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Congolese diplomat Bin Karubi to discuss future of war-torn homeland

Kikaya Bin Karubi

As a close advisor to Congo President Joseph Kabila for the past four years, Kikaya Bin Karubi (UNI’89) has been instrumental in efforts to end one of the most tragic episodes in modern history: the virtual dissolution of his nation in a long civil war that’s killed 3.8 million people.

The on-again, off-again ethnic fighting that has persisted since 1997 has pulled in six other African countries and has caused Congo to backslide since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960: despite being rich in natural resources, the large nation formerly known as Zaire provides few citizens with such basic public services as electricity, clean drinking water, medical care, or access to roads. Sustained by international aid organizations, “Congo is a state in name only,” wrote the New York Times recently. Currently, the nation is preparing to hold its first open elections in nearly 40 years.

Bin Karubi, a former Congolese ambassador to Zimbabwe, who earned a Ph.D. from the University Professors Program on a Fulbright grant, will discuss his experiences working toward peace in his homeland in a free public lecture titled Resolving Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A Challenge for the International Community, on Wednesday, November 2, at 5 p.m. in the George Sherman Union Conference Auditorium.

A father of seven, the 51-year-old Bin Karubi studied at the University of Lubumbashi in Congo and subsequently taught creative writing and African literature there. After earning his UNI degree, he entered politics in Congo, serving as ambassador to Zimbabwe and chief negotiator in international talks to end fighting in the late 1990s. From 2001 to 2003 he was minister of communications in the government of Joseph Kabila, who inherited the presidency from his father, Laurent. The elder Kabila was assassinated in 2001 after overthrowing the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko four years earlier.

Today, as a personal assistant to Joseph Kabila, Bin Karubi is integrally involved in preparations for the open presidential election expected to take place within the next six months.

“There are many challenges, including how to get ballot boxes to places where there is no transportation, and educating citizens about voting when the electoral process is not part of our culture,” says Karubi. He nonetheless expresses optimism, and praises the international community for its $280 million in aid, which is being used to prepare for the elections.

“Ambassador Bin Karubi’s central concerns, democracy and diplomacy in the developing world, could scarcely be more timely,” says UNI Professor Bruce Redford. “During his multifaceted career, Kikaya Bin Karubi has balanced the active and contemplative in ways that do honor to the University Professors Program. As a scholar, teacher, ambassador, and government minister, he gives new life to the term citizen of the world.”

For more information about the lecture, call 617-353-4020.