Old Slave Capitals on the Upper Congo River


Looking left (insert) utilitarian Belgian colonial stucco next
to the government’s new utilitarian brick. And in the background the
Lualaba flows past from the South.

The colonial buildings, built in the 1930s, rose with equal
enthusiasm among the even older edifices of the Congo-Arab era. Just
upstream from Kindu, in the 1870s, Tippo Tib reigned from Kasongo and
Nyungwe over an undisputed Congolese sultanate, sending huge caravans
of slaves and ivory back to Zanzibar.


The crumbling colonnade of an ancient Arab structure. An old man told me that this used to be a “barazza for the ‘Bahindi’”

Kindu is a place for history to swirl, fossilize, and be ignored.


One Kindu fossil from the middle of the last century: this
horse, now nearly extinct in its new world home, used to announce the
presence of fuel. Not here. You are lucky if you can find someone with
a battered barrel of fuel and a length of hose with which to siphon it.

But nobody is looking to the past here. The determination and need
for a new Congo and a new province of Maniema (Kindu is its capital)
are almost a physical force in the air.

Exciting for us: there is a real openness to a new national park in Maniema’s TL2 wilderness. Fingers crossed.


The governor on the left and the minister of mines and energy listen to my little presentation two days ago.


The audience was gratifyingly large and interested.

The governor’s attentiveness and the large attendance at my little
presentation were very promising. But fingers are still crossed.


In his closing remarks the governor gave a personal commitment
to eat no more bonobo meat. May his example be followed by the whole

In Kindu I sleep in a neat Islamic guest house where three parrots
in the courtyard parody life around them. At first light they mimic the
nanny shrieking endlessly after the child “babu, babu, babu, babu”
until finally sleep is no longer possible. At last light the parrots
mimic exactly the click of a mobile phone at the end of its electric
charge. “Choeet, choeet, choeet”, they screech at an insanely loud
volume reminding us that no electricity for the recharge can be
expected for at least another two hours.


This is a very alert parrot with a sense of the absurd

Hey, I’m ready to move to Kindu, but hopefully with my own generator and a stock of fuel.

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