Sunday, January 31, 2016

Denis Sassou Nguesso: a paradoxically man who loves prominence

It has to be noted clearly that, because of the intervention of Maurice Nguesso, DRTV is alive and broadcasting today in the Republic of Congo. But the editorial line of DRTV is not very different from that of the state owned broadcaster, Tele Congo. Although the editorial line of DRTV is not different from that of the national broadcaster, it has not prevented DRTV from being a target of state brutality or intimidation from the police. For the government of Denis Sassou Nguesso doesn’t entertain any form of dissent. All Denis Sassou Nguesso and those around him like or enjoy are praises. Hence, they spend FCFA billion on public relations firms and also finance newspapers or electronic media around the continent and in Europe, in particular in France, for their promotion. Denis Sassou Nguesso is a paradoxically man who loves prominence but loathes all forms of contradictions. For example, he doesn’t like free speech and detest real democracy. He doesn’t support local media and doesn’t like competent independent Congolese journalists, but yet he has partly financed Africanews, which is a subsidiary of the pan European TV, Euronews.

Denis Sassou Nguesso has done everything for the pan European TV to be based in Congo, not because he likes their professionalism, but, simply because it will give him a good press in Europe. Nevertheless, the day Africanews focuses on how he runs Congo, their friendship will end. Perhaps the secret contract between Denis Sassou Nguesso and Euronews is that, they should not nose into the internal affairs of Congo or focus on showering praise on Denis Sassou Nguesso.  Some people think that Denis Sassou Nguesso is almost always influenced negatively by those around him. But the fact that Africanews has been given authorization to operates against the will of the security  and intelligence services of Congo is one big prove that, Denis Sassou Nguesso does only what he thinks is good for him. For Colonel Thomas Bakala Mayinda, the head of the Congolese intelligence service told me that, they were against the installation of Africanews in Congo and that, if it came, it was because of Claudia Sassou Nguesso. But Claudia Sassou Nguesso, the widow of late Mr Lemboumba can’t act without the support or approval of her father.

Once, Paul Soni-BENGA, the Director of DRTV and host of a TV programme called “Sans Detour” presented a programme that talked or focused on the rise of insecurity in Brazzaville.  Immediately the said programme was over, the following day, he (Paul Soni-BENGA) was convocated at the Police Headquarters by General Jean François NDENGUET. Paul Soni-BENGA was not only interrogated brutally, he was threatened by General Jean François NDENGEUT, who promised to kill him and nothing will happen to him (General Jean François NDENGUET). General Jean François NDENGUET could threaten to kill Paul Soni-Benga as he did and nothing will happen to him because it is normal in Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso for journalists to be threatened at best. But the truth is that, the assassination of journalists in Congo by the security forces is not an alien thing. It has always happened, even though not regularly. However, what are common in Congo are threats to journalists or suspension and outright banning of media houses, especially newspapers that don’t praise, promote or defend either the government or members of the ruling family and in chief, the President of the Republic or Jean Dominique Okemba.


The well known case of assassination of a journalist in Congo is that of Bruno Jacquet Ossebi of Franco-Congolese nationality. He was killed in an atrocious manner by the security forces on the 2nd of February 2009 because of his investigative reporting. Bruno Ossebi’s assassins have never been found nor prosecuted. Bruno Jacquet Ossebi who was born on the 10th of December 1964 in France and to kill him, he was locked up in his home, fuel poured around his home and then it was set ablaze. He was burnt alive in his home where his two children died from burns. But he did not die immediately. He sustained serious burns.  He was taken to the Brazzaville Pierre Mobengo military hospital. However, instead of being given medical attention, he was killed. People who do not know Congolese governing elite will not believe that, the well mannered and sugar coated speeches will able to carry out atrocious acts as they have done on Ossebi and others. For the governing elite in Congo area refined lot. They seldom speak English but they almost all, speak fluent French and want to behave like French politicians. But it is just a coat of paint. In reality, they (elite in Congo) are a people who have bestial behaviors. They don’t entertain contradictions. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Congo: a Central African regional laboratory or testing ground

Therefore, Jean Dominique Okemba who doesn’t like contradictions himself and by extension free speech is not the one influencing Denis Sassou Nguesso to dislike press freedom, the president likes a press that showers praises on him and all what he does and nothing.  Denis Sassou Nguesso is a dictator, who thinks that, he was created by God to rule Congo. And as long as he is alive, he wants to be president of Congo and also have influence within the sub region and beyond. Armed with the support of Maurice Nguesso, I went ahead and established the editorial line, which was liberal and pro-democracy oriented. Personally, noted the heavy influence of Communism on Congolese and I hell bent at contributing in destroying it at my small level.  I consider Communism as a policy that was vile.  Communism in my humble opinion encourages personality cult culture, absence of a culture of merit and worst of all dictatorship. I felt it was an opportunity for me to encourage Congolese to be more liberal culturally, pro-democratic and business oriented. I also had another objective besides my inner most desire to encourage free speech and the destruction of a system, which I quickly assimilated to be diabolic.

My other objective was that, I wanted Congo to become an English-speaking country or to love Anglo-Saxon culture. For I have always thought rightly or wrongly and this perhaps, because I am from Anglophone Cameroon and an Anglophone nationalist, that, the French language for all its praises and decorum was a language of oppression and economic degradation.  The French language made most French-speaking Africans not to be independent minded and more, that language made it also easier for France to continue to dominate most or all French-speaking African countries. Hence, in my secret ambition to make or contribute to make Congo to become English-speaking or to develop  love for the English-speaking world and also look beyond France, I did all I could, to sign a partnership with the Voice of America (VOA) and started broadcasting English language programmes on MNTV/MN Radio. Besides the above, VOA programmes also came as help to our shortage of internal productions. 

Although there were some programmes in French such as Washington Forum on Television, most of the programmes from VOA that were broadcast on radio were in French hence, I didn’t care whether they were broadcast or not. However, mindful of the power of the radio because, it remained the main medium that had and still has the capacity to reach the homes of several Congolese, hence, I ordered that, the broadcast of VOA English language programmes on radio as well.  My targets were young Congolese who were born between 1990 and 1997, although these groups like those born between 1978 and 1980 downward, have only known Denis Sassou Nguesso as president, with a short but violent period of Pascal Lissouba. The first groups were more open to democratic progress and change than the second. For they were more  ready to listen or watch other radio and television stations other than Radio France International or TV5 or France 24 from France and more, they like American culture and the English language.

My other observation was that, Congo with its influence within the sub region, its rich culture and striving intellectuals who were almost all living in exile because of Denis Sassou Nguesso, was for me a central African regional laboratory or testing ground. If there was any regime change or respect of the constitution by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, it might influence what is happening in Cameroon where Paul Biya and his corrupt regime have been governing Cameroon for 33 years. It might also influence the Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo was everything or was the fulcrum in the pro-democratic plans that I had for a part of Africa that is a hideout of the worst dictatorships on the continent. The most difficult experience that I had in Congo were not the challenges of censorship or death threats or  best expulsion, which eventually happened on the 26th of September 2014. The most difficult thing was to get a team to work with as earlier mentioned. This was so because, Congo as already mentioned, has a problem of acute shortage of qualified labor or manpower.

