All Things Must Fight to Live

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

All Things Must Fight to LiveI’ve not yet visited Congo, but it’s certainly on my list. Meanwhile I seem to keep reading books on that troubled country. The latest is Bryan Mealer’s All Things Must Fight to Live which was recommended to me at a Human Rights Watch briefing on Congo I went to a couple of months ago.

The brutal war that devastated the country between 1998 and 2003 has been dubbed Africa’s first World War, because so many other countries launched into the melee. Often for pure greed, ideals certainly didn’t play a part.

Bryan Mealer’s visits to the country kick off with the build up to that struggle and continues as peace, of a sort, starts to appear.

Bryan’s post turmoil travels are amazing. First he attempts to travel up the Congo River in 2006, a trip which ends with an epic eight day bike ride from Bumba to Kisangani. After the horrors of that journey a little train ride in 2007 from Lubumbashi to Kalemie on the recently reopened railway line should have been a breeze. It certainly didn’t turn out that way.

Last weekend I met Tim Butcher, the author of Blood River another account of epic Congo journeys. He recounted how a Google Earth enthusiast spent endless hours scouring the map of Congo looking for the tell tale wake of boats travelling along one of the country’s web of mighty rivers. There weren’t any. Congo is a country which hasn’t simply gone backwards, in the 50 years since independence in 1960 Congo has leapt into the past. Click here for more Congo books.