30-second impression of Etienne Tshisekedi


I was only able to attend a few minutes of DRC presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi’s recent speech at CSIS (as it started late and I had to leave for an evening class), but came away impressed with his analysis of the political situation in the DRC, which seemed articulate and astute.  Please do share your impressions if you attended or were able to watch the whole thing.  If you’d like to learn more about his campaign, I’d suggest checking out the coverage at AllAfrica, Jeune Afrique, or Radio Okapi.

(Note as of 28 July: This post has been edited to remove a comment on Tshisekedi’s age [he’s 78] which many commentators found offensive.  I don’t think it’s illegitimate to discuss a candidate’s age and health as well as his political stances, but many readers seem to have interpreted that comment as a suggestion that age is the primary axis along which a candidate should be judged, which wasn’t what I meant to say.  I recognize that Tshisekedi has been a beacon of hope to many Congolese throughout the years of his opposition to Mobutu’s régime, and didn’t mean to discount those accomplishments.  I’m really sorry I handled this poorly.)

40 thoughts on “30-second impression of Etienne Tshisekedi

  1. i really don’t yet what to say, but listen up. Whites people have done a lot in technology but THEY HAVE DONE THE GREATEST MISTAKE THAT A HUMAN BEING CAN DO. NO WAY TO REDEEM IT.

    now if they are cleaver they should look for how to come close to peace otherwise they are building what is more than a bomb.

    they are many way to control mineral resources and have peace and live in harmony in the world.

    we Congolese deserve better,


    1. Hi Hilaire,

      What specifically are you commenting on? I’d like to learn more about what you mean, but I’m not quite sure I understand your comment.




  2. Christopher,
    As far as Oscar Kashala concern, What I ment was that He’s not ready this time ( has problems with his parti, base, finances) He will be joining one side very soon.

    As for Jean pierre Bemba : Do you really think that he ‘s more war criminal than Paul Kagame or James


    1. Hi Bob & Christopher,

      I’m glad this has sparked an interesting conversation! (I’m staying out of it precisely because it seems that you both have more experience of the DRC than I do – but I am glad you’ve both been writing.) I just wanted to let you know that I’m considering closing comments on this post, given the length of time it’s been up, the amount of comments it’s already generated, and the diversity of views expressed in those comments. Christopher, it was good of you to post your email so that the conversation could continue via that medium – and I’d encourage all the prolific commentators to consider starting blogs of their own, since it’s easy and free (and since some of these comments have gotten more blog post-length than comment-length!). Thanks again for reading along.

      Take care,



      1. Hi Rachel,
        I wanted Christopher to have a chance to respond to the video showing Herman Cohen , Paul kagame and others on their evil plots and dirty job against DRC/Congo.
        I undesrtand that you want to close comments on the blog
        If you see a lots of people telling you that Tshisekedi is the right men to help Congo now, well this should be noted.
        People are against confusion that some want to exploite in order to keep looting and chaos in Congo
        Please be aware that many people have been hunted down in UK, South Africa and here in US for trying to expose the truth about Kagame and his allies.
        Rachel, Thank you for creating this blog
        Whatever objective you had , please inform the American public about the inconvenient truth about CONGO that the main stream media do not want to cover. I think by now you know why?



      2. Rachel-

        No worries on closing out this comment thread. I indeed offered my email as a means to allow others to respond and to offer Bob and others a chance to engage in a debate with me if it be their wont.

        That offer still stands.

        Fantastic blog, btw. :)



  3. Thanks, Bob.

    As my President as often fond of saying “you can certainly have your own opinions, but you cannot have your own facts”.

    I am perfectly fine with a debate, but I prefer we have it with facts.

    Thus, if you or others could provide factual evidence to the following claims we can have a very robust debate:

    – the assertion that the CURRENT US government seeks to control Congo via Kigali
    – Herman Cohen’s claims
    – lobbyists who make “claims”
    – the so called international community stole the election from Bemba (quite strange given he is a war criminal)
    – Kashala is not running

    Let me know what evidence you come up with in this regard and then let us debate. I should tell you that I have had this debate before with Etienne partisans and, unfortunately, its always opinion and heresay- never facts.