Nonetheless, I had to rely on the help of Alexandre Pierre Bougha who was the Director of Programmes. The other pair of sure hands was Sam Nick Owosso, who was the technical Director and also Alain Shungu, the news Director. Frustrated and appalled by the standard of the journalists that, I had or met at MNTV/MN Radio, I once asked Alain Shungu this question: why an experience journalist like you could employ or recruit people or journalists who could not read or write French or even the two national languages of the country, namely: Lingala and Kituba? He replied: the 10 who could read and write were the ones that I recruited or recommended that they should be recruited. The rest, he concluded: were recommendations from Maurice Nguesso or Simon Zibe, the adviser of Maurice Nguesso on matters of Communications. It was around those ten journalists who had amongst them a talented and I think a gifted journalist called Prince Bafoulou. Besides Prince Bafoulou, there were other talents such as Herve Ekirono, Serge Bakola aka le Francais, Guy Blaise de Seydoux Mamadou, Leho de Paris Bantsimba, Esther Bikoumou and Alexan Vinet Foundou, Davy Mossa and Emery Patrice Orbargui, they constituted the core of the newsroom.

It is also true that, Herve Ekirono, Guy Blaise de Seydoux , Serge Bakola aka le Francais and Stanislas Okassou, were reporters who came over from the daily Le Fanion, when it was closed. But they brought in a fresh blood with their talents into the TV and Radio. I also noticed some promising reporters and presenters such as Stella Lurnelle Mfina, Oliviane Bayanga and Olga Tchitembo. It is also true that, I made a mistake, when I was about to appoint the first news editor of MNTV/MN Radio. Instead of appointing Prince Bafoulou, I appointed a certain Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape. He too was talented and much more experienced than all. But Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape drank a lot. He was an alcoholic that I have never seen before. I don’t know whether it was because of the consequences of the civil war or whether it was his family brother that made such a brilliant journalist such as Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape to love the bottle, the way he did. However, I was told that, it was curse that was cast on their family.

But I don’t believe it, for I am of the opinion that, you are what you decide to be. Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape has visited several revival churches to help cast out the demon of alcoholism in him had failed. In the battleground that Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape body became, “Satan the devil”, defeated God in and out.   I think the appointment of Yvon Armand Amoko aka le Pape as the first editor-in-chief of MNTV/MN Radio was also the first fundamental strategic mistake that I did and wish I regret because I or we lost Prince Bafoulou. It is true that, Congolese or within MNCOM, there was a dearth of professionals, but Prince Bafoulou was an exception. He had his training in journalism not in Congo but in the Republic of Benin, a country well respected for its free speech and solid democratic credentials. From that mistake, I learnt five things in management: don’t rush, don’t judge on appearances, and don’t listen to what people say on others, make your own patience assessments and always work with the best. While the credit for what MNTV/MN Radio has become most often is directed to me, the one who instituted or the real architect of our success on TV and Radio was Alexandre Pierre Bougha, for he was the one who created most of the programmes on Radio and Television.

Alexandre Pierre Bougha is a very intelligent man with a strong analytical mind. And I learn at MNCOM that, to succeed, always surround yourself with the best minds. A good leader or anyone who wants to succeed must not be afraid of brilliant and intelligent people. Besides the challenges to have a team of train journalists or technicians which was solved as time went by especially with on the job trainings and my capacity to adapt and operate with empiricism. The other challenge was how to work independently without the government or the ruling family interferences. In Congo, in has to pointed out that, the ruling Nguesso family are present everywhere. It is a kind of a republican monarchy. Any person with a license to operate anything must be close to the ruling family. The first privately owned Radio and Television Station to operate in Congo is called DRTV or Dabira Radio and Television. But officially, it is called Digital Radio and Television. This TV and Radio station is owned by General Norbert DABIRA who is indicted in France for war crime.

It had to do with the role that he is alleged to have played in the 1999 Massacre of Congolese Refugees returning from the DRC. The Massacre is popularly known in French as Les Disparus du Beech. However, General Norbert DABIRA is not the only high profile Congolese general close to President Denis SASSOU NGEUSSO that has been indicted for war crime. The other notable indicted war criminal is General Jean François NDENGUET. Although General Norbert DABIRA is from the North of Congo like President Denis Sassou Nguesso and of the same tribe, President Denis Sassou Nguesso never wanted him to have or open his own Radio and Television station. That was what General DABIRA ones told me. I asked him the reason why he replied “the President and his family are accusing me that, I supported their 1997 coup d’état against the democratically elected government of President Pascal LISSOUBA very late”.


He concluded: “were it not for the intervention of Maurice Nguesso, when he still had influence on his younger brother before the arrival of Jean Dominique OKEMBA, I won’t have had the authorization to operate my Radio and Television station operational today”. I asked him again: why was President Denis Sassou Nguesso not willing, besides the fact that you failed to join them at the beginning of the 1997 uprising against president Pascal Lissouba?  He replied: “President Denis Sassou Nguesso thought that, by authorizing me to have a media or a Radio and Television station to be precise, I will get involve into politics, thus challenging his desire to remain in power for life. They are always like that in that family. They want others to work for them as slaves.  Even his uncle, who is the Minister of Justice, Aime Emmanuel YOKA, always thinks that, they are superior to other”. It has to be noted clearly that, because of the intervention of Maurice Nguesso, DRTV is alive and broadcasting today in the Republic of Congo. But the editorial line of DRTV  is not very different from the state owned broadcaster, Tele Congo. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jean Dominique Okemba: also known as Satan, the devil

She admits that, he (Denis Sassou Nguesso) commits mistakes in the way he manages the country, but she almost always throws the blames on others. It is a classic response or reaction from all those who are supporting President Denis Sassou Nguesso. They will almost always tell you that, he is good, but his entourage is bad. And this question: who appoints the bad people in his entourage?  In the ruling Nguesso family, the whipping boy or Turkish head is Jean Dominique Okemba also known within and without the clan as Satan the devil. Vice Admiral Jean Dominique Okemba, who is the nephew of President Denis Sassou Nguesso doubles as secretary general of the Congolese National Security Council and special adviser to his uncle of a president. Vice Admiral Jean Dominique Okemba is certainly a very influential figure within the galaxy of power of the ruling family and the country and the hatred that he attracts is proportional to the real and imaginary influences that he commands within the administration. He is attributed all what are heinously done by the regime and never what are good.  Hence his (Jean Dominique Okemba) nickname: Satan, the devil.

Paradoxically, those who hate Jean Dominique Okemba the most are not ordinary Congolese, but a section of the ruling family, which is his own family, in particular, some of the many children of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. They hate him not because he has done anything appalling to them, but simply because, their father (Denis Sassou Nguesso) who is Okemba’s uncle has puts a lot of confidence in Jean Dominique Okemba. Furthermore, Jean Dominique Okemba also has money, but he doesn’t brag as is the case with Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, the son of Denis Sassou Nguesso who is one of the deputy managers of the Congolese hydrocarbon corporation abbreviated in French as SNPC. Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso is in charge of the sales of the country’s crude within SNPC. Besides money and influence, some members of the ruling clan are of the opinion that, Jean Dominique Okemba is secretly nursing plans to succeed his uncle who is their father. This aspect of the ruling Nguesso family feud or why Denis Sassou Nguesso has confidence in Jean Dominique Okemba will be developed.

