in 2006, “,  “I say no to this exercise in imposing on the Congolese people a candidate whose sole mandate is to satisfy the gluttonous and predatory appetites of his foreign handlers”.  Until international donor nations withhold support for ruling administrations who directly and indirectly war on their own people, thousands of children in Congo will succumb to malnutrition before reaching the age of five.

In a powerful recent article from the Guardian Global Development Network (London) journalist Chris Bird describes one South Kivu family’s ordeal in a pediatric hospital.  Bird writes, “I quickly felt the child’s feet – icy cold. A careful look at Beatrice showed that all the curves and dimples of a healthy child’s face had shrunk, leaving the forbidding lines of a woodblock print. Beatrice was alert, but silent, which formed an ominous void amid the rheumy eyes that grew dimmer as she seemed to fall into it.

The nursing staff went into action. They gave her glucose to prevent low blood sugar, antibiotics through the drip to fight off infection; they advised her mother to keep her warm, as hypothermia takes the lives of many of these children at night. Careful fluid management and gentle refeeding was started: give too little and the child will succumb to dehydration and shock; too much and the child will die of heart failure.”

But Beatrice’s treatments began too late and Bird describes the parents reaction: “Beatrice’s mother sobbed as we wrapped her daughter in the green cotton cloth in which she was brought. Her father lifted her easily in his arms and left the hospital, his face immobile. Her mother walked, crying, behind him, stopping on the dirt road from time to time as she doubled up in grief. An elderly man going the other way, a Red Cross armband on his left arm, dismounted his bicycle and gave a formal salute to the family as they walked past.”

In an attempt to come to grips with what lies behind the death of Beatrice and countless childen in Congo today, Bird concludes, “Where I am in the east it is green and lush, but after years of war, insecurity and economic collapse, all the children in our tent are malnourished to some degree. It is this underlying weakness that determines how children respond to the infectious diseases that claim their lives with unrelenting regularity.”

While in Mbandaka, Equator Province, far from the fighting in the East, in the summer of 2010,  I asked my cook Papa Jean what happened to his brood of fifty plus chickens.  “They were all taken by the soldiers” he explained.  The Congolese army deployed to protect the citizens of the city of half million plus inhabitants had rioted three times in the years just prior to my Mbandaka stay.  The soldiers had not been paid because their commanders had pocketed the Army’s funding. Is this the kind of security for Congo we want to help provide with our $900 milllion in U.S. aid this year?

To read Chris Bird’s article “The Silent Cost of Child Malnutrition” go to:

Palm Oil May Drive Congo’s Economic Growth

Backyard Processing of Palm Oil by an Ikengo Household
Backyard Processing of Palm Oil by an Ikengo Household

The largest fruit crop in the world today is not oranges, pineapple or apples.  It’s palm kernels with production worldwide about double the tonnage of the second leading fruit crop.  While Palmolive soap may be the best known palm oil product in our households, most of the average American’s consumption of palm oil is in the form of margarine and shortening these days.

In the 1960’s the second largest producer of palm oil in the word was the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Today, the Congo’s production of palm oil doesn’t even rank in the top ten worldwide.  From the mid 1970’s corporate owned plantations were looted by cohorts of the Mobutu regime and production continued to decline until recent years. An Indian company took over the Unilever (Palmolive soap) processing plants in Congo and now buys from villagers “who bring us oil after traveling weeks from deep in the bush” according to the company’s Indian chief executive.

Counting on leading the revival of the Congo palm oil industry is a Chinese company with plans to cultivate 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of palm trees in Equateur, Bandundu and West Kasai provinces.  But the Chinese company’s aim is not to market the palm oil for food products: 90 % will go directly for biodiesel replacing petroleum in Congo and elsewhere.

With Africa’s largest expanse of non forest arable land, only 4.7 % of which is now u nder cultivation, Congo’s palm oil and general agricultural potential is tremendous.  An agency of the European Union  devoted to alternative energy projects in Africa cites

Will Palm Oil replace petroleum in powering Congo's vehicles - and ours - some day?
Will Palm Oil replace petroleum in powering Congo's vehicles - and ours - some day?

Congo’s potential to supply all of Central Africa with food, fuel and fiber and to supply one tenth of the world’s bioenergy demand in 2030 “without endangering the rain forests or the food security of its people”.