    As I said, I have the deepest respect for Etienne as do some of my friends in the Congo. But it is simply innaccurate to suggest that ALL Congolese believe he is the man to lead the Congo. And, to be really clear, it is their right to believe this and supporting another candidate does not make them any less Congolese than you. Should he win in Novemeber and violence is avoided that will be a blessing and I will continue to work hard to encourage my government to do right by the Congolese. This is my promise.

    But again, the Congolese must have the right to choose WHOMEVER they want to lead them and their choice must be respected.


    1. Christpher;
      I posted all the facts you requested.
      For some reason . They dont show on the blog.
      Here is one by one fact answer to your questions.
      1. Follow this link to hear what Herman cohen is saying about Kivu and Rwanda.
      Herman Cohen’s claims :


  4. Rachel,

    Here is a question for you. Let say you are in Kivu and thrown in a hole where soldiers rape you everyday for years. In that hole you are dirty, sad, hopeless, humiliated, infected with HIV, hungry, weak and wait for someone to save you. Day and night rebels come and rape you as it pleases them. Day after day they jump in that hole and take your body by force. Day after day they spit and piss on you after raping you. That hole is your toilet as well as your bedroom. For years you are raped without knowing if you will ever see freedom again. For the ten years that you are being raped in that hole your young President says that he is incapable of stopping your rape. Your young President tells the world he is not capable of protecting you and many thousands more who are being raped and killed. Your young President who happened to be the youngest President in the world says that he cant save you and that you are on your own. When the International Tribunal Court ask your YOUNG President to extradite one of the man behind many killings and rape of babies, young and old women your YOUNG President refuses and promote him to General in the national Army paying him a high salary with tax payers money. Then suddenly you hear that there is an OLD man who has fought for freedom for your people and that old man is ready to save you. That old man has sacrificed his entire life fighting for the establishment of justice in your country. That old man has been tortured so you can be free and prosper. You are there in that hole hoping that this old man will come and save you once he leads the country. Then suddenly you hear that there is an American woman named Rachel Strohm who has spent her entire life living in luxury, freedom, comfort, security, and peace who thinks that this man is too old and should not come and save you. Rachel thinks that stopping your rape is less important than having a young President who has not saved you. Rachel thinks that you can stay in that hole as long as it takes until the DRC can find a young President who can save you. It happens that the old man is the only one who can win the elections against a young dictator President who is not ready to leave. So what to do, drop the old man and find a young man who will certainly lose against Kabila or support the old man who will win because he has the backing of 60 million Congolese ?. Rachel thinks that the fact that Kabila has killed a young man for the simple reason that he threw a stone at his motorcade is not grave enough to require and demand his departure. Rachel thinks that the killing of a journalist like Bapuwa Muamba for the simple reason that he expressed an opinion against Kabila is not grave enough to obtain Kabila’s departure. Rachel thinks that only her has the right to express her opinion and not be killed by her President but if a Congolese is killed for expressing his opinion the killer can continue to be President. Rachel thinks that only an American President has the obligation to respect the lives of his citizens and that a Congolese President can kill his people and be eligible to run for another term. If it was you Rachel in that hole would you welcome the old man to save you. Rachel, you need to learn about the DRC before writing anything. The elections in the DRC are a matter of life and death because Kabila is a dictator and does not hesitate to kill like he did with Armand Tungulu and Chebeya. What is at stake in the Congo elections is not the debt ceiling but life, freedom, basic needs, foods, starvation, lack of electricity, lack of clean water, lack of hospitals, lack of salaries ( Congolese people live with less than one dollar per day). Some people in the DRC haven’t seen a salary in ten years. Let me tell you that you as an American will not take a shower with the type of water that our people drink. You need to understand that the DRC is a chamber of extinction. People are dying. So for you to attempt to make a judgment on such a matter in 30 seconds is such an insulte and mockery to the plight of the people of the DRC. It’s hard for me to beleive that you did not learn in school that one can not establish a judgement on someone based on a 30 second statement. Chances are you will miss the entire context in which things were said. I am very disappointed. I dont know if you are a student or a professor but let me tell you if you want to learn about the Congo you can ask us who are from the DRC and we will educate you. We are wonderful people and always ready to talk about our country but please whatever you do dont be so simplistic about our plight. You dont know what it’s like to be extremely poor and without freedom. You dont know what its like to belong to a country where 48 women are raped every hour. You dont know what it’s like for a mother to be forced at gun point to have intimacy with her kids. You dont know what its like for an entire family to be forced to watch the rape of their wife and mother. You dont know what it’s like for a woman to be shot in her genitals after being raped by 20 dirty and drunk soldiers. This is what’s at stake in the Congo elections not discussions about funding for a public park or the conservation of fish. You dont know anything about the DRC that’s why you wrote what you wrote. You hurt us very deeply. May God bless the USA and the DRC. Liberty and Justice for all. Eric L.


