samedi 13 avril 2019

Japan: The Hadaka Matsuri or Naked Man Festival!

The price of prosperity.

Naked, Violent, Frozen, Blessed and Happy!

         Shivering in their loincloth, thousands of men took part this weekend in Japan at the perilous Hadaka matsuri, festival of the naked man, to try to seize wooden lucky charms thrown into the crowd by Buddhist monks.
The test, which takes place every February in Okayama (west), begins on a Saturday, at dusk, with an icy bath. This year, some 10,000 courageous souls have plunged into a pool of cold water to cleanse their bodies and prepare for a tough battle.
"There is the idea of facing the sacred heart bare, as we are," said Kazuhiko Nishigami, auto mechanic.

         Faithful crowd inside Saidaiji temple, fists and elbows to find the best place. An impressive human melee of torsos and bare legs, arms raised to the sky to catch the precious "shingi" wooden sticks 4 cm in diameter and 20 cm long.
         The wait can last for an hour, putting a suffocating crowd to death, wincing in pain, seeming to implore forgiveness.
Overhanging, the monks pour on them holy water, then the black is done and the sticks rain, seen at the only glow of the flashes of cameras and cameras.

Shintoist ritual mysterious ancestral!

         Those who manage to seize a talisman must then fight fiercely so that it does not fall into the hands of rivals eager for its protective powers and sometimes intoxicated by alcohol.
"The stick fell in the middle of our group, I quickly hid it in my" mawashi (loincloth) "and I left as if nothing had happened," said Kosuke Yasuhara, 38, a firefighter by profession. Once left the sacred enclosure, the trophy is out of danger.

But not everyone is so lucky.

         This mysterious ritual, which has been going on for 500 years and is also available as a "children" version, has killed people in the past, even if the organizers want to be reassuring."We want to remember that this is a religious festival, so we have become much stricter about alcohol and violent behavior," said one of the monks, Tsuboi Zenko. It is also "forbidden to wear soles". As a precaution, however, each participant must write his blood type on a document, then placed in the loincloth in case of serious injury.
         But the reward is up. "Those who seize the amulet are promised prosperity," says the monk. Mr. Yasuhara, soon a father, leaves with a big smile. "This amulet is a gift from the gods, which will bring us in April a baby in full health", he assures.

vendredi 1 mars 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo: Kasaï, the new "Congolese Holy Land"?

The promised land in R.D.C., change of course?

         During the Mobutu Sese Seko Regime (1965-1997), the natives of the Equator Region, especially the Ngbandi, had all the rights and benefits: free scholarships, prestigious positions, missions handsomely remunerated, non-refundable credits and especially impunity legally guaranteed ... They even obtained compliant diplomas or used false documents, because the professors and all the academic authorities were at the orders of politics! And as the supreme political and academic authority was Mobutu ..! Corruption guaranteed rapid enrichment, a meteoric rise and absolute impunity. Speaking of Zaire, Litho Moboti, Uncle and dignitary of Mobutu often boasted: "The Affair belongs to us!" Today the "elect" of yesterday have become the "Damned" of the Earth and live unhappy in the ruins of the palaces and megalomaniac projects of the "enlightened Guide", Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga. Today in a politically indefinite diaspora, they consider themselves the only true "Congolese", the others being only invaders who destroy the country they had built (?). They still do not understand that power has abandoned them, forever. And that Mobutu is definitely dead !!
         During a Mass on the occasion of the second anniversary of the death of the historical opponent Etienne Tshisekedi on February 1, 2019, Bishop Gérard Mulumba (brother of the deceased) compared him to Moses of the Bible and his son , the new Congolese president, to Joshua. Kasai would be the new "Holy Land".

Poor of me, my plane was mistaken airport landing!