The conduct or attitude of a section of the ruling clan toward Jean Dominique Okemba shows that, there is a simmering internal family civil war within, that may blowout into a conflagration. Our or should I say, my conversations with Lydie Hortense Kourissa also showed that, Denis Sassou Nguesso for all the noised made on how he surrendered power in 1992 was just a farce. The forces working against him were stronger and since he is a professional dissimulator and manipulator, he transformed his defeat and humiliations into democratic political victory. But time has come to expose him as a man who loves power and who will die like his late father in-law Omar Bongo Ondimba or his elder brother and friend Paul Biya in power. What I also noticed with Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa was that, even though she was a practicing Christian and humbled, she was sensitive to anything that had to do with the regime of her uncle. She has a great love and respect for her uncle, Denis Sassou Nguesso. 

But on our debate on how MNTV/MN Radio should be managed, she gave up the fight not because she was convinced or wanted an independent media as I advocated, but it was more because she loves and respects her father’s opinion. She tilted her father’s way when she discovered that, her father never wanted to have a propaganda tool but a truly independent media outfit. This is where Maurice Nguesso is different from most members of his ruling clan. He is a strategist and a patriot doubled with a sense of business. He knows better than most that, his younger brother and also their clan is not loved by ordinary Congolese. Hence he does everything he can to solicit the love of ordinary Congolese.  Maurice Nguesso told her daughter: even though I have created my Radio and Television station to defend my younger brother, he has not given me a cent to set up this structure. It will help him if he allows it to prosper. But that, I doubt because he is under the influence of Jean Dominique Okemba and my daughter Claudia.

And then he turned toward to me and said: My son Elie Smith, you go ahead and work as you were doing at Telesud. Allow Congolese from all shades of opinions to express themselves freely on my Radio and Television station and newspaper. But, they must not defame or incite tribal, ethnic or regional hatred. I also don’t want to hear anything nationalistic on my media. We are all Africans and you are from Cameroon and the CEMAC sub region. CEMAC is the French abbreviation of a six member state sub regional political and economic body that fully stands for Economic and Monetary Union of Central African States. He added: those around my younger brother such as Jean Dominique Okemba our extended nephew and my daughter Claudia Leboumba Sassou Nguesso are deceiving my younger brother. Maurice Nguesso went on:  I have told my younger brother on several occasions that, he must allow Congolese to express themselves freely.

Maurice Nguesso continued: My brother seems to have forgotten all what he used to tell me when he had lost power in 1992.  This was what my brother Denis Sassou Nguesso used to tell me when he was no longer in power:  he would like to have a strong opposition and a strong independent press, which will force him to improve and deliver the best services to the Congolese. But today, I can’t recognize my brother anymore. All his declarations to me were just wishful thinking and thoughts. They are today promises in the wind because of Jean Dominique Okemba.  Maurice Nguesso seems to throw the blame on the failures of his younger brother on the doorsteps of their nephew Jean Dominique Okemba. While it is true that, Jean Dominique Okemba who is known differently as vice president or the very special one has influence on Denis Sassou Nguesso his uncle, I would want to stick with the opinion of Colonel Marcel Nstourou. He once told me that, President Denis Sassou Nguesso always likes to hide behind others to act in order to appear as the good one or the victim. He adds that: Denis Sassou Nguesso has the attitude of a feline. He appears kind and sometimes weak, but in reality his is very violent, especially when it comes to his desire to stay in power.

Therefore, Jean Dominique Okemba who doesn’t like contradictions himself and by extension free speech, is not the one influencing Denis Sassou Nguesso to dislike press freedom, the president likes a press that showers praises on him and all what he does and nothing.  Denis Sassou Nguesso is a dictator, who thinks that, he was created by God to rule Congo. And as long as he is alive, he wants to be president of Congo and also have influence within the sub region and beyond. Armed with the support of Maurice Nguesso, I went ahead and established the editorial line, which was liberal and pro-democracy oriented. Personally, noted the heavy influence of Communism on Congolese and I hell bent at contributing in destroying it at my small level.  I consider Communism as a policy that was vile.  Communism in my humble opinion encourages personality cult culture, absence of a culture of merit and worst of all dictatorship. I felt it was an opportunity for me to encourage Congolese to be more liberal, pro-democratic and business oriented. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa: Denis Sassou Nguesso was chosen by God to govern Congo

However, the problem with Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP and others like him within the ruling party is their collective fear to lose their privileges coupled with the fear of reprisals.  When Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP heard that, I wanted to have a television station that will give balanced news and views on national and international issues, he cringed.  He was afraid of the consequences that I will sustain from the ruling party of which he was an MP.  For Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP knew that, the ruling party seldom likes the truth and they abhor any professional journalist who won’t sing their praise. It was a tough time for. And I had special debate with Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP on the editorial line that I wanted to put in place, if they wanted me to work for them. I told them that, the survival of MNTV/MN Radio lies in being professional and objective. Anything short of those latter mentioned, no Congolese will ever bother to listen to them or watch their radio or television, because they know it is another attempt, for the ruling family to control the country media wise as they are already doing politically and economically.

I added: the national television and radio are already making a lot of propaganda for President Denis Sassou Nguesso and there is no place for real news or any kind of contradictory news or debates. In addition:  you or your family already has TOP TV, which belongs to Claudia Leboumba Sassou Nguesso, the daughter of the president. Another media from the elder brother of the president with the aim to promote the ruling family and the policies of the government will only generate or exacerbate a national family fatigue or rejection. However, if your media are professionally balanced or objective, I told them, people will give an ear your radio or watch your television station and more, there are greater chances that, after this regime ends, which is a likely scenario from my observations, MNCOM might survive. Mrs. Lydie Kourissa quibbled when I said that, should the regime ends, MNCOM might outlive it. She asked: so you want our regime to end? I replied: it is a democracy, I suppose. And if it is really one, then it has a life span that is terminal and not everlasting. Then I also told them, that, I had my own personal and professional reputation to preserve. If they wanted me to work for them, they should allow me a free hand in the editorial policy and a greater autonomy in the management of MNTV/MN Radio.

Mrs. Lydie Kourissa was not willing or not satisfied.  She was afraid, for she knew the way I was working at Telesud. In other words, Mrs. Kourissa knew me better than any member of the ruling family. She knew that, I said openly what I thought and abhorred injustices and dictatorship. Hence she feared my request for a free hand in the editorial policy of MNTV/MN Radio. But she had another sledge hammer above her head: her love not for political power, but more her uncle of a president and also her husband, For the period when her uncle left or lost political power to Professor Pascal Lissouba was to her a very traumatic moment. This was so because she saw how her uncle suffered, but always put up a brave democratic face for the cameras when he was out.  I discovered that what Denis Sassou Nguesso wrote in his book: Le Manguier, le Fleuve et la souris in 1997, was the greatest political lies of all times in Congolese post independence history. It was his Mien Kampf. He deceived Congolese or took them for idiots, the same way as did Adolf Hitler.


