Plea for peace continues

By Laura Briggs

The Congolese community will host a Congolese Independence Day celebration on Saturday.

Goulburn Valley Congolese Association president Jean Marie Mupenda said the event would include a shared lunch and cultural activities.

He said the event would focus on the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brother Francois Baguma would share his personal story about his war experience.

Mr Mupenda said the event aimed to educate the community about the country’s history and its current situation.

He said many Congolese had been fortunate enough to come to Australia to live, but there were thousands who remained in refugee camps while there was ongoing war in their country.

Mr Mupenda said Patrice Lumumba, who served as the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960, was recognised as the hero of Congo’s independence and his goal was to bring improvement to the quality of life for the Congolese and unify the country by eliminating tribalism and regionalism.

He said Mr Lumumba’s assassination was the beginning of the Congo crisis that continues today.

Mr Mupenda said the war was unnecessary and the Congolese needed it to stop.

He said by holding the Congolese Independence Day celebration event they hoped to reach the Australian Government, which they believed could help and contribute to ending the war.

GV Congolese Association committee member Jean-Michel Batakane said the Congolese people who had been fortunate enough to come to Australia were thankful, but at the same time they were aware and constantly reminded of friends, family and others who remained in the chaos of their homeland.

‘‘We are glad to be here, but I don’t think it’s possible to be fully at peace of mind knowing there are all those people we’ve left behind,’’ he said.

Mr Mupenda hoped Congo would live in peace without war.

He said all were welcome to attend the celebration event and join the Congolese in seeking unity and peace for their country.

The event will be at the African House, 54 Poplar Ave, Shepparton on Saturday from 1pm to 4.30pm.