Neema Namadamu: Architect for Peace in the Congo (Part 2)

Neema

We continue our conversation with Neema Namadamu, founder of the women’s peace organization Maman Shujaa in the Congo. If you haven’t read the first part, go back and read it here. In the second part of our interview, Neema speaks with us about the difficulties of community organizing in a place like the Congo, and how to channel the emotion of anger to that of love and action.

 

2)      You’re leader of the Maman Shujaa, and have spearheaded other projects. What are some challenges in mobilizing a community in the Congo?

 

The biggest challenge is a lack of peace, or downright insecurity. We can hardly move around. It is a big challenge to get funding. We can hardly get out of the “pilot” or “feasibility” stage of things because full blown implementation is not possible without peace.

 

Not only is it risky, but the only way to get to some places is by walking, and going a hundred kilometers or more by foot creates a big challenge to connect people, especially with insecurity. Some areas are sodesperately cutoff from not only the world, but from the whole of Congo. There used to be a road 376 kilometers long that stretched from Lake Tanganyika to Mwenga Center, for which there has not been a vehicle able to pass since 1967. Imagine what opening that road might mean to the hundreds of thousands living where the rule of law is enforced by mostly unlearned and unprincipled men, where maternity care is incredibly scarce, where 100% of the children that go away to further their education don’t come back to the area to live and invest their acquired capacity. Imagine the energy and jobs just having that road would create; the opportunity for security, commerce, and to simply connect with the rest of their countrymen.

 

3)      Many of your life circumstances would leave another person cynical and angry. Including having a handicap, seeing violence consistently in your country, and the assault of your daughter. Despite all of this, what gives you your “love of country?”  Secondly, how would you suggest a person channel the energy of anger to that of love?

 

My country is like my mother, and it’s people like my sisters and brothers. I got polio as a toddler. I don’t blame my mother or brothers for polio. The problem afflicting our country is like a disease. Greed is infectious. Licentiousness with impunity is evilly contagious. And many have been infected. But there is a cure. In fact, the cure is so powerful it is spreading faster than the disease. Health has come over us and immunity to these ills has taken hold in our midst. The cure was light; the light of love. Love for one another has opened our eyes and built us up with a profound strength. Love for each other has caused us to respect each other’s community. Love and respect for each other’s community has bound us together in hope, in possibility. Love and respect for each other’s community has given us a passion for our country, and a vision for its people.

 

When my daughter was beaten by soldiers, I was at a loss. Revenge wanted its way, but somehow I could see that the way of revenge only brings about more avenging. I wanted to break the cycle. I wanted my daughter to heal, to be in health, in life. I knew there was no life, no peace, no satisfaction in anger. And as that realization came over me, I let all of those negative things go. When I did, the most amazing thing happened. Love filled my heart and consciousness. Love for all, including those who would be my enemies. I went and met with those soldiers. I told them I was their mom and I expected better of them. They asked me for forgiveness and begged me to come visit them often. I realized that love is the most powerful weapon of all, especially coming out of the heart of a mother.

We, once again, thank Ms. Namadamu for her time and will continue with Part 3 of the work she’s doing in the Congo.

 

Photo of Neema Namadamu by Jennifer Esperanza.


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2 Responses to “Neema Namadamu: Architect for Peace in the Congo (Part 2)”

  1. AbbanBudu says:

    Inspirational. She really deserve a Nobel

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