    1. @ Eric-

      So, by your reasoning, the ONLY person who is qualified to resolve the scale of brutality that exists in the Congo is Etienne?

      Do you honestly believe that, Eric? Let me be clear and say that it is simply not true that this one man will save the Congo. There are MANY Congolese patriots and civil society leaders who ALL would be fine leaders in the nation.

      I know quite a few of these leaders and, among them, are amazing people who have stayed in the country for years, suffered not only rape, but torture for their political beliefs, and still believe that the Congolese people should be given a CHOICE as to who leads them. Why? Because they believe in the people and their abilities. One of these heroes is Patronille Vaweka, the Chair of Ituri provinces Assembly. There are so many others and let us thank the God in heavens that there are.

      What happens if Etienne dies tomorrow from natural causes? Does hope just die? Eric, the idea that the Congolese should through all their hopes into ONE man or ONE party is appalling. They deserve a system that continuously produces strong leaders like Patronille and so many others that can come to the fore. Perhaps Etienne’s party can do that but given his Party seems to collapse when he’s not around doesn’t give me too much hope.

      Finally, please get off the “poor me” vibe here. The Congolese are suffering through one of the most horrific regimes in the world but so too are the Iranians, so too are the Palestinians, so too are Aghans, so too are North Koreans. I have faith that the people of the Congo will one day have ENOUGH and do what people do when they grow tired of injustice. I have faith in this, I believe Rachel does as well, and I hope one day you do as well.

      But please do not engage so arrogantly with Americans of good will. I realize the history between our countries is a bad one but we cannot become prisoners of history and prejudice.

      If Etienne wins that will be a day of justice revealed. I believe that. But please, please, please, PLEASE don’t place all your hopes on ONE leader and, instead, build a movement and a party that can raise up TONS AND TONS of them to confront this regime and ANY OTHER that grows into a dictatorship. There are far more Congolese who desire freedom that all the guns Kabila can muster and once the Congolese realize that- as Malawians do at the moment- freedom will come.

      This ALONE will ensure the Congo becomes a peaceful, rich, vibrant, and just nation in the world- not one “Old” man.

      Thank you for your blog, Rachel. As I said before, please don’t let this aggression over a simple impression deter you.

