Why is it that some countries seem to be continually mired in cyclical wars, political instability and economic crises?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one such a place, a mineral-rich Central African country that, over the last two decades, has seen more than five million conflict-related deaths, multiple regime changes and the wholesale impoverishment of its people. Yet though this ongoing conflict is the world’s bloodiest since WWII, little is known in the West about the players or stakes involved.
This is Congo provides an immersive and unfiltered look into Africa’s longest continuing conflict and those who are surviving within it. By following four compelling characters — a whistleblower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor — the film offers viewers a truly Congolese perspective on the problems that plague this lushly beautiful nation. Colonel ‘Kasongo’, Mamadou Ndala, Mama Romance and Hakiza Nyantaba exemplify the unique resilience of a people who have lived and died through the generations due to the cycle of brutality generated by this conflict. Though their paths never physically cross, the ongoing conflict reverberates across all of their lives.
When This is Congo begins in 2012, Rwandan and Ugandan-backed M23 rebels have begun massing in the North Kivu region of Congo, threatening peace and stability. As the film progresses, we watch as the rebellion mounts in intensity and witness its effects on the film’s four major characters firsthand, while flashing back to key moments in Congo’s history. By the film’s conclusion, three years later, This is Congo has documented this latest cycle of violence from beginning to end and thoroughly unpacked the legacies of colonialism, resource exploitation and genocide that helped make the Congo what it is today.
In November 2016, after fifteen years in power, President Joseph Kabila cancelled elections extending his rule beyond term limits– and the cycle of war is likely to start again.
Check out photos from This is Congo: