Prince Arnold Kufulula was born and raised in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Also known as the Wolf of Congo, he’s an Mfumu (Crown) of Bapindi tribe, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. When he is not meeting with producers, directors and agents about Royalty Noire Tv, he is giving back to refugees and orphanages in Goma, the D.R.C.
Despite his tight schedule, Prince Arnold still organizes his time to perform official duties and engagements representing his country. He grew up in the Batandu area, a poverty-stricken area, with his single-mother Micheline. Though the Wolf of Congo was first in the line of succession and heir apparent to the Congolese Bapindi Kingdom throne, he was not made aware of who he was (a prince), until the age of 18 as declared by his grandfather and former King of the Bapindi Kingdom, Lambert Kabamba. To Prince Arnold, the path is made by walking. He is currently building Oasys Royale, what is soon to be one of DR Congo’s most exquisite luxury real estate firms, Roi Royale Club, a luxury fashion house, and Royalty Noire, a premium African production and publishing studio.
Prince Arnold Kufulula shares insights into the prolonged conflict in the DRC, his new project, Wolf of Congo, the Pan-Africanist Patrice Lumumba among other issues with BLACKWASH Publisher, Oludare Sorunke.
The situation in the DRC runs contrary to conscience and morality. Can you do a deep dive into how the pogrom escalated?
The silent holocaust in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) definitely runs contrary to conscience and morality. The carnage, which has led to loss of lives and properties, displaced families and turned citizens to refugees are a direct result of complex political intrigues enabled by some very powerful interests in the global north– notably Belgium, France, the UK, and the USA. Decades of war, violence, and poverty have claimed the lives of over 5million people. An absence of schools, health care, and reliable income-generating opportunities has also hindered communities’ ability to emerge from the crisis.
The humongous natural resources in the DRC – diamond, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, timber, oil, coffee, etc has seen ethnic groups frequently reconsidering their allegiances and internal ties. This has exacerbated the crisis, as peace talks and negotiations collapse shortly after they are made.
The crisis in the Congo began almost immediately after the country’s independence in July 1960, from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph- Desire Mobutu (Mobutu Sese Seko). Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold war, in which the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States supported opposing factions.
The DRC has had a treacherous history with Belgium. As King Leopold of Belgium was directly responsible for the murder and amputation of millions of Congolese people. DRC was to be Leopold’s personal playground since he established the Congo Free State by brutally seizing the African landmass as his personal possession in February 1885. For the sake of time, we fast forward to this era, where countries in the European Union (mostly France Belgium, and the UK), working together with the USA, orchestrated the murder of Patrice Émery Lumumba, a Congolese hero, and first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was arrested and murdered in the most gruesome manner because he did not accede to the demands of western countries – to offer uranium (used for atomic bombs) and other Congo’s resources for free. He was replaced by the despotic Mobutu Sese Seko who ruled from 1965 to 1997.
The Congolese government after Mobutu welcomed refugees, mostly Tutsis from Rwanda, who eventually stayed and never left. Unfortunately, Laurent Kabila’s refusal to the demands of powerful interests cost him his life in January 2001, He was replaced by Joseph Kabila.
By the time Joseph Kabila’s term ended, Congolese people were fed-up with his crimes and demanded a democratic election. This led to the election in January 2019, of Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, who became the first democratically elected president of the DRC. President Tshisekedi has refused to play the stooge and has remained committed to building a new Congo.
Reports from the DRC are heart-breaking, especially about men, women and children who are tortured, starved, raped and killed on daily basis. Innocent children have become child-soldiers, families torn apart thus breeding a refugee crisis. Has government lost control? What are regional bodies like the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), African Union (AU) doing about it?
The reports about innocent men, women and children being tortured, starved, raped, and killed are true. Scores of indigenous Congolese people have been brutally murdered in the crossfire among the M23 rebels and about 100-armed group on one hand and the Congolese military who are ill-equipped and oftentimes out-numbered on the other hand. The M23rebellion was formed sometime in April 2012 when about 300 soldiers – majority of whom were former members of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), turned against the DRC government, citing poor conditions in the army and the government’s unwillingness to implement the 23 March 2009 peace deal.
