Dennis Mukwege a New Household Name

Dennis Mukwege a New Household Name

The Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2013 will be announced tomorrow (11 Oct).  There’s been a lot in the media about the remarkable Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai.  That would prove popular and would certainly add even further impetus to her amazing campaign for girl’s education in the region, yet she has so many fabulous things to do in her life yet and I’ve no doubt the prize will come her way in the not-so-distant future.  In the meantime, it might make it harder for her to get on quietly with her education before emerging the great leader she undoubtedly will become.

Denis Mukwege is the astonishing man for this year.  He’s largely unknown, except to those of us who know about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  I’ve met him many times over the last dozen years and he’s a miracle.

Six million people died as a direct consequence of war over 10 years in the DRC.  Women are still routinely raped and abused, often killed, by bandits roaming the Eastern Congo (DRC).  Dennis founded and runs Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.  While, understandably, many of the few doctors trained in the DRC head to South Africa or elsewhere as quickly as they can, Denis stayed on. He lives a modest existence and a recent serious attempt was made to kill him simply because he does what he does.  Just saves women, in their thousands.

The Eastern DRC is a terrible backwater.  Most people regard it as unsolvable.  There’s nothing there for doctors interested in looking after themselves as best they can.  But Dennis is there, and he’s there for any woman who makes it to his door.

Eve Ensler has made sure as many people as possible know about Dennis.  She’s a miracle too, by the way.  Tomorrow, I sincerely hope, Denis Mukwege and the Eastern Congo will be on everyone’s lips.

Eric Joyce