"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

10.06.2006

qotd

"There are moments in the Congo when you find it hard to believe that a place like this really exists. In the Congo, you can feel the earth. You can smell it, the rawness, the thin line between life and death.

"There's some things you see, some things you hear that simply are unbelievable. Women gang raped, who now have to hide because of the stigma they face. You look in their eyes, there's nothing you can say. "I'm sorry" sounds so small.

"Everywhere you go you're surrounded. Curious kids, smiling stares. They run alongside your car yelling "Muzungu, Muzungu (ph)", "white guy," "white guy." You can't help but laugh.

"There is corruption. There's fighting, rebel armies that rape and loot. Decades of rulers here have failed the people. But the people are the strength of this land: the burdens they bear every day, uphill and down. I know I'm not as strong as them. Men, women, children, here, no one gets a break. It is unconscionable when you think about it that this land which is so rich, remains so poor.

"In the ground, there's gold, there's diamonds, tin and coal. You can chisel it out with simple tools, sometimes even with your bear hands. But the riches, they're squandered; they're siphoned off, lost for good. They have been for generations.

"The mountains, the forests, lush, green but threatened. The mountain gorillas, their best hope for a future. You can sit within feet of them. They're as curious about us as we are of them.

"There is something about the Congo that gets under your skin. This pulse of life, the throb of pain. Millions have died here, though few seem to have noticed. How many more millions will it take before something is done?"

I feel ridiculous quoting Anderson Cooper, but there's something about the Congo that gets under your skin.

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