A Chicago Reader Writes

I’ve been corresponding recently with a reader in Chicago who asks some provocative questions about the Congo. I thought his questions and my answers would shed some light on ways to look at the situation in the DRC.

On Feb. 11 he wrote a short note about my post on the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra:

from where do you get the figure of 90% as the percentage of the DRC living in relative peace, as you wrote here, and what qualifies as “relative peace”?

I wrote back:

Good question and thanks for raising it. My statement that 90% of the DRC lives in relative peace came from several sources, including Congolese friends of mine who have been in the country recently and a conversation I had with UN Ambassador Ileka Atoki about a month ago. It’s not a scientific figure at all, but serves to illustrate the point that the entire vast nation is not at war.

While conditions are far from ideal and tensions exist in many other parts of the DRC, the fighting that’s drawing all the headlines is restricted currently to the eastern and northeastern provinces. The situation there is not good, as I’m sure you know, but the rest of the country is “peaceful” by comparison.

I hope this clarifies the post and thanks for following my blog. Please feel free to comment (or discuss matters via email) if you feel so inclined.

We’ve since exchanged some longer notes, which I’ll post in the coming days.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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