         With my state diploma obtained in Jomba, North Kivu, I could not register at the University! Impossible, because this year 1973, a diktat of Mobutu forbade the Universities to recruit new students without experience of at least two years of "Civic Service". With all my finalist comrades, we had to give classes for two years at the elementary school before thinking of continuing our studies at the University. In fact, Mobutu was suspicious of university students who had just turned the military bondage upside down during their compulsory enrollment. Clever, a friend had advised me to go through Kananga Pre-University to circumvent this unjustifiable "Diktat", because Zaire badly needed University!
         For my first plane trip, an Air Zaire DC4, the Zairean crew made a mistake at landing airport and the plane was over Luanda, the Angolan capital. At that time, aviation was still elementary. As Zaire was on bad terms with the Angolan colonists, it was ordered to turn back. It is fortunate that we returned to Kananga thanks to the fuel tank of this old DC4 in which several passengers were vomiting because of the violent jolts. The Luanda-Kananga route, however short, was not very pleasant.

Kananga, a breeding ground for the Public Force and the Congolese army!

         Ironically, without knowing it, the Zairian dictator had just sent me to the army pool, where most of the officers of the Zairean Armed Forces were trained, including himself. Kananga, capital of Western Kasai, had just definitively erased its name of Luluabourg, that is to say the city of Baluba Lulua or Malandji-wa-Nshinga. Destined to be the new capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the project built before independence was abandoned by the newly decolonized Congolese who had other problems more urgent to solve! But in 1973, the city had a modern, clean face and the inhabitants then behaved as model citizens (civility, cleanliness, respect and welcome from abroad, etc.).

The unique history of the Province has made it the heart of the Congolese Nation!

         Between 1897 and 1898, the first anti-colonial revolt started from Luluabourg! Part of a rebellion within the Force Publique, it quickly turned into an insurrectional movement against the authority of the independent state of the Congo. It was organized by the Kasaïens soldiers, of Tetela origin, who revolted against their Belgian officers because of the unjust execution of some of their native chiefs. After the Second World War, there was a lot of excitement within the Force Publique (colonial army) on the part of the natives, that is to say Congolese soldiers. Indeed, they had fought on behalf of Belgium to the Middle East.
         From this experience was born a certain maturity and a spirit of demand. This revolt ended in a repetition pitiless rift on the part of the colonizer. The garrison most concerned by these events was Luluabourg. But these facts were among the elements that made Belgians understand that the Congolese in this region will not let themselves go long. Why then, thought the Colonizer, do not make it the capital of the Congo, especially since it is at its center? Consult the natives yes but why in "The Colony of Silence"? The ultimate five-year colonial plan in which this project was inscribed was definitely buried with independence in 1960.

And yet it was in Luluabourg that the word "Independence" was first mentioned in 1956.

         Founding member of the ABAKO and co-editor of his "Manifesto" in 1956, Ngalula Joseph, a son of Kasaï, would have formulated the word "independence" in Luluabourg which is included in this manifesto. This word will now haunt the Belgians for many months until its accession on June 30, 1960. It is with this in mind that I landed at Kananga airport one evening in September 1973. Life was then pleasant and on this nice plateau, the studies were nice but, it was not really the University despite the quality of the courses and teachers! And with Mobutu, attached to his province of Ecuador and to his Authenticity, Kananga like the other provinces had become suburban cities. Only the "Djalelo Mulopwe Mobutu" which punctuated the animation sessions of the "Local Folk Group", nothing else seemed to augur any development of Kananga whose infrastructure was deteriorating inexorably.

"Kapia", the flame of the Zairian Revolution, title of the single Duck in the center of the city.

         The cunning director of the newspaper "Kapia, flame in Tshiluba" had taken advantage of its editorial headquarters in the middle of the City to draw the front of the wall, the torch of the Zairian flag, title of Kapia. It was impossible to miss it when you enter Kananga City. If he had known that the arm that held the torch was not human, perhaps he would have been less proud of the pretentious look of the guide visiting Kananga? Regardless of the MPR and its enthusiasm, Kananga remained the spearhead of Democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The merit of this nascent democratization inevitably comes from Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, a native of Kananga.

A letter to Mobutu, dearly paid by its signatories?