The real Denis Sassou Nguesso was in the biography written by journalist, Andre Soussan, wherein he prepares the ground to make people think he(Denis Sassou Nguesso) was born to rule, since  as he claims, he was chosen by clan elders at the expense of his older brothers to be initiated into the tribal cult in their village of Edou. My conversations with Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa, who seems to love and respect her uncle perhaps more than her biological father, Maurice Nguesso was not only edifying, but more revealing. It was not as though she was spilling the bin, but it showed one thing, the love and profound admiration of a niece to her uncle of a president, chosen by God to rule Congo. She once told me that, there is a tree at the centre of the school where her uncle studied in the Niari region of Congo, to be précised in Mbonda, where as young as he was, he carved on the trunk a tree the word: Prince. Then, she asked me: was that not a spiritual inspiration from God as the bible writings on the wall? Since Mrs. Lydie H. Kourissa is a born again Christian, she thinks honestly that, God had chosen long ago her uncle to govern Congo. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Congo: a country without privately owned media

How did they get those certificates?  This will be answered on the chapter on: “Congolese cultural values”. One thing amongst many that I have noticed while in Congo, especially amongst its elite is that, corruption and exam cheat has become a style or an acceptable culture. The elite are the ones who help their children to cheat during exams.  It is not as though there were no examination cheat or corruption in other African countries that I have visited, stayed and worked. The difference between Congo and other African countries that I have visited and stayed and work is that, examination cheat and all kinds of corruption is not only accepted but supported by the government. This is a country where the administrations of the lone state University and other state institutions have refused computerization or digitalization for fear that; it might stop or reduce frauds of all kinds. Some elite, in particular those belonging to the ruling PCT prosper in corruption. 

Then after observing the Congolese media landscape, I discovered that, most of the media houses or media outfits were owned by members of the ruling family: daughters, sons, brother, cousins of the President of the Republic. The only other people allowed to have media houses in Congo were people gravitating around power circles. Therefore, the so-called private media houses in Congo were a farce. They were also everything but private. Those so-called private media houses were not very different from the state owned National Radio and Television in the way that, they treated news stories that concerns any national and international events. Most media houses in Congo, especially electronic, were just making propaganda of the system and the ruling family. The only area where there were some independence or free views were in the print media that were truly privately owned.  To show how the ruling PCT and president Denis Sassou Nguesso abhorrs private or independent media, the government even decided to ground the national daily called La Nouvelle Republique in favor of a privately owned daily called Les Depeches de Brazzaville.  

In fact, Les Depeches de Brazzaville is owned by the president of the Republic and managed by a French former journalist by name Jean Paul Pigasse. While the private print press was trying to be objective, it treatment or handling of news was albeit sometimes sensational and also close to the views of the opposition or the majority of Congolese.  However, the outreach of the print privately owned media was limited in Congo. And this because of two things: the cost of a newspaper and educational barrier. A weekly newspaper in Congo cost FCFA 500 or $1, a sum that most Congolese don’t have and to make matters more complicated, most Congolese cannot read French. While most Congolese cannot read or write in French, which is the country’s official language, they cannot also read or write in the two other alternate national languages which are: Lingala and Kituba. The most appropriate means of communications in Congo like most African countries is radio. But in Congo, Radio and Television stations were as already mentioned the exclusive preserve of the ruling family and those close to them. It is not as though others could not have radio or television stations.

But licenses will never be given to any one or group of people who don’t belong to the ruling family or whose political orientation is not vetted by the ruling family and the ruling Congolese Workers Party or the PCT.  Mindful of this unique reality in Congo, I therefore decided and this with the support of Maurice Nguesso to have a television station that will meet my aspiration, which was to be more balanced and professional in the coverage of news and events nationally and internationally. It was not an easy task, for there were some resistances and the resistance came principally from Mrs Lydie Hortense Kourissa. But the reality was that, Mrs. Kourissa was simply delivering or piling on me the pressure that she was receiving from her husband Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP. Mr Kourissa is an MP for the ruling Congolese Workers Party or the PCT and a modern man who also contributed that I should come and work with his father in law. Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP is a living example that, not all who are members of the ruling party and also members of the ruling family are bad or not ready for progress in all aspects.


However, the problem with Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP and others like him within the ruling party is their collective fear to lose their privileges coupled with the fear of reprisals.  When Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP heard that, I wanted to have a television station that will give balanced news and views on national and international issues, he cringed.  He was afraid of the consequences that I will sustain from the ruling party of which he was an MP.  For Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP knew that, the ruling party seldom likes the truth and they abhor any professional journalist who won’t sing their praise. It was a tough time for. And I had special debate with Mr Jean De Dieu Kourissa MP on the editorial line that I wanted to put in place, if they wanted me to work for them. I told them that, the survival of MNTV/MN Radio lies in being professional and objective. Anything short of those latter mentioned, no Congolese will ever bother to listen to them or watch their radio or television, because they know it is another attempt, for the ruling family to control the country media wise as they are already doing politically and economically. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Congo: the land where corruption is not only accepted but supported by the government (3).

The Republic of Congo is a country where there are little or no employment prospects for the teeming number of graduates and youths. Hence any opportunity for employments attracts bag loads of applicants and sadly, only people who are well connected or have what is called in Congo as “Poteau” or “pillars” which is a metaphor for internal chaperoning; are the ones who are offered jobs, even if they are not qualified or competent. For example, when I came or was hired at MNTV/MN Radio, I met that, they had a staff of 30 journalists and 20 technicians. And out of this number, only 10 journalists could read and write French or one of the other two official languages in the country: Lingala and Kituba. Paradoxically, all those employed had at least an ordinary level certificate, while the others even had Bachelor’s degrees from the lone national university called Marien Ngouabi University located in Brazzaville, the capital. And this brings us to another problem in the country: the falling standard of education and also corruption. If not, how can people who hold an ordinary or advance level certificate and worse of all, first degree, were not able to read or write in French?
How did they get those certificates?  This will be answered on the chapter on: “Congolese cultural values”. One thing amongst many that I have noticed while in Congo, especially amongst its elite is that, corruption and exam cheat has become a style or an acceptable culture. 

The elite are the ones who help their children to cheat during exams.  It is not as though there were no examination cheat or corruption in other African countries that I have visited, stayed and worked. The difference between Congo and other African countries that I have visited, stayed and work is that, examination cheat and all kinds of corruption is not only accepted but supported by the government. This is a country where the administrations of the lone state University and other state institutions have refused computerization or digitalization for fear that; it might stop or reduce frauds of all kinds. Some elite, in particular those belonging to the ruling PCT prosper in corruption. Then after observing the Congolese media landscape, I discovered that, most of the media houses or media outfits were owned by members of the ruling family: daughters, sons, brother, cousins of the President of the Republic.The only other people allowed to have media houses in Congo were people gravitating around power circles. Therefore, the so-called private media houses in Congo were a farce. 


They were also everything but private. Those so-called private media houses were not very different from the state owned National Radio and Television in the way they treated news stories that concerned any national and international events. Most media houses in Congo, especially electronic, were just making propaganda of the system and the ruling family. The only area where there were some independence or free views were in the print media that were truly privately owned.  To show how the ruling PCT and president Denis Sassou Nguesso abhorred private or independent media, the government even decided to ground the national daily called La Nouvelle Republic in favor of a privately owned daily called Les Depeches de Brazzaville.   In fact, Les Depeches de Brazzaville is owned by the president of the Republic and managed by a French former journalist by name Jean Paul Pigasse. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Challenges in Congo:acute problem of skilled labor (2)

I discovered while in Congo when I began working for MNCOM that, for most people who came to work for Maurice Nguesso, a majority came to take as they told me: what their family or the ruling Nguesso family has taken or stolen from Congolese. In order words, most people never really came to work honestly. It also showed how Congolese hated the ruling Nguesso family. What the ordinary Congolese forgot in their general or collective hatred of the ruling family is that, the ruling Nguesso are not a homogenous set up. In that ruling family, there some good as well as bad ones or good as well as bad Nguessos and Maurice Nguesso, for all his short comings, were a “good Nguesso”. However what most Congolese also forgot was that, Maurice Nguesso was very different from other members of the ruling clan, whose fortune are directly attached or traced to the President of the Republic or had received favors because they belonged to the ruling clan. Maurice Nguesso is different from most Nguessos. He is a very hard working man and he had made his fortune even before his younger brother, Denis Sassou Nguesso came to power for the first time in 1979 and  for the second time in 1997 after a short but brutal civil war against the country’s only post independent democratically elected president, Professor Pascal Lissouba.  