      – Dutch


      1. Dutch,

        I have never said that there are not a single Congolese beside Etienne who can develop our country. If I am given the opportunity to lead the DRC I will help that country tremendously. I have an american education and have worked in this great nation which has given me a lot of opportunity to learn. I am one of many millions Congolese who can develop and build that country but unfortunately in Africa and the DRC in particular goodwill, patriotism, and competence are not enough to become President. So long that people like you dont understand that fundamental fact you will continue to mislead American leaders about Africa. I dont know why you are writing the name of Petronie in this public blog without realizing that you may be putting her life in danger. Why are you guys so afraid of Etienne when we the Congolese people are telling you HE is the one we want. We dont want anyone else in the world to tell us who should lead us. In 1885 our country was taken away from us by King Leopold and then he passed the control to Belgium and after Belgium our country was passed under the control of Rwanda. That is a total of 125 years over which people like you have decided about who should lead our nation. The result is a total disaster and complete chaos with over 16 million deaths of innoncent Congolese people. King Leopold killed as many as 10 million while Rwanda has killed as many as 6 million. So can we now decide who should lead us without anyone else intervening. What we need from Americans who love the Congo is to listen to us and support us in our decision. If it doesnt work we will face the consequences and adjust accordingly. Americans vote their own leaders so should the Congolese people. Congo will only move forward the day our people will elect their own leaders. Etienne is loved by our people not because he is the most handsome congolese but because he has proven over many years that He loves his country the same way that Americans love their country. He has proven to us that like Mandela he is more concerned about his fellow countrymen’s wellbeing than he his of his own. It is amazing to see that while millions of Congolese are saying they want him a few Americans like you are telling us that you know better than an entire country. That is really arrogance right there. What exactly are you guys afraid of with Etienne. Is it because he truly loves the DRC. If you love the DRC then you should love Etienne because this man is in the heart of our people. He is our George Washington. How would you feel if other nations tell you that George Washington should have never lead your nation. We love Tshisekedi as much as you guys love George Washinton or Abraham Lincoln. By citing the name of Petronie you are either trying to get Kabila reelected or simply dont know what you are talking about. Petronie will never be able to unseat a dictator. Do you know what it takes to unseat a dicator? Jean Pierre Bemba won the elections in 2006 but was thrown out of the country within days of winning them despite the fact that he had a small army. Now what can Petrionie do against a Kabila who controls everything from the military to the police and the private militia called Garde Republicaine. You too need to learn more about the DRC. I hope to have someday the opportunity to seat down for lunch or dinner with you and Rachel to have a deep and honest discussion about the DRC. Our country needs Americans who can tell American leaders to let us chose our own leaders. We are no longer children but have grown more mature. After 125 years of suffery people learn. Who am I to tell people from Burma that they should not vote by Aung San Suu Kyi. If they think she is the best leader for them then we should all respect that choice and help her in her fight for freedom in Burma. Africans need to be able to chose their own leaders. The history between our countries are not great but I chose not to talk about it because I am looking at the future. The DRC will need America tomorrow and America will need access to our strategic minerals. So you need to understand that Congolese people have never looked at America as ennemy. You have never seen Congolese people burn the American flag and thats because Congolese people love America and just want America to give us the same level of respect, friendship and love. Dont love our leaders but please love our people because they are wonderful people and love you. Congo will always be by America side and we are asking for the same treatment. If you guys know so much about chosing leaders how come you elected George Bush twice despite the fact that he was destroying your economy. The result is there today with a projected deficit over 14 trillions dollars. Isnt that amazing that Americans elected a President who when he came to power found a country with a positive budget but went on to spend all the reserve and even dug into the red. The point is dont think that because you are American you automatically know how to chose good leaders. You too make mistakes as you did twice by electing George Bush. Now let us chose who we want and if we make a mistake it will by normal because you too make such mistakes.
        I love America and the DRC and want to see both countries work together and benefit tremendousely from that relationship.
        God bless the USA and the DRC. Liberty and Justice for all.
        Eric L.


    2. Eric-

      A few things: both Rachel and I have been to the Congo. I have personally lived there with my American parents during the years of 87-91, and since 98′ traveled the whole country 9 times. Last year, I volunteered with my church at the Panzi hospital and trust me when I say I am fully aware of the brutality in the Eastern Congo.

      Indeed, I have probably seen more parts of your country than you have seen of my own.

      Finally, my wife is Congolese from Kisangani and we just came back from a 2 month visit with her family.

      That said, I will again make it clear that is it up to the Congolese to chose whomever they want as a leader. IF that is Kabila, if that is Etienne, if that is Vital, if that is Oscar Kashala, if that is yourself this is their right. More importantly, given that this country gives quite a bit of aid- both direct and indirect- to the Congo Americans have every right to ensure debate on the Congo and its potential leaders is full, rich, and vibrant.

      Rachel has every right to pass judgement on Etienne as you have every right to pass judgement on Obama, Bush, Palin, Rick Perry and whoever you want. This is a free country and I will defend her rights.

      I am just going to ask that you seek to have a civil debate and cease the aggression you are showing on the blog. You do not know Rachel, nor her background, and it appears you don’t even seem to understand the purposes of her post. Please, Eric. Have some faith that Americans won’t simply read something and believe it as truth. In my view, you seem not to truly believe Americans are not dumb and don’t do their homework. We wouldn’t find blogs or internet sites about the Congo if we didn’t have some background about the country. Try to keep that in mind when you decide to respond to comments.