         In 1980, Deputy Speaker Gabriel Biringanine Mugaruka declared to anyone who would listen that he did not want to sign "Open Letter from the Thirteen Parliamentarians to President Mobutu", but that he was pushed there! In addition, he did not have his medical glasses while signing. Indeed the closure of his hotel closed in Bukavu earned him a huge shortfall! As for Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, one of the thirteen leading editors of the famous letter demanding democracy in Zaire, his business and his life were going to experience serious disruption. It was during this summer that I was going to meet him in Matadi during my mission in the Department of Planning. Responsible for the American Program PL480, at the Counterparty Fund Secretariat, I was in Matadi to supervise the unloading of the American Rice, granted to Zaire under the said program. In the rest of the city of Matadi, a minute away from the Hotel Métropole where I was eating, I sit at the table next to Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi, a Kino shopkeeper who came to control the unloading of his American rice.  I had in my binder the copy of the contract of attribution concluded with my department. Since I did not have the right to contact U.S Aid distributors to avoid any attempt at official corruption, I gave him a nod, to which he replied kindly.

If he had known what was waiting for him, Etienne Tshisekedi would have taken me falsely for a hypocrite!

         An elegant man in a beige safari, that was distinguished from the commercial and sufficient flattering that I had often deal. I realized that he was not an ordinary trader when I received a phone from my Direction asking me to cancel his contract for sedition. He was a parliamentarian who was about to be banished by the Legislative Council for having dared to demand from Marshal Mobutu to authorize democracy in Zaire. His crime of Lèse-majesté was aggravated by the creation on February 15, 1982, of a party other than the MPR, party-state, which he dared call "Democratic Union for Social Progress (UDPS)" as if the MPR did not not social! «What pretension? I'm going to break you » had shouted Mobutu to the Voice of Zaire, the only national television in the country. A threat immediately put into execution: Ruining the 13 parliamentarians, the ruin of their immunity, torture to humiliate them and make them lose their reason and relegate them to their respective villages, far from the comfort of the capital, any means of communication and access to medical care. His son, Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the new president of the D.R.C., then as a teenager, can best talk about it because he accompanied his country in his exile to Kabeya Kamwanga in the vicinity of Kananga.

Thanks to a U.S. mission of the African-American Lobbyists in Kinshasa brutalized by the gorillas of C.N.D. !

         Venus attend the forbidden lecture of the U.D.P.S. at the international hotel, some of the Congressmen were caught in a brawl provoked by the « Gorillas » of the A.N.R., the Mobutu’s securiy service. Were the first propagandists of the U.D.P.S. in the U.S.A.. The sequel was the epic decade of the cat and the mouse in which Mobutu excelled. On April 24, 1990, ten years after the creation of the U.D.P.S. by Etienne Tsisekedi and Marcel Antoine Lihau and after having plunged Zaire into the last circle of Dante, haunted the fear of the humiliating public execution of his Romanian friends Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, the ultimate victims of "Perestroika", Mobutu, the tear to the eye, accepted in spite of himself, multiparty. This April 24, 1990 will remain forever that of a shared emotion between a dictator strapped in his last "Abacost" and a Zairian people suddenly became libertarian not knowing what political freedom looks like.
         President François Mitterrand had to deliver a speech at La Baule, prepared by the French Academic writer Erik Orsenna on June 20, 1990, so that French-speaking African dictatorships collapsed one after the other. The conferences which followed were real "Exutoires" for the oppositions long muzzled. But Mobutu had not written the epilogue, for he himself had prepared the chaos that would sweep everything after his reign. A war, coupled with a disease, was necessary for the one who wanted to sell expensive, his leopard skin, the animal in which he had incarnated.The Sovereign National Conference, a real popular outlet, a lightning war, poorly cared prostate cancer that had to take Mobutu and his Zaire to hell in 1997.

Difficult to inherit the racketeering secret of "Rackham the Red" without being a pirate yourself or the descendant of his famous enemy François Haddock?

         Thus Laurent-Désiré Kabila, whose life had been adventurous became the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was not democratic. He was an imitator of Mobutu, but he was certainly not his heir. The evidence, four years later, he was killed by his entourage because of his excessive authoritarianism. Was not his death, still unclear, filled by the access to power of his adopted son? And if he was Brutus who had succeeded? If so why during 18 years of power, has the latter attracted the hatred of a large part of the post-Mobutu generation? Has Kananga once again become the original core of Congolese democracy with the election of Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo?

