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Tim Butcher’s book: Blood River

I enjoyed Tim Butcher’s book “Blood River” immensely. The narration is well done and it paints a picture of Congo that is lively and accurate. Butcher endeavours on a monumental challenge, which is to traverse the entire length of the Congo River from its origin in eastern DR Congo to its end point where it empties into the Atlantic ocean. All 4,700 km of it!

We hear a lot about corruption and failed African states. I am not going to deny the existence of corruption in the Congo, but will point out that this is not a major theme in Butcher’s bike. He hires riders to take him on motorcycle from from “A to B”, pays them a fair wage, and the deal is done. They encounter armed Mai-Mai deep in the forest, he “bribes” them by handing them a United Nations leaflet.

Butcher travels on roads / paths that no white person has been on since the time of the Belgians. The adventure is both engrossing and unbelievable. The prospect of eco-tourism along the Congo River is very exciting. Nothing like a few tourists taking pictures of lilly pads and monkeys to make the conflict-mineral occupation just dissolve away.

If you end up reading the book, please do share your comments.I’d like to thank my Swedish friend Ellinor for recommending the book and Peter for the surprise purchase.

-BM

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Slaughterhouse 500,000 in eastern DRC

Slaughterhouse 500,000 in eastern DRC.

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Letter from Bukavu, April 14, 2010

Click the image to see the original letter, written in French. The English translation is below:

Today by the grace of God our Saviour, I take this small occasion to tell you my history and my current situation.

My purpose in telling you in this small note is to inform you that while I was in the fields, the interahamwe came to rape me. After this act of violence, they took me to the forest. I stayed there for 3 months. They mistreated me, and after suffering a great deal I escaped and went by foot to the General Hospital of Panzi. I was born in Minova, Goma in 1995. I received my medications at the Panzi Hospital for 6 months, then I gave birth to a male child who responds to the name Christophe. Right now he is one year and 3 months old.

Up until the present time, I have not seen my parents. For the moment I am using the internet in the Dorcas I house and I study at the Imani Panzi institute. I am in the first year of secondary school and in the exam of the first semester, I received a satisfactory grade of 60%. In the days when I remember the act that the Interhamwe inflicted on me, truly it breaks my heart.

Thank you and greetings to you and your family.

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