2007 Journey:
Africa, Russia, Mongolia and China

  • Learning More About Congo

    "Are you the journalist who spent the weekend with Gen. Nkunda?" asks the press officer of the United Nations compound in Goma upon our introduction.

    It was Monday morning and I was out to gather more information about the situation in the Congo.

    "Yes," I say, hoping it wasn’t a problem.

    "We had heard there was a journalist with the general this last weekend. We have our people who keep us informed."

    The United Nations representative takes the next two hours to explain the situation from the viewpoint of the U.N.

    Boys pushing wooden bikeIt is an unstable situation. There are many spoilers that are somewhat unknown, such as the level of involvement by the surrounding governments. Additionally, a map is shown to me that marks the locations of the mineral resources in the province, such as gold mines. Another map is shown where the military deployments are indicated, almost identical to the location of the natural resources.

    Additionally, the press officers says, they have an idea of a number of western business interests are also somehow involved with all of this. They also know about American Seventh Day Adventist preachers who have been visiting and supporting the general.

    Compound this with Tutsi refugees in Rwanda wishing to come home to the DRC Kivu Province that has roaming Hutu Militia who wish to kill the Tutsi, and the belief Nkunda is recruiting children soldiers from those camps to protect people - and you have a mess.

    There is a warrant for the general’s arrest for insurrection, but the DRC is not strong enough to execute it.

    Thus the presence of the U.N. soldiers, to help bring some stability.

    By the time our visit is finished my head is spinning. I came to see gorillas and to gauge some sense of how stable the area is for others to have the same experience. What I discovered was a history of trouble that stretches back to the Rwandan genocide, and farther, that is still unresolved.

    With a sense that I was using up to many of my nine lives, I decided to head back to Rwanda.

    Trying to gain some sense of the pulse of the area from a local viewpoint, I ask a young store clerk by the name of Yvone if she was given three wishes, what would she wish for?

    Yvone says: "To be free, to have peace and to have a good life."

    What does a good life look for you?

    "To be happily married with two to three children, to have a good house for a home and to travel," she says.

    I wish her success as I say goodbye, and wonder about wish No. 2 - what are the chances of peace in the Congo?

    Fremont Tribune

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