      Now, you are correct that being a good person- alone- is not enough to govern the nation. I agree entirely and during the 08′ elections I kept saying to friends who were Obama supporters that “the change” cannot happen with just him- we have to change the “system” and from my view Obama doesn’t want to do that. The Congo NEEDS systemic political change. That is why I find it troubling that Etienne (and others) are so silent about the very real and very deep political reforms that need to occur in the political system in the nation? From my view, it simply seems that that Etienne- and the others- think they are “saviors” and that they alone can bring change. Sorry, but that is foolish. The DRC needs a complete and total reformation in how its system of politics functions. As a leader at the National Conference perhaps Etienne can do this but I find it odd that he hasn’t elaborated what those reforms would be. He seems to be saying “just vote for me because I am a patriot and all will be well”.

      Please know that this quote is a direct quote from a MAJOR civil society leader in the Congo- not myself. All the friends in the Congo I have, who are between the ages of 25-35- the majority of voters- are fairly sick of all the “plans” and “rhetoric”. They want real change and, with Etienne, a bit more than his “we will seek the rule of law if we win”. Well, that’s great but HOW is that going to happen?

      The Congolese need far more than nice promises from smart, well meaning, patriots, Eric. They need systemic reform so as to move all the power that is centered in the Presidency OUT to the rest of the country. There would be no need for rebellions, counter rebellions, wars, bribing of officials, and everything else if ALL the people of the Congo could trust Kinshasa. It is ONLY when that happen can the problems that just keep getting worse in the Congo find resolution.

      And, more critically, they need to be able to choose among the candidates and parties who will truly bring change in the system- not the person who sits in Kinshasa.

      I am happy you support Etienne. He is a good and fine patriot of your country.

      Just please don’t attack those who have the right to feel- whether here or in the Congo- he is coming up short as a potential leader.

      This is the right of citizens to decide.



      1. Christopher,

        Here is a document for your attention about Tshisekedi and the UDPS vision of the Congo. You just accused Tshisekedi of having only one message: Etat de droit. That is not true my dear brother. The UDPS knows the DRC very well and has even recently updated its vision for the Congo to reflect recent changes in the political, social and economic environment.
        Here is a link for you. If you had read this document you would not have said that Tshisekedi doesnt have a comprehensive vision of how he will transform the Congo. Now this document may not be what you think should be the plan to reform the DRC but it is what Tshisekede and his party have mapped out for the DRC. Even in the US every party has its own plan.

        Click to access projet_de_societe_du_parrti.pdf

        Please read the document and you will see that Tshisekedi Wa Mulumba is ready to lead the DRC to a better futur. As for you and Rachel’s interest to the DRC it is very much appreciated and that’s why I took time out of my busy schedule to write to you and her. I did it because I beleive the fact that you are paying attention to what’s going on in the DRC shows that you care. That by itself is only the first step in helping the DRC the second and most important one is to help the people of the DRC elect their own leader and not be imposed a leader ever again. If you do that you will become a true friend of the Congo. We will see that you understand our need better than anyone one else. Please help us elect our own leader, that is not asking too much. That’s a fundamental right for every nation.
        God bless the USA and the DRC.
        Take care,
        Eric L.


      2. Hi Christopher,
        If you have lived in Congo for four years (87-91) with your parents and visited more than 9 times the whole country, then, you should be able to know and understand what the Congolese people are going through. The country is occupied by Rwanda with the help of US and some European countries. Recently, Mr. Herman Cohen stated that US State Department view Kivu (one of the Congolese provinces) as a part of Rwanda.
        What do you make of this? Is there anything to debate there?
        For all Congolese, this is an insult. What about the mapping report (How many Congolese killed?) Was that genocide? Did hear a word from Joseph Kabila about the genocide in Congo? How about the main stream media in US covering the genocide in
        Congo, how many media cover the event? Would the victims get justice?
        Just for you to know some lobbyists in US are getting paid to misrepresent situation in Congo.
        In 2006, the elections were stolen from Jean Pierre Bemba and given to Joseph Kabila by the international community. In coming elections, everything is set for Kabila to cheat; He has his friends’ lobbyists, IFES, MONUSCO, USAID.
        Congolese people know the real leader including people you have met in Kisangani and elsewhere. , that leader is Tshisekedi who will help us take the country back. When you right wrong policy to distort the truth you are not doing any good to anyone.
        In this blog NOONE has aggressed Rachel. People have STRONG opinions about the country that will be Balkanized upon Paul Kagame’s request and US conspiracy.
        Please do not treat us of not engaging in honest and civil debate over because of our views. Let’s debate, prove us wrong.
        Just you know, Oscar Kashala would not run this year. For all Congolese, Vital Kamhere is trying hard to win the sympathy of Kivu, Maniema. Unfortunately, he cannot change his Burundian origin.


