Indeed dear EAC, you are welcome to DR Congo

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

The DRC had adopted Kiswahili as one of the official and national languages. The Congolese armed forces also adopted Kiswahili (in addition to Lingala) as one of the two languages of instruction.

We have learnt that the Democratic Republic of Congo was admitted into the East African Community (EAC). I join other Ugandans (and other East Africans) who have expressed support for this.

In mid-2020, under the headline, ‘At last, Mr Museveni realises Uganda needs the DR Congo’ I wrote this: “...in what could be described as a master class regional diplomatic coup, Mr Yoweri Museveni is said to be secretly cooking a new relationship with the government of the DR Congo. The new entente cordiale will be based on the need for security and driven by economic interests. This is a clear radical policy shift from the belligerent and big-boy-bully attitude Uganda (and Rwanda) has hitherto posted against the DR Congo. Although the international community seems to have been taken unawares by Mr Museveni’s master stroke of a diplomatic act, they seem to endorse it (at least according to a European diplomat who talked to me on the matter).

Uganda is looking at the trade opportunities the rather virgin market eastern DR Congo offers. To pursue this, Uganda could in the immediate term build the Mpondwe-Beni-Butembo Road and later Bunagana-Goma Road.

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On Friday March 25, my editor called me. I always keep ‘radio silence’ when I am in the DRC. But this one was my editor; so, I had to respond to her call. She wanted to know something about palm oil from the DRC. Without much ado, I promised to bring her a kibulubulu  (Rwenzori Mineral Water 1.5 litre bottle) of engasi (palm oil) from the DRC.

In Kiburara, more than half the population is always tagged Congolese. In fact, the first university graduate from Kiburara (whose family settled in Kiburara in the early 1970s) was one of those we always tag as Congolese. His elder brother is now running what the locals call a Muule (a cottage palm oil processing plant). So, I am torn between buying my editor’s kibulubulu of engasi in Beni (DRC) or Kiburara (Uganda).

The people have always been one because their interests are the same: social progress and security. It is the governments that hide behind the boundaries and proclaim sovereignty. So, for us the people, the governments are just ‘plagiarising’ our ideas of unity of purpose.  By the way, this ‘Ugandan of Congolese’ origin (first Kiburara university graduate) worked in Uganda’s Foreign Service, Judiciary and retired as a senior official in the Ministry of Local Government. He now lives in near-anonymity in Kiburara.

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A friend sent me a WhatsApp message congratulating me on the DR Congo’s admission into the East African Community bloc. I laughed hard and then responded as calmly as I could manage: my brother, it is the East African Community which has been admitted into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We the Congolese are 2,345, 409 square km while the six-nation East African Community is 2.5 square km. save for the Republic of Malawi, the entire western border of the East African Community is covered by the DR Congo. The communities bordering the western border of the East African Community use Kiswahili as their inter-community lingua franca.

The DRC had adopted Kiswahili as one of the official and national languages. The Congolese armed forces also adopted Kiswahili (in addition to Lingala) as one of the two languages of instruction.

So, the country had prepared for the East African Community to come home. If it must be revealed, the first governor of Eastern Belgian Congo (as DR Congo then was) was Hamad Ibn Mohammad (the famous or infamous Tippu Tib). He was an East African.

Alor… East Africans, toyambi yo na mboka (we welcome you to our country).

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]

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