Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scandal in Kampala: Marie-José Méjé 30, her indiscreet jewel, and fatwas by sexist Congolese doppelganger anticitizens


Marie-José Méjé 30 in Kampala, Uganda


Two versions of this post appeared on Alex Engwete (French): here and here.

Marie-José Méjé 30 (above photo) is a rising star of Soukouss, the Cuban-inspired Congolese pop music. She sings with the band Mamou Nationale of Elizabeth Tshala Mwana (also spelled Muana), the Queen of the mutuashi—the Luba belly dance. On Thursday night August 29, Mamou Nationale performed at the Hotel Africana Ltd of Kampala, Uganda, on Wampewo Avenue. Kampala reporter Alex Balimwikungu of New Vision Online says the Queen “performed at a largely private function at the invitation of the [new] Congolese ambassador, Jean Charles Lokoto Lulakombe.”


As this photo shows, the Queen has gained too much weight and might have become the shadow of the slim diva and dance phenomenon she once was. Balimwikungu captures the full angst of the treason of the body by age and fat in the title of his report: “A Mellow Tshala Mwana performance.” Age might be a mischaracterization on my part here. Tshala Mwana and Madonna were both  born in 1958, and yet Madonna is still fit. The fact of the matter is that by and large Congolese don't exercize. In fact, Congolese politicians and successful people are, to a few exceptions confirming the rule, all potbellied! And proud to be overweight, an outward sign of success!...

Balimwikungu also notes that Tshala Mwana 2009 version “was a far cry from the gyrating queen of mutuashi dance, who last graced the Ugandan stage in 1996. She was less active, taking intermittent breaks and letting her band and lead songstress, Marie Jose, take over the two-hour performance.” Adding: “There was no vigour and vitality in her gyrations. Even when she tried hard to shake, you could tell her heart was willing, but her body could not follow.” Though Balimwikungu concludes with a gallant charitable note: “However, do not be fooled, Tshala Mwana is an ageless beauty with that rare combo of grace, style and loads of talent.” Right!...

That was it, you’d think. Far from it…


There were Congolese men in the audience, with digital cameras, who snapped a few pictures of the performance. And that’s when the “scandal,” the outrage and the fatwas were triggered. In those pictures that have since gone viral on Congolese blogosphere, it appears that Marie-José Méjé 30 chose not to don underwear, offering her “indiscreet jewel” (Denis Diderot) for the free perusal by her Kampalan audience (photo). Tshala Mwana and her publicist are now claiming that these pictures were photoshopped.
One would certainly understand Tshala Mwana when she lies about the Kampala “exposure” of Marie-José Méjé 30. For since then, Luba tribal and national patriotic fatwas have been raining on the singer. These fatwas cannot be taken lightly, given how these self-proclaimed Congolese patriots behave. These self-righteous and sovereign patriots are vicious doppelganger anticitizens (Comaroff and Comaroff). Three Congolese musicians have already been targeted by these “patriots” for their alleged ties with the Congolese political establishment or for performing in Rwanda: Koffi Olomide, Werrason, and Kester Emeneya—some of their concerts in Europe have even been canceled for fear of violence…

Two Congolese MPs, who have wandered in the streets London without protection, have been savagely beaten up by these doppelganger anticitizens (Shé Okitundu in 2006, and Yves Kisombe in August of this year). Their crime? Belonging to the party of Joseph Kabila who, according to these “patriots,” has no filiation with his assassinated father and is instead a Rwandan citizen placed by Rwandan president Paul Kagame in the entourage of the late Laurent Kabila!

A new twist in the many strands of Congo’s conspiracy theory. In 2001, when Joseph Kabila replaced his father as the president, these same “patriots” claimed that Congo wasn’t a monarchy to have a son replace his father!...

The “otherness” of Congolese heads-of-state, however, is nothing new in the Congo: Joseph Kasa-Vubu, the first president, was rumored to have been fathered by one of the Chinese that Belgians brought in during the construction of the railroads; Mobutu was claimed to be a citizen of the Central African Republic. And today, even some mainstream politicians are calling on Joseph Kabila to undergo DNA tests to prove once and for all that he’s really the son of the man he claims to be his father!

Marie-José Méjé 30’s extravagance in Kampala begs the following two questions: 1) Why are Congolese men so mad at her? 2) What is really behind this “respect of the Congolese woman” they claim she'd trampeled?

1) Most Congolese men are mad at Marie-José Méjé 30 for “flashing” in front of men of Uganda, a country whose soldiers had invaded the Congo where, amidst pillages and other plunderous activities in their “military entrepreneurship” during what has been dubbed Africa’s First World War, they also raped Congolese women. Well, Ugandan soldiers have long since departed the Congo and today those who rape Congolese women are mostly Congolese themselves. According to the report the Congo Advocacy Coalition just released on October 13, "Many of the killings [in eastern Congo] have been carried out by the [Rwandan] FDLR militia who are deliberately targeting civilians to punish them for their government's decision to launch military operations against the group. Congolese government soldiers have also targeted civilians through killings and widespread rape, looting, forced labor, and arbitrary arrests."

