Tembos Yotama, Butembo
I was angry. I couldn’t stand anymore to stay quiet and do nothing. The situation had to be changed. When police fails in its duties, we have the obligation to take a hold of ourselves to ensure our safety.
Tembos Yotama, Butembo’s rebelThis thirty-years-old young man made himself a policeman to ensure the safety of the people in the Mutsanga district, Butembo, East D.R. Congo. Replacing the police forces of little efficiency.
A movement for securityTembos Yotama, the “Che Guevara” of Butembo? It is the role he wishes to play for his district. As a rebelling citizen, he initiated the movement "Véranda Mutsanga", a coming together of young people involved in protecting the community and their belongings in this part of D.R Congo. He standing straight with sporting clothes and a cap that is hiding part of his forehead. His face is closed. Tembos doesn't smile often. His lack of trust is rooted in the 2000s, when killings and abductions were common in his native city Butembo, as a result of increasing insecurity. He remembers the morning he found the dead body of his neighbour in the gutter not far from a military base.
I was angry, I couldn't stand anymore to stay quiet and do nothing. The situation needed to change. When the police fails in its duties, we have the obligation to take a hold of ourselves to ensure our safety.
Quick resultsInspired by readings about self-management praised by Thomas Sankara and “The Ché”, Tembos initiated the group "Véranda Mutsanga" with about ten childhood friends. As part of their resiliency strategy, they regularly gather to plan night patrols in the area. The group even introduces inhabitants to shadowing in order to detect suspicious behaviour. Fairly quickly, results became tangible.
We started to organise regular searches in houses. We found weapons, munitions and military equipment that we gave back to the police”His biggest pride? The arrest, in 2011, of bandits working in his quarter and who threatened to kidnap a famous shopkeeper of the city.
Women alerted us. They understand our philosophy. The community trusts us. We are the first to know when something is going on, even before the police. When they alert us we call the public forces. When they take too much time, we act ourselves.
"The saviour"From now on known as the “saviour”, Tembos is admired by the inhabitants of Mutsanga district. José Kavira, a mother, is relieved.
“The kidnappers and the hijackers have disappeared. Nights are quiet now.”In the circles of young people, where Véranda Mutsanga is already quite popular, there are more and more members. They are efficient in securing our district. I asked a member card so that I can play a part in the new era of peace that we strive for”, explains Ndaliko Dieudonné, inhabitant of the district. Now, Tembos Yotama thinks about a way of replicating his initiative to other districts of Butembo, where insecurity still prevails.