According to confirmed sources, including the United Nations (UN) the rebels are getting support from Rwandan government. Though, about 25 Rwandan members of M23 have surrendered, the conflict is far from over.
In January, under heavy international pressure to disarm, the M23 joined a ceremony to deliver the strategic town of Kibumba to an East African military force as a “goodwill gesture” for peace.
The current government, led by President Felix Tshisekedi has remained steadfastly committed to protecting Congo’s territorial sovereignty, whilst re-building the Congolese army. Sometime in March 2022, the Congolese government made attempts to reinforce its position against the resurgent M23 by sending more troops.
Powerful western nations have continued to do everything in their power to obliterate any chance of indigenous Congolese people to rule and govern their territory. Unfortunately, no group, country, or multilateral organization, not even the African Union has done anything to help in the Congo conflict.
Tell us about your NGO and how it has impacted the vulnerable population in your country.
Because of the brutal killings of millions of innocent indigenous Congolese people, many children find themselves homeless, traumatized, and without parents. Since receiving my chieftaincy title Mfumu, meaning Prince, I have facilitated financial support to different orphanages around the Congo, particularly in Goma and in the eastern part of Congo, to help with food, education, clothing, and most importantly, healing and rehabilitation of young children.
Through Focus Congo and We Love Congo, we have been able to touch the lives of many people in orphanages and refugee camps. We have donated relief materials like food, water, clothing and healthcare. We have also built schools, places of worship and rehabilitation centres for children and trained people in sports, performing arts, advocacy and provided small scale trade for women
What inspired the Wolf of Congo and how long did you take to write it?
The Wolf of Congo: Prince of Kinshasa is the first book and first installment of the Wolf of Congo series. The book is an autobiography, which details some very profound incidents in my childhood.
I want to use the book to tell people about my story, but more importantly, inspire the youth in the D.R.C, Africa and all over the world. My close friend, Emmanuel Bope and his wife encouraged me to put my childhood experience in a book form after sharing my story with them.
Since our first conversation, Emmanuel and I have worked closely to complete the Wolf of Congo: Prince of Kinshasa, and the process was cathartic and inspirational. It took 25 days to write and 2 months to properly edit. We worked as a team of three Congolese and I’m very proud how far we have gone on the project.
Can you recall a particular event while you were growing up that had a profound effect on you?
Many events happened in my childhood, but very few had an impact on me. The one I can recall vividly was also captured in my book and movie. It was the day my grandfather told me that I was a royalty. Before then, I was a homeless boy from Kinshasa, DRC, sheltered by his aunt and uncle in a life of opulence I’ve never witnessed.
Being adopted by my uncle and aunt was a life changing experience and the revelation of my royal lineage felt like an epiphany. The conversation I had with my grand-father that day truly altered the course of my life.
What memories do you have about the late Patrice Lumumba? Would the DRC be different if he was alive?
I wasn’t born during his era, but from the stories I heard, books I’ve read and conversations I’ve had with his family, the late Patrice Lumumba was a remarkable man. He lived what he preached. He was a national hero and true Pan-African. He played a significant role in the transformation of Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. He stood for the liberation of the Congolese people. He was just 36 when he died. He was executed in the most cruel manner.
He is, in my opinion, among the fathers of Pan-Africanism and one of the greatest orators of his time. I have no doubt that the DRC would be completely different today if he was still alive. Africa missed that great man.
African musicians have lit up the world stage, giving us mega hits, breaking records, contesting with big names and winning awards; MTV, BET, American Music Awards, Grammy, among others Do you see African actors moving close to the Academy Awards-Oscars anytime soon?
Being a Congolese, I’m proud of Africa’s contributions to global music, dance, film, arts and culture. Congo has played a significant role in laying the foundation not only for African music, but dance and fashion. The D.R.C has exported iconic figures like Awilo Logomba, Koffi Olomide, Ferre Gola, Fally Puppa and many others. I miss the energetic performances of some of our stars who have passed on; Papa Wemba, Franco Luambo and Le Grand Kalle,
However, being a French speaking country has not really played in our favor. I’m humbled and honoured that our Nigerian brothers and sisters have put Africa on the world map. The rise of Davido, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Arya Starr, Olamide, Mr Eazi and others really shifted mainstream pop culture, because youth around the world have now fully endorsed Afrobeats. Afrobeats has virtually taken over African music, being presented on most popular music streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, etc.