Many Congolese who dream of Democracy hope to be part of generations weaned from the Mobutist curse?

         The "African Arrangement" that brought Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to power on January 24, 2019, according to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is he not a mea culpa of Joseph Kabila Kabange to the father of Congolese democracy? Under international pressure, would he have felt unable to steal the son's electoral victory after the father's spoilage in 2011? In any case, the very first peaceful alternation of power in the Republic gradually erases the pessimistic forecasts of the « Va-t-en guerre » and pseudo-Mobutist Resistance. Only the future will prove to us that it is not a truce or a revolt! Because when the remains of Mobutu and his most formidable political opponent Etienne Tshisekedi will rest in his homeland and the reconciliation of the people will be effective Congolese (despite a system of alternating perfectible), the "Resistance" and other "Opponents" in the diaspora will all lose their horse of battle and will gradually disappear one after the other.

The demons of Felix Tshisekedi's regime are intrinsic to its origins.

         During my few days of study at the Pre University, I noticed the pretentious and tribalist mentality of Baluba and Lulua. While chatting with my classmates, word returned regularly in the conversation "Mwanetu, that is to say My dear brother" to make sure of the agreement of his partner. At the University of Lubumbashi, I noticed the same "Vantard" mentality among Kasai students. Returning to Kananga a few years later as a Plan official, I realized that the city was in real decay, but the local youth had not lost its free pretense. In the capital Kinshasa, a successful Muluba automatically becomes proud with "upstart behavior".

A population that disdains agriculture and livestock?

         While visiting the Kananga market, I was struck by the diversity of insects and various beetles and edible birds, alongside the crocodile meat and pieces of python that I had never seen in a Kivu market. There were few local fresh agricultural products (beans, small weights, vegetables, fruits, goat meat and cow, etc.). I concluded by observing the beautiful green plateaus around Kananga, that its inhabitants favored hunting and gathering for agriculture and livestock. The only agricultural product sold in the city was the "Tumbele, that is to say peanuts" which was sold at all corners of the streets, alongside the donuts. The rest of the vagrants and walkers indulged in the "Bento" and the scam. Was manual labor repulsive? This is perhaps the Baluba's specificity: working as little as possible to gain as much as possible.

Many pretentious Kasai, liars, rogues and counterfeiters.

          Whence perhaps this complex of false superiority which makes of eternal "Counterfeiters and Rogue". This is the internal disease of the "Union for Democracy and Social Progress", the party of Felix Tshisekedi Felix Antoine in power in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The last big but most disturbing defect of the U.D.P.S. is the lack of business sense. If Etienne Tshisekedi had waited a few months before spreading "The letter to Mobutu of 52 pages" in 1980, signed by 13 parliamentarians, he cashed the profits on the sale price of the quota of the U.S. Rice allocated to him by the « Secretariat of Counterpart Funds » in the framework of the PL480 Program. His idealism made him miss millions of dollars, that would probably have paid for the university studies of Félix, who was then 17 years old.
         If I made a somewhat harsh judgment about my friends and compatriots, it's because I really like my native country and my age is between the main founder of the U.D.P.S., the late Etienne and his heir, Félix-Antoine. Indeed, I was born in 1953, that is to say 12 years after the birth of the first (1941) and 10 years before that of his son (1963). And if there is a region and a Congolese population that I know well, it is the former Kasai Occidental after my native region North Kivu. And the day young Congolese do not listen to the advice of the elders, the Democratic Republic of Congo will cease to exist! And those of the U.D.P.S. must stop bringing the party back to a Luba affair, because it is the incubator of all the Congolese Opposers to the dictatorships, that have succeeded to power since Mobutu. Armed with my ten years of experience in the Ministry of Planning and private business in Switzerland since 1991, I speak especially to the people in power: I am willing to give them uninterested practical advice on how to rethink economic development the country and mobilize the maximum capital and especially their use, without going through international aid and waste (apart from any political demagoguery*).

* Kanyarwunga I.N. Jean, Les Générations condamnées (The condemned generations. Dismissal of a pre-capitalist society), Publibook, Paris, 2006.