Two Decades of Discovering Apes

Diary #43 – Putting A Face On M23: an exclusive interview with M23 Congo rebel Minister Stanislas Baleke

Stanislas Baleke, M23 Rebel Minister of Environment, Tourism and Natural Resources

Stanislas Baleke, M23 Rebel Minister of Environment, Tourism and Natural Resources, during our interview in Goma, DR Congo yesterday 26 Nov. 2012  Photo (C)GerryEllis/Minden Pictures

Goma, DR Congo –

There are no anonymous rebels. War has a face. Sometimes that face is the horror and inhumanity we have come to expect, and sometimes, it is a remarkable human being that catches us by surprise and makes us rethink… simply rethink.

Stanislas Baleke is one of those people. Pulled from a professorship in Lyon, France by the tug of change in his home Congo, he feels he is answering a call. Everyman, every person, feels in their life there is a moment, a special fork in the road in the woods of opportunity where we decide which path to take – one well worn, the other that less trodden. And ultimately, right or wrong, that decision makes all the difference.

Stanislas Baleke is the M23 rebel force’s Minister of the Environment and Tourism and Natural Resources. The same M23 that less than a week ago took the eastern provincial capitol of Goma by force; A city of one million people clinging to some tattered recollection of hope on the eastern frontier border with Rwanda. Now, in the shadow of ongoing war Baleke hopes to shine a light on the environment and mountain gorillas in his beloved home — Congo.

More of my thoughts on our interview, the man and his thoughts on the conservation and the environmental ‘coming of age’ he feels must take place and is critical to Congo’s survival as well as the actual interview – in the coming 24 hours.


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