Beyond Armed Recruitment & Youth Involvement in Violence: The « Champions League » in my Village

My village is located at the frontier line of Mwenga and Fizi Counties to the extent that one of extremity of the football terrain touches that frontier line in centimeters. My parents and neighbors have been living the village since 1978. Though formally originating in Mwenga County, my heartfelt feeling is that I am strongly connected to Minembwe, the place where I was born. Of course, it is a tenth miles away from my village and it is characterized by all the features you can image that represent the rural of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The neighborhood of my village is organizing a football competition since earlier July 2017. The following villages Kidasi, Bikuba, Kidegu, Rugabano, Tabunde, Ibumba 1, Ibumba 2, Kabuchangwa, Nyakirango, and Marangwa are taking part to the competition worth of $200, thanks to Ruramira and Mwungura who have been at the forefront of the initiative and fund providers. I am too humbled to the organizing committee as well as the players who have contributed to the success of such event that revives the 90s football mood in the neighborhood. It always reminds me how would have some of the friends and colleagues been football’s stars players if… These are villages where people have been sharing the same type of living but easily to be manipulated. It is easy to just point a finger to X to let Y start shooting even though there was nothing harm. The competition is his semi-final stage and four teams are competing to win the prize. The final match will possibly be organized within few weeks if things go right.

Supporters during the competition

The competition is an extremely surprising and exciting moments that you won’t watch on large screens, TVs. For sure, most of these young guys playing the game haven’t ever watched alive a Television or at least watching a movie; something we used to call a “cinema”. I am among the few who can share these moments online and my interest is to simply advocate that people may go mad because of hopelessness. Armed groups, security entrepreneurs do easily recruit among these young guys less than 18 years simply because their opportunities are very and very limited.

Supporters

On 21st February 2017, my village was under heavy fighting between the Maimai and a group of Gumino. The fighters within these two armed groups are likely recruited on ethnic community basis as it’s the case for most of armed militias in Eastern Congo. The mobilization during the clashes was seemingly community oriented so long as the state authority is drastically absent. The state failure in the region as it is in many rural places of my country goes beyond the establishment of socioeconomic infrastructures and facilities to failing in providing people’s safety and security. It is not about lacking road, educational infrastructures, hospitals or pleasure facilities, but anyone can start his “guns businesses”; to protect his community, gaining social status but also financial motivations.

When watching short videos that were miraculously recorded because of the access to electricity gives a headache; the videos proves that we are all impressed to win the life in a proper way, outside of the barrel of the gun. Informed reader realizes that the same people who would fight today can mutually share their experience in a peaceful way. We are bad guys at the same time good guys and the state is widely responsible for having exposed us to the use of violence. We all have the dream of living the ‘New Jerusalem’ which we haven’t ever contemplated. Most of these guys would have made you proud as do Messi, Lukaku, Neymar, Fabrice Nsakala, Yannick Bolasié… However, they are contained in the remote areas without hope for their future and their children.

Opening speeches reminded the players that there are opportunities beyond violence and that they are still eligible to perform and reach the world as stars in football. I don’t believe they have had a chance to know who these football stars are but it doesn’t real mean they can’t dream to become one day champions of the African Cup of Nations. I wish the rulers would understand that tackling violence isn’t only the military force but it has to do with expanding youth opportunities to access education, health and more specifically before they resort to AK47. Would you like to partake to this gloomy experience, please share and advocate so that these young guys would one day watch at least the African Cup of Nations/World Cup/Champions League on their respective homes.           

 

Ntanyoma Rukumbuzi Delphin                                        

PhD Researcher in Conflict Economics

The Institute of Social Studies/

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Delphino12

Blog: www.edrcrdf.wordpress.com

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