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Congo “Coup” Was Reality TV; Morehouse Congo Protest Was Real

22 May 2024

Morehouse University professors protested US complicity in Congo Genocide by unfurling a Congolese flag behind Joe Biden as he addressed the 2024 graduating class. A brief, quixotic coup took place in Congo on the same day.

In 2011, Congolese American Christian Malanga offered to pay me to promote his candidacy for president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I declined, believing he suffered from delusions of grandeur. Thirteen years later, on May 19, 2024, he died in a quixotic coup attempt involving a force of some 50 armed men and lasting for all of three hours in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. Reports are that three of his men and two Congolese police officers were also killed, and that the rest of the men were arrested.

On the same day, in a more serious and significant undertaking, two Morehouse University professors held up a Congolese flag behind President Joe Biden as he addressed the 2024 graduating class. I spoke to Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo , about both events.

ANN: Maurice, what do you think of yesterday’s failed coup attempt in Kinshasa?

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MAURICE: Well, I think that, as you said, it was quixotic. Christian Malanga had no political base in Congo, so it’s hard to imagine how he thought he could succeed in seizing power. You and I have both known Christian for more than a decade, and we both knew he had delusions of grandeur, but I never thought he’d go so far as to mount an armed attack on the homes of Congolese politicians and the presidential palace.

It was almost like reality TV. He even streamed himself and his band of soldiers on Facebook, making pronouncements and waving his bizarre “New Zaire” flag in the presidential palace.

ANN: Yes, he staged and streamed his own final hours—somehow imagining a heroic outcome—but at least he didn’t die on camera.

MAURICE: No, thankfully not.

ANN: Some people are making a lot of the fact that Christian was a Congolese American and that several Americans, including his 21-year-old son Marcel Malanga, were arrested with the rest of his crew. They seem to suggest that this means the US government had something to do with it, but I can’t imagine that any US intelligence agencies or covert operators would get involved in anything so foolish and doomed to fail, or that they’d have any reason to try to displace President Félix Tshisekedi.

MAURICE: No, whatever you want to say about the Pentagon, the CIA, the DIA, or any of the other myriad US intelligence agencies, they’re not amateurs, and nothing could have been more amateurish than Christian’s three-hour coup attempt.

And you’re right that neither the US nor the rest of the West have any motive to displace President Tshisekedi. He’s very cooperative.

ANN: Another detail generating a lot of social media posts is Christian’s visit to an Israeli military base in 2015. Some say this suggests that Israel or Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler had something to do with this, but I can’t imagine they’d bother with it any more than the US security services would. What do you think?

MAURICE: Likewise. Mossad is not amateurish and neither is the Israeli military. Dan Gertler, who is most famous for his ruthless exploitation of Congo’s mineral resources, and for his involvement in other forms of corruption in DRC, has no motivation to engage with someone as deluded as Christian or to overthrow Tshisekedi. He’s busy trying to negotiate with Biden and Tshisekedi to have the sanctions on him lifted.

ANN: What’s that about, lifting the sanctions? What do each of the three parties stand to gain by it?

MAURICE: The United States is in pursuit of critical minerals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, lithium, etc., and they are in a geostrategic battle with China for copper and cobalt in the Congo. The US launched its Partnership For Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) in an effort to combat China’s Belt and Road Initiative . The rehabilitation of the Lobito rail corridor that stretches from the heart of the mining area in southeast Congo through Angola to the Lobito port is a concrete example of the United States’ pursuit of critical transition minerals out of the Congo. The deal that is being negotiated with the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler is part of the US effort to secure greater access and control of these critical minerals. The crux of the deal to relax sanctions on Dan Gertler would result in Gertler giving up his ill-gotten mineral assets in the Congo to US interests.

ANN: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the coup attempt?

MAURICE: Only that there was a big concert scheduled in Kinshasa later that day and it went forward as planned. That should tell you what a blip on the screen this coup attempt was.

