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The burden of the future: an exploration of the aftermath of violent conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (1996-2007)

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This study explores the aftermath of protracted social conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through a historical lense in the Kabare district, precisely in Mulungu, Lwiro and Katana where research centres are located. A qualitative research paradigm was used to determine the nature and extent of protracted violence on the economy and the society. The sampling area involved the three research centres along with their direct vicinities. One hundred in-depth interviews with three focus groups followed by participant observation were used in this study in order to generate rich data. Purposive sampling technique was used to identify relevant respondents to which a snowball sampling method was added to help reach more interviewees. The findings of this study reveal that the numerous crisis that the country has gone through from the Leopoldian era right to the present are explained by the pursuit of the 1885 Berlin Protocol. Here international powers agreed on using the Congo as a carrefour for international commerce to enlarge their markets as well as to advance their commercial agenda while simultaneously using it as a digging ground of raw material required to boost industries in the West at the cost of the blood, sweat and misery of the Congolese people. The state failures from the Congo Free State to the Democratic Republic of Congo, coupled with the protracted social conflict that seats the culture of violence within the structures, institutions as well as the Congolese social fabric; are the result of the application of the 1885 Berlin Protocol that set the Congo to be an ever-open market for world leaders rather than a modern nation-state. The study concludes in demonstrating that unless the 1885 Berlin Protocol is reviewed and changed completely to allow the Congo to organize itself as a modern nation-state that will deal at equal terms of trade with Western countries, peace will remain illusory in the DRC and the innocent Congolese will continue to die in the process.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.