Two stories building stands tall behind the immense gate on Avenue de la Justice in the Administrative Commune of Gombe, in Kinshasa, the Capital City of the DRC. In it, a less talkative but astute and very observant man was appointed to fulfill important political responsibilities conferred upon him by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Félix Antoine Tshiseskedi Tshilombo. Claude IBALANKY EKOLOMBA, “Baruk” for close friends is the New Coordinator to head up the Executive Committee of the MNS-National Monitoring Mechanism Overseeing the Addis Ababa Agreement for Peace in the Great Lakes Region. This body consists of over 60 agents and officials, and it was once led by Mr John Kasuku Mihali whom Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba has replaced in this position. Stealthily, he deploys enormous endeavours underground in search of peace before the President puts his actions in the public domain, by concluding and signing treaties and agreements between the Great Lakes countries, within the framework of the Addis Ababa agreement. His undeniable efforts weighed a great deal in brokering agreements signed by the President of the Republic between Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi lately, in the quest for peace in the eastern part of the DRC, whereby the Head of the State set up a presidential compound for three weeks. As much as Claude has been talked about since taking office to lead such a strategic body for peace in the DRC, Ibalanky is not an exploits hollow container. This valuable individual is an entrepreneurship enriched man, eager to accomplish results beyond any reasonable doubt; from an economic beast that he was and still is, to a political animal he had evolved into, sometimes a combination of both, his astuteness is second to none. Apart from his nonchalantly taciturn nature and his priest look like calmness, the Chief of the MNS is an outstanding scholar, who takes enough time to acquaint with any environment, like Hamadou Hampaté Ba and his School of the Chameleon; without noise like a weaver bird nesting up or a tailor’s machine when sewing a garment. As a true mason, he always holds his trowel in his hand to patch up things and build his native DRC with growing positivity.
Far away from his DRC, Claude missed the Congolese land, the air, the sun, the wind, the dust, the perfumes in the streets of the DRC when he set off into exile in the Republic of South Africa in mid-90s, fleeing the ruthless Mobutu dictatorship, without horizons for youth development. This massive hurricane lookalike exodus, like a whirlwind, carried many young Zairians towards other skies looking for green pastures, leaving behind them bruised and broken families with anguished hearts under the severe eye of a regime whose well-being of its population was the least of its worries, no offense to the “mouvanciers” of yesteryear. He did find himself in a no man’s land once in South Africa, Claude Ibalanky felt homesickness like many others, that nostalgic grief tinged with excessive bitterness, and sometimes it is hard to understand the rationale behind such coward behaviour. The memories of his young life rushed into his mind disorderly, they plunged him into deep silence for deep questioning, to be abandoned with his illusions. In these moments of vulnerability, anything could have happened; even catastrophe would have been the unexpected visitor, too. Staying put in this vast void was hardly to the taste of the New Coordinator; the “Chairman” knew that it is when obstacles do become unbearable and tougher, with setbacks and delusions, harsh and untenable consequences that floods of opportunities stream over and over.
Refusal to breaking up the soul can, if one fails to play it safe and carefully, incite, according to tastes, get one throwing from the top of a cliff into the raging waves or under the wheels of a bus. It was mental cowardice that Ibalanky brushed aside with the back of his hand despite the reminiscence of a fate he might have thought to be lethal. The Advisor of the Head of State, remained someone with high morale. He had enrolled at the University of Johannesburg before graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Marketing Management, – as he enrolled with the university of Pretoria (4th ranked university out of 100 best African universities – not a single DRC university according to the latest ranking) for his Bachelor of Commerce with Honours Degree, which he completed, after submitting his dissertation titled: “The Role of Marketing in Business Development Strategies in the SADC Region”. The mastering of despair anxieties and differences of a dark tomorrow as an expatriate were so prevalent that Claude decided to quench his thirst of knowledge. He completed his university studies with a Master’s Degree in Commercial Sciences, at the same university. A post-graduate degree which launched him into working life, following the successful submission of his Master’s research topic titled: “The identification of current issues in the management of the buyer-seller relationship in an African environment within the information and communication technology industry – An exploratory study, in 2005”.
This academic achievement did not prevent him from thinking about his country, which he dreamed to be one day developing. But he needed to see it again and again, to live the life of DRC in his flesh, in his daily life. It was the time with plentiful suffering and misery by the people. The state of emergency reigned supreme therein, and wars too. He traveled many times to his native land; anxiety and emotion took their toll on Claude Ibalanky mind sometimes. Each time, this reunion was of vital importance to him. Friends were there; incomplete happiness, because he saw how the country was so sick, damaged, frozen by Mobutu and the arrival of AFDL troops. DRC had become even more policed, more arbitrary than before. But “Baruk” harboured the hope of seeing his country fume out of the tunnel.
Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba was hired by Hewlett Packard (HP) as Director – Head of Corporate Affairs and Marketing. Champion of information systems, Information and Communication techniques, HP has never regretted its investment by getting on board intellectual and organizational virtues that Claude availed to his new employer. His strong personality with hard convictions to contribute to a better world, made Claude eager to improve his skills, competencies and knowledge in order to achieve his ambitions described above, and export them back to DRC. The head of MNS had broadened the scope of his intellect with the Institute of Higher Studies in Law and Management, in conquering a Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa last year. For more than five (5) years, from September 2007 to December 2012, Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba was the Managing Director of Bantu Investment Holding, still in South Africa. BIH (Bantu Investment Holding) is the subsidiary and international development wing of NEHAWU Investment Holdings. It is within this context of economic expansion by the company that Ibalanky used his intellectual versatility in concocting an economical mixture of high stringency, to obtain the Master Franchise license and launch the activities of Nando’s (a kitchen restaurant technique with chicken stuffed using carbonated flames, either spicy, or without pepper but with a special blended sauce according to the consumer’s taste) in the DRC. A pioneer of this franchise activity in the country, Claude always wanted the feet of Congolese people posed on the rock, pulled out of the clay mud into which they had been plunged into by various chaotic regimes, through endeavoured entrepreneurship.