  5. Hi Rachel,

    As a activist here in the U.S. pushing for a more just and equitable foriegn policy as it relates to the DR Congo, I want to thank you for offering a forum- this blog- to discuss those issues in a public way.

    Having read through some of the comments on this blog, you kinda received the baptism by fire of partisans of Etienne. I have borne this fury as well over the last year and half and I just hope you don’t take it personally. The desire for change among the Congolese and their preferred candidates for election is very real and it often leads to the kind of aggression that has filled the comments of this post. Imagine leaving during the run up to the Civil War in this country and you’d have some idea of these passions.

    I’d like to suggest that you continue to express your views, as objectively as possible, on this blog in however you see fit. It is so critical that the citizens of this country- who, via their elected officials, can assist in the democratization and peace in the DRC- get a variety of views about our relations with other nations. If most Americans were aware of our governments complicity during regime and since, they would demand a better deal for the Congoloese.

    I would also like to suggest to Etienne, or Vital, or Bemba, or Oscar partisans that you try to disagree without being disagreeable. Rachel has every right to criticize or praise the entire political class of the Congo as these are her rights as a US citizen. Without civil debate, whether highly informed or not, we cannot solve problems and enlighten. Many activists in America are working against great odds to encourage our fellow citizens to support democracy in the DRC. Thus, it is my suggestion that you engage such activists and scholars respectfully so as to enlighten them. Failing to do this leads to disengagement which doesn’t serve Americans nor the Congolese.

    Thanks for the blog, Rachel.



  6. Hi commentators – I’ve edited this post to remove my original comments on Mr. Tshisekedi’s age. I feel like the original post ended up sounding much more critical of Mr. Tshisekedi than I intended (since again, I only saw a few minutes of his speech), and the comments reflected that. Thank you for your comments, and please continue reading along and commenting!


  7. Good Afternoon Rachel,
    I totally find your statement repugnant, you’re talking about old age of Tshisekedi being a hindrance to solve Congo’s problem. Allow me to remind you of Stephen William Hawking the English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, he has a motor neurone disease which has left him almost completely paralyzed. However he’s now Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Despite Stephen William Hawking being paralyzed, still can solve many complex math problems. I conjure you to reassess Tshisekedi.


  8. Good Afternoon Rachel,

    I totally find your statement repugnant, you’re talking about old age of Tshisekedi being a hindrance to solve Congo’s problem. Allow me to remind you of Stephen William Hawking the English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, he has a motor neurone disease which has left him almost completely paralyzed. However he’s now Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Despite Stephen William Hawking being paralyzed, still can solve many complex math problems. I conjure you reassess Tshisekedi.


  9. Lady shut up your mouth,and you don’t know nothing about our lovely DRC and the political history ,you must be ashamed writing this kind of article with poor statement,since when do you know ya Tshishi? or what do you really know about Thsisekedi?, listen and listen very careful don’t be involved in the battle you don’t know where or when it started,be more concerned about your country.Congolese people knows who is perfect candidate to lead the country,not you..,and Tshisekedi is the people’s choice.


  10. Lady can you explain the universe in 30 sec? can you explain a persons entire life in 3 sec? This man you speaking about how long have you know him for? Please don’t write articles like this, you have attacked a countries hero. you know like queen Elizabeth is loved by the English people? this is kind of how this is! I actual found your comments RUDE.


