Monday 8 July 2013

Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo): The memory of Floribert Bwana Chui

Floribert at the School of Peace
These days the communities of Sant'Egidio all over the world remember the sixth anniversary of the death of Floribert Bwana Chui, brother of the Community of Goma, in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was killed for saying "No" to a corruption attempt in the night between 8 and 9 July 2007.

For a few months, Floribert had worked as a Commissioner for Failures at the OCC, the “Office Congolais de Contrôle”, the state agency that deals with compliance and quality assessments of all goods transiting the Congo. The young man (26 years old) was in charge of destroying the consignments of spoiled food that they had tried to take across the border. A delicate work, subject to pressure.

When, at the end of June and beginning of July 2007, his office intercepted spoiled food and arranged for its destruction, the Commissioner began to receive bribery offers and then threats to pass through those goods, which were harmful to the population’s health. But Floribert, who grew up with the Church of Goma and the Community of Sant'Egidio at  the school of the Gospel, convinced that the law of God was to be respected at the cost of his own existence, did not bend, but resisted and carried out his task.

Just six years ago, on July 2, there was important evidence. The call made by Floribert to sr. Jeanne-Cécile, his longtime friend and doctor at the Goma hospital, "Floribert called me on the mobile phone. It was urgent, he said, he absolutely had to speak, had just been threatened. He asked me, 'Is it dangerous to allow the marketing of food already expired?’ I said to him yes, deterioration sets in motion chemical processes that may harm the human body. At that point I asked him to explain himself better. But what was he talking about? Then he told me that they had tried to bribe him so that he didn’t  destroy the rotten food, that they offered him 1,000 dollars first, then more, up to 3,000. But that he had refused: as a Christian, he could not accept to endanger the lives of so many people. He added: 'The money will soon disappear. Instead, those people who were to consume those products, what would become of them?'. He continued: 'I live in Christ or not? I live for Christ or not? That's why I can not accept. It is better to die rather than accept that money'. So he concluded."

The grave of Floribert
Floribert was killed because he said "No" to a practice probably consolidated, because he may have blown up the well-oiled mechanism that ensures quick and easy gains to a plurality of subjects, both commercial as well as non-commercial ones. Having endured so much the proposed corruption, in terms of threats, and having thus become a real challenge to the power of money and violence, they will think of removing him, in order to return to manage the lucrative trafficking of before.

The young man was able to preserve its freedom in an extremely difficult situation. His was a strong way of living the Christian life. Faith, listening to the Gospel, love for justice, have translated into force in his life experience. A force that is communicated, encourages to resist, opens to confidence in a better world, less slave of money, more free, more just, more humane.

In this perspective, the Community of Sant'Egidio has chosen to dedicate to Floribert both the school open in Mugunga, just near Goma, for the children of that refugee camp, as well as the DREAM center inaugurated in Kinshasa, in the district of Bibwa. Places of attention and care for the weakest and the neediest ones, free spaces in a context characterized by rare payment educational and health services, both the Mugunga school and the Bibwa health center represent well Floribert’s commitment and sacrifice, and stand out like images of a different and better Congo, the Congo that the Commissioner for Failures had dreamed of.

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