Stood in the Congo is now

Stood in the Maasai Mara and only stood in the Maasai Mara. All posts here will stop.

All change please, all change.

(For various reasons most content on this tumblr has been deleted).

These two men say not to worry, they are just here to greet you. They are based at the military camp here. During the rebellion they were part of the Mai Mai group in Beni. They cut off the head of a Ugandan Colonel with a machete and then put it on a stick in the middle of the main roundabout.
The cook went to buy some fish but he managed to hit someone with the motorbike. So the traffic police turned up and he didn’t have a license, or he did have a license but it wasn’t signed or it was out of date, something like that. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it cost $20 to get him out of prison and now lunch is going to be late.
He was faking it.

He was faking it.

As much as I enjoy eating rice and beans for every meal and waking up at five each morning to the grunts of thirty men practicing karate, yesterday evening I had to leave Rumangabo.

The level of threat has risen this week, and the name of the tall one is no longer mentioned in public. Other words have also been banished from the NGO lexicon, and conversations about security now just contain a lot of half sentences and paranoid ‘you know’s.

Fighting has increased and yesterday a couple of trucks were reported to have crossed the border. The only person to perk up when hearing the news was the journalist from Reuters.

I’ve been taken to Goma and it is tense. It’s quite normal for NGOs to scare themselves silly by circling rumours and snippets of information but now, usually the first ones to say that everything is fine, pas de problème, the Congolese are also worried.

Ask your taxi-man how he is and he will normally say ca va, probably followed by a reference to his empty stomach. But today he said that he was afraid. Tout le monde a peur.

To be honest, I give him two months. The last one lasted two months and then it was torn apart by the father. We still have the skin somewhere in our office.

Life in the Mist

The chaps from UNESCO and the UN decided to cut their stay short and left the mountain after just one night. Security was blamed, although I personally believe it was down to someone forgetting to pack their jungle gear.

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Due to recent events there’s been a few changes within, which means more training to do. 

Quite a mammoth task to explain the concept of a blog as there is nothing here to liken it to. Although all efforts to understand were quickly made as soon as a blog post we published appeared 12 hours later on the BBC. 

Looks like Congo and Uganda have decided to talk things through, although still not sure what our favourite warlord is up to. Pas de problem, I’ve been told -due to his current location if anything should happen we have enough time to get down the mountain before things get close closer.

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Bukima

Bukima

  • Qu'est ce qu'on vas manger? J'ai rien.
  • Pas de problème. Ici en Afrique on mange rien.

The Guard and the Poacher.

Uganda calls for urgent summit with Congo to diffuse border tension, Rwanda's angry with Congo for the halting of military operations against rebels, and Congo's sending troops to the East to deal with the Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda.

On the way from Goma to Rumangabo, just past one of the checkpoints, a whole town has sprung up which simply didn’t exist three weeks ago.

Between March and June of this year, 120,000 people (OCHA) were internally displaced in the Kivu area due to fighting between the Tutsi strong, mixed brigades under the command of warlord Nkunda and the Hutu Interahamwe Congolese military and armed groups.

I am sat in a dilapidated colonial building sat at 1,700m, overlooking a deceptively calm forest. It rains here, a lot. Last night the water ran down the outside of the chimney and collected on the mantelpiece. The flashes of lightning illuminated the many armed guards chatting and sleeping outside on the porch.

I promised myself I would never become another European to compare Congolese life to the Heart of Darkness. And so I will cheat by saying that I found myself in the last few scenes of Apocalypse Now. The old outpost. Uncared for, falling apart. Nighttime mumblings outside in the darkness.

Yesterday we were killing time, waiting for UNESCO to arrive. While we waited I chatted with Elie.

He was quite rightly pissed off as there was an armed robbery near Mutsora yesterday. I can not give further details, except that it will affect a lot of guards and their families for the next month.

As a distraction I asked Elie to explain a painting that is propped up on one of the cupboards in the building where I am working. It is covered in drops of cream paint that have, during a quick spell of decoration, dripped onto the canvas from the ceiling above.

"That day there was a terrible day. The fight between the guards and the poachers had been going on for a long long time and there came a point when there was only one guard and one poacher left.

This guard had ran out of ammunition, and so it was the strength of a man against the strength of a man. The battle between them continued for almost two days, and all of the animals of the forest came to see what would happen between the two.

At this moment here in the picture, the poacher stabbed the guard in the stomach with his lance, and all of the animals were so upset to see this. The frog he was very sad, but the gorilla there was the most sad of all. But it was not over yet, at the same moment that he was stabbed, the guard used his gun as a club and struck the poacher on the head.

The two of them fell down dead and the forest was left to the animals.”