I personally look forward to ensuring that African artists are treasured on the continent and everywhere they go. Lately, global streaming platform, Netflix and South African online subscription video on demand service, Showmax have invested in movie productions in Africa, notably South Africa and Nigeria. This lends credence to the artistic value and profitability of African movies. We must elevate our own award shows, and value our platforms, otherwise, our stories will be carried through the lens of others.
Have you started work on the television series of your biopic? Can we know the cast, crew, equipment, production companies and others involved?
I’m sorry, I can’t completely disclose details of the script, screenplay, cast, and other vital information about the Wolf of Congo at this moment. That said, I’ll admit that the cast has been shortlisted and the screenplay is completely written. The book was released last year. There’ll be a documentary. Many parties are involved, but my goal is to ensure that Africa is well represented in all aspects of the production (pre-production and post-production).
For now, all I can say is that the same companies that have partnered to release impactful cultural shifts such as Black Panther and Woman King are working in the background to bring this true story to life on a cinematic level. Unlike Black Panther, this movie is completely true. We plan to film in various African countries, notably South Africa, especially Nigeria, Ghana, and Congo. Music has already been put in place with acts such as Pson Zubaboy, and producers such as KissBeatz, to name a few.
We do not see profound, very deep dialogues in most African movies and television productions. What is your opinion about this? Do you think your project, the Wolf of Congo will be different?
Though, there have been efforts to bring authentic African stories to global stage, there’s still much to do. The epic movie, Black Panther, was written and directed by two extremely talented multi award-winning creatives; Ryan Kyle Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, who are of black descent – which is beautiful.
I want to agree with you that most African movies are basic, simplistic and largely superficial. The characters are not given the luxury of depth and subtext. Sadly, in most of our productions , we still grapple with mundane issues like money, food, witchcraft, male children, how to find a man, keep a man or get rid of a man. This has to change if we want to compete at the global stage.
The uniqueness of the Wolf of Congo story is that it is all true. Furthermore, it is a representation of African wealth, while encapsulating an epic, coming-of-age experience that truly showcases the African Dream.
What should we expect from the Wolf of Congo television series?
The Wolf of Congo television series is currently titled Prince of Kinshasa. The objective of the television series is to go in-depth, adding more characters, plots, music, culture, etc. Also, the series will provide more context into my relationships with people who changed my life. Some interactions and backstories which were shortened, for the sake of time, during the movie, will be brought to life in the series.
Apart from releasing the Wolf of Congo as a TV series, what are your plans for 2023?
Apart from the Wolf of Congo biopic, the Prince of Kinshasa series, the sequel to the Wolf of Congo book series, and the Wolf of Congo documentary, I’ll be focusing on the economic development of the DRC, I want to invest heavily in real-estate and media. Also, I hope to accomplish some upscale housing and lifestyle conveniences in Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana.
When can you say that you are fulfilled?
We came to this world naked, therefore we will go back to our maker naked. I believe everyone has a destiny, a purpose to fulfill while here on earth. There must be a reason people burn the midnight oil, hit the road on daily basis, refuse to sleep, deny pleasure and delay gratification. It’s called a higher purpose, a calling. doing what you are proud of, establishing habits that result in joy, finding happiness in little things, finishing what you undertake, fighting procrastination and giving back to your community.
More than any other time, the people of Congo, especially my tribe need me. With my two NGOs; Focus Congo and We Love Congo, I have been able to touch many destitute children, offer succor to families who have lost hope by providing food, heath care and education. Though the task is daunting, I’m not discouraged. I’m creating platforms with Royalty Noire TV and my entertainment company to collaborate and partner with other organisations to promote our rich culture, give our artists a decent livelihood, train artisans, employ capable hands with a view to driving prosperity in the entertainment value chain.
The level of despondency in my country is scandalous, inexcusable. My people deserve better. They don’t deserve misery in the midst of abundant human and natural wealth. I can say that I’ve found fulfillment when I see a critical mass of my people embracing change, using modern tools, doing better than their peers in other parts of the world.