To start the broadcasting wing of the private media group called MNCOM, Maurice Nguesso invested three hundred thousand Euros of his personal fortune. But for the entire amount invested to create MNTV/MN Radio, all Maurice Nguesso got were sub standard materials. The reality is that, he was hoodwinked by the very people he put in confidence and responsibility in them, as I had already mentioned above. Then, the icing on the cake that I had as challenge when I was hired from France to come and work for MNCOM was that of manpower. Ask any employer in Congo and he/she will conclude or tell you that, the country has an acute problem of skilled labor.  Even for menial jobs, there is a dearth in the country. There are many graduates with high sounding diplomas, but they are most often than not, not qualified enough because the standard of education has been destroyed by state sanctioned corruption. 30 years of Denis Sassou Nguesso and his ruling PCT in power has destroyed Congo’s educational system, just as it has done with any other sector.


This aspect will be developed later on. Congo is one of the countries in Africa that I know besides Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were most skilled labor are sourced either out of the continent especially from France and Lebanon or from neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria , Senegal and Benin. As far as MNCOM was concern, a majority of staff recruited to work for MNTV/MN Radio were not trained journalists or technicians. Most could not even speak nor write French or even the national languages which are Lingala and Kituba. What happened was that, those recruiting brought in their family members and friends and Maurice Nguesso himself was not helpful. I was told that, Maurice Nguesso as the boss, made a lot of recommendations for people to be employed that were or could not be rejected even though they were not competent. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Elie SMITH: Challenges in Congo(1)


When I made up my mind to work in Congo, It was a decision that I took alone. I did not want to ask my wife, for I knew she won’t like the idea. For she had always complained that, I gave priority to my profession and defense for human rights at the expense of our family. She also warned me that, I had to make a choice between my professional adventure and love for Africa or our family.  Sad as it would appear, while I love my family especially my sons, the call or attraction toward Africa with all its risk was simply magnetic. . What my wife did not know is that, since I came from a very poor background, I have seen and witness the injustice of corrupt dictatorial governments. And if I have succeeded, it was because of two things: God or the bible and education. And I am of the opinion that, in order to lift a majority out of poverty, there is need for someone or group of people must lay down their lives against dictatorship. I was and I am ready to die for the promotion and defense and promotion of democracy.  My heart was already turning toward Africa, especially the ECCAS region or Economic Community of Central Africa States.

It is a region that in my humble opinion it is the last hideout of dictatorship in Africa. Democracy is progressing all over the African continent, but not within the ECCAS sub region. The ECCAS was the only region in Africa where democracy is facing formidable opposition from dictatorial regimes and also from a people who seem not to have a spirit of sacrifice because they are victims or accomplices of repressive regimes.  To measure how backward democratic wise are countries of the ECCAS, out of the 11 countries that make up the sub regional organization, only tiny Sao Tome and Principe is a real democracy. Whereas in the 15 member state Economic Community of West African States abbreviated as ECOWAS, 13 are not only democracies, they also have presidents who are less than 10 years in power. The only bad eggs within the ECOWAS sub region are Togo and Gambia. Besides the latter, I was already disappointed with the new management that Pascaline Bongo via her lawyer of a friend by name Palazzo Gauthier had decided to impose on Telesud.

I also wanted to come back to Africa and in a country where I thought I could practice or make an impact. And that country was Congo. Small as Congo might appear, it has an influence and any change or improvement in term of democracy would have an influence around and within the ECCAS sub region.  But in Congo especially at MNCOM, it was a great place and a place full of challenges. The first was to reconstruct from crash a real Radio and Television station with the necessary material and man power that will have an impact on the people and also on the government. Those were my primary objectives immediately set foot in Congo and at MNCOM. The second challenge that I had was who to make Congolese to be interested or listen or watch our Radio and Television programmes whenever we start broadcasting. The first objectives were very difficult to achieve because most of the materials bought to set up or create the Television and Radio station were not professional materials. 

Maurice Nguesso: Pascal Lissouba was a disappointment.

Like in almost any other family around the world, the ruling Nguessos are also divided into camps or material and political ideologies. Strange as it will appear to most, there are many within the ruling family who are in support of freedom of speech, real democracy and also against corruption. And there are also some extremists within the Nguesso ruling family who think that, they have been chosen by God to rule Congo for eternity. There are also some who  think that, they are more legitimate than other members within the ruling family and also those who are the ancestors(real) or the ancients and those whose genealogy or belongingness have just been discovered and thus considered doubtful. And most often than not, the authenticity of the newly minted Nguessos are doubted by the ancients, but the ancients can’t express their views, because their father and the only surviving uncle believe that, a real bantu-man seldom rejects or refuses a child. It may partly explain the reason why, the children purportedly fathered either by President Denis Sassou Nguesso or his elder brother, Maurice Nguesso keeps growing. President Denis Sassou Nguesso has 29 children as of the 2012 count and the number may have increased by now to 31.

While Maurice Nguesso had as at 2012, 19 children and it is certain that, it has now reached 21.  The authentic or undoubted children of Maurice or Denis may have their weaknesses but they are most often more humble and polite than the new comers who have suddenly discovered the power and success of having a father or an uncle who is president of the Republic for life. The newly minted Nguessos most often than not have the attitude of newly converted Christians or nouveau riche. These last ones are most often the ones who are overconfident and have help to destroy the already filthy image of their father or uncle.  The Nguessos have their share of problems, but one thing that distinguishes them is that, no matter the nature of their internal disagreements which hovers mostly over salacious matters and money or properties, they most often than not, turn to be united in front of an imaginary or real external threat. He is loved by the Congolese. Besides him, the only other member of the ruling family adored by ordinary Congolese is or was the late Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba. The other member of the ruling family who is simple and accepted by Congolese is Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa.  

Maurice Nguesso is the owner of several companies ranging from security, media, aeronautics, micro-finance and oil.  One of his companies operating in the security sub sector is called SOMAG, is the largest private employer in Congo after the state with 2000 staff on its payroll. He also owns a micro-finance company called CREMAF or Credit Mutuelle d’Afrique.  CREMAF have 63 agencies around the country and it is perhaps the second micro-finance body in Congo in term of national coverage. He also owns an oil company called Petroleum and has made a second solo come back into the aviation sector with the launching of Air Congo Express.  The said company would have directed by a Congolese Helicopter trained pilot by name James Raymond Likibi. However, there was a problem with Air Congo Express, for it was off to a false start.