ANN: OK, let’s talk about this far more serious effort that took place at Morehouse University on the same day. Africana Studies professor Samuel Livingston and sociology professor Cynthia Hewitt held up a Congolese flag behind Joe Biden during his speech to the Morehouse graduating class of 2024. Are they both active with Friends of the Congo ?

MAURICE: Yes, Dr. Livingston serves on our board, and Dr. Hewitt is a very active supporter of our work. She heads up the International Comparative Labor Studies (ICLS) at Morehouse College. The ICLS was a recent co-sponsor of a webinar we produced with cobalt miners in DRC. We streamed it live and archived it on our YouTube Channel .

ANN: The only press I can find about the Morehouse protest so far, beyond social media, is in USA Today , Yahoo News , and Democracy Now !. USA Today claimed to “explain” but didn’t say anything about why the professors would be protesting behind Biden, and neither did Yahoo News.

On Democracy Now!, Dr. Livingston said he was protesting US complicity in the genocide in DRC by supporting Rwanda, which supports the M23 militia most responsible for the genocide. He also said he did so because the people of the Congo do not get enough media attention, and that the US owes reparations to the Congolese for assassinating their first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?

MAURICE: Yes, I’d like to add that the US has been supporting Rwanda and Uganda’s invasions of DRC since 1996, when both countries along with Angola and Burundi first invaded what was then Zaire to overthrow Joseph Desire Mobutu, whom the US wanted to get rid of after installing him in power and maintaining him there for 32 years.

Rwanda and Uganda invaded again in 1998 to get rid of the leader they had installed, Laurent Desire Kabila. It was this second invasion that triggered the loss of an estimated six million Congolese lives, what the United Nations describe as the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two.

For the past twenty-five plus years Rwanda, led by Paul Kagame, and Uganda, led by Yoweri Museveni, have been plundering not only DRC’s mineral wealth, but also the timber in its rainforest, the second largest in the world. These plundered resources are funneled out to the West; at one point the UN Group of Experts on the DRC reported that Rwanda had a “Congo desk” just to make deals and traffic in smuggled minerals.

The US is the number one bilateral donor to both Rwanda and Uganda. It has provided financial, military, diplomatic, and political support to both for all these years while millions of people have perished in the Congo due to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by these US allies.

ANN: Dr. Livingston also mentioned a connection between Congo, Israel, Palestine, and Dan Gertler, the conflict mineral mining magnate we discussed earlier. He said, as you did, that Biden is trying to strike a deal with Gertler, who is also Israeli. Gertler, he said, has used the vast wealth he’s managed to extract from DRC not only to enrich himself, but also to vicariously enrich the Israeli state, and therefore contribute to the oppression of the Palestinian people. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?

MAURICE: Yes, in the moment of collective liberation driven by young people who are calling not only for a free Palestine but also for a free Sudan, a free Haiti, and a free Congo, it demonstrates the extent to which the struggles of the oppressed masses of the world who are victims of US imperialism are connected. It reinforces our stance that it is through solidarity that the people of the world will ultimately overcome the global elites and their neo-colonial agents to regain control of our land, our resources, and our wealth for the benefit of the oppressed and working class of the world.

ANN: The Morehouse protest was very significant, but it hasn’t gotten nearly as much press coverage as the farcical, failed coup attempt. Do you have plans to further amplify the protest, as we’re attempting to do here?

MAURICE: Yes, we most certainly will. We encourage people to follow us on Instagram , Facebook , Twitter and TikTok to hear more from Professors Livingston and Hewitt and a host of other Friends of the Congo comrades about what is unfolding in the Congo and how people throughout the globe can get involved, take action, and join the global movement for change in the heart of the African continent. This burgeoning movement for a Free Congo is as important today as the Anti-Apartheid or Free South Africa Movements were yesterday. Visit freecongo.org to join us.

ANN: Maurice, thank you for again speaking to Black Agenda Report.

MAURICE: You’re always welcome, Ann.

Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com . You can help support her work on Patreon .

This article was fist published on Black Agenda Report here

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