04.02.10 Askchelock.com : Interview With Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile from DR CONGOBackground: I met Mugisho when I joined The Safe World Support Centre. Mugisho is the Team Leader of the DR Congo Project, and I became one of his volunteers. As I had more correspondence with Mugisho, I learned that he is also starting a new project called Congolese Females Action For Promoting Their Rights (COFAPRI). Part of the text of Mugishos plan reads as follows:
“The DRC is a big country located at the heart of Africa. It has
recently been drug into a bloody war that lasted more than a decade.
Like any war, aftermaths are unavoidable. The latter makes suffer more
the females especially in the country because they fear to speak out
what happened to them as abuses. This makes them suffer physically and
morally as it is due to some practices and traditions that forbid
females to report on everything. Being secretive therefore seems to
cause them another kind of internal injure. Women and girls who have
been raped for instance cannot say it publicly for fear to break the
customs and even be repudiated by their husbands, thus be ridiculous in
their respective communities.
In some households, there are also variety of abuses done on females like being beaten by their husbands, rape by husbands, not accepting them to work outside, not giving them a floor to speak in public, girls are not given chances like boys, etc. Violating women’s rights is also another form of devilish violation of human rights; the background of an individual does affect them in the future.
All the above mentioned elements attracted our attention and thus we thought females, educated or not, need our voice to empower them and so break the stigma and tell the world the abuses they undergo in the name of the culture safeguard. Thus the creation of COFAPRI is to break the cycle of violence, the stigma and the silence and denounce these destructive practices.”
In requesting permission of Mugisho to do an article about him and his proposal for this project, I asked whether in so doing it would place him in any danger. Mugisho stated in his response to this question, “As for danger, I do not think there may be one although we never know the behaviour of our people. But I am ready for it.” The following is my interview with Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile:
Cher: Please tell us a little about your background.
Mugisho: I am Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile. Married and father of one daughter aged 2 years and eight months today. I hold a degree in Education, English language teaching and I am reading for Master’s in conflict resolution at UKZN, South Africa. Today I am a university teacher, am volunteering with SWFW DR Congo team leader. I and Bahati are the founders of COFAPRI.
Cher: You have founded COFAPRI, Congolese Females Action for Promoting Their Rights. What lead you to do this?
Mugisho: I felt pity with discrimination, violence and injustice done on women around me in war, at work or at home. Also I got motivated by the campaign we are leading in Safe World For Women.
Cher: What are the primary goals you want to address in this organization?
Mugisho: To empower females to say NO to all kinds of evil actions done on them and then help them to organize and produce something for survival. Never fear to claim for their rights non-violently.
Cher: Can you cite specific examples of violations of women’s rights in DR Congo?
Mugisho: They are refused to work outside the home, girls are not given chances to go to school as boys are, women are beaten by their husbands, they are not allowed to speak in public; cultures is to blame here.
Cher: I have read that part of the violations of women come from those in your military. Is that still the case?
Mugisho: Today things are changing smoothly though slowly. Nothing is sure for grant.
Cher: Our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited your country last year. One woman was quoted as telling her, “Children are killed, women are raped and the world closes its eyes.” Can you respond to that?
Mugisho: This is true but the world will not respond to what they are not told. So women must report such devilish attitudes and actions to appropriate instances.
Cher: What part does the fight over minerals in the DR Congo play in the violation of women’s rights?
Mugisho: The Eastern part as there are the militia who often rape women and girls.
Cher: Are women shunned by their families when they have been raped?
Mugisho: Sure, they are shunned because their husbands abandon them and the latter believe such women are not fitting the community or they maybe are now HIV positive, they bring shame to the family.
Cher: Are arrests made in cases of rape?
Mugisho: Sometimes, yes but the rapers are released soon.
Cher: Is there an organization to which people can donate to aid your efforts?
Mugisho: There are but I am contacting them and take an agreement.
I am very grateful to Mugisho for this interview. While it was done across the miles, the courage he speaks is the courage he lives. Once his plan for COFAPRI is approved, I will have a widget on this blog. He is at this time searching for trustworthy venues through which donations can be made. Please keep Mugisho, his family and the women of the DR Congo in your thoughts.