For Air Congo Express’s lone aircraft was an Antonov that was  banned from flying within the  Congolese airspace by the aviation governing body of Congo known in French as Agence National de L’aviation Civile du Congo abbreviated as ANAC. ANAC had decided to ground all Antonov aircrafts in Congo because of the high number of fatal air crashes. It was also a recommendation from Brussels and the International Civil Aviation Authority. Besides the Antonov aircraft owned by Air Congo Express, Mr James Raymond Likibi who was to be the manager, wanted Maurice Nguesso to purchase two passenger aircrafts. Namely: a Gulf Steam 3 and a Boeing 737/500. The problem however with those proposed new aircrafts were that, they were not adapted to local realities and the ambitions of Maurice Nguesso. The Republic of Congo is a country where only those who are connected to the ruling family can do business easily. For a country of 3 million, the Republic of Congo has 14 privately owned airlines and Air Congo Express would have made the tally to reach 15. Most or almost all the supposedly private airlines are owned by barons of the regime or influential French and Lebanese businessmen who are close to the ruling family.

Sadly, none of the existing airline companies besides ECAIR or Equatorial Congo Airlines and to certain level Nouvelle Air Congo, do respect international civil aviation rules. Even Equajet, which has aircrafts that, the President of the Republic uses, has not pass e a single aviation test in term of security. The other catastrophe that passes for an airline company is called TAC or Trans Air Congo. And it is rumored in Brazzaville that, former Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba and Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, the wife of the President are shareholders of Trans Air Congo or TAC. Besides being suspected of having shares or outright owning TAC, Antoinette Sassou Nguesso is also suspected that she own aviation company. It was in this sector that Maurice Nguesso attempted a second come back but failed. Even though he failed, Maurice Nguesso still has majority share in one local airline company called Canadian Airways. Maurice Nguesso has 19 children and loves his younger brother, Denis Sassou Nguesso very much. He told me once that: I have created my radio and television stations to defend my brother and to also give your blessing to Congolese to express themselves openly.


He added:  I am doing this simply because, when my younger brother Denis Sassou Nguesso lost power in 1992 and whenever he wanted to express himself, it was only through media outfits in the Democratic Republic of Cong, for there was no media in Congo that accepted my brother to express himself.  President Pascal Lissouba who presented himself as a democrat was a disappointment. Maurice Nguesso concluded: it was the current minister of Culture, who is now minister of Foreign affairs who used to take the recorded speeches of my brother to Kinshasa in order for it to be broadcast on Raga TV or Antenne A television stations. However Maurice Nguesso noted that, his younger brother who used to record his speeches and gave its Jean Claude Ngakoso to cross the Congo River to Kinshasa in order for it to be broadcast, seems to have forgotten his past ordeal. For Denis Sassou Nguesso was doing exactly all what he had denounced in the government of Pascal Lissouba, where there was no freedom of speech.

Maurice Nguesso concluded:  only through free speech and real democracy can serve the regime of his brother from demise. Maurice Nguesso might not be a good manager, but to his credit, he is a great strategist. He is different from most northern governing Congolese elite. He at least does open or invest in Congo and employs Congolese who are languishing in the corrupt, brutal misrule organized by his younger brother of a president. Some might argue that most of the companies that is owned by Maurice Nguesso, salaries are not paid regularly, but he has the will that, most within the ruling clan don’t. All their investment has been done abroad with little or nothing at home. The only investment that, the elite of the ruling party in Congo do is to have several women and buy large vehicles. He is not tribal and he is ready and encourages his brother to be more democratic and also accept contradictions. He jokingly refers to his brother as a traditional chief. In other words his younger brother’s behavior is like that of a traditional ruler who seldom accepts contradictions.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Maurice Nguesso: a rich patriach at the head of a divided ruling Nguesso family

Like in almost any other family around the world, the ruling Nguessos are also divided into camps or material and ideologies. Strange as it will appear to most, there are many within the ruling family who are in support of freedom of speech, real democracy and also against corruption. And there are also some extremists within the Nguesso ruling family who think that, they have been chosen by God to rule Congo for eternity. There are also some who  think that, they are more legitimate than other members within the ruling family and also those who are the ancestors(real) or the ancients and those whose genealogy or belongingness have just been discovered and thus considered doubtful. And most often than not, the authenticity of the newly minted Nguessos are doubted by the ancients, but the ancients can’t express their views, because their father and the only surviving uncle believe that, a real bantu-man seldom rejects or refuses a child. It may partly explain the reason why, the children purportedly fathered either by President Denis Sassou Nguesso or his elder brother, Maurice Nguesso keeps growing. President Denis Sassou Nguesso has 29 children as of the 2012 count and the number may have increased by now to 31.

While Maurice Nguesso had as at 2012, 19 children and it is certain that, it has now reached 21.  The authentic or undoubted children of Maurice or Denis may have their weaknesses but they are most often more humble and polite than the new comers who have suddenly discovered the power and success of having a father or an uncle who is president of the Republic for life. The newly minted Nguessos most often than not have the attitude of newly converted Christians or nouveau riche. These last ones are most often the ones who are overconfident and have help to destroy the already filthy image of their father or uncle.  The Nguessos have their share of problems, but one thing that distinguishes them is that, no matter the nature of their internal disagreements which hovers mostly over salacious matters and money or properties, they most often than not, turn to be united in front of an imaginary or real external threat. He is loved by the Congolese. Besides him, the only other member of the ruling family adored by ordinary Congolese is or was the late Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba. The other member of the ruling family who is simple and accepted by Congolese is Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa.  



Maurice Nguesso is the owner of several companies ranging from security, media, aeronautics, micro-finance and oil.  One of his companies operating in the security sub sector is called SOMAG, is the largest private employer in Congo after the state with 2000 staff on its payroll. He also owns a micro-finance company called CREMAF or Credit Mutuelle d’Afrique.  CREMAF have 63 agencies around the country and it is perhaps the second micro-finance body in Congo in term of national coverage. He also owns an oil company called Petroleum and has made a second solo come back into the aviation sector with the launching of Air Congo Express.  The said company would have directed by a Congolese Helicopter trained pilot by name James Raymond Likibi. However, there was a problem with Air Congo Express, for it was off to a false start. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

The family and political cabal against Maurice Nguesso

Maurice Nguesso may claim that he is not a communist and also that, he doesn’t like politics, but in 2007, he attempted to be elected as an MP under the banner of the ruling communist oriented Congolese Workers Party abbreviated in French as PCT. But his candidacy was invalidated by the ruling party. The ruling Congolese Workers Party claimed that, their decision was driven by the fact that, they wanted peace and stability in the country, after the same party, had earlier, invalidated the candidacy of Mathias Dzon. Mr. Dzon was a former finance minister of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and now his main rival. The reasons advanced in 2007 to invalidate the candidacies of Maurice Nguesso and Mathias Dzon doesn’t stand or is not convincing enough. There are more reasons behind the packaged official message. For in 2012 during the legislative elections, Maurice Nguesso never stood for the legislative elections, but Mathias Dzon did. And once again, Mathias Dzon was sent out. However, this time another form of crude show of force was used. The results of the legislative elections were doctored in favour of Mr Ngouelondele, who is the Lord Mayor of the Brazzaville Greater City Council and son in law to President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

And the questions that need to be asked are the following: did the party cadres of the ruling party not foresee that, overturning the results in Gamboma 1 electoral constituency will create or created violence in the most populated town in northern Congo?  Or is it that, Gamboma’s violence can’t cause any major problems nationally? The truth in the case of Mathias Dzon and which might not be the same with Maurice Nguesso is that, president Denis Sassou Nguesso had before and in 2012 legislative elections, given firm instructions to his minister of interior , Raymond Z. Mboulou that, he(Denis Sassou Nguesso) doesn’t want Matthias Dzon elected into Congo’s parliament.   As regards to the official reason advanced in 2007 concerning the invalidation of the candidacy of Maurice Nguesso, he (Maurice Nguesso) also rejects those reasons advanced by cadres of the ruling party to justify the reason why his candidacy for MP was nullified in 2007. According to Maurice Nguesso, there is a cabal within the ruling party. A cabal that doesn’t want him to have any influence on the side of his younger brother, for they know that, if he wields any political clout, his younger brother will listen to him. He might not entirely be wrong.


