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Voices of the Humanosphere 2016: Fred Bauma of Congo

Pro-democracy activists with the group Lucha protest in Congo. Their leader Fred Bauma spent a year-and-a-half in prison for leading DR Congo's pro-Democracy movement. Credit: Lucha

As a year-in-review sort of thing (which we – all media – do over the holidays to disguise that most of us are not really working), I’m going to highlight some of our top podcasts of 2016.

We’ve had some incredible interviews this year, from Liberia’s Iron Lady President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the daughter of murdered aid worker Warren Weinstein, to a leader of a barefoot lawyers brigade and tax equity experts who contend that an awful lot of poverty and suffering would go away if the rich all properly paid their taxes.

For today, I’d like to re-introduce you to Fred Bauma. Would you like to see peace and stability in Congo? Then Bauma is someone you need to watch.

Fred Bauma

Fred Bauma

Fred Bauma is a soft-spoken young man doing something incredibly courageous. He’s fighting for democracy and the rule of law in his country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bauma recently spent more than a year and a half in jail, where he faced the possibility of the death penalty for organizing peaceful protests calling for rule of law. More specifically, he and his young activist friends are among those calling for President Joseph Kabila to step down.

We recently talked to Bauma but his struggle is timely so rather than dig too far back in our archives, we’re revisiting his story.

As reported by Al Jazeera and France 24 over the weekend, talks aimed at convincing Kabila to leave office (as the country’s constitution requires) have been underway but not making much progress. As pressure mounts on Kabila to leave, activists like Bauma have a lot at stake.

Bauma, sometimes dubbed Congo’s Mahatma Gandhi, was in Seattle for a few weeks working with local organizations iLeap and Act for Congo so I got a chance to talk with him about this struggle. He’s an amazing young man and it’s important that the international community do what it can to support and protect him. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Listen in if you missed the earlier podcast, or if you need to hear it again and be inspired.

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.