"Kana banjoko ke nwana, yo kele matiti ke monaka mpasi."
That was my Congolese friend's explanation of the recent troubles here in Kinshasa. The old African proverb simply says, "When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers." In this case the "elephants" were soldiers of the two leading presidential candidates. The grass was the rest of the city's population.
On August 20, the results for the primary elections for the first Presidential election in Congo in 45 years were announced. The purpose of these elections was to reduce the Presidential candidates from 33 running to just 2 for the final elections. When the two leading candidates were announced fighting broke out between their two armies. (Where else in the world are presidential candidates allowed to have their own armies?) Reports vary concerning the deaths caused by the fighting. Some say it was in the hundreds. Not to mention the property damage.
The fear, of course, is that if this type of fighting breaks out now, what possibly could happen when one of these two candidates actually loses the final elections, which are to be held on October 29th of this year. Our children's school has already announced that it will close during this time as a safety precaution.
When I mentioned to my Congolese friend that I was thinking about taking my family out of the city and up country to Kikongo where we have our Pastor's Institute, he used another proverb similar to our "jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire." His feelings were that if things get real bad, then being up country could actually be worse for our family. It would be very difficult for us to get out if necessary.
For now the city is tense, but calm. So, as we look forward to the Presidential elections on October 29th, we are also praying about our response to the potential danger.
Will you pray with us about this decision? We really need God's wisdom and direction.
And, as always, please pray for peace in the Congo.
Mike and Jill Lowery
Democratic Republic of Congo