  11. You have no respect for Congolese people.. Why do you talk about things you don’t know? Argue facts you can not prove? our leader is 79 years and you speak about 30 sec impression do the research and see who you talking about. This is a poor article!!! You full of mediocre. DO YOUR HOME WORK NEXT TIME.
    Please lady shut your mouth and let us decide who will rule us.


  12. Hi Rachel,

    As a non-Congolese reader of your commentary and noting as much that you might have wanted to sound as neutral as possible, it appears you actually kicked a storm in the process.

    The reactions show (…and my feeling is…) that you require a deeper appreciation of the history of DRC (especially Tshi’s and Lumumba’s struggles with the Ruling Class of the day) and generally the politics of Electoral Transition in African States over the past 30 years, borrowing experiences from the Arab Spring (Tunisia, Egypt), Apartheid and Mandela (South Africa), The Eloquent Charles Taylor (Liberia), Militrary to Civil Rule in Nigeria (from Abacha through Obasanjo to Yar’Adua and Goodluck…), Gbagbo-Ouattara equation (Cote D’Ivoire), Transition to Forced Coalition (Kenya) etc.

    In my view (which am sure you might have realised had you stayed the full length of the speech by Tshi), you would have been better off making such comments outside of a sensitive rapidly-approaching election period – especially so because your choice media to communicate your 30-second impression was via widely accessible blog on the internet (…widely accessible in both the USA and DRC…).


  13. Hi Rachel,
    I would like to advise you to let Congolese people decide their own fate. You have noticed the reactions of many about your comment on their leader and Moses, Étienne Tshisekedi. As Congolese, we do not want anyone, especially you guys, the western people to tell us what is better for oural country. We know what we want Than any one in the world, Please you have your country and we ours, respect that. Since we know that you never want us to control our own country and resources, this the time we want our real independent and Tshisekedi will help us gain it.


  14. Hi Rachel,
    I expressely responding to your comment because it very affect me this morning, regardless to the reality this people Congolese is inposed and living today, we don’t have any other strange president whatever the good health or not, Tshisekedi is the only one all Congolese people need for now, I personnaly ask you to visite today this Country and see by your self the reality in the East of this country and see how people is suffering, without food,no medications,assassinated and all of the others problems; you will make a real and accurate decision for today’s living of this Congolese, so I let you know we will in any case accept Kabila as president never,never and never
    That time is over,
    For your information: from 1960 this country has the young presidents but we never be happy,the country was destroyed,the people killed; today we have the old one we want him.2011
    Tshisekedi for the President.


  15. Rachel, whoever you are, I tell you that we congolese have no time to follow you wrong interpretation, if you eat and have a good salary in USA or EU, I see why you can try to run faster than your brain thinking system. You are wrong and I guarantie you that Congo needs Tshisekedi to help put things in order and have a country, please close your mouth. You can not juge within 30 seconds someone who is the choice for a poeple for more than 30 years.


  16. Hello Rachel Strohm

    You have to respect that man the icon of change in DRC 100 per cent because you can’t feel anything in your life when congolese people is suffering, if you got a heart from the Almighty God that is better the one you can do if you really love DR Congo and her people find the new good way to change that country. if your answer is only congolese have to change Congo and then be quiet let congele following him, you white people put on office in Congo some one whom you can’t accept him to lead even your small business, You shall see how and the way is going to change that Congo the one you are neglicting. May God and congolese forgive you for the wounds you hurted us

    King Jojo

    South Africa


  17. Hi Rachel,

    I do understand that you were expressing your personal opinion on this segment.
    I just wanted to point out one thing. During a time like this one (upcoming elections in Congo), what one writes could alter the outcome of the elections.
    People can be confused about where personal opinion begins and ends.

    What I meant by fairness in light of what is partial versus what is complete has a lot to do with avoiding bias and treating people equally in writing or reporting.

    Here is a question, what do we really know about Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi’s health?
    Also, I remember that Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he was elected US President in 1980, and turned 70 less than a month after assuming office. He served two full terms, He was the oldest person elected to the Presidency in US history and the oldest to serve and he served well.