An unmatchable great leader in the corporate world, married and a family man, the identities which built the opulence of his various functions in his professional life sometimes collided with incandescence. But he knew, at every moment, that strength is drawn from reservoirs within, in order to regain his pedigree and display the same happy face. On the verge of break down, as parents, following the passing of their beloved son, the most black panorama of their life, Mr and Mrs Ibalanky were deeply hurt and inconsolable; but they never wanted to experience loneliness, a primordial characteristic of people called to turn and see things differently, under the gaze of an eagle, towering above normal people sight. Ibalanky family were surrounded by friends from various generations, not because they received the financial largesse from MNS Chief (and he generously assists people in pain and in distress) and his family, but their ease of listening, their positive reaction followed by action, including those who betray them, and sought to do so from within and outside. As Chief, he has always put himself above the fray, as he deals with treachery such as Judas’ conjurations which break up before they become effective, as always.
Suis generis entrepreneur, Claude Ibalanky secured Guaranteed Rights for the exploration and exploitation of gas in Lake Kivu. With its 66 billion m3 of methane gas buried in the lake, Ibalanky had multiplied contacts and carried out various actions to allow its exploitation for energy and commercial purposes. Its non-exploitation poses a major threat for the riparian populations on both sides of the banks (DRC and Rwanda). Claude is one of the few Congolese personalities to become more involved in improving the social and societal conditions of the Congolese people as a whole. The threats of balkanization which weigh on the Republic deprive Ibalanky of his sleep; the inviolability of national borders acquired since the EIC (Independent State of Congo) is threatened by the selfish interests of international powerful countries, lobbying groups and multinationals, in complicity with his compatriots. He regrets that his fellow countrymen are plotting to plunge the country into warring situations, and strives to find adequate responses relating to them. This is how he works to restore the DRC’s glory, and ending the killing decimating entire communities in the eastern part of the Republic, and reducing the gap in social inequalities between the communities involved so that they live in parsimonious harmony. Getting there is high hill to climb, and Claude uses perilous and strange transportation media to accomplish his duties including bicycle, vehicle, canoe, walking, one or twin-engine/propeller aircrafts, etc. Fortunately the Gentleman Boss looks younger than his age, and the secret for his youthful appearance lies in his diet. Ibalanky has a customary meat free eatery habits as a true vegetarian, which enhances his fitness abilities and live longer trends.
Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba’s experience spans over 20 years in corporate and business at senior levels and in executive panels of corporations and multinationals. He was at the heart of numerous business panels’ events in Africa, the USA and Europe on ICT and the development of the African continent as well as the promotion and lobbying of IDE for the DRC, Senegal and Ghana. Such mammoth actions have earned him deserved recognition and accolades; he was the recipient of the International Applause Award conferred upon him by the Institute for Human Resources Development in Chicago (United States), for having accomplished a gigantesque job in Africa, by improving health and education systems through a beneficial use of information technology (June 2007). Claude has also been recognized for his skills in receiving Outstanding Leadership Award bestowed upon him by The Global Business Roundtable, South Africa (2012).
Dimona Group Leader, Ibalanky is one of the founding members of CNC (Congolese National Congress), an awareness-rising movement by the Congolese youth attending university in South Africa before it later became a political party under the leadership of Minister Pius Muabilu. It was within this party that Ibalanky had campaigned for the seat as Member of the Parliament in the 2011 elections. Embodying in a full-fledged politician setting, Ibalanky played a leading role in the electoral campaign of the current Head of the State, His Excellency Félix Antoine Tshisekedi. From Genval to Geneva, via South Africa, preparing the ground for the presidential candidate from UDPS so that he talks and exchanges with crowds while presenting his manifesto, containing action plan to be implemented when he is elected President, Claude has lived through hardships during such troubling times, but he has denied access to devious tricks to break his mind. Ibalanky Ekolomba’s exceptional performance had helped push Presidential candidate Félix Antoine to the highest heights, by facilitating numerous international meetings with prominent people and decision-making stakeholders across Africa and beyond. Claude was rewarded with an appointment as Advisor in charge of Diplomacy and External Relations and Strategies, until his candidate, Felix Antoine, was elected in the 2018 electoral contests. After taking oath as the new president of the DRC, His Excellency Felix Antoine Tshisekedi rewarded a hardworking man, Claude Ibalanky, as the new coordinator of MNS, attached to the Office of the President of the Republic of the Democratic Republic of Congo; an accomplice and professional friendship.
Between FATSHI and Ibalanky, it is not always easy to thank a friend for his friendship… Indeed, when we wish to express our affection to a close person, we do not always have the right words and we do not know necessarily where to start expressing such an attachment and describe the double complicity. “What makes friendships indissoluble and doubles their charm is a feeling that love lacks: CERTAINTY», as Honoré de Balzac quoted rightly. And yet, it is important to tell people that they are important to you and that they can count on you, irrespective of the circumstances, and to show them gratitude, in spite of admonitions which are thrown to the abyss of the juvenile nostalgia, endless wanderings by the lightning soul, and in an altruism, an ecological benevolence that appeals to empathy. Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba political infancy is growing crescendo, amidst more brows of hills to reach.