From Coffee to Corn to Palm Oil

For the rebirth of the Disciples' coffee plantation, Rev. Regine Boole, unloads supplies
For the rebirth of the Disciples' coffee plantation, Rev. Regine Boole, unloads supplies

Even the remote Tshuapa district of the Equateur Province is not immune to the effects of the pricing of agricultural products in the global economy.  In 1970 I visited the Disciples coffee plantation in the Bokungu area of the Tshuapa.  By the late 1990’s the plantation had been abandoned as coffee prices began their fall to unprecedented lows.  The restoration of Vietnamese coffee plantations after the Vietnam War contributed to an over supply of coffee and the drop in prices.  Farmers from Nicaragua to Congo couldn’t afford to grow coffee any longer.

Today, the need for increased food supplies and the leadership of a dynamic recently ordained woman minister have led to the recovery of the Disciples Bokungu plantation.  The only female theology graduate to serve a rural parish, Revde. Regine Boole, has helped the parish of Lotakemela organize a team of 15 workers to clear the overgrown fields and begin new plantings.  The team is assisted by Revde. Boole’s husband and plans an initial planting of 5 hectares of corn.

Profits from the sale of an estimated 5 tons of corn will, it is projected, enable purchase

The main boiler at the Wendji Secli Palm Oil Plantation abandoned in the 1970's
The main boiler at the Wendji Secli Palm Oil Plantation abandoned in the 1970's

of supplies for the cultivation of the remaining 20 hectares and rebirth of the initial project as a palm oil plantation.  Expanding use of palm oil as a fuel alternative to petroleum means this crop, so widely grown in Equateur in the past, now promises price increases and viable profits for visionary growers.

In addition to the Bokungu plantation, the post of Boyeka has already begun planting of palm trees for oil production.  As used palm oil can be processed for fuel, “oil palm planting and palm oil consumption

Housing at the Wendji Secli plantation occupied by former employees and/or descendants
Housing at the Wendji Secli plantation occupied by former employees and/or descendants

circumvents the food vs. fuel debate because it has the capacity to fulfill both demands simultaneously” in the words of Wikpedia.  It does not, however respond to the concern stemming from deforestation wrought by vast palm oil plantations as in Malaysia and Indonesia.  What the effects of the demand for palm oil will be on the Congolese rain forest remains to be seen.

Congo Children Galllery

Will these children of Congo have the opportunity to vote in a free and fair election in a truly democratic Congo? Will their children benefit from a free public education offered at the primary level in many African countries today?  Will roads be maintained, water and power services function, and hospital pharmacies be stocked? Will these children live to see their children grow to mature adulthood? So much depends on the Congo gaining control of its vast storehouse of natural resources that to date has plagued most Congolese rather than blessed them.

It seems clear that until the population has the opportunity to elect leaders committed to ensuring that all Congolese benefit from the country’s wealth, the foreign corporations now extracting the resources will continue to do so to the loss and detriment of the population. U.S. based companies are not solely responsible for the looting taking place in Congo today. An international free for all pillages Congo today.

The resolution of support for fair trade in Congo minerals recently passed at the Disciples and United Church of Christ national conferences may be a sign that we in the U.S. are ready to support progress toward a free and truly independent Congo. It may be a sign that we will be informed and ready to side with these children when they stand up and demand control over the vast riches of their sub soil and their forests.

A Call for Solidarity With Congo

Paying her children's primary school fees is made possible by her bread sales at the Ikengo Saturday Market
Paying her children's primary school fees is made possible by her bread sales at the Ikengo Saturday Market

“You may consider your vote for this resolution as an expression of solidarity with the mother  who walks 50 miles each week to buy the flour to make bread she sells every Saturday at the Ikengo market to pay her children’s school fees.  Vote yes and then prepare to remember Congo with your congregation during Congo week the third week of October this year.” 

 These words concluded my statement of support for the following resolution passed with no opposition at the Disciples’ General Assembly in Nashville this week. We pray that this resolution, our commemoration of Congo Week each year and our advocacy on behalf of trade for Congo resources that truly benefits the Congolese people will assure Congolese who would stand for political and social change of our concern, our support and our solidarity. May this resolution be followed by many other acts declaring  “we are with you” to the people of Congo who have dug the coltan, the diamonds, the copper, the uranium, the cobalt and other metals and minerals that have been essential to the program, our weapons systems, and more recently have become essential components of our household electronics and cell phone equipment.


NO. 1117




WHEREAS, the mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) declares its

passion for justice grounded in Micah 6:8 as declared in our vision statement: “to

be a faithful, growing church that demonstrates true community, deep Christian

spirituality and a passion for justice.”