    Congo, the largest country in the African continent is endowed with abundant valuable natural resource. This has been Congo’s crime. You have lobbyists on payroll, main stream media advocating and supporting countries that are invading Congo

    Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi’s invaded eastern and southeastern DRC and committed and are continuing the mass scale looting of Congo’s minerals and treasures. Rwandan and Ugandan troops forced local businesses to close their doors by raiding and harassing and killing civilians.
    At this stage, what the lobbyist and their partners want is to maintain the status quo. They are strong enough to do anything: changing UN mapping report content,
    Denying genocide in Congo where more than 5, 4 million were killed (genocide defined here as a deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group)
    In light of all this
    Any change would be better than no change from this current disgusting situation
    As you can see, DRC lacks strong established institutions or even just one strong enough institution that can hold the country together.
    DRC lacks a responsible government.
    People have new hope. Under the leadership of Tshisekedi, the country would get more organized, united. He has plans in place to organize the army to protect people and the country. Let’s give him a chance


    1. Hi Eric – that’s a very fair point (about opinions not being neutral), and I appreciate that you’ve made it. As I wrote in response to another comment below, I’m neither in favor of Kabila nor arguing that the DRC doesn’t need reformers. That said, I don’t think I’m saying anything that Congolese voters don’t already know (Tshisekedi understands the DRC and is rather old), so it’s not clear to me that publishing these brief observations for a non-Congolese audience will affect anyone’s voting decision. All the same, I definitely appreciate that you’re reading and commenting, and would invite you to keep doing so!


  18. Hi Rachel!
    I was at CSIS event on June 15! I think is unfair to write about an entire speech based on a short piece! This kind of approach gives readers a wrong message! This is what Europeans did when first they came in Africa.
    Is not because you can compete a marathon then you can leads a country! A leadership is about understanding the needs of a nation, have a clear idea what can help a whole country to move forward, how to bring together the energy from all or a majority of people who starving for change, freedom,peace and stop war, women’s rape.
    In my humble opinion, Mr. Tshisekedi has that! this is why you can see Congolese people around the world following him! I would like to advise you, if you have time, to start doing some ”real” research not only about Mr. Tshisekedi but also about the D.R. Congo.
    Jerome kanoni


    1. Hi Jerome – thanks for your comment! You raised the same point that Eric did, about my treatment of his speech being unfair, and I’d like to know more about why you said this. I had a positive impression of Tshisekedi after the part of the speech that I saw; do you feel that this is an unfair characterization? And yes, you’re totally right that political platforms are the reason to vote for a leader, and not only physical fitness. I’ve updated the post to reflect this observation, and explain my own commentary more clearly.


  19. It’s not fair to write from a very short piece of speech taken from a longer speech . Well, while you left for your eveing class. Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi talked about:
    1) Political environment in the Congo
    2)States of human rights
    3)His vision for the future and what is expected from US
    According to you, Tshisekedi is very old. ” It was hard to imagine him finding the energy to run a country facing as many challenges as the DRC” , you said.
    I did not know that you can deny or limit opportunities to people on the basis of their age. Just for you to know , Nelson Mandela of South Africa was 75 when he took the office.
    You talked about opposition critizing kabila.
    Of course, Tshisekedi was not critizing Kabila, rather stating
    the facts about him . Facts known by everyone.
    On a separate note and with respect to your comments ” Not everything needs to be reduced to a DRC-Rwanda dichotomy”
    What really gets me is the US reluctance to criticize what Paul Kagame did / or is doing just because they have 1994 guilt and /or have bought the US version of the story
    Eric Kamba


    1. Hi Eric – thanks for your comment! I agree that it’s not ideal to write about an entire speech based on a single segment, but I’m not sure that doing so is unfair. Do you feel that I mischaracterized his remarks in some way?


      1. In 30 seconds you can not judge Tshisekedi who has been the choice of the congolese poeple for more than
        30 years. Dont try to run faster than
        your brain thinking system.

        Please close your mouth and leave us
        alone. I think that you need to go back to school
        to study more politics.


      2. Hi Aliance – is there something specific you disagree with about this post, besides its existence? I am arguing neither in favor of Kabila nor that the DRC does not need reformers.


      3. Read my statements again, you can not judge
        him after 30 seconds of your observation, we,
        congolese have been observing him for more
        than 30 years, He is who we need to fix the
        country. Olease please be carefull


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