Almost a year ago, I was compelled to contact, Friends of the Congo, a DC-based advocacy organization, after viewing the, Nov. 13, 2008 interview, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b07P7T-_Ano on the Democracy Now program. I was attempting to understand why there was a “veil of silence “, around the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo in Western media – a country which the UN reports as the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world since World War II, in which nearly 6 million people have died, and hundreds of thousands of women have been systematically raped as a tool of war. Friends of the Congo, Executive Director, Maurice Carney explained how the conflict in the Congo is a resource war and not an ethnic conflict. The Congo happens to be one of the richest stretches of real estate in the world, endowed with an abundance of vast mineral deposits, such as coltan and cobalt, which are key to the functioning of modern-day society.
During this time (Winter 2008), my father Ernest Crane had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months earlier and I was grappling with the imminence of his death. I questioned whether my inquiry into the Congo should be postponed for a less intense time, but I couldn’t ignore the yearning to do something. This compulsion moved me to join the delegation of independent journalists going to the Democratic Republic of Congo, organized by Friends of the Congo. I would go to the Congo in tribute to my father and raised funds on facebook with the assistance of my friends and family to cover my expenses for this trip. Ultimately, it was my father’s ideals of freedom that would give me the courage to go to Congo on January 5, 2009 two days after he died.
While in Congo I was given the opportunity to speak to Congolese face-to face and extract the truth directly from their mouths. I pledged to the Congolese who courageously spoke about their realities, that I would let U.S. citizens and the world know about why we should care about what’s happening in the Congo and how we are directly connected to the conflict in the Congo.
Since I returned, I have written about my experience in the Congo and have spoken in a variety of venues, advocating for diplomatic and political solutions to ending the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; as opposed to the current military solutions being backed by the US government. Upon returning from the Congo in January 2009, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at: Loyola College, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, the University of Toronto, CUPE labor union in Toronto, Canada, Columbia University’s IMPACT program, the Congo in Harlem Film Festival and have conducted multiple radio interviews on this issue.
I would like to thank all of my friends, families and strangers who trusted me enough to offer their support in the form of prayers, well wishes and monetary contributions. Your contributions were valuable and honored – know that you have made a difference in the global movement to end the conflict in the Congo. This is just the beginning, as I will continue to stand for a free and liberated Congo. Family, I encourage you to learn more about the Congo from Congolese and tell someone else about the Congo. We must open our ears and our mouths and remove the veil of silence around the Congo. Lets’ do this in solidarity with the people of the Congo. To a peace-filled Congo, and a peace-filled world. Let justice and peace shake hands! Happy 2010! Join the global movement!