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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Two top reads to introduce The Democratic Republic of Congo

To mark the publication of Radio Congo June 2012 we feature two novels set in the Democratic Republic of  Congo, both different but both hugely informative and VERY readable.

Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest WarCongo is a country where few venture, but author Ben Rawlence traversed the country to experience for himself the aftermath of colonialism, and multiple wars – a country that has mutated from The Belgian Congo, through Zaire, to what is now a Democratic Republic.
Foolhardy or brave? He embarks on a journey through inhospitable terrain, in rust-bucket boats, on motorbikes, bicycles and on foot, his end goal, the city of Manono, the erstwhile largest tin trading city of the country. His book is full of interesting facts, that Congo has 80% of the world’s mineral resources, which is why it suffered so many incursions from neighbouring countries and the Colonial West. Yet it profits from virtually none of the income. Wars, Mai Mai atrocities and subjugation have all left their scars on this wonderful – and potentially rich – country, both in terms of disintegrating military equipment,(including 6 anti-tank mines nestling under the pier at Moba); and in terms of the emotional legacy on the people, many of whom have had to flee their homes (several times) only to return to ruined communities. Yet, they still seem determined to rebuild.

Nathan, a Baptist preacher, has come to spread the Word in a remote village reachable only by airplane. To say that he and his family are woefully unprepared would be an understatement: "We came from Bethlehem, Georgia, bearing Betty Crocker cake mixes into the jungle," says Leah, one of Nathan's four daughters. But of course it isn't long before they discover that the tremendous humidity has rendered the mixes unusable, their clothes are unsuitable and they've arrived in the middle of political upheaval as the Congolese seek to wrest independence from Belgium.


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