Armed Governmentalities in South Kivu, DR Congo: The Case of the Maï-Maï group of General Padiri
The paper presents a study of the Congolese Maï-Maï militia group headed by general General Padiri. The group was active in Maniema and South and North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before, during and after the two regional wars that were fought on Congolese soil between 1996 and 2003. The main argument of the paper is that “ethnicity”, and other communal notions such as “race” and “nation” are much more fundamental to the emergence of conflict than what most accounts of the Congolese conflict depict. The paper argues that mechanisms of political and social exclusion are based on which ethnic or racial group human beings belong to. As such they can be said to be constitutive of the political and social order. This is evident in the political project of the Maï-Maï, who fight to liberate and defend the Congolese nation from ethnic enemies – primarily the Tutsi. For the Maï-Maï defeating their ethnic enemies does more than defend the Congo, it represents the first necessary step to re-build the Congolese nation-state. In this sense communal categories are integral to militia’s security strategy and to its political emancipation project. That is to say that when the Maï-Maï claim to be fighting for the survival of the Congolese nation, they are not just manipulating their audience – even of they might also be doing so –, rather they enact the political and social order of the Congo.