WHEREAS, in Matthew 25:40 Jesus teaches moral responsibility in the reign of

God is strongest for those most in need, saying “just as you did it to one of the

least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”; and

WHEREAS, throughout the past two centuries, for the Christian Church (Disciples

of Christ), global presence and witness have been a gift of God’s mission through

the church; and

WHEREAS, our international commerce and public affairs should be governed

by an obligation to ensure the common good, and to resist policies and practices

that do injustice and violence to others; and

WHEREAS, Global Ministries has encouraged congregations to recognize “Congo

Week,” (an initiative created by Friends of the Congo) the third week in October, in

their respective annual worship calendars as a week of commemoration for the

millions of victims of the scramble for Congo’s resources and a stand for justice in

solidarity with the people of the Congo; and

WHEREAS, the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC), in what today

is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire, was

founded in 1889 and has been related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

in the U.S. and Canada since its inception; and

WHEREAS, the 62 protestant denominations united under the ecumenical

umbrella of the Church of Christ in the Congo have consistently decried the brutal

and unmitigated exploitation of the Congo’s immense mineral resources; and

WHEREAS, since the advent of Congolese independence on June 30, 1960, the

continued greed of global corporations for precious and strategic raw materials

from the Congo and failure of the international community to respond to the

documented human rights abuses of Congolese victims has contributed to the

failure of the Congo state;i and

WHEREAS, the series of invasions of the Congo by proxy states Rwanda and

Uganda that commenced in 1996 have facilitated unfettered access to Congolese

natural resources by international corporations and their collaborators in the

Congo; have not only undermined democratic advancements, but have also cost

the lives of an estimated 6,000,000 Congolese; have subjected up to a half million

Congolese women and girls to rape, including sexual mutilation by multiple armies

from Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi; and have increased dramatically the

incidence for HIV/AIDS among women and girls, thus creating a health time bomb

with dire consequences for the Congo; and

WHEREAS, an estimated 45,000 Congolese reportedly perish monthly in Eastern

Congo as a direct or indirect result of the militarization of mines by elite networks of

militia supported by business interests in the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and the

industrialized world, at the detriment of Congolese socio-economic development

and liberation; and

WHEREAS, these criminal behaviors are orchestrated and maintained by those

seeking to profit from unfettered access to Congolese strategic natural resources

(notably coltan, cobalt, tungsten, cassiterite, in addition to diamonds, gold, copper,

uranium, oil, timber), in order to benefit mostly private wealth in industrialized

nations, yet subjugating the Congolese people, despite the wealth of their natural

resources, to poverty, suffering, slave labor, and human trafficking;ii and

WHEREAS, the response of the international community, including the United

Nations, has demonstrated a double standard in the application of international

justice because of financial greed and disregard for the value of Congolese

people;iii and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian

Church (Disciples of Christ), meeting in Nashville, TN July 9-13, 2011 encourages

all expressions of the church to pray, reflect, educate and advocate on behalf of

sisters and brothers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that our church encourage the development of

legislation such as the Conflict Minerals Law 20101 approved by the U.S. Congress

and the Trade in Conflict Minerals Act introduced to the Canadian Parliament in

2010 requiring manufacturers to trace the source of minerals used in the

production of consumer electronics for the purpose of developing a conflict-free

mineral supply chain and more ethical mining practices, most particularly in the

Democratic Republic of Congo; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that individuals and ministries of the church choose

products that are labeled “DRC conflict free” when purchasing electronic products,

once such labeling begins2; and

1 The current law, generally referred to as the “Conflict Minerals Law”, was included as Section 1502 of

the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed by the US Senate on May 20,

2010 and signed by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010.

2 The current legislation is expected to take effect in 2012.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Global Ministries continue to identify

resources for all expressions of the church on the matter of the exploitation of

people in the extraction of the mineral wealth of the Congo; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that all expressions of the church work with Global

Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of

Christ to carry out advocacy and education across the globe for the Congo.

Division of Overseas Ministries

[A resolution of the Common Global Ministries Board, through the Division of Overseas

Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to the General Assembly in 2011. A

similar resolution has been submitted to the General Synod of the United Church of Christ

in 2011.]

