'Congo needs another voice': bloggers talk art, sex and football in DRC Global development

26 April 2018

Digital Content

Index on Censorship honours a young collective sharing their experiences on social media of life in a land plagued by violence, corruption and poverty

In the midst of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s dangerous political crisis, the main media outlets have split almost entirely into pro-government and pro-opposition camps, most concentrated in the capital, Kinshasa.

Information has become as factionalised as politics, an echo chamber of competing narratives. Into that vacuum, however, a group of young Congolese bloggers has attempted to inject an alternative voice.

Launched in 2016, Habari RDC is a collective of more than 100 Congolese bloggers and web activists, who use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to give voice to the opinions of young people from all over the DRC.

The collective won the Index on Censorship’s digital activism award at a ceremony in London on Thursday.

The aim of these citizen bloggers is to bear witness to what is happening in every corner of the country, which is plagued by extreme poverty, corruption and violence.

It is a bold and ambitious project in a country where, as Reporters without Borders notes: “Freedom of information is constantly violated and journalists are exposed to threats, physical violence, arrest, prolonged detention and even murder.”

Habari’s digital presence brings a clear advantage – using virtual private networks to circumvent censorship, while hosting debate on the big social network used in Congo, Facebook, where its posts often attract 200 comments.

In London last week to receive the award, Guy Muyembe, one of Habari’s founders, said: “We decided about two years ago that Congo needed another voice. It was important to us because our media tends to report only about the main Congolese leaders. The one voice you never hear is the voice of our country’s young people … what their experience is.” Read the full article on The Guardian here.