Via Cafe Congo, I recently came across an interesting post on Obama’s Law and state power in the DRC at Congo Story. It’s more than three years old at this point, but retains its relevance. Key quote:
Many Congolese send out a cry for a “strong” leader, but the logic seems to suggest that someone powerful can restore order. In my view, that’s not possible. While consolidating power into one person or a few may be effective for a time, it carries an inherent vulnerability: it only works until someone more powerful comes along to replace it. This model trends toward coups, as we know. As I have argued briefly here, there is no system of order in DRC to simply “restore” unless you want more colonialism or oppression; a new system of rule must be built and developed painstakingly through institutionalization. (Bold in original)
The accompanying illustration is fascinating. No attribution was given at Congo Story; let me know if you know the artist.
I read this as Pierre Englebert might: there is an idea here that there should be a state, and there exists an entity with the trappings of statehood, but it has nothing inside of it. Congo is an empty uniform. And the process of statebuilding is about creating first the skeleton – the bare minimum of security – and then the rest of the governmental body to fill it in.