1. Keynote Speaker Jacob Rumbiak on the West Papua Government’s self-determination strategies for 2024 after the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s abject rejection of West Papua’s application for membership.
2. Launch: Clovis Mwamba’s book of poetry The Meteorite Memos: a 30-minute Cabaret Burlesque, West Papua and the Congo, written by Barbara Hall and directed by award-winning film director Charlie Hill-Smith. In tango, rap, and shakespearian poetry, a satirical glimpse at the men and corporations that [still] manipulate and manoeuvre the politics and resources of ‘two nations both alike in their dignity where we lay our scene’. The ‘cast’ includes America’s National Security Act (1947), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the notorious CIA Director Allen Dulles. Script: West Papua and the Congo Open Day, 26 Nov 2023, Cabaret Burlesque, Script, West Papua and the Congo
3. Dr Joe’s Auction unique Christmas presents to keep our office-door swinging wide open.
Author Clovis-Alidor Mwamba N Kayembe, The Meteorite Memos was a teacher, politician and political prisoner in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has lived in Melbourne since 2007, is an active member of the WP Womens Office-Docklands, and was a keynote speaker at our seminar West Papua’s return to the UN: fulfilling Hammarskjöld’s legacy in 2020 (below for link).
Clovis was born in 1946 in the Congo’s mineral-rich province of Katanga. In the early 1980s he joined his nation’s underground opposition movement advocating non-violence and respect for human rights. He was elected to parliament as the Cold War ended and superpower-patronage of Africa’s strong-man-rulers like Mobutu evaporated. However President Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga Mobutu was one of the world’s foremost examples of kleptocracy, cruelty and nepotism with a murderous career arcing back to 1961 when as Army Chief-of-Staff he organised the murder of the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Initially Mobutu offered Clovis a ministerial portfolio, but soon reverted to hunting down dissenters, blowing up newspaper offices, and killing opposition figures, forcing Clovis back underground where he continued to publish critical reviews. Mobutu was finally overthrown in 1997 during an armed rebellion led by Laurent Kabila (with the assistance of Congo’s neighbours, principally President Yuveni’s Uganda, and Paul Kagame’s Rwanda). However, little changed when the Congo rebels became the government, and the Congo River once again overflowed with floating corpses. When Clovis rejected President Kabila’s offer of a lucrative commercial opportunity he was accused of spying for the United Nations and the United States, and incarcerated. (Link below for Clovis biography).
The Meteorite Memos is a collection of poems smuggled out of prison by Maggie Kiembe, Clovis courageous wife, and visceral accounts of the torture and desecrations whispered to him by fellow prisoners. It begins with an anthropological essay illuminating elements of Congo indigenous cultures by which the people of this resource rich nation survive the corruption and malpractice of western extractive companies and the Congo politicians they influence and manipulate. Written in French, translated to English by Timothy Mathieson, Clovis’ memoir is …
” … a story of blood and filth, of months spent in prison, a witness to dozens of people beaten and killed. Mwamba smuggled this tale out one piece at a time, in chapters of violence scrawled on tiny scraps of paper. His handwriting covers a chewing gum wrapper, another note fills a wrapper stripped from a tin of pilchards. More often, flattened cigarette packs acted as parchment.
Had the prison guards discovered these little missives, carried home after visits by his wife and friends, they would have been no wiser to his intention. He disguised the stories as poems or literary musings, indecipherable to anyone but him. Free again, Mwamba gathered his tiny notes and compiled a dossier of official atrocities. It was 1999 and this was supposed to be a new Congo, a country he had spent his life fighting to free.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January 2010)
Charlie’s Strange Birds of Paradise: a West Papuan story won the SBS IF Award for Best Documentary and the Samsung Mobile AFI Award for Best Feature Documentary. The West Papua Womens Office has just a few copies of the DVD for sale.
Clovis Mwamba’s Biography, Clovis Mwamba, Biography
Clovis Mwamba’s presentation for West Papua’s return to the UN: fulfilling Dag Hammarskjöld’s legacy, at https://dfait.federalrepublicofwestpapua.org/document/west-papuas-return-to-the-united-nations-fulfilling-dag-hammarskjolds-legacy/
Patience and longing, the gift and the burden of the exile (Daniel Flitton, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January 2010), https://www.smh.com.au/national/patience-and-longing-the-gift-and-the-burden-of-the-exile-20100104-lq66.html
Notes and Reviews of Strange Birds in Paradise, https://strangebirdsdocop.wordpress.com/