Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Best of the Best: Congo News

Some of the zaniest stories that have come out of the Congo in the past years. Thanks to Michael for some of these recommendations; please write in if you have your own favorite Congo story.

1. The Congo space program: A must see. I'm so glad the Congolese government is investing money in sending rats into outer space. It makes the war in the East tolerable to know that Congolese rodents are in orbit.

2. The Great Congo Penis Theft - Former Reuters correspondent Joe Bavier wrote this gem up. I think it was one of his most widely seen stories (this in the middle of a war in the eastern Congo),

3. The Zidane interview - I don't know where this guy came from, but he manages to steal the show from Zinedine Zidane.

4. Row over rat claims two lives

Apr 04 2008 04:05:58:497PM

A violent row over a giant rat has led to the killing of two militiamen in the DRC's Nord-Kivu province, a radio station has reported.

Kinshasa - A violent row over a giant rat led to the killing of two Mai Mai militia members in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Nord-Kivu province, Radio Okapi reported on Friday.

One of the militiamen caught the huge rat, valued for its tender flesh, in a field when a fellow patrolman shot and killed him to get the animal, the UN-sponsored radio station reported.

The head of the group of Resistant Congolese Patriots (Pareco) then "gave orders that the murderer be tortured" and the man "died as a result of his injuries", according to the news report.

The radio identified the disputed beast as a giant Gambia rat, an African animal that measures up to 75 centimetres long and is bred for food in some countries.

The Gambia rat also has such a fine sense of smell that it has proved a useful ally in detecting anti-personnel mines.

Initial work in using rodents for mine clearance was backed by the Belgian Directorate for International Co-operation and a non-commercial agency, APOPO, works jointly with Tanzania's Sokoine University of Agriculture on the project.

5. Finally, the rumors are making the rounds in Kinshasa that Kabila's chief of staff Adolphe Lumanu tried to lay the moves on the Canadian ambassador outside the president's office and that the Canadian government is demanding an apology. Lumanu allegedly accused the ambassador of making the first move. If this is true, it might make the top ten list.


Alex Engwete said...

I was a victim of Story # 2. I wanted to have the phone number of a Kisangani childhood friend who, I heard, was visiting Kinshasa when this collective hysteria was occurring. So I phoned a cousin of mine, a college student, and I asked him to go to the Victoire area in Matonge and to "canvass" ngandas where Boyomais (people from Kisangani) are known to meet for beer and to inquire about the whereabouts of my friend and possibly get his cell phone number.

The kid turned me down flatly before I even finished the first sentence. I was baffled, ready to yell fatwas, for respect for elders is sacrosanct. But I first wanted to know why he refused to help me out.

His answer made me even angrier. He said: "Vieux, penises are vanishing these days here, if you haven't heard. You brush against a Nigerian or an Angolan... phhttt!... The thing is gone! One minute you have a penis, the next minute it's as if it never existed... There's this guy in the neighborhood, it happened to him. I swear on my father's tomb!... I don't go to campus these days! I stay home... If one of those ndingari West-Africans want to get my penis, they have to brake into our house!... Then, they'll die!"

Try as I might, I couldn't make this stupid "intellectuel" go to Victoire--even when I told him I was willing to "western-union" him something for his pain. For a Kinois to turn down a trip to the nearest Western Union is simply unheard of!

I then recalled that this was the same guy who told me he believed his pastor's explanation of the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ: "The pastor clearly explained it. Jesus was born without a belly button!"

There's an urgency in the DRC for rebuilding the destroyed public library system left by the Belgians! And for the government to invest in schools and education...

Alex Engwete said...


Read "break" instead of "brake"...

Jason Stearns said...

Hilarious. I am glad you were the victim of this story in this way only...

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