Don't ask how it was that I came to be a platform guest for today's North Kivu celebration of 50 years of Congolese independence; I'm not really sure I know. Suffice it to say that between the governor's speech (which ranked today's occasion with the liberation of Nelson Mandela, the election of Barack Obama, and the opening of the first World Cup in Africa), the military band that apparently knows exactly two songs, the play-by-play commentary from two DJ's who apparently took their inspiration from The Ocho, and watching the military run their ceremonial sparkly batons from one end of the parade to the other so as to supply all the units because there weren't enough to go around, today was unforgettable.
(And that was before I somehow ended up in the same restaurant as the CNDP's youth wing, several of whose members insisted that there would be no barriers to us having a serious romantic relationship. How do I know they were the CNDP youth wing? Because they had matching t-shirts and they told me so.)
For an even better way to commemorate Congolese independence, Jason has posted Patrice Lumumba's Independence Day speech from June 30, 1960. It's just as inspiring today - definitely give it a read.