Return to Another Home

Eqeuateur Province's Governor walks back to his seat after amusing the villagers who have offered him gifts on the occasion.  Leaders of the Province's Protestant denominations of the united Church of Christ of Congo also participated in the dedication
May 1971 Equateur Province's Governor walks back to his seat after amusing the villagers who have offered him gifts at the Ikengo farm project dormitory dedication. Leaders of the Province's Protestant denominations of the United Church of Christ of Congo also participated in the dedication

In 1971 hopes were high in Congo that prosperity for the new nation, so rich in natural resources, was just around the corner.  Optimism among the people was fueled by the change in the foreign presence in the country:  Americans, representing U.S. based corporations, a large U.S. diplomatic and military advisor corps, and the Peace Corps, had replaced the Belgian colonialists, and the Congolese saw us Americans as true, worthy friends.

By the end of the 1970’s those hopes in American investment, foreign aid and support for the new nation were fast eroding with the increasingly brutal repression of the Mobutu dictatorship. By the beginning of the 1990’s, there was good reason for Congolese to believe that their new American friends had betrayed and turned their backs on them.

A new era for Congo was struggling to be born when I returned in 2010.  Thanks to the presence of nearly 20,000 U.N. troops and increased international pressure on the Kabila administration, a new constitution called for a presidential election in 2011 and again some dared to believe that the post independence years of dysfunctional, corrupt and brutal rule might come to an end in Congo.

But for me it was the reconnecting of  U.S. Disciples with the Disciples community in Congo, leaders in the creation of the Church of Christ of Congo, that led me to return after forty years to Mbandaka.  Since the rioting of Mobutu’s troops in 1991 led to the evacuation of most foreigners, no American Disciple has served as a missionary in Congo.  And until the naming of former Congo missionary Sandra Gourdet as U.S. Disciples Africa Executive and the election of Rev. Sharon Watkins, who served for three years in Congo, as President of U.S. Disciples, ties with our Congolese long time friends had weakened.

This context added to my thrill in returning to Ikengo on June 19, 2010 and seeing the dormitory we dedicated to house the staff of Director and ten young men in training at the Disciples farm project.  Two videos have been posted on You Tube that take up the story from here. The first, titled “Return to Ikengo”, shows our arrival by pirogue and the second records the villagers singing on the shore to welcome us.  You may catch a glimpse of one of the soldiers making up the small Congolese Army outpost at the farm’s port. He was and is a reminder that for Congo to realize those hopes held so widely and fervently in 1970, much remains to be done.

See the videos:

I spent a couple of nights in the Centrer AgroPastorale d'Ikengo dormitory  last summer.
I spent a couple of nights in the Centrer AgroPastorale d'Ikengo dormitory last summer.

New Drumming on the Tshuapa River


Ceremony of Ordination of Rev. BOOLA

The Congo Disciples blog (read it in French at ) notes that women in the pastorate have brought gender role changes in aspects of the traditional culture as well as in the life of the church. Rev. Regine BOOLA of Bokungu, drumming in the picture above, and Rev. Suzanne INGOY of Boende were ordained last month in their home parishes with the Disciples President Rev. Eliki BONANGA presiding.

 Blog editor Nathan Weteto wrote this week: “according to tradition, only men can sound the “Lokolé, an instrument formerly used for communicating between villages (such as the telephone today)”.  Weteto tells us that churches in Congo have in recent years adopted use of the lokole.  And so an increasing number of women like Revde. BOOLA, “play the Lokolé as pastors in their parishes to call the faithful to worship”.

It is also cause for celebration during this special week that the photos accompanying this blog were received the day after they were shot in a remote area of the Congo.  I was astonished last Monday on seeing that Weteto was able to post them to his blog

Palm Sunday Yalusaka Parishoners Greet the Visiting Pastors After Worship

following the Palm Sunday worship at Yalusaka, by his estimate some 1000 kms. from Mbandaka.  The remote village is in the Mondombe Disciples’ post region, one of several posts on the Tshuapa River. All the Disciple posts along the Tshuapa have been pillaged and terrorized by successive waves of rebel armies using the River to make their way from eastern Congo to Kinshasa.

 The rebel looting has accentuated the importance and the difficulty of the Disciple posts’ providing the only medical and the only education services, both primary and secondary schools, for the people living along the Tshuapa. Surely Rev. BOOLA and Rev. INGOY’s ordination in two posts of the area promise an even stronger response to the church’s call to the local population to build more schools, clinics and hospitals.

Footnote to this posting:  Dr. Gene Johson, translator of the Weteto blog postings and responsible for Disciple medical services in the Tshuapa region for several years in the 1960’s and 70’s, informed me that Bokungu, nearest Disciple “poste” to Mondombe, has a cell phone tower and therefore may well offer internet service also.