Director Paul Freedman’s new documentary Merci Congo takes a different approach to documenting the embattled African country, with stories of hope and redemption instead of just tragedy.
“Congo struck me so differently. As dangerous as it is, as mysterious as it is and as tragic as its history is, the resilience, the positivity, the resource that is the Congolese people is second to none,” Freedman tells OZY. “It seems to be sort of the granddaddy of all tragedies on the continent — 5 million dead in the last 20 years and 10 million dead under King Leopold II [of Belgium, who colonized and exploited the region for his personal profit in the late 1800s]. It is staggering what has happened there. But I want people to see what I saw, which is someone like Neema Namadamu, the polio survivor who is empowering other Congolese women, one after another. She feels lucky to have been born with polio, because it meant she wasn’t going to get married off at age 13 and her life would’ve been over because she’d be a slave to her husband. What a way to approach life.”
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