For when Maurice Nguesso created his radio and television station, most cadres of the ruling party as well as some members of his own family thought that, it would end up like most of his investments. However, when they discovered that, it was not only successful and was giving or allowing Congolese from different shades of opinion to express themselves freely, they decided to expel, the brain behind the success of MNTV on fallacious grounds, this in a bid to destroy him just as they did in 2007 legislative elections. In the Nguesso ruling family, Maurice Nguesso is the patriarch.  Although some might be jealous or turn to sometimes ignore him, he nonetheless remains a respected figure, first by his younger brother, then by the ruling Nguesso tribe. A ruling tribe whose intriguing expansions have grown tenfold since Denis Sassou Nguesso became president in 1979. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The self made man called Maurice Nguesso

Besides claiming not to be a Communist like his younger brother, Maurice Nguesso also enjoys proclaiming that, he is a bona fide capitalist.  Maurice Nguesso likes to remind all those around him that, his education was achieved through the help or that he was educated by white French people, during the period of colonialism. Hence, he has a kind of inferiority complex toward White people, especially French whites. He is a black African and proudly Congolese with a lining of a panafricanist, but of the soft version. Not the kind of panafricanist who will want to throughout of the continent people who are not of negro-African ancestry. Because of the high dose colonial influence, he thinks France and French whites are the most superior beings on earth. Sadly, he is not the only one who has a sickening inferiority complex toward White people in Congo and around the African continent. Even his younger brother who is president of the Republic acts the same. Maurice Nguesso once told me that, when he finished schooling in Owando or Fort Rousset, as it was formerly called, he(Maurice Nguesso) got a  job with a French company called Orostom and worked with them or assisted their geographers.

Owando is the headquarters of the Cuvette region and the second populated town in the north after Gamboma. Maurice Nguesso is hard working and certainly not a Communist, if one were to consider his words. But Maurice Nguesso acts like a socialist in the way he manages his companies. The way he manages his businesses has attracted a lot of criticisms from his admirers as well as his detractors. In reaction to those criticizing him that, in all his companies, he employs many workers or has bloated work force, with little or no business plans, his response is that, Congolese do not have jobs, hence he acts they way he does. He also says: his objective is not to make money, for he has sufficient wealth that will outlive his existence.  He simply wants to offer jobs to Congolese. He also adds that, if all wealthy Congolese like him invested in the country instead of investing abroad, the unemployment rate in the country would have fallen and the poverty rate would have also reduced. While it is true that Maurice Nguesso is a self made man, but there is no denying that, the accession of his younger brother to power in 1979 has also helped him. With the training that he received from the French geographers at Orostom coupled with trainings that he received in France and Algeria in the area or field of Hydrocarbon, he was propelled to the post of Director of the state owned Hydro Congo, the ancestor of the current SNPC or Societe Nationale du Petrole du Congo.


But his management of the state owned Hydro Carbon Corporation according to people close to the only post independent democratically elected government that was led by Professor Pascal Lissouba, Maurice Nguesso was not only a poor manager, but  also corrupt. That explains the reason why, Maurice Nguesso was arrested and sent to jail along with his friend Nimi Mandigou. It is an accusation that is roundly and soundly rejected by Maurice Nguesso.  According to Maurice Nguesso, he was a victim of political differences pitting his younger brother Denis Sassou Nguesso against President Pascal Lissouba.  

Profile of Maurice Nguesso aka “Le Grand frère national” (part 1)


As he likes to say himself, he doesn’t know exactly when he was born. But he quickly adds that: what is certain is that, I am the elder brother to Denis Sassou Nguesso. He goes on: if he is the President of the Republic, I am his elder brother and in our village of Edou and I am the chief, although our local tradition made  him (Denis Sassou Nguesso) the Mwene or head, after he was initiated into our mythical world of the Mbouchis at a very young age. Maurice Nguesso concludes: I also don’t know how old my younger brother was, when he was initiated. The owner of MNCOM and several other companies in Congo is a patriot. He is also creative and imaginative. Maurice Nguesso is the most popular figure the ruling family after late Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba and he is fondly called “Ya Maumo” or “Le Grand frère national”. But like most northerners of his epoch, he doesn’t know his exact age. He relies like most northerners of his generation on age the Roman Catholic birth certificates established for them by the Roman Catholic missionaries. It is therefore believed that, he was born between 1938 and 1940. Maurice Nguesso, besides calling himself or identifying himself most often as the elder brother to the President of the Republic, likes to categorize himself as a bourgeois.


To support the fact that, he is an elite and thus refined and different from most people of his Mbouchi tribe of Edou village, he has named his large white colored building in Edou as “Villa Bourbon”.  According to the online dictionary Wikipedia, the Bourbon is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have Bourbon monarchs. Maurice Nguesso has not only named his villa after the Bourbon, he also loves and admires white people especially those from France. He also says he is not a communist like his younger brother but a capitalist. Before his younger brother came to power in 1979 and also changed in real life not only mythical, the balance of power within the clan and family, his senior daughter, Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa once told me that, her father(Maurice Nguesso) was the first in their family to make money. In other words, Maurice Nguesso did not wait for his younger brother to become president before starting to test the thirst that comes with riches or wealth. This contradicts the claims widely circulated that, he is what he is today because of his younger. While Maurice Nguesso is a self made man who has to a certain degree benefited from his younger brother, it is not the same with other members of the ruling family whose status in the society did change because of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The strange management of MNCOM

With the help Sauve Gerard Malanda, the editor in chief and Emmanuel Kaba, the publisher, we made or transformed Le Fanion, which was a weekly that was published sporadically, into a regular publication and we went ahead to make Le Fanion to become a daily that was capable to compete with Les Depeches de Brazzaville. The media group MNCOM, was from without a formidable thing, admired and feared by most, but in reality, it was at the image of Congo: disorganized.  Salaries of staff are or were not paid regularly. Sometimes, staff stayed for 10 months without being paid. More, the contracts signed with management staff or all employees are /were seldom respected. The last General Manager of the group to be humiliated or to go for months without salaries was Rene Michel Mboukou. He was not paid for close to ten months, exhausted, he had to leave. But the man who can be credited for putting order in the finances of MNCOM and also making Maurice Nguesso to see or to consider MNCOM as a private entity and not a civil service was a Gabonese accountant by name Florent Koumba. Florent Koumba and I were known positively or negatively as the “Kourissa boys”.



