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


tremblement de terre a bukavu - update le quatrieme

More details are emerging about the effects of the earthquakes that rocked Bukavu and southwestern Rwanda on Sunday. Apparently, much of the damage in Bukavu occured in Ibanda, the westernmost of Bukavu's three "communes" (an administrative subdivision with a territorial area that's the rough equivalent of saying, "west Austin" or something like that). I lived in Ibanda this summer, and am somewhat shaken (no pun intended) to know that some of the serious damage was at my neighborhood market, the Marche de Nguba, as well as at the larger Marche de Nyawera (picture here) down the road. Part of Bukavu is built along one long road called Avenue Patrice Lumumba, and the shared car taxis run up and down between the border and the end of Avenue Lumumba. You can pretty much ride anywhere along the central segment of that route for 250 francs. If you turn off, the fare doubles.

The Marche de Nguba is where I turned off, right past College Alfajiri, the elite Jesuit high school of the central and northern parts of the eastern DRC. Run by Belgian and Congolese priests, Alfajiri educates the Kivu's elites, and it is an imposing structure. I was fortunate to get to go on a short tour of the facilities at Alfajiri, and am very sad to learn that it has sustained serious structural damage. In interviewing one of the priests at the school, I was so impressed by Alfajiri's commitment to maintaining as high a quality of education as possible in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. As you can see from these photographs, their facilities are definitely the best of any school I've visited in the Kivus. Here's hoping they will be able to rebuild without much difficulty. This is the old main post office, which has also apparently been damaged. Classes for a local college meet here, so this will be a significant disruption for their work. Radio Okapi has another picture of a damaged structure and notes that the lack of bulldozers in town is a serious impediment to cleaning up. The casualty toll for now is 9 dead, 300 injured, 200 homes destroyed, and 1500 "important fissures."

Please keep the people of Bukavu in your prayers.


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