I am sad for my First Lady


The world women’s march, a show of solidarity among women of different parts of the world arrived on October 13, 2010 in the town of Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

If the first day cowered under several official speeches, all flattering the Congolese people and their resilience during one of the longest conflicts in the world, the most unexpected one was the first lady’s speech.

Indeed, after the male governor of the province was able to say that women in the Congo were not the only ones raped but also queens in their homes, princesses in their schools, it is Olive Lembe Kabila, the first lady who destroyed within less than five minutes, all the effort of women from 48 different countries who had come to celebrate the courage and resilience of Congolese women.

After reading a speech (most probably written by one of her advisers), Olive decided to speak from her heart, and did so in the worst possible way.
While we were regarding the real crimes women have been and continue to be face in DR Congo, it came out as utter nonsense for her to return to a claim more than 10 years old.

Her claims insinuated that rebels (mostly those coming from the bullying Rwanda) were the ones who violated these women. Without really saying it, her speech offered a denial that the DRCongo army was also part of the problem.

She also denies that DR Congo is the rape capital of the world: but statistics do not lie, as Margot Wallstrom, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict can attest.

As if this was not enough, Olive questioned the meaning of solidarity amongst all the women, sharing in an official ceremony what we call ‘buttock’ affairs.

In fact, she posed, are women really supportive of each other when they steal from their friends their most valuable asset: their husbands?

The women who usually follow her everywhere applauded, but for those who reached into their pockets to pay for their tickets to attend this event, I could see sadness in their eyes.

For those who took days off from work, left their children behind, braved the fear of travelling to a country in conflict, it was a stab in the heart.

I am sad to have as First Lady, a woman who trivializes the most cruel and brutal types of violence on the face of the planet.

(Francoise Mukuku is a human righst activist based in the DR Congo).

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