Category Archives: Congo

Pressing on with Tragedy Tourism

If the loss of one life is a tragedy, then what are we to make of the deaths of thirty-three people, all in the prime of their lives or at the top of their fields? Lost is the wisdom of a Holocaust survivor, the potentially life changing breakthroughs of biomechanical researcher, and the thousands of accomplishments that would have had a far reaching impact, if only a couple of dozen college students were not at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In an era of 24 hour news channels, the media has a lot of time they need to fill. If they can find a way to say “Nappy headed hos” every ten minutes for a week, then they will inevitably find a way to discuss the shootings at Virginia Tech for much longer, and they should. The media has an obligation to inform the rest of us what is going on in the world. Like a good story teller, they should do this in an engaging way that provides us with the information we need to know what happened, or at the very least, enough pieces of information to explain what happened to ourselves.

The media also has an obligation to not be the story and instead to be a vehicle through which the story can be told. However, once Oprah arrives, this can no longer be the case. By now every television station in the country has arrived on the Virginia Tech campus, including stations that have difficulty covering local news in a respectable manner. Talking heads have taken it upon themselves to prove that hind sight is 20/20, while pseudo-anchors have taken it upon themselves to put words into the mouths of young people still trying to comprehend what will hopefully be the worst thing they every experience. Meanwhile Meredith Viara is doing all she can to turn herself into a victim, letting the world know just how difficult it is to be a journalist on the scene of a tragedy. While it may be difficult, it is certainly no more difficult than losing a friend or family member, your sense of well being, or what innocence you may have had left.

This is media frenzy is nothing new, and unfortunately is not going anywhere. The predictable patter of covering the story, trying to create more stories, and covering the media will play out again and again until something changes. As I said earlier, I have no problem with the media covering this story, but I do wonder where this media frenzy has been when it could have made a difference. The events at Virginia Tech are horrible, but they are over. Across the world thousands of people die every day of preventable diseases, a genocide rages half a world away, and in our own back yard people sleep under bridges because they have no where to go. Millions died in The Congo, and the media didn’t notice. Thousands are dieing in Darfur, but where are the reporters on the ground? Over 8,000 people died each day during the Rwandan genocide. Eight thousand people each day for more than three months. Where were the talking heads and Oprah and pseudoanchors then? Where are they now? The problem may not be the 24 hour new cycle; it may be what we consider news.


Picture of the Week

Congolese elder Buhendwa Cibugiri, 88, displays his voter card as he waits his turn to vote outside a polling station in Chombo village, 35 km (21 miles) north of Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo July 30, 2006. Millions of Congolese flocked to vote in their first free elections in four decades, hoping to end years of war, corruption and chaos that have brought the mineral-rich African giant to its knees. REUTERS/Euan Denholm (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)


What makes hope for peace in one region reasonable while hope for peace in another region seems naive? With elections completed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and fighting continues without end between Lebanon and Israel, it seems that a small step in the right direction is all one needs to maintain reasonable hope.

After 40 years without a democratic election the DR Congo faces the precarious task of accepting election results with 32 candidates. This is a feat that Mexico recently proved to be difficult among four candidates, and the United States has had problems with only three. Yet the election itself was remarkably uneventful. Candidates have stated they would follow ‘democratic means’ if they were unhappy with results and spokespersons for the country are ‘cautiously optimistic’. There is hope for peaceful democracy in the DR Congo.

On the other hand, Israel cannot follow through with a 48 hour promise. Weeks of continued fighting is expected. How many people think peace is unattainable? How many more children must die while others lose hope? If Israel can make one step in the right direction we might have reason for hope.

Hope builds upon hope. One move towards peace creates an expectation for peace. Nobody knows how the elections will end in the DR Congo, but perhaps their efforts to maintain peace will inspire much need hope around the world.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

Last Week in the Rest of the World

The better late than never edition….


Sandinista Aims for Comeback in Nicaragua

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Sixteen years after voters swept Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega from Nicaragua’s presidency, the former Marxist icon appears to have his best chance yet for a comeback in elections scheduled for Nov. 5.


Kosovo bids for independence face-to-face with Serbs
VIENNA (Reuters) – Kosovo formally made its pitch for independence face-to-face with Serbia on Monday at their first top-level talks since NATO bombs drove Serb forces from the province in 1999.


Chavez-Belarus ‘pact against U.S.

MINSK, Belarus (Reuters) — Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday he had forged a strategic alliance to stand up to U.S. imperialism with fellow maverick Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.


Venezuela’s Chavez to sign Russia arms deal

MOSCOW, Russian (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his oil-rich nation will sign major arms deals in Moscow to acquire Russian fighter jets and produce Kalashnikov assault rifles, as Russia shrugged off U.S. criticism of the weapons sales.


As Rumors Swirl, Somalia Seems Set for Full-Scale War

BAIDOA, SOMALIA, July 27 — In the past few days, phantom troops have reportedly flooded across the border from Ethiopia. Mysterious planes have landed in Mogadishu. Young gunmen in a kaleidoscope of camouflage are cruising the streets all over this country, their true allegiance one big question mark.


Jubilation, violence mark days before Congo vote

INSHASA, Congo (AP) — About 3,000 people gathered Friday to hear President Joseph Kabila appeal for their vote as campaigning wound down ahead of war-battered Congo’s historic weekend vote.


Spain approves reparations bill

MADRID, Spain (AP) — The Spanish government has approved a divisive bill allowing reparations for victims of the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s modern history.