Congo’s Young People: A Ray of Hope for the Future

By Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a critical country located in the heart of the African continent. It is the only country in Africa with nine bordering neighbors. It is arguably the richest country in the world in natural resources with an estimated $24 trillion dollars of mineral wealth. The DRC is one of the largest countries in Africa and the world with an estimated 90 million inhabitants. Like most countries on the African continent, the DRC is predominantly a young country with a median age of 17.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a critical country located in the heart of the African continent. It is the only country in Africa with nine bordering neighbors. It is arguably the richest country in the world in natural resources with an estimated $24 trillion dollars of mineral wealth. The DRC is one of the largest countries in Africa and the world with an estimated 90 million inhabitants. Like most countries on the African continent, the DRC is predominantly a young country with a median age of 17.

The future of the DRC rests in the hands of its teeming youth population, a large percentage of whom resides in the capital city of Kinshasa whose residents are estimated to be around 12 million. It was in Kinshasa in 2015 that the youth rose to the forefront of those Congolese demanding justice and a different future than the status quo. They lived in a state of harsh repression, abject poverty and devastating unemployment. When the administration at that time sought to extend its stay in power through changing the electoral laws, the youth descended into the streets to protest. Many of them lost their lives, some were jailed and others fled into exile. The uprising in 2015 was dubbed the Telema movement.

The bravery and courage of Congo's youth was documented in an award-winning film by Congolese filmmaker, Dieudou Hamdi, entitled "Kinshasa Makambo"

The strong stance on the part of Congolese youth ultimately led to a transition in power in 2018. Although flawed and the main players of the former government retain a great deal of power, the limited progress made was in part due to the sacrifices taken by Congolese youth. Being keenly aware of the long road ahead, the youth did not demobilize following a change in the presidency of the country at the end of 2018. They have remained organized and mobilized. Due to their organizational readiness which was honed through political education and training as well as grassroots mobilization, they were in a strong position to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. When the pandemic hit in the Spring of 2020, the youth kicked into high gear to assist the location population in three main ways:

  1. Educate the masses about the best way to prevent and combat the virus
  2. Outfit the population with protective gear, particularly masks and delivery of soap
  3. Provide secour to the most vulnerable population during government lockdown by delivering food 

Moved by their response to COVID-19, people throughout the globe rallied to support the courageous initiative by the youth, which strengthened their resolve and bolstered their efforts.

The acute crises that Congolese youth have had to face in the past five years have prepared them for the type of leadership that the DRC needs to fundamental change the direction of the country from one that caters to and benefits the elite to one that addresses the needs and concerns of the oppressed masses. This cohort of youth is ready to assume the responsibilities of the type of leadership that prioritizes the poor and downtrodden. They recognize the shortcomings of their elders and are keen not to repeat many of the missteps that they have made. The youth are leveraging training and continental and international networking opportunities offered by institutions like the Andree Blouin Cultural Center in Kinshasa in order to increase their chances of success.

In spite of the enormous challenges faced by the Congolese people, the youth offer a ray of hope for a brighter future and a stable prosperous country in the heart of the African continent. Should the aspirations of these youth be realized, it will not only accrue to the benefit of the Congo but Africa at-large.


*Note: "Youth" in this article refers to people between the ages of 15 and 35.


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  • Global Ministries (Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ)
    published this page in News 2020-10-19 16:30:44 -0400