One would also want to know what has the body of this woman got to do with these rapes by Ugandan soldiers. These mostly sexist Congolese men think that she'd somehow emasculated them by exposing herself to Ugandan men. They are not ashamed of what she might have done to herself. This reaction is akin to the reaction by men in the areas in eastern Congo where women are victims of sexual terrorism. They ostracize these women for the "shame" they bring to the men of the family and of the tribe for their crime of letting themselves be raped! These rape victims are thus being psychologically and culturally raped and raped again! With no one in their communities to help them cope with their trauma!

2) The "respect of the Congolese woman" argument is therefore a big lie. And in urban areas, more than one thousand kilometers from the seemingly "aberrance" of the rape filds of eastern Congo, in Kinshasa for instance,whenever there’s a riot, women are targeted for rape. On July 26, 2006, for example, when the supporters of the presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba rioted in Kinshasa, they descended on the offices of the Haute Autorité des Média (HAM), the media regulatory authority, near the stadium Tata Raphaël (the historic site of the Rumble in the Jungle) where Bemba was holding his rally. There, they found a female employee about to go home to her husband and children. While some of these “patriots” ransacked the office, others also took the opportunity to mass rape that woman. They then moved to the nearby church of Reverend Sony Kafuta, who’s alleged to be Kabila’s friend. There, they found a dozen women, in prayer retreat, whom they also raped en masse. Moreover, what really throws into relief the lie of the “respect of the Congolese woman” argument is the treatment by Congolese men of the cast of shameless characters on the photos below:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

On the photo on the left is the Soukouss musician and co-creator of the band Zaiko Langa-Langa: Antoine Evoloko Bitumba Bolay Ngoy aka Anto Nickel aka Lay-Lay aka Atshuamo aka Tonton Bokulaka aka Joker aka “La carte qui gagne” [the winning card]. And the man seems to have lived up to that last ridiculous moniker's reputation...

What’s his crime? On Sunday January 27, 2008, this 57-year-old abducted and repeatedly raped a 14-year-old girl. The man was then arrested, tried, and sentenced on February 1, 2008, to 10 years behind bars, in accordance with a new law passed in 2006 aimed at stamping out sexual violence against women—especially in view of sexual terrorism in the eastern part of the country. Supporters of this pedophile claimed that the sentence was too harsh, especially as the underage girl was alleged to be no longer a virgin! And all the big names of Soukouss — including Papa Wemba and Werrason — actively lobbied for the release of this violent sex offender and were shown on TV visiting him in prison. Then, on August 19 of this year: coup de théâtre! Evoloko was pardoned by the Minister of Justice for good behavior and released from prison! And “Evoloko’s liberation was hailed by the population [of Kinshasa]; a motorcade was organized from the [Makala Prison] to the Place of the Artists at Victoire Square in Matonge in the Commune of Kalamu.” A few blocks from where he'd raped the underage girl. A few blocks from where his victim still lives!...

The photo on the right features the “Honorable” MP Marc Mvuama Anedu. Here’s the unpunished crime of this proud outspoken representative of the Bandundu Province in the National Assembly: “The events date back from 2002. The young girl, Bienvenue Kimbanfu, […] is 12. She has her genitals literally shattered during the vaginal penetration, attests Dr. Kongolo. She […] may never bear children… This is the story of a young villager destroyed in her humanity by a man six times her senior.” And this grim account by the Kinshasa magazine Le Soft aptly describes the dishonorable MP: “This man is a monster, who perpetrated an unspeakable crime on a minor.” Here was the punishment fitting this monstrous crime: no jail time, just a fine consisting of “a goat and 300 Congolese Francs (not even one dollar)” given to the victim's parents,  according to Le Soft.

Since then, another pedophile monster has rejoined him, both roaming free in the streets of Kinshasa where they may be continuing their activity of sexual predators. They go about their daily activities unmolested whereas Marie-José Méjé 30 risks being raped by “patriots” who think she’d committed the abominable crime of flashing her “indiscreet jewel” in Kampala. A tight biopolitical control over women's bodies by any self-righteous sovereign Congolese man. That is, sexism unleashed and gone berserk! In Kinshasa, women wearing jeans or western "whorish" garbs have been attacked and beaten up for insulting the dignity of the Congolese woman! A short historical memory indeed, for as late as the 1940s we were photographed wearing tiny penis-sheaths and sex-covers made from tree bark... It took many a lashes of the chicotte administered by Belgian colonists to have us adopt what these self-styled tropical Taliban call our "dignified" clothing...

That's the past, forgotten!... Today however a fatwa is in order: woe unto the Congolese woman who’d dare to freely pose nude like Carla Bruni (below photo) or who’d turn--God forbid!--into a porn star... She'd be in mortal danger, as a Congolese woman’s body doesn’t belong to her; it belongs to sexist doppelganger anticitizens…



Carla Bruni

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