The other person in the team who was also considered as a “Kourissa boy” was Nick Sam Owosso. Mr Owosso was/is a Ghanaian, God fearing man. We were called or identify as “Kourissa Boys” simply because we stood and supported Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa who wanted the media Group to be run or be managed in an orthodox manner. But the sad thing was that, even though we labored for things to be properly run, most decisions were taken from without, by Maurice Nguesso and his team or his boys who were known as the “Maurice Boys”.  MNCOM decisions were not made by the legitimate management headed by Lydie Hortense Kourissa but from without by the closest collaborators of Maurice Nguesso. These ones were those who imposed onto us their way of doing things.  And this type of strange management, created tension between those of us working officially and those who were collaborators of Maurice Nguesso and who felt that, they were the legitimate persons. The other front was that of the family of Maurice Nguesso and his 19 children. They all wanted to have a say in the way the company was being managed or wanted to control the company even though they had little or no experience in management.

This was so because, their father had enlisted some of them to be paid or had become salarised staff even if they were not working. They were four of his children who were being paid the monthly lump sum of FCFA one million.   Besides Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa, Maurice had   another of his daughter  by name Charden Nguesso,who was appointed as the directress of Marketing. He also appointed another of his daughters as the directress of the Impremerie Ayessa.  While his son Rodrigue Nguesso arguably the best vest in management, never got interested directly, but was pulling the strings behind. The MNCOM media group was at the image of Congo’s government. The only thing or component that was well managed and thus succeeded was the Radio and Television part. And this was because, I managed it directly and this with the support of Maurice Nguesso. The one good thing with Maurice Nguesso is that, he has respect for people who know their job. It is only when he suspects that, you are not fit that, he starts intervening and or allowing his collaborators to intervene. The Television worked well because, I fought hard to establish it autonomy within the group.

Maurice Nguesso’s greatest sin: Independence

Hence she decided to rename MNCOM Media Group not as Maurice Nguesso Communications, but as Media Numerique Communications. MNCOM was incorporated in Congo in 2009. All these were being done while Maurice Nguesso was still sick or convalescing and when he fully (Maurice Nguesso) recovered, he (Maurice Nguesso) decided to think bigger than the plans of his daughter, Lydie Hortense Kourissa.  Maurice Nguesso enjoys grandiose things and he has that God given quality to make or do great things. So he (Maurice Nguesso) decided that, besides the Radio, Television and newspaper components of his group, he decided to add a modern printing press called Impremerie Ayessa. Ayessa is the surname of the mother of Maurice Nguesso. Furthermore, Maurice Nguesso also decided to add a digital television or terrestrial television with a bouquet of 33 foreign and two national television stations. In fact, he became also a distributor of Television channels, mostly foreign. His bouquet of digital television was called Mosaiq TV. This distributing or pay per view television station, called Mosaiq TV became a local rival of a French multinational called Canal Plus that was doing the same business. There are three differences between Canal Plus with Mosaiq TV or the parent company MNCOM. 

Canal Plus was larger, richer and well organized or better managed, whereas MNCOM was an example of disorder or was at the image of Congo.  Disorganized or influenced by his children and other legions of friends, that doesn’t remove the fact that, Maurice Nguesso was the first before the government to introduce terrestrial television broadcasting in Congo.  Maurice Nguesso is a pacesetter within his family in several domains. The media group MNCOM was therefore made up of MNTV/Radio, Le Fanion daily, Mosaiq TV and Impremerie Ayessa. At the head of this group was Mrs. Lydie Hortense Kourissa. But as mentioned above, the place was like a rudderless ship. However things began changing when, Mr Florent Koumba, an accountant from Gabon, was employed in 2011. Prior to his arrival, MNCOM had no business plan. It was in reality a venture created by someone who was sick and tired of the monotony existing within the Congolese media landscape, where the there was no freedom and the domination of the national broadcasters was nauseating.  

Nevertheless, one observation that I have made regarding most investments or companies created by Maurice Nguesso are that there are a lot of expectations at the beginning than the long term realities.  Simply because of Maurice Nguesso’s almost childish enthusiasms and his inferiority complexes toward some of his French whites advisers who know little or nothing about the reality of the country and region. Theirs is to come and milk him dry. Maurice Nguesso also seems to like people who have some sophistry in the way they speak, even though they may not master what they are talking about. Hence he is most often than not, hoodwinked by those French whites and even blacks who come more to get their money than deliver to what they were paid for. Unfortunately, those who love Maurice Nguesso and also respect him and who also know their jobs are not well treated by Maurice Nguesso. The professionals who would have turn things around for Maurice Nguesso are not paid or their contract terms are seldom respected. That is Maurice Nguesso’s greatest sin.



However, he (Maurice Nguesso) knows whenever he wants to or is free from the sometimes parasitic and negative influences of  some of his friends and family members, how to have confident in any person whose expertise is proven and interferes very little, once he has delegated.  But what is the point, or of what value it is, when the person who has been given responsibility is not paid? Or the terms of his/her contract is not respected?  As far as his media group is concern, its appears as though, when the MNCOM Media Group was incorporated, some experts from France, who were whites, told Maurice Nguesso that, with the creation of the pay per view television and its bouquet of 30 channels called Mosaiq TV, the said channel will become the cash cow of the group with an expected monthly return from subscribers to stand at FCFA 100 million. Armed with that, false financial forecast, Maurice Nguesso via his daughter, Lydie Hortense Kourissa went out on a recruitment spree. They recruited 200 staff. He used his group to partly help solve his younger brother’s inability to create jobs to Congolese. He confuses or took a private initiative for a public venture or civil service. 

One of the weakest links of Maurice Nguesso is that, he loves his brother of a president too much than his younger brother loves him.  If not, it is beyond comprehension, why his younger brother did allow that, his media group should be destroyed and also that, the media group is not considered or to be clear, given contracts as it is the case with TOP TV, that is owned by Claudia Sassou Nguesso, the niece of Maurice Nguesso and daughter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso? Why did his younger brother not intervene when I was expelled from Congo after my younger sister was gang raped by people who have since been freed without any form of trial? Recently during the earth summit in Paris code named COP 21, TOP TV was taken to Paris by the government along with other TV channels such as DRTV owned by General Norbert Dabira, but MNCOM or MNTV its subsidiary was not included. Simply because Maurice Nguesso is hated by some members within the ruling family and these ones seems to be the ones who are influencing the President of the Republic. But, I personally think, President himself must not hide behind others, he doesn’t like freedom of speech and real democracy as a person.

But Maurice is hated by some members of family because he is independent minded and he also wants MNCOM media Group to give a voice to all Congolese and also be independent. Those who hate Maurice Nguesso within the ruling family view his attitude as inimical to their aspired eternal rule over the nation-state of Congo.  But the paradox in all this is that, Maurice Nguesso is doing this because, he wants to give a good face to his younger brother and his government. For whatever he does, he wants credit to be given to his younger brother. In fact, MNCOM media group had a blotted work force. As for the Radio and Television arm of the group, before I could come, they were just playing traditional Congolese music and had no programme schedule and no editorial line. I was the one with the help of others that, I met such as Mr Sam Nick Owosso that we laid the foundation or reorganize the radio and television in order to give it a professional face. For a while, I headed concomitantly the print media wing, which publishes the daily called Le Fanion.